banner image

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.

Share This Post

banner image

Interview Preparation – Top Tips

  • March 20, 2022

Look the part.

Dress to impress regardless of the level of the role that you are going for. Make an effort and dress in a suit or if you don’t have one, your smartest interview clothes. (Remember 1st impressions count)

Know where you are going.

If you don’t know where you are going it never hurts to do a dry run prior to your Interview, failing this make sure that you leave plenty of time to get to your destination. It is better to arrive early and go over your research than to turn up late and flustered.

Know you target audience.

Research the company that you are going to interview for and use any additional knowledge that your consultant may have gained to improve your chances to blow them away!!

Don’t rely on the interviewer being a mind reader.

Ensure that you sell yourself to the best of your ability; the person interviewing you may have had nothing to do with short listing you and has only seen your CV 5 minutes ago, not having time to digest it. Use this opportunity to sell yourself into the job.

Smile!!! Be happy to be there.

Employers are not just looking for excellent skills but someone to fit into an existing team, smiling will help overcome your nerves and show the employer that you are a happy, enthusiastic individual that they should have on board.

SAMPLE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

• Why do you want to join our organisation?
• What would you do if …….. happened? (hypothetical questions)
• Describe a situation in which you dealt with confrontation (for example a difficult customer).
• Describe a situation in which you influenced or motivated people.
• What other roles have you considered/applied for?
• Describe yourself in three words.
• Describe a situation in which you used your initiative.
• Describe a situation in which you solved a problem.
• Describe a situation in which you took responsibility.
• What are your hobbies?
• What was your biggest setback? Or how do you deal with adversity?
• Describe a situation where you had to plan or organise something.
• What is your usual role in a team?
• Describe a situation where you had a difficult decision to make.

EXAMPLE ANSWERS FOR QUESTIONS

Please note Clayton Recruitment does not advise that these are the correct answers to the questions listed but are a guide on how they may be approached.

Why do you want this job?

One of the most predictable questions and very important! You need to demonstrate that you have researched the employer and tie your knowledge of them into the skills and interests that led you to apply. Try to find some specific features on which the employer prides themselves: Their training, their client base, their individuality, their public image, etc. This may not always be possible with very small organisations but you may be able to pick up something of this nature from the interviewer.

Describe a situation in which you lead a team.

Outline the situation, your role and the task of the group overall. Describe any problems which arose and how they were tackled. Say what the result was and what you learned from it. Try and keep the examples work related and as relevant to the role you are applying for as possible.

Describe a situation where you worked in a team

Most jobs will involve a degree of teamwork. The interviewer needs to assess how well you relate to other people, what role you take in a group and whether you are able to focus on goals and targets.
Outline the situation, your particular role and the task of the group overall. Describe any problems which arose and how they were tackled. Say what the result was and what you learned from it.

What are your weaknesses?

The classic answer here is to state a strength which is disguised as a weakness, such as “I’m too much of a perfectionist” or “I push myself too hard”. This approach has been used so often that, even if these answers really are true they sound clichéd. Also, interviewers will know this trick. If you feel they really apply to you, give examples: you could say that your attention to detail and perfectionism make you very single-minded when at work, often blotting out others in your need to get the task done.

A better strategy is to choose a weakness that you have worked on to improve and describe what action you are taking to remedy the weakness.

Don’t deny that you have any weaknesses – everyone has weaknesses and if you refuse to admit to them the interviewer will mark you down as arrogant, untruthful or lacking in self-awareness, This question may be phrased in other ways, such as “How would your worst enemy describe you?”

Who else have you applied to/got interviews with?

You are being asked to demonstrate the consistency of your career aims as well as your interest in the job for which you are being interviewed. So if you have applied to one large Law Firm it is reasonable to assume you will be applying to them all.
What you can certainly say in your favour, however, is that the present employer is your first choice. You may even answer the question by explaining you have yet to apply to any other organisations for this very reason. Perhaps your application to the other firms is imminent, depending on the stage you are at in the recruitment cycle.

