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The 72 Hour Countdown To Your Interview

  • March 25, 2022

Irrespective of whether you are moving into a new private client solicitor role or you are a superb legal secretary looking for their next opportunity, this is still a key career move; at least for now.

You actively applied for this role because you believe it will deliver you closer to your career and broader life goals.

By giving the interview process the respect it deserves, you will increase your chances of being successful and securing the role.

To truly succeed at a legal interview and confirm to your hiring manager you have the appropriate skills, traits and you are a good culture fit, you will need to be ready.

Poor planning delivers poor results.

Therefore, we aren’t talking about a quick look through their website the night before. Instead, we are referring to being fully prepared and ready by making the most of the 72-hour preparation window you need before your interview begins.

Three days is the perfect length of time to deliver you to the interview primed and ready in a calm and confident fashion.

Here is where we suggest starting.

1. Research and a Conversation With Your Legal Recruitment Consultant

In the current legal recruitment market, it’s likely that you will have found your role through a specialist legal recruitment company like Clayton Legal.

That being the case we, your recruiting partner, should be your first port of call when it comes to knowing as much as possible about the specific legal role in question and the company you could potentially join.

It is imperative to do this sooner rather than later, as this will enable you to carry out additional research as necessary, to stand out. Alternatively, this will let you know about gaps you might have that must be addressed in how you communicate your value to your future employer.

Google is naturally your friend here.

Look at any news about the sector of law you will be involved with. For instance, earlier this month I was looking at information about collaborative law and came across a post from a press release by a Bath law firm who were offering free mediation information sessions to people considering divorce, as part of Family Mediation Week.

A talking point maybe? Though your skills and experience are critical, your wider knowledge of the law is important too.

Research the company online. Learn as much as you can from the website, including all their specialisms and any bigger cases they are working on and what their plans might be.

Review all their social media profiles and anything they have published on LinkedIn’s article platform.

If the website has staff profiles and an ‘Our Story’ page, so much the better. If you can, find out how many employees they have and who is part of the leadership team.

During this research stage, you will be able to prepare good questions to ask that will demonstrate you are a serious candidate who’s done their homework. You would be surprised how many candidates don’t make an effort in this regard, and you’re likely to stand out by doing this.

If you are working with a professional legal recruitment consultant, they will be able to help you with most of this too. So, it’s critical to discuss the job description in detail and how you can demonstrate your value, which leads me onto the next point.

2. Know And Demonstrate Your Value

In today’s legal field hiring managers are looking for skills and abilities, yes; though they are also looking for the value you can add.

Imagine some of the questions you might be asked and prepare your answers that communicate how you have added value in the past. For instance, it might be a new system you initiated on creating court documents that improved the process, or the updated advice process you developed that has generated positive testimonials and referrals.

Ask your recruitment consultant to tell you what is behind the job specification and what are the crucial skills to demonstrate and communicate.

Finally, if you have a ‘brag’ file or letters of commendation or an end of year review that is positive and recent, take them with you and USE them.

It has been known for hiring managers to comment that James or Tania brought in a briefcase and never opened it!

Which left them wondering if they had missed something? No, but James and Tania missed the opportunity to demonstrate yet another validation of why they should get the role.

Remember to use everything at your disposal to position yourself as the logical choice.

3. Practical Logistics

With the best will in the world, we can all misjudge time. Double check the time and location of the interview, as well as the name of the hiring manager.

If you haven’t already been to check out the venue, prepare your route by car or train leaving plenty of time to get there in case you end up experiencing one of those annoying traffic jams that come from nowhere.

Let’s be frank, interviews are stressful enough, so there is no point adding to that unnecessarily by getting lost and certainly not by turning up late. Hint: hiring managers dislike latecomers.

Most people reading this post understand dress code and how what you are wearing does have an impact; you do, don’t you?

I will explore this briefly in a minute.

Firstly let’s talk about confidence and what you wear. I am not suggesting you head out and buy a new outfit or shoes. Instead, think about the outfit that always makes you feel good.

I have a few outfits I love, and I always wear them if I want a boost of confidence. Perhaps you have had this experience too?

No matter how many presentations you have given, or appearances in court; never underestimate interview nerves and their unexpected impact.

Finally, remember the goal of the interview is to leave the interviewers talking about your skills, attitude, and law experience and potentially how well you would fit into the team.

A fascinating fact I discovered last year is that over half of the population has a visual preference and a keen sense of smell and though we all like to think we don’t judge, we sometimes do.

The last thing you want to have your interviewers chatting about at lunch is how strong your perfume was or questioning if you smoked, or crikey how did you manage to walk in those heels?!

If you follow the steps in this post you have a template to impress the hiring manager with the depth of your knowledge in the company, and how confidently prepared you are.

About Clayton Recruitment

Clayton Recruitment has been partnering with business’ across the country since 1989 and during that time has built up an excellent reputation for trust and reliability.

With specialist divisions covering Commercial, Financial, and Engineering appointments, on a permanent basis.

If you are looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

If you would more help on preparing for your interview download our interview checklist here.

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Interview Skills: How to Excel In Your Virtual Interview

  • January 25, 2022

Though this post will focus on virtual interviewing ideas, the fundamental process of the interview is the same.

Interviews are an opportunity for candidates and employers to ‘meet’ virtually or face to face. This enables you to ask questions of each other, demonstrate why you as a candidate will be an ideal hire for the business in question while you test their compatibility to help you develop your career.

