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The five toughest interview questions – and how to answer them

  • January 26, 2018

During a job interview, you might find yourself being asked some tricky questions which put you on the spot. Anticipating them and preparing your responses in advance will help you to manage your nerves and stay composed on the day. So, here are some of the most common questions that trip up interviewees and our top tips on answering them.

‘Tell me about yourself.’

This seems like a very straight forward question but many candidates fall into the trap of thinking this is just a warm-up question to put them at ease and end up telling the interviewer all kinds of irrelevant things that don’t relate to the job. This is an opportunity for you to give a brief outline of your current role and state the personal and professional work experiences that relate to the position you have applied for. One way to prepare for this question is to plan and rehearse a brief statement – a paragraph or so – that quickly describes who you are and what you can bring to the company. Don’t focus too much on your childhood, school life, early career, personal likes and dislikes or hobbies, unless they are relevant to the post.

‘What is your biggest weakness?’

This is tricky because the point of an interview is to present yourself positively. The best way to approach this is to identify a gap in your knowledge or an area where you are seeking to improve yourself, which can be addressed through training or learning. For example, you may need to refresh your skills at using certain software. If you can’t think of anything, look at the person specification before the interview and identify a ‘desirable’ skill that you don’t yet have but are willing to work towards. Whatever you do, don’t tell them about a character weakness such as being continually late or forgetful.

‘What do you like least about your current job?’

The interviewer is looking to see how you speak about your existing employer and role. Be utterly professional and never criticise any individuals that you work with. The best bet here is to mention an aspect that’s far removed from the job you’re seeking. Finish by explaining that, despite the unappealing element, you have learned something useful from it or achieved something fulfilling. This shows that you have resilience and a positive attitude.

‘What has been your biggest failure?’

This is a tough question because it asks you to go over something that you’d probably rather forget, and at a time when you are already feeling under pressure. It is designed to find out more about your previous job performance and anticipate how you might behave in the future. Most importantly of all, the interviewer wants to know what lesson you learned from your failure. The number one rule here is to keep focused on your career: don’t talk about a divorce or anything similar. Equally, don’t mention something minor from years ago, like not passing a school test. Some candidates avoid the question and claim never to have failed at anything, but that also suggests that they’ve never taken any risks.

A top tip is to use the STAR framework (Situation/Task, Approach, and Results) to explain what happened. For example, you had to pitch to an existing client to win £10,000 of additional business. You approached it casually because you felt certain that the work was a dead-cert. Unfortunately, the client felt that a rival went the extra mile and gave the work to them. You have learned to treat every pitch with equal attention, regardless of your existing client relationship.

‘Where do you expect to be in five years’ time?’

This one is so common that we have written a blog specifically on answering this question.

Remember that employers just want to get a better idea about your background, your communication skills and how you’ll perform if they offer you the job. If you rehearse answering tricky questions and frame your responses so that you present yourself in the best possible light, you will impress interviewers, even when talking about your mistakes or weaknesses.

For more job interview advice from the team, check out our other posts here.

If you are looking for a new role check out our current jobs or if you want some career advice get in touch today.

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How to handle a counter offer situation

  • January 22, 2018

You’ve found your ideal person for the role: they tick all of the right boxes and you can’t wait to get them on board. But after you’ve offered them the job, they suddenly aren’t sure. Their current employer is equally keen to retain them and has made a counter offer to incentivise them to stay. What should you do next?

Of course, all firms want to retain their best talent and a last-ditch attempt to encourage highly in-demand candidates to withdraw their application, is not an uncommon scenario. However, there are several steps that you can take to minimise the risk and ensure the role you are offering, remains a viable option.

Determine why they want to leave

Preparing for a counter offer needs to begin at the very first stage of contact with prospective employees. Asking ‘Why do you want to leave your current job?’ is an important part of understanding the candidate’s motives and aspirations. If their only reason for looking for a new role is to get a pay rise or a little more responsibility, their current employer can easily address this with a counter offer which includes a salary increase or a change of job title. During the interview process, consider which job seekers are interested in the full opportunity that you’re offering.

Cover counter-offers at interview

It’s totally fine to ask a candidate during the interview stage what they would do if their current employer asks them to stay. It may be uncomfortable, but if it is clear at this point that they aren’t totally sure that they really do want to leave, question them further to find out the full picture.

Get them engaged with their future colleagues

The onboarding process can start from the moment that a candidate accepts your offer and can also be extended to include candidates who are still weighing it up. It’s a good idea to invite them in again to meet with key colleagues, such as line managers, peers and the leadership team. Personal connections can make it easier for people to envision themselves as part of the team.