Give examples that are:
• Relevant – related to the business you are presently being interviewed for
• Prestigious. They will reflect well on the firm interviewing you
• Consistent. Not from lots of different job areas or employment groups of less interest to you than the present opportunity
• Successful so far. Do not list those firms who have rejected you.

What are your strengths?

This allows you to put across your “Unique Selling Points” – three or four of your key strengths. Try to back these points up with examples of where you have had to use them.

Consider the requirements of the job and compare these with all of your own attributes – your personality, skills, abilities or experience. Where they match you should consider these to be your major strengths. The employer certainly will.

For example, team work, interpersonal skills, creative problem solving, dependability,
reliability, originality, leadership etc., could all be cited as strengths. Work out which is most important for the particular job in question and make sure you illustrate your answer with examples from as many parts of your experience, not just university, as you can.
This question may be phrased in other ways, such as “Tell me about yourself” or “How would a friend describe you?”

Have you got any questions?
At the end of the interview, it is likely that you will be given the chance to put your own questions to the interviewer.

  • Keep them brief: there may be other interviewees waiting.
  • Ask about the work itself, training and career development: not about holidays, pensions, and season ticket loans!
  • Prepare some questions in advance: it is OK to write these down and to refer to your notes to remind yourself of what you wanted to ask.

It often happens that, during the interview, all the points that you had noted down to ask about will be covered before you get to this stage. In this situation, you can respond as follows:

Interviewer:

Well, that seems to have covered everything: is there anything you would like to ask me?

Interviewee:

Thank you! I’d made a note to ask about your appraisal system and the study arrangements for professional exams, but we went over those earlier and I really feel you’ve covered everything that I need to know at this moment.

You can also use this opportunity to tell the interviewer anything about yourself that they have not raised during the interview but which you feel is important to your application:

Don’t feel you have to wait until this point to ask questions – if the chance to ask a question seems to arise naturally in the course of the interview, take it! Remember that a traditional interview is a conversation – with a purpose.

Examples of questions you can ask the interviewer

These are just a few ideas – you should certainly not attempt to ask them all and indeed it’s best to formulate your own questions tailored to your circumstances and the job you are being interviewed for! Make sure you have researched the employer carefully, so that you are not asking for information which you should be expected to know already.
• I see it is possible to switch job functions – how often does this happen?
• Do you send your managers on external training courses?
• Where would I be based – is this job function located only in …?
• What is a typical career path in this job function?
• Can you give me more details of your training programme?
• Will I be working in a team? If so, what is the make-up of these teams?
• What are the possibilities of using my languages?
• What are the travel/mobility requirements of this job?
• How would you see this company developing over the next five years?
• How would you describe the atmosphere in this company?
• What is your personal experience of working for this organisation?

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 or email us here.

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

Share This Post

banner image

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.

Share This Post

banner image

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.

Share This Post

banner image

7 Questions Hiring Managers Ask From An Accountancy Firm

  • June 19, 2019

Are you preparing for an upcoming accountancy interview? Would you like to know the common questions that come up time and again?

When preparing for any interview, it helps to have some insider knowledge on what types of questions typically come up. Having in-depth recruitment knowledge at our disposal here at Clayton Recruitment based on over 30 years experience, we share the most common accountancy interview questions. Read on to find out which questions accountancy hiring managers are asking this year.

Why Do You Want to Work For THIS Company?

You have accountancy skills, that’s why you’re sitting in this interview, but hiring managers will often want more than this. They will want to know why you are more hungry for the job than any other candidate. Is the location where you want to be? Did you see something on their website that caught your eye? Was it the culture, potential career opportunities or the chance to work with a marketing leading product or service. Demonstrate that you’ve done your research on the company to nail this question.

Do You Know About These Accounting Standards?

Rehearse your basic accounting principles including real and nominal accounts, accounts payable and receivable, everyday business transactions and the difference between International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).