Interviews can still be an unsettling experience, particularly in an environment where virtual interactions are still taking place across sectors and many of us aren’t always keen to jump in front of a camera.

Like any life skill, preparation is key. As you prepare for your interview, ensure you answer the following.

  • Knowing why you want to move now.
  • How you will communicate the value you bring through the results you can achieve.
  • How to demonstrate your confidence and capability in every way, including on video
  • And how to confirm you are what your prospective employer is looking for.

If you plan to develop your career in a new role, this blog will help. I will be reviewing several interview fundamentals and how to present well on video.
The first part of any interview process is to gather data – let me explain.

1. Do Your Research

Start by getting to know the business you’re hoping to work for and make sure you can answer the question, “Why are you a good fit for our team?”
The recruitment consultant you are working with will help with this, and it is vital to do your research.

Assessing the business’ website, social media channels, current team, and online content can give you a good insight into the values and principles that guide the business.

You may even find it helpful to look into the background of the person who will be interviewing you on LinkedIn so that you can ask questions related to their role. Remember, asking questions in an interview is a great way to show you are interested, involved, and engaged, all key employability skills every business is looking for.

2. Plan and Prepare

Planning and preparation can make all the difference to how confident you are as you enter the interview.

As you prepare, look through the job description and expectations and discuss the key motivations and drivers for the business with your recruitment consultant.

For example, suppose you were applying for a warehouse operative role. In that case, the requirement might be to demonstrate prior experience working within warehouses and managing your workload efficiently.

Therefore, logically what examples do you have to demonstrate where you have gone above and beyond in this area? Once you are clear on examples, it is much easier to use them to answer questions.

Though you can’t predict every single question you will be asked, several time-tested questions might appear. Prepare for questions around:

  • What’s the most difficult activity you’ve ever had to deal with?
  • How do you deal with an X, Y or Z situation?
  • How would you handle a difficult task? Can you share an example?
  • Why us and why now?
  • What are your career aspirations?

Many businesses use a combination of general and competency-based questions, so be prepared for both. A general question may have a yes or no answer though there is usually an opportunity to share more detail, which helps you demonstrate your knowledge and the drive you will bring to the role.

Practising your interview skills is a great way to perfect your answers to complex questions. It’s also a chance for you to ask people whether you’re making the right impression with your overall attitude, presentation, and image.

3. Master Your Video Skills: It is Easier Than You Think

Video interviews are still often part of the first stage of the hiring process after the hiring team has viewed your CV.

Depending on the business, you may be asked to record a video where you answer a number of questions about yourself and your capabilities as part of a first screening stage.

Videos ahead of time give you an opportunity for multiple takes to get everything right. Though the hiring manager won’t expect you to be in a professional studio, it is important to record your video to profile you in the best possible way.

People use two popular cameras; one is a webcam, the other a smartphone. I want to share a few important details about both.

Using a smartphone, use a stand to avoid a camera shake from a nervous had. A useful technique is to look up or directly at the camera rather than down. This allows you to use your eye contact and body language to maximum effect.

When it comes to video technology, smartphones do an amazing job, and to improve the impact, better lighting and an external microphone will lift the experience. The number of people using video technology has meant that you can get a camera stand, lighting, and a microphone for under forty pounds.

Remember to record in a well-lit room with a plain background behind you.

Recording ahead of time allows you to practise what you say and how you come across. Importantly remember to look into the camera lens, which you can test ahead of time.

Similar principles apply to web cameras which can often be plugged onto a monitor screen or are part of your computer. Test the audio quality ahead of time as using ear jacks or an external microphone might give a better experience.

A headset and earphones are gamers’ choices; however, try to avoid using a headset like this during an interview as they can restrict your movement and are not flattering to wear.

It’s also worth taking extra steps to “set up your space” for video. Make sure your lighting is excellent in your room of choice, and there isn’t clutter or a window behind you in the video stream. If you can’t find a professional-looking space in your home, use virtual or custom backgrounds instead.

Remember, when you record a video like this, taking one will rarely be your best version. Practice really does make perfect, and a rushed or unrehearsed video stands out a mile.

When it comes to having an interactive video interview, the same principles apply that I mentioned earlier.  Remember to look into the camera as much as you can, varying your gaze when someone else is speaking so that you can get a sense check on the body language your interviewer is sharing.

It goes without saying that you should dress for the role you want, which includes all areas of your body that will be both off and on camera.

Being generally confident, friendly, and open will make it easier for your interviewer to connect with you and imagine a space for you in the business. Pay attention to your actions throughout the interview, and try not to engage in any nervous behaviours like wringing your fingers, or tapping your desk, as this can make you look impatient.

We have focused on working with the camera and sound, and there may be other software involved. If that is the case, download the software you need for the conversation in advance, and practice using it. Ensure you know how to do everything from sharing your screen to muting yourself when someone else talks.

Check the quality of your internet connection in advance, so you can warn your interviewer if you’re concerned you might have any lag issues. You can also contact a friend or family member via video to check your video and audio look and sound as good as possible.

Next Steps

The job market is on the verge of a virtual hiring revolution. For some time now, recruitment has been growing increasingly virtual.

Before the pandemic, the Clayton group had already begun utilising video interviewing for our client and our candidate recruitment, with great results.