Keep in touch

When recruits are seeing out their notice periods – which can be as long as three months – their excitement at getting a new job can fade a little. Plus, of course, their current employer still continues to see them each day and may well be doing all that they can to dissuade them from leaving. Be sure to stay in contact with your new hire until they join you on their first day. Invite them to team events, where possible. This will help you keep the momentum going and cement your company in their mind as the place where they can’t wait to be.

Sell your strengths

If you’ve done all of that and a potential new employee still is having a moment of uncertainty about switching jobs, remind them of the opportunities in your organisation. Pinpoint what initially made them apply for a job with you – career progression, improved work/life balance, an appealing organisational culture or more challenge – and reassure them that those benefits exist if they make the move.

Use a recruiter

A good recruiter will ascertain why the applicant is searching for a new role before putting them forward for interview. Often, jobseekers reveal information to recruiters that they don’t at interview and some do say that they are really only looking for a bargaining tool! Recruiters will be well-versed in scenarios where counter-offers emerge and they’ll be able to prepare candidates for the possibility that their current employer may try to dissuade them from leaving.

Know when to walk away

The recruitment process works both ways. Even in a skills-short environment, you still want to attract the right person who has enthusiasm for the job: a candidate that needs endless persuasion to join your organisation is unlikely to be right. So, make your first offer your best one: sell the benefits of your company and role throughout the process and let it be the opportunity of working for you that attracts the right talent – not extra perks added to the salary package in a last minute attempt to get them to choose you.

If you would like specialist advice from experts, get in touch today to find out how we can help you find the right talent.

For more advice from the team, check out our other posts.

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Big firm, little firm…get the best from your recruitment provider

  • January 20, 2018

There’s no doubt that recruitment today is very different than it was a decade or two ago. Companies have had to adapt to new hiring processes; online communities, digital meet-ups and candidate data all play a significant role in today’s recruitment.

And with so many different aspects now to consider, the lure of using a big recruitment agency is appealing; the legwork is done for you, the burden is taken away from HR, and in the past it’s proved an effective way to access large pools of available candidates.

Yet all this can come at a cost – aggressive third-party recruiters, increasing placement rates and commission fees, and dealing with recruiters that are only interested in fulfilling their activity quotas pose a potential risk when working with a large recruitment agency.

So, what if using a recruitment giant wasn’t the only option besides taking on the recruiting yourself? What if you could benefit from a more personal touch in the hiring process, enabling you to find and attract unique top talent that could really help your business excel?

Here’s why you don’t have to settle for using only the big recruitment firms:

• Jobs boards are universal – despite what you may hear, jobs boards are accessible for all, and there’s no reason why you need to rely on the biggest firms to advertise for you. Don’t forget that a cleverly written, engaging job description will help you stand out amongst hundreds of job vacancies advertised in exactly the same way.

• You can get the same level of candidate access elsewhere – don’t be fooled into thinking that it is only the biggest firms that have access to the greatest range of candidates. It’s not simply a case of volume, you need access to quality, talented candidates that are the right fit for your company – endless CVs aren’t the answer.

• Smaller firms give the personal touch – smaller recruitment agencies can put in the time, effort and legwork to build relationships over time – both with you the client, and with those all-important candidates.

• Speed takes priority – this isn’t always the case but big recruitment firms will often prioritise filling quotas, meeting targets and making commission over providing you with the service you’re looking for. Time is money as they say…but what if speed over quality costs you more in the long run?

• They come at a high price – as well as charging high fees for their services, you might also find costs mount up elsewhere too. Failed hires in particular are extremely expensive for businesses, highlighting the importance of investing wisely in your recruitment process from the start.

• Sophisticated data analytics aren’t just for the giants – increasingly data analytics are playing a bigger part in recruitment but you don’t have to be using a big recruitment agency in order to access them. Specialist firms will often have a better insight into the data that specifically concerns your business and industry.

• Thinking outside the box pays off – if you want to successfully reach out and recruit a range of candidates, you need to be thinking outside of the box. Not only are millennials more likely to jump ship, research shows that 90% of professionals are interested in hearing about new job opportunities…so it’s important you don’t overlook passive candidates, in search of only active ones.

Finding the right fit for your business is more important now than ever before and having the right recruiting process in place – with a focus on the personal touch as well as just ‘filling the role’ – is essential.

