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

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.

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

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

How can candidates prepare for Assessment Methods

  • June 27, 2018

While few companies have hiring processes as challenging as the likes of Google and Apple, far more businesses are introducing additional assessment measures into their recruitment process. In the never-ending war for talent, companies are looking to find the best suited candidate, often in professions with growing skills shortages.

Read the job spec

Before you even begin the application process, make sure you read the job specification thoroughly and spend time considering how you could demonstrate the required abilities and the relevance of your experience. In most instances the first step to any online application is uploading your CV, and companies will be looking for you to demonstrate a set of core competencies, so alter the content slightly if needed to ensure it is directly relevant to the position you are applying for.

Know what’s being looked for

Online assessments are no longer box ticking exercises, often they include series of multiple choice questions designed not only to test a candidate’s professional knowledge, but also their commercial awareness and values. These tests are often designed with multiple ‘right’ answers and candidates will be expected to pick the most relevant response, so it is crucial to understand what a company is looking for in their employees.

Do your research

It’s definitely worth spending time reading through the businesses’ website, particularly any ‘about us’ or ‘values’ pages. This kind of information will likely give you an insight into the kind of qualities that an organisation is looking for. For roles which frequently receive a high volume of applications, hiring managers will look for candidates that demonstrate an understanding of the company’s key values. Entry level candidates who are able to demonstrate that they would fit in well within a company’s culture will likely set themselves apart from their peers with similar experience.

Have real examples

Skills-based assessments are now also being used by hiring managers to sift through suitable candidates. Some organisations may ask candidates to demonstrate relevant skills such as clear communication, multi-tasking and commercial awareness through a series of skills based tests. These tests frequently take place during the interview stage of the recruitment process, where hiring managers are able to accurately assess a candidate’s professional skillset. For roles that require strong communication skills, interviewers might set candidates a writing task, while hiring managers interviewing for roles that require a sense of commercial acumen might ask them to discuss relevant news stories.

So, while it is important to ensure that your CV accurately represents your skills and experience, it’s becoming increasingly important to prepare for skills and value based assessments as well.

Check out our advice pages for more hints and tips.

If you would like to speak to one of our Recruitment experts, call the office on 01772 259121 or email enquiries@clayton-recruitment.co.uk and we will be more than happy to help.

Share This Post

banner image

Stage 2: Nailing your interview

  • June 23, 2018

You may have seen our previous blog on creating a great CV, but how do you nail the next stage to secure your dream job. You might think that now you’ve passed through the gatekeeper that the hard part is over, but the interview really gives you the chance to strut your stuff in front of the key decision makers. So what should you keep in mind?

Be punctual, but not too punctual

Arriving early for the interview is important, after all it doesn’t exactly set a glowing precedent for what your time working there will be like if you’re late. However, don’t make the mistake of being too early as you’re more likely to look desperate more than anything else. A good rule of thumb is to be 15 minutes early, stick to that and it gives you plenty of time to compose your thoughts as well as demonstrating your good timekeeping skills.

Practice, practice, practice

Ensure you conduct some thorough research on the organisation that you can drop throughout your interview to highlight your knowledge and proactivity. Go over some standard interview questions as well as some role specific ones with a friend or family member and you’re likely to feel much more prepared and less stressed when the day comes around. However, it’s a thin line to tread between being ready and sounding like you’re reading off a script, so try to keep things as natural as possible.

Give examples

Rather than just reeling off a list of your top attributes, look to form an evidence based argument about why you should get the role you want. You need to show proof that you are what you say you are and highlighting your achievements build a more compelling case for why the organisation should choose you. If you can show examples of when you’ve saved your previous employers time or money or simplified any overly complex processes, you’re likely to stand in good stead.

Interview your interviewer

This isn’t just an opportunity for the organisation and its staff to learn about you, it’s also your chance to learn about them so try and turn the situation into a conversation, rather than an interview. Don’t go over the top, you do still need to answer the questions you’re being posed, but look to send some back in the other direction.

Prepare questions in advance

Along similar lines it’s also crucial to prepare a series of questions to ask at the end of the interview and not having any rarely tends to leave a favourable impression. Good examples include asking about timeframes, when you’re likely to hear back from them and if the firm has interviewed many people for the role. A good question to get real insight into the organisation is asking them what they like about working there. There are no definitive rules, but it’s certainly much better to have something ready to ask.

Close the interview and follow up

Finally, look to close the interview yourself by asking whether there’s any other information that they would like to know about you or if there are any areas of your CV or application that they have questions over. It’s also well worth following up your interview with a quick email or phone call to say thanks as this is likely to make you stand out from the crowd when they review applications.

What factors do you think are important to nail an interview? Share your thoughts with us below.

Read this blog for some advice on the first 90 days of your new job. Also, check out our other blog posts here.

If you are still on the hunt for that dream job, call the office on 01772 259121 to see how we can help. Or check out our current jobs here.

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

banner image

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

  • December 11, 2017

After the interview: what went wrong?

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

Why you should ask for interview feedback

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

How to ask for feedback

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

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

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

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

What to do with interview feedback

 

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

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

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

Share This Post