We have invested in the latest video technology that provides an unparalleled recruitment process for job seekers.

Contact the Clayton Recruitment team today if you would like support to develop your job search in the virtual age.

About Clayton Recruitment

Clayton Recruitment has been partnering with organisations across the country since 1989, and during that time has built up an excellent reputation for trust and reliability. With specialist divisions covering Commercial, Financial, and Engineering appointments, on a permanent basis.

If you are looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121.

If you would like to access our free guides, view them all here.

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Your 10 Step Action Plan to Securing a New Role

  • November 20, 2020

With the backdrop of the pandemic still ever present as we cross over into the second half of 2021, job-hunting may not naturally be on the cards due to perceived market uncertainty and a nervousness to jump ship. However, hiring across the sector has accelerated since mid-February leading to a ‘boom’ in opportunities across many practice areas and regions.

For some individuals, looking for a new role right now could be your first foray into the job-hunting market for years; especially for those in middle and senior management roles.

The critical factor here is doing the work needed to get organised and implement your ‘project new role’ plan. With this in mind, our recruiting team have mapped out a 10 point action plan to help you secure your new role now.

1. Updating Your CV

First things first, it’s time to update your CV.

Make sure your CV is up-to-date and showcases not just your previous work experience, but your talents. Employers are receiving higher than normal applications for roles, so now is the time to stand out.

Remember your new employer wants to know what results you will be able to deliver for their team.

For example, rather than describing your role in this way – ‘Commercial Manager – I held this position for two years at a leading UK organisation in a managerial role’.

Instead, detail your achievements in this role. For example, ‘in my most recent role as a Manager in a leading UK commercial organisation, I have been instrumental in helping increase sales, working closely with the marketing team to implement new strategies and as a result, our online sales increased by 26% in one year.’

2. Creating a Cover Letter

Some candidates ask us whether or not they should include a cover letter with their CV, and our advice is always yes!

Cover letters are still the best way to connect with prospective employers and HR managers; it makes you stand out above others too.

Don’t send out the same generic cover letter for each role you apply for; tailor a cover letter for each position. It’s a little extra work, but it is the best way to get noticed.

Getting your messaging right on your cover letter is essential for your new job search – let me explain.

3. Get Your Messaging Right

Your messaging is the way that you are going to present yourself to prospective employers. This will be especially relevant to you if you are changing sectors or looking for a different role to what you have been trained for.

If you are stepping outside your comfort zone and applying for jobs that are different from your usual remit, you should explain this in your cover letter. Demonstrate your ability to learn and to be flexible (with examples) to explain a change of sector or role to get your messaging right.

4. Set Your Goal

Now it’s time to think about what it is you want from your new role.

You might be instinctively looking for a role that is similar to your last one, or in the same sector, but it might be the time to re-evaluate your career goals – however scary that might sound.

You might realise after some soul searching that now is the time to follow that career dream you have always had at the back of your mind. Talking to a recruitment consultant can help you make sense of your career goal.

5. Consider Different and New Options

You might not want to change sector or role completely, but there are other elements to consider when you’re job searching in our post-pandemic world.

For example-

  • Is it possible for you to move to a different location? Even widening your search area by 10 or 20 miles can dramatically increase your choice.
  • Can you revisit a sector you worked in earlier in your career where you have experience or training?
  • Have you talked through your career plan with a dedicated career coach or recruiter like our team here at Clayton Recruitment?

6. Your Homework

If you are considering moving into a new sector or role, make sure you do your homework first. This means getting as much information as you can about the sector and the position and the opportunities it may, or may not bring for you.

  • Attend sector webinars and workshops,
  • research companies online,
  • what do their employee advocacies look like?
  • Do they have case studies and testimonials?

7. Maintain Your Online Profile

Once you have started applying to new roles, either on your own or with the help of a recruitment company like ourselves, remember to maintain your online profile.

Researching you online is the first thing that HR or hiring managers will do, and now as competition for roles are increasing, make sure your online profile positions you as a professional and ideally an expert in your sector.

Be active on social media, but keep it professional; make sure any personal profiles you have communicate your own personal brand. And remember you can alter your privacy settings too.

8. LinkedIn

Staying with social media – during your job search, LinkedIn is going to be your best friend.

Stay up to date with sector news and stay on the radar of the companies you would like to work for by liking, sharing and interacting with company posts. Connect with people from your sector, HR managers and reconnect with old colleagues.

Putting yourself ‘out there’ on LinkedIn is one of the most valuable things you can do in your new job search.

9. Practice Your Interview Technique

Landing a new role is all about confidence. The more confident you are in yourself, the better chance you have of securing a new position when you get to the interview stage.

Assessment Today have a great online resource for practising your interview technique which you can find here.

10. Work with a Recruiter

And finally – if you are struggling to find a role on your own – we understand that it feels tough at the moment for some individuals – we can help.

We offer a full recruitment service and specialise in middle and senior management candidates looking for new roles.

Please get in contact with us today by calling us on 01772 259 121 or contact us here.

About Clayton Recruitment

Clayton Recruitment has been partnering with organisations across the country since 1989, and during that time has built up an excellent reputation for trust and reliability.

With specialist divisions covering Commercial, Financial, Industrial, and Engineering appointments, on a permanent basis. If you are looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

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The 7 Ways to Upskill in a Rapidly Changing Job Market

  • May 8, 2020

After growing significantly before the COVID-19 outbreak, the job market in the UK was in a strong position.

