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Easy to Action Interviewing Strategies for Hiring Managers 

The interview process can be a gruelling task for all parties involved. When most hiring managers think about the complexity of interviewing, they focus on the challenges facing the person being interviewed. However, those hosting the interview also have their own hurdles to overcome too.  

From avoiding unconscious bias, avoiding ageism, and making sure you sell your candidates on the idea of working with your business, there are several important points to keep in mind as well as remembering all the main points covered at the end of the session.  

Here are some of the top strategies to follow as a hiring manager if you’re concerned you might not be getting the most out of your interviews. 

1. Know Your Interview Options

The first step in ensuring you can master your interviews as a hiring manager is knowing what methods you can use to best connect with potential candidates.  

Today, the traditional face-to-face interview isn’t your only option. Video interviews have increased by 67% due to the pandemic and the rise of remote working with technology advancements being key. As hybrid employment options continue to thrive and companies look for ways to streamline the interviewing process, video conversations will likely grow to be more common in many businesses throughout the upcoming years if not already popular.  

But not forgetting, there’s also the time-old classic of picking up the phone for simple phone interviews as well to simply hear the person who could potentially be working with you. 

Each type of interview has its own challenges to consider. For instance: 

  • In-person interviews: You’ll need to think about where you’re going to host your interview, whether it’s a welcoming space, who will attend, and whether the candidate will present or just have a simple face to face conversation. 
  • Video interviews: Consider what kind of video meeting software you’ll be using, the background you’ll have in your video, and how you can present yourself as professionally as possible over a webcam. Always test the sound and camera quality beforehand and check whether all those participating are visible on screen. 
  • Phone interviews: Ask yourself whether you may need to record any phone interviews to go back over them later and how you can ensure you get a promising idea of what the candidate is like based on voice alone. 

2. Avoid Inappropriate Questions

Inappropriate questions are becoming more common than you would think in interviews. While certain topics of conversation can feel like polite small talk at first, they often cause more problems than you’d think. For instance, asking people about what they did on the weekend can create an unconscious bias if you also have a shared hobby with them – but also at the same time, could be harmless conversation to break the ice. 

Unconscious bias could favour one candidate over another because you like certain things about their lifestyle or personality, which have nothing to do with the role or the ability to complete their tasks. 

Some other questions to avoid are: 

  • Where do you live?  
  • How did your childhood shape your professional life?  
  • If you could choose a different career, what would you choose?  
  • What is the worst trait of your previous manager? 

All the above questions could be classed as too personal, too confronting and encouraging speaking badly about others – all traits you want to avoid when interviewing someone for the first time and something you don’t need to hear to assess their capabilities for this role. 

3. Interview Styles and Formats

There are many kinds of interviewing techniques that today’s business leaders and hiring managers can use, including competency-based or collaborative interviews, presentations, and group interactions to get a real feel for the potential candidates. 

Interviews are always best performed with two people from the hiring company, which can help avoid bias. It also gives those hiring the chance to discuss different opinions on those they are interviewing and not decide based solely from one person’s perspective and therefore giving the candidate a fair chance. 

Other methods are to consider using a first and second stage interview format before the final decision is made. In today’s environment, many first and second stage interviews can take place over Zoom or Teams so that it suits all parties involved. Carrying out interviews online also gives you more chance to interview more people, without the need for travel, time allocation and gives the candidates a better chance of being able to partake at a time that suits them and you best. 

4. Generalise Your Interview Questions

Standardising your interview questions makes it easier to assess your candidates when you have interviewed several people for a role. It also means you’re less likely to allow unconscious biases to get in the way of your hiring decisions because you’re evaluating everyone based on the same set of guidelines, criteria, and questions. 

Create specific competency-based interview questions for the specific role in question, which allows you to score each potential employee based on their specific values, behaviours, and results.  

For instance, you can ask questions like; “share examples of times they’ve acted as a leader” or “shown exceptional teamwork”, and then make notes about their responses. Assigning scores to answers will also help you see who you should be shortlisting based on their answers compared to others if you are interviewing a larger number of people. 

Your interviews need to maintain a level of flexibility. It will be logical to ask follow-up questions to elicit more detail at times when needed if the candidate doesn’t elaborate themselves. 

“Tell me more about X or Y or why you decided to do B or C” are classic follow-up questions that work well to get more of an understanding of the candidates’ experiences.  

To make sure you know about a candidates’ hard skills, behavioural and soft skills there are some questions that LinkedIn Talent Solutions suggests you cover.  