Of course, the most effective way to find, access and attract exceptional talent is by ensuring you’re working with a recruitment provider that understands your business and helps you to get the most out of your candidate search. To find out more about what a specialist firm can bring to the table, just get in touch with us here at Clayton Recruitment.

If you would like specialist advice from experts, get in touch today to find out how we can help you find the right talent.

For more advice from the team, check out our other posts.

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How can you tell if a job is right for you

  • January 15, 2018

Being offered a job is undoubtedly exciting: not only do you feel relief at having secured the position, but you have a new challenge to look forward to as you start a different stage of your career. However, as tempting as it is to quit your current post and accept the offer on the spot, it’s vital that you have done enough research to be as sure as you can that the position is right for you. Switching jobs can be life-changing: after all, you spend a significant amount – if not the majority – of your time at work. Here are our top tips for deciding if a role is a good fit.

Practicalities

At the absolute minimum, check that you are genuinely satisfied with the working hours, holiday entitlement and benefits package before accepting. It’s also important to consider the location and any additional commuting time as studies show that longer commutes have a negative impact on health. Also factor in the cost of the journey, including petrol, public transport and parking. Other expenses – such as the need for specific workwear or an expectation that you will pay for equipment – are worth considering as these can easily eat into a salary.

Who will you work with?

Before accepting a job, you should have met – and felt that you can happily work alongside – the boss. Be wary of an interview conducted by someone from HR that prevents you from meeting the person that will set the precedent for your working environment. You should also know who your co-workers will be and ideally, have met them too. Pay attention to what they reveal: how do they speak about one another and the company? Do they seem happy?

How do they treat existing staff?

You can glean a lot about how you’d be treated as an employee from the way people in the firm behave towards you during the recruitment process. If you contact them, are they helpful and polite? Do they seem organised? Are people friendly towards you or are you unacknowledged as a visitor? Is there an element of openness- for example, are you offered an opportunity to informally discuss the role before applying and are you given a tour when you visit?

If you can find out information about the company’s retention rate, this will be illuminating. Try to establish why the vacancy for your position came about: expansion or promotion are good signs; the former post-holder walking out is clearly not.

Finally, use your network and research skills to find out what kind of reputation the company has. Does anyone know somebody who has worked there or had other direct experience of them? Sites such as Glassdoor can also give insights into a company from people who have worked there.

Workplace culture

Organisational culture – the behaviours, values, norms and beliefs of a workplace- permeates everything, so it is vital that it aligns with your core values and beliefs. For example, working in an environment that places high value on working long hours in order to make profit will energise and drive some people, but others would be utterly miserable. Firms often outline their own view of their culture in their mission statements, but none are going to admit to running a place like some sort of Scrooge. Instead, observe it through the actions of employees when you meet them. Consider how the environment feels to you and if it is comfortable.

Future prospects

Finally, remember that a new job can be a big upheaval. Is it going to offer long term prospects and opportunity for progression, or is the position only right for now? You should have a solid understanding of what the post entails from the job description and discussing the role at interview, but once you are settled and those elements become more routine, will it continue to satisfy and challenge you? Find out about the training available and the employer’s approach to supporting your educational and professional advancement. Also ask about the company’s structure and how that lends itself to promotional opportunities.

For more tips, see our other career advice posts.

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Is it time to adopt analytical approach to recruitment?

  • January 13, 2018

It’s a common scenario – a sudden departure of key talent in your organisation leaves you panicked and desperately requiring new skills to bridge the gaps left as a result…and fast.

And while you can recruit on an ad-hoc basis and temporarily stem problematic issues from snowballing, there is another way. Recent developments in recruitment mean organisations no longer have to rely on inefficient fire-fighting methods to deal with recruitment challenges as and when they occur.

Analytics to prepare for change

Many of the biggest businesses are already using big data to their advantage by understanding customer needs and desires at a really granular level.

Yet recruitment is lagging behind, and to some extent, this is symptomatic of the dispersed nature of the candidate base – the more we can know about candidate behaviour, the better we will become at matching candidates with roles. Accurate predictive candidate behaviour is, of course, the nirvana but we’re still a little way off that!

So while HR has traditionally been focused on people skills rather than number crunching, only now are organisations realising the potential of using analytics to prepare for any changes, as well as improving their bottom line.

How does it work within recruitment?

The growth of recruitment analytics stems from the age-old issue of supply and demand. When your talent leaves or your business is growing, you will inevitably require new skills – utilising a data-driven approach can help to tackle these hiring issues before they become serious and affect the productivity of your organisation.