While coronavirus has temporarily slowed down recruitment in some sectors, some are still thriving. But with many furloughed employees and the fact that it is unclear how long the lockdown measures will last, there is still some uncertainty in the job market.

However, once lockdown has been eased and ended, we know that there will be a sharp increase in recruitment, meaning plenty of opportunities for those who are looking for a new role.

Until then, whether you’re still working full-time, part-time, on furlough, or have unfortunately been made redundant – upskilling is one way to increase your career prospects going forward.

Today, I want to share with you seven of the best ways to upskill in the current rapidly changing job market.

1. Develop Your Interview Skills

First things first, if it’s been a while since you looked for a new role, working on your interview skills is a great way to make yourself feel confident when speaking on the phone with new prospective employers or your recruiter.

Practising speaking on the phone, rehearsing your interview skills, especially on a video call such as Zoom, will help you significantly when it comes to interviewing time. Ask a family member or friend to act as an interviewer, over the phone, or on a video call. With extensive remote working, it is highly likely that your interviews will be virtual.

Remember, in challenging times employers will be looking for dependable employees, rather than loose-canons that they might take a risk on during other more secure economic times. Knowing that you have been in your current role for some time will be a positive for many employers.

2. Network

Networking is free, and can increase your future job prospects – now is the perfect time to engage with your peers and enhance your personal brand.

LinkedIn is still the number one tool for online networking and is a great way to feel connected to others, especially if you are feeling the effects of isolation.

You can start small, by ‘liking’ and commenting on posts from colleagues, peers, as well as clients and businesses you work with or companies you would like to work for.

Keep your posts professional and positive – networking is about getting your name seen and heard, for the right reasons.

3. Training

By law, furloughed workers are not able to undertake any work for their employer; they can, however, complete training.

If you have been furloughed, ask your employer for as many training resources as they can provide. Explore what courses, workshops or seminars your employer can give you access to. At the same time, demonstrate your proactivity. Many professional bodies and training organisations are providing access to free webinars and training. Let me explain further.

4. Take a Course

Furloughed workers are being encouraged by the government to take advantage of free courses that have been made available.

The courses, which have been launched by the Department of Education, are on a collection of job-related skills such as numeracy, coding, internet and digital skills.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said that he hopes the free courses will improve employees’ knowledge, build their confidence and support their mental health.

Several companies are providing resources such as The Open University – you can find out more about the courses here.

5. Work on Your Productivity

Switching from the office to working from home has been a big shock for many people. Some have found it easy to adapt to remote working, while others have found it challenging for a variety of reasons. You may be homeschooling children, or have the special person in your life working from home and juggling when you can do Zoom calls, all can and will impact your productivity.

If you have been struggling to feel and stay positive, which has impacted your productivity, then explore what you can do to change how you are feeling and responding to the situation you find yourself in. Firstly, take the time to review the following:

  • Your working habits – notice what is and isn’t working for you.
  • What worked for you when you were in your workplace? What can you replicate at home?
  • How is your working space set up – is it supporting your productivity?
  • How are you planning your day – if you have children at home you may need to talk with your employer and discuss being flexible with your time?
  • Are you batching tasks?

Once you get into more productive habits, it’s surprising how your mood lifts as you begin to feel better about yourself. Taking time to work on your personal and professional development will support you to improve your performance as well as enhance your job prospects for the future.

6. Self-Development

Similar to upskilling your productivity muscle, there are other aspects of self-development you can work on too.

These could include learning a new language (which boosts brain activity and can positively affect other aspects of your life), starting a journal about your career goals, reading books on subjects that interest you or could help you in your career.
It could be a fitness goal or to improve your sleep routine. The happier and more confident we are in ourselves, the brighter our future looks.

7. Explore New Options

Finally, if you have been furloughed, made redundant or if the last few weeks and months have made you rethink where your career is going, it might be time to consider some different options.

When we slow down, we can take stock of where we are in life, and where we want to be. If your current role is not fulfilling you, or if you decide to explore new opportunities in an area you have been interested in for a while, we can help.

We have a range of vacancies across the North West for talented individuals, and we can help you find a role that suit – get in touch with us here to find out more, or browse our vacancies here.

What Next?

If you’re upskilling right now intending to land a new role, we can help – get in touch with us today.

We are still here, remotely working to help find candidates new roles in which they will thrive.

About Clayton Recruitment

Clayton Recruitment has been partnering with organisations across the country since 1989. During that time, we have built up an excellent reputation for trust and reliability.

We have specialist divisions covering Commercial, Financial, Industrial, and Engineering appointments, on both a permanent and temporary basis. If you are looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

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How to Have Your Most Successful Accountancy Interview (Ever)

  • March 15, 2020

You’ve got an interview for a new accountancy role – whether it’s an Accounts Assistant, a Bookkeeper or Semi Senior Accountant, possessing the knowledge to have your most successful interview ever will help significantly on the day.

Interview nerves can affect all of us, but this shouldn’t be a barrier to your success.

The ideas included in this article are tailored to accountancy candidates hoping to impress in your upcoming interview.

So, let’s get started.

1. The Practicalities

Firstly, you will only be able to give an excellent interview when your mind is free to focus on your answers – this means eradicating any worry about the practicalities of the day.