When applying for a higher level role such as senior accountant, be prepared to talk in depth about how provide financial support to your current business ensuring sufficient understasnding of various financial issues that facilitates the achievement of business targets.

How Have You Managed Bad Debts?

This is a handy question for hiring managers to see not just how much experience you have, but your financial nouse. As an accountant, the blame often lies with you when the numbers don’t look good, even though the root of the problem might have come from a different department.

Have specific examples that you can share of when you have turned around a negative debt situation. Be able to describe what the situation was, what you did and the result you achieved for your company. Only by sharing these situations do you demonstrate the value you bring to a company who is lucky enough to have you on their team.

What Would You Do Differently?

All candidates are human, and hiring managers know this. There is often a worry from the candidate that they think the interviewer expects them to be superhuman – they don’t. This question is useful because it helps the candidate talk about how they approach and solve problems, without having to admit to previous mistakes.

When this or a similar question about problem-solving arises in the interview (because there will be one), remember to answer with a focus on the positive. You can say ‘while this was a problem at the time, this is how I solved it…’ or ‘if this problem arose again, I would approach it in this way…’.

Tell us About a Time When You Reduced Costs

As an accountant, you will be expected to be able to reduce outgoings at all costs. Give examples of when you have achieved this in previous roles, by sharing the details of the problems and the steps you took reduce expenditures.

Showing that you are continually looking to manage and reduce costs for a business will get the attention of a hiring manager’s good books and validate that you are responsible in your role as an accountant – looking after the health of the companies finances and not just keeping them in order.

Hiring managers are looking for pro-active candidates who understand how vitally important credit control is in today’s financial sector, not just someone with the right certificates.

Tell us About Your Hobbies and Interests

This might seem like an outdated question but now more than ever hiring managers are trying to create a company culture which aims to retain staff. This question is not necessarily about finding whether you are going to be a new member of the company squash club, but it seeks to find out what drives you and if you have a similar ethos to other employees. Be honest and talk about your passions outside of work – hiring managers want to see the real you, not a homogenised version.

Where Do You See Yourself In (X) Years?

This is a standard question but it applies now more than ever. There is a chronic skills shortage in specialised sectors such as accountancy and businesses are desperate to keep the best talent. If the truth is ‘I want to do it for a year to put on my CV’, you might want to modify this answer.

Make it clear that you want to grow with the company. Talk about the plans you have for the future that you can incorporate these into their business, sharing how you want to develop professionally and you see yourself doing that with this company.

Prepare your answers to these common questions and you will have all the main topic areas covered.

Remember, this isn’t an exhaustive list. If you work in the field of tax, audit, treasury or management accounting, be prepared to answer more in-depth questions on your subject area. Remember that interviews are not about being right or wrong, they are mostly about allowing the interviewer see the real you.

After all, if you get the job and you realise you aren’t the right fit, it will be costly for the company and yourself. Lastly, relax, and remember to smile!

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.

Share This Post

banner image

Starting your new role?

  • September 7, 2018

The first 30 days are critical to any job. There’s a lot to take in, new names to remember and you’re still finding your feet and getting settled. On top of all of that, you’re keen to make a good impression, demonstrate your worth and integrate with colleagues. Not much to do then!

We’ve put together the essential tips to help professionals make it through their first thirty days. Follow our guide and you’ll not only survive the first month, you’ll be set up to thrive for a long time to come.

What to do in your first thirty days

The start of a new job is your chance to demonstrate to your new employer what a valuable asset you are. According to Forbes’ research, ‘professionalism’ is the number one trait that employers value. So how can you balance a high degree of professionalism with being focused, positive and enthusiastic?