Beyond this, HR analytics can be used for very specific needs and requirements – for example, they can be adopted to ascertain when your senior executives are eligible to retire, to recognise current employees’ behaviour, or to reveal certain job roles that are targeted by competitors so that you can better focus your retention efforts.

Identifying skills and talent

One of the most common challenges that most organisations encounter is how to deal with the departure of talent, and how to bridge any resulting skills gaps quickly and effectively.

In these cases, analytics can be used to identify what expertise you have at hand, which can then be cross-referenced with those skills required and the talent you are likely to lose in the short to medium-term future. Details can be based on a wide range of factors including an individual’s propensity to change roles so far in their career, qualitative factors like whether they’ve appeared more disengaged with their work, and even things like whether they’ve recently updated LinkedIn, which could be a sign that they’re considering a new role.

These factors combined – along with a whole host of other information – allow companies to map their entire business, and identify those roles that may need filling in the future. By doing this, organisations are able to effectively implement cross-training, redeployment or hire, and ultimately plan better for potential future shortages.

So, are analytics the solution?

Data and number crunching is by no means a be-all and end-all solution, but when aligned with the ability to understand people skills and challenges, it can make a significant difference to HR departments. What’s more, as the ideas and programmes used to deliver this information mature, analytics will only become ever more effective within businesses.

To talk further about how data can be used to prevent panicked hiring and ensure your organisation is prepared for the worst, talk to us at Clayton Recruitment – we’d be more than happy to help.

Check out some of our other blogs to find career and development advice for both businesses and professionals. Or take a look at some of our current jobs

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How to shortlist Candidates effectively and efficiently

  • January 3, 2018

The New Year is an ideal time for a fresh start and, as a result, more people decide to make a career move than at any other point. So, with companies likely to see a significant increase in the amount of applications from which they must shortlist, how can they ensure that they pick out the right candidates? Here are our top five tips.

1) Before you begin to look at the applications, it’s vital that you define your ideal candidate. Use your job description and person specification to create two checklists: the essential criteria and desirable criteria needed to do the job. The standards are likely to relate to all of the following key areas, plus any others that are relevant:  education, work experience, skills and knowledge, competencies and personality traits. Be very strict about the criteria you term ‘essential’: these should relate to the qualities and traits of top performing employees in the role.

2) The next step is to begin the shortlisting process. At this stage, some employers choose to utilise the services of a specialist recruiter that knows the market inside out: they can identify the right talent quickly and may already have people among their network of candidates that might fit the role.

3) If shortlisting in-house, do so in stages.

Stage 1: Go through the applications and discard any that don’t meet all of the essential criteria. You now have a list of candidates who can all do the fundamentals of the role. At this point, it is also worthwhile noting where applications have come from so that you know where to advertise future vacancies.

Stage 2: Decide how many candidates you want to interview. Go through the remaining applications, weigh them against each item in your list of desirable criteria and record the number of criteria they meet. Some recruiters like to use a spreadsheet as this helps them to rank candidates at a glance. During this stage, you should also check that there are no inconsistencies in their CV and that spelling, punctuation, grammar, presentation and attention to detail are in line with your expectations.

4) You can now decide who to select for interview. It is important to think outside the box here: you may have a list of desirable criteria, but it’s unlikely that an individual will meet all of them, so decide which combination will have the most impact. Also, if you are replacing a current post holder, don’t have a vision of replacing like with like: think about what they could do when they joined, rather than what they can do now.

5) In addition to notifying the candidates selected for the next stage, ensure that you also contact everyone who applied –even if there were hundreds- to thank them for their interest, but letting them know that, unfortunately, this time they have not been shortlisted for interview. A superior candidate experience is crucial in today’s skills short environment. After all, a candidate that isn’t the right fit for now might just be, in the future.

If you have a vacancy and would like to talk to us about how we can help you shortlist the right person for the job, contact our specialist team of recruiters.

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Interview feedback: how to request it and how to use it

  • December 11, 2017

After the interview: what went wrong?

If you are interviewed for a job that you really want and are unsuccessful, it can be very disheartening. It’s tempting to replay the interview in your head, trying to work out what went wrong. You weren’t late and had dressed smartly. You’d prepared by doing plenty of research into the role and employer. You thought the interviewer seemed happy with your answers. So, why did they to decide not to hire you and how can you avoid it happening again?