It is an unfortunate fact that candidates sometimes turn up late for interviews; they are unsure exactly where the interview is taking place or how long it takes to get there. A tip I like to give candidates is to be on time – and this means being early!

Plan your time before the interview carefully, make sure that you are 100% happy with what you are wearing (this will help with your confidence) and you know the names of who will be interviewing you. Using their website and social media, plus the help of your recruiter, research the company thoroughly and be aware of current issues going on in the business – I will talk about how important this is in the next section.

2. Develop a Connection With the Interviewer

The most successful interviews all have one thing in common – the interviewer and the interviewee have a connection.

The way to do this is to listen carefully. Pick up on anything that the interviewer says either during the interview or from your research beforehand.

Has the business recently been taken over? Is the head accountant new in their role? Is there anything on their website that relates to you personally?

They might have posted a news article about a recent project or topic that you have also worked on recently. Accounting firms generally aren’t as self-promotional as businesses in other sectors, so it will make your research more difficult if they haven’t updated their website for a while or they aren’t active on social media. In this case, working with a recruiter will allow you to find out helpful information about the business that will help you to strike that all-important ‘spark’ with the interviewer.

3. Be Commercial

Being a successful accounting candidate is all about demonstrating your commercial awareness and current knowledge of the accounting industry.

Tax, IR35, interest rates, the budget – there are plenty of topical issues that affect the lives of accountants and their businesses. Your interviewer will want to know that you are not only a shrewd accountant, but that your awareness of current issues will make you an asset to their team.

Keep up to date with the Financial Times, Accounting Web, Accounting Today and ACCA Global to equip yourself to talk about current issues.

4. Communicate Effectively

Some accounting candidates think that all they are needed for is their accounting skills. While this is true to a point, your employer will require you to be able to communicate your ideas clearly to other members of the team.

The interviewer will be looking for a confident individual who can communicate effectively, whether that is presenting your ideas or findings to a group, or relaying technical information to members of non-accounting teams. So use a mix of professional and personable language, and don’t focus too much on the technical.

5. Demonstrate Why You Want to Work for This Firm

Finally, one of the essential elements of a successful interview is to let the interviewer know why you, over the other candidates, are the right choice.

This involves being able to explain your career goals and how you fit into the company’s growth plans.

Show them that you want to grow with the company but also that you are the right ‘fit’ for their culture.

It would be best if you had a good idea of the company’s culture from the information that you are given before the interview and throughout the recruitment process. 73% of professionals have left a job due to a poor culture fit; this can be a frustrating time for an employee and can damage your earnings. Working with a recruiter ensures that you are only applying for a role in a company in which you will thrive – don’t run the risk of taking a chance on a company who you think will be right for you, only to be disappointed shortly after you start.

What Next?

Are you looking for your next accounting position? This article should have helped you to ace your next interview, but if you need any extra guidance, talk to us today. We help accounting candidates in the North West find their perfect role and guide them through every step of the recruitment process – get in contact to find out more.

About Clayton Recruitment

Clayton Recruitment has been partnering with organisations across the country since 1989 and during that time has built up an excellent reputation for trust and reliability.

With specialist divisions covering Commercial, Financial, Industrial, Nursing, and Engineering appointments, on both a permanent and temporary basis. If you are looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

If you would like to download our latest interview checklist, you can do so here.

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Unconscious Bias: Is it happening in Your Interviews?

  • March 18, 2019

Let’s be honest; we all at some point or another think we know how our significant other might respond in a given situation.

They will choose that off the pub menu, or they won’t be happy about x doing y, or they won’t want to take a flight on Monday, and the list goes on.

Often, we are correct because our years together have taught us how they generally react. We have taken the time to listen and understand them. They might be an oddball, and they are our oddball whom we have grown to love and adore; quirky habits and all.

Now let’s think about the workplace.

Ever been surprised by the reaction of a colleague in your team or department? I suspect so.

It’s probably because you haven’t taken the time to get to know them well and are making assumptions.

Now let’s take this one stage further and think about the interview process and how, on very little information, we make snap decisions.

It’s related to a phenomenon known as unconscious bias.

What is Unconscious Bias?

It’s a recognised phenomenon which is hitting the headlines more than ever as all organisations are becoming aware of the need to embrace diversity in their organisations.

Unconscious bias refers to a preference that happens automatically and is triggered by our brain making quick judgments and assessments of people and situations.

Unconscious bias is influenced by our background, cultural environment, and personal experiences. We all have these biases and research has shown that they heavily influence how we evaluate people in the interview process and more often than not, put minority candidates at a disadvantage.

Let me explain.

Though you think tattoos are fine or nose studs are OK in other organisations, deep down when Jonathan appears across the table from you at the interview, there is something that doesn’t quite feel right.

Alternatively, maybe Amanda looks almost identical to Amy who didn’t work out earlier in the year and somehow your gut is saying; don’t make the same mistake again.

Then maybe Sean appears who looks exactly like your favourite brother and even supports MUFC as you do. During the interview, he fluffed a couple of questions though he looks like he will fit in with the rest of the guys in the team, so let’s say yes.

Common ways unconscious bias appears that you might also recognise is the halo effect.  The phrase was first coined by Edward Thorndike, a psychologist who used it in a study published in 1920 to describe the way that commanding officers rated their soldiers. So, if you assume that someone is nice, or friendly, you are highly likely to assume that they would also be clever, smart or good at their job: Beware, this is a huge assumption.