  • “Say you’re negotiating a contract or administrative action or settlement in which the parties are far apart in what they want. Use a past example of this to talk me through your negotiation process.” 
  • “What would you do if you were asked to work on a case, contract, or business scenario that gave you ethical qualms? Has this ever happened to you—and what did you do?” 
  • “Tell me about a time you had to make a tough call that required you to decide between a gut feeling and the strategic decision-making of outside counsel.” 

5. Make Notes and Follow Up

Finally, make sure you take notes as often as possible as you progress through the interviews. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment of the conversation and then forget everything you needed to know about the candidate when you come back to review later.  

Always set aside some time at the end of each interview to gather your thoughts and catalogue what stood out to you most about the candidate (good and bad) before heading into another interview or meeting.  

Making notes can also help when you’re following up with your candidates by allowing you to provide a more contextual and relevant message and feedback, should they be successful or not. Showing you remember what you said (like any requirements for their starting dates or training they need) shows the potential candidate you’re invested in working with them and that you are attentive to what they were talking about during their time with you. 

Remember, if you’re struggling with your interviewing process, it’s often helpful to seek some help from a specialist recruitment company like ourselves that can help with a lot more than just finding you new candidates – we can also give you advice on how to interview more effectively, with tips on questions you might need to ask. 

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Posted By

Lynn Sedgwick

Managing Director

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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 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.

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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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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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How To Write A Standout Cover Letter And Secure That Interview

  • March 28, 2019

I can’t emphasise enough how important cover letters are becoming when it comes to standing out in the career race.

They’re a golden opportunity to introduce yourself, highlight your most desirable skills, and create a good impression in your recruiter or hiring manager’s eye.

So why on earth are they so often skimmed over – or even worse, left out altogether?

Without a cover letter, your job application is just another sheet of paper, or another PDF file on the computer screen – one often lacking in personality and excitement.

And you know what? That’s fine: after all, the CV’s function is to list experience and skills. Your cover letter is there to add interest.

Without a cover letter, your CV is much more likely to be skimmed over and discarded. It might not even be read at all – almost certainly the case if the job description has asked for a cover letter to be included.

However, that’s not to say that any old cover letter will do.  There’s an art to writing a good cover letter – one that will make a recruiter straighten in their seat and think, ‘hmm, this person looks interesting.’

What To Include and What To Leave Out Of A Cover Letter

Write your cover letter in the first person. When you’ve written your first draft, check over it and you’ll probably find that you’ve started every single sentence with ‘I’. Go back and reword some of the sentences so that they have variation in how they begin – it makes the cover letter read better and will increase the impact.

Mix it up and write different cover letters for different organisations. Personalisation is key and always gets noticed.

Your recruitment consultant can help you with this. For each job application, scour the job ad to look at the particular skills or competencies they’re seeking. Write your cover letter to tell them how your skills and experiences fit what they are looking for. Include why you want to work for their company too.

Remember not to ramble: If it’s a big block of text crammed onto one page, then you put the person off ever reading it at all. Four to six very short paragraphs are the perfect length.

Ensure you create white space between each major piece of information, so that it is easy to read and pick out the critical parts. In today’s online world many cover letters could be read on mobile so factor this in too.

Use straightforward, clean language; you are a professional after all. Complex language can be a headache for the reader and confuses the message – i.e. why you’re the ideal person for the role.

Break overly long sentences into shorter ones, then read it aloud and see how it sounds.

Put all your contact details on the cover letter. If you are unavailable to take calls during working hours, advise when is suitable.

Make sure you mention the name of the company in the body of the cover letter and demonstrate that you have done your research on the company in some way. This marks the application out as targeted and that you care enough to make your application stand out.

Strike a balance. Every company enjoys being flattered. While you want to demonstrate you are the right person for the role, be aware you don’t come across as sounding desperate.

Don’t send your letter without having someone read over it for spelling and grammar mistakes. Of course, run it through spellcheck first, but that won’t always pick up homophones such as ‘their and there’ or ‘your and you’re’.

Then, of course, make sure your recruitment consultant sees it too.

Put real thought into what the reader might find interesting about you and your work experience.

In short, keep it short. Keep it readable. Keep it relevant to the job offer. Get someone to check it. Above all, put some serious effort into making sure it’s as good as it possibly can be, as a lack of effort will rarely open the door to an interview.

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 building your team or looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us 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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