There are three stages to bring all of these elements together:

  1. Your first day: The most important thing you can do on your first day is to be on time. Lateness is unprofessional and gives the impression of a lack of care. Be friendly and open when introduced to colleagues, but don’t overshare or be tempted to speak negatively about your former employer.
  2. Your first week: Show enthusiasm when delegated work and don’t be afraid to ask questions if there’s something that you don’t understand. Continue to meet with management and directors. Show an interest in what your new employer tells you about the department, the business and its vision. If relevant, relate this to your own experience, as it may well help the company.
  3. Your first month: A new role, a new business and new colleagues all take a little adjustment. Be sure to attend one-to-one meetings arranged by your manager, and if these are not forthcoming then you can request them. Be open to feedback and give feedback in a thoughtful, constructive way. Make your development goals known and work on a development plan with your manager.

Being proactive will put you in the driving seat of your new career and will help you feel more settled and secure. It’ll leave a good impression on your new employer too!

How to make a good impression in your new job

Making a good impression at the start of your new job sets you up for success. It’s about demonstrating your value. You want to reinforce in your employer’s mind that they were right to hire you. The ability to work in a team shows that you’re interested in the collective success of colleagues and the company. Listening, enthusiasm and a willingness to get stuck in show that you’re a good fit while showing off your skills.

When meeting management, be open to what they are saying, especially if they are communicating their vision of what the business or department is working towards. Show an interest and bring your experience to bear: even if you’re not in a leadership position, your experience is valuable and if you have skills or knowledge that will help the organisation achieve what they want, share it. This will impress leaders and demonstrate your skills and commitment.

Making sense of the company culture

Getting to grips with a new job is one thing, making sense of the culture of a business is another. There are several simple things you can do to help you get familiar with your new workplace.

  • Make use of your mentor – If you’ve been partnered with a mentor, they can prove invaluable in helping you understand the business. If you have questions about how things work, potential office politics, or anything that’s not necessarily related to the work but the everyday ticking over of the place, your mentor will be able to give you the inside view.
  • Attend orientation, meetings and introductions – This will give you a good overview of the company and how it works. Meeting key players and observing them in action will give you a good idea of the leadership style and how this influences the business.
  • Pay attention to feedback – Whether feedback is delivered as an everyday drip-feed or in more formal one-to-ones, it gives you a good idea as to the culture. Keep your ears open to what’s being said and learn to understand what is expected of you – being told what to adjust and how to make it better, helps you understand the company’s values in a tangible way.

How to integrate with co-workers

It’s likely that you spend more time with your colleagues than anyone else. So it makes sense to have good relationships with those you work with, even if you aren’t best friends. In order to integrate with colleagues in the first thirty days of your new job, there are a few steps you can take.

On your first day, be friendly and open. A smile and a firm handshake convey trust and create a good first impression. Take time to introduce yourself to your mentor and make sure that you go to lunch! Chatting with people away from your desks is much more likely to see you get along on a personal level which helps to enhance working relationships. Just beware of oversharing and don’t be tempted to talk negatively about your former employer: you’ll quickly destroy trust and be viewed as a gossip.

Over the coming weeks is when you can start to build and solidify working relationships. If your manager hasn’t arranged it, ask to be introduced to the department head. Being aware of who’s who will help you understand your work and build positive relations. If you’re invited to events or networking make sure to go along. Avoiding these kinds of situations gives the impression that you’re not a team player and can damage relations with colleagues.

Hit the ground running

Joining a new business can be a challenging process. But by going through things in a logical and proactive way, you can make the best of your first month. Ensure you tie up your own goals with the goals of the business, demonstrate your value and your boss will be thrilled with their new hire.

Our guide on ‘How to excel in your first 30 days‘ will give you more hints and tips on settling into your new role – download your complimentary copy or contact us on 01772 259 121. We’ve decades of experience working with professionals from a range of industries to place them in their ideal careers and we’d be happy to help with whatever challenges you’re facing.

And if you found this blog interesting please take a look at our other blog on ‘How to onboard yourself into a new job’. You can also register your CV with us online.

Share This Post

banner image

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 

Share This Post

banner image

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.

Share This Post

banner image

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. 

Share This Post

banner image

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.

Share This Post