The horn effect is the opposite and is likely what is happening to Jonathan and his tattoos. This is where first impressions create an unconscious bias. If, for instance, a person is seen to be too loud, or too shy, it could also be assumed that they will not be smart or clever, or good at their job. Crazy I know, and it happens regularly.

Does any of this sound familiar?

I suspect it does because at some point all of us can be under the effect of unconscious bias in an interview situation.

Why It’s A Good Idea To Minimise Bias

Bias creates the ‘same old same old’, which stifles growth. Research by McKinsey over the last three years has confirmed that a diverse workplace is more effective, and diverse organisations perform better.

One further report by McKinsey called Delivering Through Diversity showed that gender diversity in management positions increases profitability even more than previously thought. In the firm’s previous analysis, companies in the top 25th percentile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 15% more likely to experience above-average profits. The latest data showed that the likelihood has grown to 21%.

Companies with a more culturally and ethnically diverse executive team were 33% more likely to see better-than-average profits.

So, how can you start to remove bias in your interview process?

Set Tasks

If you know that the role requires a specific set of tasks to be completed, include this in the interview process. The halo effect can often result in wasted time when people join your company who can’t do the job. Maybe if you asked Jonathan and Sean to complete the same task and assessed them based on this, Jonathan could turn out to be an amazing find.

Plan Out Your Interview and Questions And Stick To IT

If you are hiring for a specific commercial role, decide on the questions you will ask and who will ask them.

Ensure everyone is asked the same questions by the same person and score answers too. You will be surprised how this starts to standardise the process and remove bias.

Then finally…

Have At Least Two Interviewers

More if you can. Human beings are all different and view things differently. Ideally, interview with someone who is opposite to you; I know that is a stretch but well worth it.

Ensuring that at least two people conduct each interview will help to get a more rounded picture of the candidate.

Unconscious bias as the name implies is just that, outside of our awareness. So reading this post is an excellent first step.

At the end of the day consider how someone will help your business not just where they come from or their friendly demeanour.

About Clayton Recruitment

Clayton Recruitment has been partnering with organisations across the country since 1989 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability.

With specialist divisions covering Commercial, Financial, Industrial, and Engineering appointments, on both a permanent and temporary basis. If you are looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

If you would like to download our latest interview checklist, you can do so here.

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What is your interviewer actually thinking?

  • July 20, 2018

It’s perfectly natural to feel nervous and slightly uneasy in an interview, after all, it’s an important process and one that could shape your career prospects for years to come. Getting a job, as we all know, can change lives – particularly if it’s one you’re desperately keen to get – so it’s hardly surprising that for many people, interviewing can be highly stressful.

However, it helps to get inside the head of an interviewer and put yourself in their shoes. If you were hiring for your own company, what traits and skills would you look for?

Are they who they say they are?

This may sound obvious, but you’d be blown away by the number of people who openly lie on their CV. It’s easy to make yourself sound employable on your application if you just lie and any experienced hirer will likely want to run through your CV to clarify that you are who you say you are and that you’ve done what you’ve said you’ve done. They’ll probably want to throw a few open ended questions at you to allow you to talk through your CV in your own time and – as long as you are telling the truth – this should come naturally. It’s important to remember to consider how your past experiences can help you carry out the role. So rather than simply stating what you did, try and use examples and make a link with what you’ve done in your past and how it could help you in the position you’re applying for.

Cultural fit

One of the hardest things for an interviewer to gauge is whether the person sitting opposite them will fit into their current line-up. There are two distinct schools of thought. Some people like building teams with ‘disruptive’ characters who can challenge the status quo and create results and innovation by being different. Others recognise the value of employing people who can get on with their current employees and won’t upset the apple cart. Unfortunately, there’s no golden solution to this and if the employer doesn’t think you’ll work at their company for whatever reason, they’re unlikely to take you on. Your best bet is to be yourself. Your true personality will reveal itself further down the line and putting on a persona only raises the risk of you not actually being well suited to the organisation.

Are you up to the job?

Finally – and perhaps most obviously – the interviewer will want to know whether you’ve actually got the skills to do the job. This is where pinning examples to things you’ve done in your past really becomes valuable. If you can actually highlight times when you’ve made a difference to your former employer it saves them the task of linking your skills with the job specification and working out whether you’re cut out for the role. Others will do it in their interview and if a hiring manager has an obvious fit for a role, they’re hardly likely to think about other candidates quite so much. It also doesn’t come down to what you just say. If the role involves a lot of interaction with senior partners or associates then you’ll want to consider your speech patterns and ways of communicating. In addition, you should consider any obvious reasons why the company wouldn’t hire you and don’t let the interviewer jump to their own conclusions (which they will). If your CV shows signs of job hopping, for example, then provide reasons for why you’ve done so ahead of being asked.

For other tips, check out our career advice pages 

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Banish interview jitters with our interview checklist

  • July 6, 2018

You’ve crafted a great CV, made a stellar application, and you’ve been selected for interview. Congratulations! You can rest assured that your personal brand is working well if you’ve made it this far. However, don’t be complacent. According to experts, only 2% of job seekers will be offered an interview. And just because your personal brand looks great on paper, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that an interview guarantees success. The work to secure your ideal role is only just beginning.