Why you should ask for interview feedback

Instead of guessing the answers to these questions, it’s important to ask for feedback so that you understand which area of your interview technique needs developing. Don’t just chalk it up to experience and simply keep applying elsewhere. Most of us have an unsuccessful interview at some point, and it isn’t a waste of time if you view the experience as one from which you can learn and develop. Try not to let it knock your confidence: feedback might highlight aspects that you wouldn’t have considered; being mindful of them could directly result in you securing the next job that you apply for.

How to ask for feedback

How you ask for feedback will depend on the way in which you find out that you have been unsuccessful. If your recruitment consultant gives you the news, spend some time discussing the interview with your consultant who will be able to pass on any feedback and offer you tips on how you can improve your technique.

If you are telephoned by the company, ask there and then; if they email you, reply within 24 hours so that the interview is still fresh in their mind. And how do you word the request? Always begin by thanking them for the opportunity to be interviewed. Whatever you do, don’t suggest that the employer made the wrong decision. This graciousness is important because you never know when you might have to deal with the interviewer or company again in the future.

Then, rather than asking ‘why didn’t I get the job?’ or ‘what did I do wrong?’ – both of which put the interviewer on the spot and sound rather defensive – ask if they would mind letting you know what you could do to improve next time. Which area do they think that you could develop most?

If you disagree with any feedback, don’t allow your feelings to get the better of you or protest. Instead, focus on moving forward with a new insight.

What to do with interview feedback

 

Some feedback will be very easy to address. For example, if you are told that you responded to a particular question in a way which lacked detail, you can prepare a more thorough response should the question arise again. Other feedback may require more thought. Could you film yourself responding to key questions and review the way that you come across? Do you have a friend or recruiter that could conduct a mock interview with you? Would more research into a company help next time? If you are given a number of areas where you could improve and it seems daunting, aim to address one or two key ones.

So, see interview feedback as invaluable positive guidance which helps you to develop the way that you present yourself professionally and, consequently, enables you to have a successful career.

For more job interview advice from the team, check out our other posts here.

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New Year, new job?

  • December 5, 2017

It is very common for job seekers to wait until after Christmas and the New Year to look for their next career opportunity, perhaps assuming that the festive period will be quiet and employers won’t be looking for new staff. However, there are a number of employers currently seeking the right candidates, with particular opportunities for those seeking temporary seasonal roles, so don’t risk missing out!

Analysis from a recent study, which we conducted by comparing levels of vacancies across Lancashire, highlighted a number of key areas, where professionals are in particular demand.

Fork Lift Truck Drivers:

We have seen increased demand for professionals with a relevant license to operate forklift trucks in warehouses, and unload and load the vehicles. Drivers who are able to demonstrate an ability to pay attention to detail are particularly sought after as roles usually involve accurately allocating stock, before gathering and wrapping orders. The hourly rate for such roles is typically in the region of £7.50 – £8.65. We expect demand to rise further as Christmas approaches and businesses increase their stock levels: forklift operators will play a crucial role in ensuring the smooth movement of these goods.

Purchase Ledger Clerks:

The continuing growth of business activity in Lancashire has resulted in many companies expanding their finance departments and hiring additional Purchase Ledger Clerks to help manage their accounts. Consequently, well-organised professionals who pay attention to detail and possess excellent communication skills are sought after by a range of companies across the region. Clerks with some prior experience can anticipate salaries in the range of £17,000 – £18,000 per annum.

Telesales Representatives:

We are seeing consistent demand for Telesales Representatives across the region as firms continue to need the skills of excellent communicators to reach customers via the telephone. There are vacancies across a range of sectors for positions operating from both within call centers and smaller offices. Employers are looking for professionals with excellent communication skills, persuasiveness and patience. Salaries typically range from £13,500 for entry level positions to £30,000 for Telesales Managers.

Heavy Goods Drivers / Multi-drop Drivers:

The trend for online retailing continues to drive demand for drivers to move goods from warehouses to consumers. Consequently, many employers are seeking additional drivers, particularly those who possess a Class 2 Heavy Goods licence and CPC card. This type of role often has a customer-facing element so interpersonal skills are a must. We are also seeing increased demand for drivers to transfer large industrial equipment safely and securely from many of the region’s employers.

Account Managers:

With more and more companies investing in Lancashire, rising competition means firms are increasingly seeking expert Account Managers to help them create strategies to secure the loyalty of existing customers and acquire new ones. Experienced B2B professionals can command annual salaries in the region of £30,000.

So, if you’re seeking a role for Christmas or looking for a new challenge in the New Year, get in touch today to see what opportunities we have available. And, if you’re a firm seeking talent in the festive season and beyond, we can help find your next hire.