Acing an interview is not about being a business or an industry genius, it’s about the small practical things you can do that will give you the best chance at success. View the interview as an opportunity to enhance your personal brand further – our interview checklist will help you prepare for the challenge and to secure the best outcome.

Here’s a brief overview of what you need to know.

Practicalities

First of all, arrange time off with your current employer. Don’t just go AWOL on the day, as you want to retain good relations with the company that is currently paying your wages. Gather all of the relevant information from the recruiter – the who, what, when, where and format of the interview. Allow plenty of time to reach the destination and factor in time to find a parking space – don’t let traffic woes stress you out ahead of the important meeting with those you’re trying to impress.

First impressions count for a lot, so make sure you are dressed appropriately for the work environment you’re hoping to join. Even if you’re entering a creative field, anything too ‘out there’ is unlikely to be appreciated. Be smart – iron your clothes, clean your shoes and make sure your hair is freshly washed. Smile, and shake the interviewer’s hand firmly to portray a confident, relaxed demeanour.

Research, research, research. The best way to ensure interview success is to be clear what the job involves, and what is being asked of the candidate. If it’s a multi-stage interview process, ensure you have plenty of examples to showcase your skills as repeating the same anecdote will risk you sounding like a one-trick pony. Demonstrating that you have a wide range of skills and experience is much more impressive to company bosses and HR personnel. They want to see that you can cope with a range of everyday demands and situations.

The interview

There are plenty of steps you can take to enhance your interview success. If you have a phone interview speak slowly and clearly. You may well be on a speaker phone in a meeting room – not favourable acoustics at the best of times – and you want to make sure that everyone in the room hears you properly. A phone interview may be the first time you speak to a potential employer – put across what you need to well, and it won’t be the last.

Whatever interview stage you’re at, bear these tips in mind:

  • Hone in on your skills and have the job spec in front of you – or at least review it before your interview. Relate your past experience to what the new company is looking for.
  • Be specific when talking about your experience. The STAR method helps you to answer questions fully while staying focused. It stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. Explain the situation you were faced with, the task that needed to be done, what action you took, and the end result.
  • Asking about development opportunities is fine, as this shows that you want to stick around, but do not ask about salary or benefits!
  • Your reasons for leaving may be a question the interviewer asks, so have a professional answer prepared. It’s OK to be honest but do frame it in a positive light – saying that the business was moving in a different direction to where you wanted to go, or that you feel you’ve achieved all that you can in the role will be sufficient.
  • Don’t talk down your current employer. Following the previous point, this is absolutely vital. Any unprofessional or personal comments will not win you brownie points with the interviewer.
  • Ask the interviewer questions, for example: how they plan to grow, or where the leadership want to develop key business areas. It’s important you show an interest in the employer you may work for.

Popular interview questions still revolve around the topics of: teamwork, sales ability, planning and organisational skills, customer focus, initiative, and motivation/drive for results. Prepare for questions you may be asked ahead of time. Just make sure that you answer the question you’re asked on the day, and you’re not just shoehorning what you want to say into the conversation. Consider these interview questions and how you might answer them. We’ve put some tips and tricks to give you a head start:

1. Tell me about one of the toughest groups you’ve had to work with. What made it difficult? – What did you do?

Talk about why the group was tough, without talking down other people. Was there a deadline, or a mix of abilities and experience in the group, for instance? Focus on your actions, not other people’s.

2. Tell me a situation in which you were able to turn around a negative customer? – What was the issue? – How did you accomplish the turnaround?

Again, don’t vent about the customer. Explain how they came to be upset. Demonstrate that you took positive actions, like listening and being patient, to resolve the situation.

3. Give me an example of when a mistake you made provided you with a learning experience?

This isn’t a trick question – we all make mistakes, so don’t say you haven’t! Focus on how your rectifying the mistake resulted in a better way of working for you, the team or the business.

Celebrations and learnings

So, you excelled at the interview and have been offered a position – great news! However, if you didn’t receive an offer this time, don’t panic! You can still take a lot away from the experience. Ask the interviewer or your recruitment consultant for feedback – understanding areas where your interview performance could have been better gives you insight into what you need to change next time.

Our interview checklist for candidates is full of practical tips and information to help you make the best of an interview. From preparation to the big day, it has everything to help you land your dream job. Visit our website or call 01772 259 121 to request your free copy.

And if you enjoyed this blog, you may also like to read our blog on ‘What is your interviewer actually thinking?’. Don’t forget to have a look at our recent job vacancies too.

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What is your interviewer actually looking for?

  • June 29, 2018

Over the past few months, we’ve given a considerable amount
of advice on how to write a CV that will make a hiring manager sit up and take
note and how to nail a job interview amongst various other things. However,
we’re regularly asked what a job interviewer is actually looking for and what
they’re thinking when they meet a candidate.

It’s perfectly natural to feel nervous and slightly uneasy
in an interview, after all, it’s an important process and one that could shape
your career prospects for years to come. Getting a job, as we all know, can
change lives – particularly if it’s one you’re desperately keen to get – so
it’s hardly surprising that for many people, interviewing can be highly
stressful.

However, it helps to get inside the head of an interviewer
and put yourself in their shoes. If you were hiring for your own company, what
traits and skills would you be looking for?

Are they who they say
they are?

This may sound obvious, but you’d be blown away by the
number of people who openly lie on their CV. It’s easy to make yourself sound
employable on your application if you just lie and any experienced hirer will
likely want to run through your CV to clarify that you are who you say you are
and that you’ve done what you’ve said you’ve done. They’ll probably want to
throw a few open ended questions at you to allow you to talk through your CV in
your own time and – as long as you are telling the truth – this should come
naturally. It’s important to remember to consider how your past experiences can
help you carry out the role. So rather than simply stating what you did, try
and use examples and make a link with what you’ve done in your past and how it
could help you in the position you’re applying for.

Cultural fit

One of the hardest things for an interviewer to gauge is
whether the person sitting opposite them will fit into their current line-up.
There are two distinct schools of thought. Some people like building teams with
‘disruptive’ characters who can challenge the status quo and create results and
innovation by being different. Others recognise the value of employing people
who can get on with their current employees and won’t upset the apple cart.
Unfortunately, there’s no golden solution to this and if the employer doesn’t
think you’ll work at their company for whatever reason, they’re unlikely to
take you on. Your best bet is to be yourself. Your true personality will reveal
itself further down the line and putting on a persona only raises the risk of
you not actually being well suited to the organisation.

Are you up to the
job?

Finally – and perhaps most obviously – the interviewer will
want to know whether you’ve actually got the skills to do the job. This is
where pinning examples to things you’ve done in your past really becomes
valuable. If you can actually highlight times when you’ve made a difference to
your former employer it saves them the task of linking your skills with the job
specification and working out whether you’re cut out for the role. Others will
do it in their interview and if a hiring manager has an obvious fit for a role,
they’re hardly likely to think about other candidates quite so much. It also
doesn’t come down to what you just say. If the role involves a lot of
interaction with senior partners or associates then you’ll want to consider
your speech patterns and ways of communicating. In addition, you should
consider any obvious reasons why the company wouldn’t hire you and don’t let the interviewer jump to their own
conclusions (which they will). If your CV shows signs of job hopping, for
example, then provide reasons for why you’ve done so ahead of being asked.

For more insights from the team visit our blog or get in touch with the team for more career tips and tricks. 

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Forging a career: how to spot companies that offer more than a job

  • March 27, 2018

Job satisfaction is something that’s frequently held up as the pinnacle of working life. Yet more often than not developing a career is what offers the real satisfaction, not just having a job. Performing tasks because they have to be done feels a lot different to performing tasks that are leading you towards the next step on your career path. In fact, the Good Work Index developed by the CIPD  draws together insight on the factors that help us assess whether the job we have is poor, and how they can be improved. The report, amongst other factors, focuses on the importance of development opportunities to lead to an overall sense of fulfilment. We’ve therefore put together some hints on what to look out for in a company that offers a career… not just ‘a job’.

Junior level: getting off to a flying start

Whether you’re a graphic designer, a chemical engineer or a buyer, the training that you receive in the formative years of your career is so important. Whether you take the route through university with a specific career goal in mind or study an academic subject with only a vague idea of where it might take you, or whether you take an apprenticeship, you need to feel confident that a company has the right processes in place to support you on your journey into professional life.

Look out for businesses that have established training programmes for apprentices and graduates and, crucially, have a proven record of success. When you’ve invested time and money in education that will develop your career, you want to feel that a company will have the ability to support you as you move from novice to experienced professional; if the foundation is shaky then everything built on top will be unstable too.

Life in the middle lane: taking it up a gear

With a few years’ practical experience you’re in a good position to make decisions about your career that can bring exciting new ventures and opportunities. At this point, adding strings to your bow is a good idea. This could be about increasing your value as a whole. For example, you could take a management course so you can lead others. This increases your responsibility and makes you more valuable. It gives you skills that aren’t just about your work, such as people management and other soft skills. These are key in any management situation and are needed by companies across all sectors.

Alternately, at this point, you might want to make a change or head in a specialist direction. If so, then look out for businesses that align with your interests and can offer training that deepens your knowledge, as this will allow you to carve out a particular route for your career. On the flip side, maybe variety appeals more to you. Secondments are a great way for those with a few more years’ experience to get a taste for different areas of the business. It keeps things fresh for you, without committing to one particular avenue definitely, and it broadens your overall skills and experience which is valuable to your employer.

Don’t stop growing: senior career progression

For many, reaching the status of director is the pinnacle of their career. If this is something that interests you then it’s a good idea to look out for companies that are growing or expanding into new territories. You may stand a better chance of reaching a senior level if there is room at the top. Keep an eye out for companies that have clear strategies in place for developing the next crop of leaders, have clear succession plans and have established processes for dealing with this.

Progressing to the level of ‘Head of…’ or director is much more than evidence of ability, it offers some significant benefits. Being a business leader brings with it the chance to make an impact on the profession and to take the company in a certain direction that you envisage. It also enables you the chance to influence and offer help to those below you and shape the direction of their career, as yours was by your seniors.

Whatever stage of your professional life you’re at it’s important to keep thinking about the future and how the present builds towards that. Keep in mind that as you move up the career ladder what you want out of your career may change and the business that fitted your objectives may no longer do so. Of course, building a career entails having a job, but remember to keep thinking about how it fits with your overall career plans – if it doesn’t then maybe it’s time to move on.

If you found this blog interesting, have a look at our other blogs on interview tips and how to get a promotion, or if you’re looking for that perfect role, send us your CV. Alternatively, you can check out all the vacancies we have available.

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