You may also like to download our guide on How to Develop Your CV.

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Is there a place for EU workers post-Brexit?bre

  • November 30, 2017

Love or hate to talk about it, there’s no getting away from that infamous “B-word”.

Brexit has been dominating our headlines for over a year, leaving in its wake a trail of uncertainty and questions raised over the future of businesses right here in the UK…and in particular, the future of EU workers.

In recently leaked documents, it seems the government will be taking a hard line towards EU workers, extending rules that currently only apply to non-EU migrant workers.

In a two-fold proposal, access to the UK jobs market could be markedly restricted; firstly by closing access to low-skilled jobs for EU nationals, and secondly by only allowing EU nationals to apply to jobs paying a minimum of £30,000.

So where does that leave our UK businesses?

This will no doubt have a big hit on our economy – for many industries, including those in tourism and manufacturing, more than 90% of migrants currently working in the UK will no longer be eligible under the new proposals.

It’s certainly a worry for businesses that rely on foreign workers to keep their sectors functioning, and only puts more pressure on the government for a practical plan to be put in place for the post-Brexit UK labour market.

The question over whether the post-Brexit immigration rules will create a skill shortage, and a demand for workers that our own labour market may not be able to meet, is a serious one…and of course, the true impacts on the economy will remain to be seen.

Other options for labour relief are few and far between; while automation has been put forward as a viable alternative to a reduced labour pool, the reality is that this will likely prove too expensive an investment for many SMEs.

How then, can businesses recruit from a reduced post-Brexit labour pool?

Despite concerns over staffing issues, and a no-doubt a drastically reduced pool of potential workers, it isn’t all doom and gloom. Certainly, there will be new challenges to overcome, but there is no reason why many UK businesses won’t be able to recruit as successfully post-Brexit as they were before the election took place.

The principals of recruitment remain the same; you need to be able to find the best talent out there that is best suited to your roles…and that means having the right people on board that can help you find it.

If you have concerns over the impact Brexit might have on your staff, or would like to know more about how we can help you source the best possible talent for your vacancy, feel free to get in touch with the team here at Clayton Recruitment – we’d be more than happy to help.

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How to answer the interview question: “Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?”

  • November 29, 2017

When an interviewer asks, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” many interviewees find themselves flummoxed. They haven’t thought that far ahead. All they know is that, right now, they want this particular job. Where it will have taken them in 1825 days is anybody’s guess. And, after all, how can they possibly say what they’ll be doing then when they don’t even know what they’ll be doing this weekend?

So, why do interviewers like asking this question? The aim of the interviewer is, of course, not to test your psychic ability, but to dig deeper and find out more about you as a potential employee. In particular, they want to find out what your mid-term career goals are to see if they align with both the role and what they are able to offer you as employers. Will you be satisfied with the position and prospects, work hard and stay in their employment for a long time? They want to hire someone who is genuinely excited about the job and who sees it as a great career move.

Let’s start with what not to say.

  • Don’t joke about wanting to do your interviewer’s job. Nobody wants their own job prised from them by a competitive new hire.
  • Don’t go into a very detailed plan about how you will get promoted. It can look over-confident and inflexible.
  • Don’t mention unrelated dreams such as writing a novel or owning a business. An employer is interested in what you will do for them. Don’t joke about winning the lottery and retiring, either.
  • Don’t ponder for ages, suggest a few different things or – worst of all – say that you haven’t thought that far. It will make you look directionless.
  • Don’t make any references to their rivals. Some interviewees think that mentioning an aspiration to gain the skills to work for another notoriously selective or popular employer makes them look ambitious, but why would any firm invest in you just so that you can go to a rival?

When you give your response, the ideal answer will portray you as ambitious but not entitled; forward-thinking but adaptable; realistic but aspirational. The main thing to do is show that you are excited about this position and what you will learn over the next five years: you have a desire to succeed and be the best you can at it. The interviewer will be looking for evidence that this job will meet your goals for several years and that you will stay in it long enough to repay any investment – of both time and money – in you. Then, rather than focusing too much on where you want to go next, present a vaguer and more flexible desire to progress and develop, should opportunities arise. If you can do a bit of research into your employer’s long-term goals and show that your personal career goals align with them, even better. They’re looking for nurses to mentor new staff as part of a recently introduced induction programme? Great – that suits your ambition to guide and eventually train others.

Finally, be prepared for one or two follow-up questions which might be used to see if your answer is a rehearsed one or if it genuinely reflects who you are.

For more interview advice from the team, check out our posts here.

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