Category: Interview


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Shane Horn – Senior Partner, AdMore Recruitment – Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.

The Competency Based Interview is now widely used and so you will undoubtedly face one as you move through your job search process. Ultimately, this is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your skills and ability to do the job you are being assessed for. You can view a more detailed description here

So what is the best approach and how do you ensure that you walk away from the meeting confident that you have performed well?

  • Plan and prepare.

This may sound obvious, but interviews take practice. There will be a number of questions you will naturally ready for, but there will be many that are designed to challenge you. The key here is to have examples ready but you must deliver them in a natural way. A good interviewer will be able to spot a formulaic, pre-planned answer, and will ask you again if they want to challenge you further. You may be able to give an example of dealing with a difficult situation, but can you name three? Can you name one outside of a work situation? You can learn more here

  • Understand what the competencies are that you are going to be questioned on.

Most companies, unfortunately not all, will supply you with a list of core skills, or competencies that you will be assessed on. Most will appear on a well written job profile, but if you don’t have them, ask. A good agency will be able to help, as they will most likely have had candidates in the process before. A direct hiring manager will also have access to the information. If they don’t want to supply the information, try to understand why. I don’t know of anyone that hasn’t got a job offer because they wanted to be fully briefed.

  • Use the CAR approach

You may have the best examples to give, however if you can’t articulate them, you will fall down. You may have heard of STAR, but CAR – Context, Action, and Result is a lot simpler to remember. The easiest approach is to set the scene of the example, tell the interviewer what you did, and what the result of this was. This will allow you to tell a story in a natural style, and to talk through your situation in a clear way. It also allows the assessor to question you – this is a good thing! The more the interviewer questions you, the more engaged they are.

  •  Don’t allow the interviewer to put you off your game!

Some classically trained interviewers will follow the ‘script’, showing no emotion and won’t even ask you any questions. They may have a huge amount to get through in a short period of time. Don’t let this put you off! Be confident in your ability to answer the question. There should be an opportunity at the end of the interview to build rapport so use this time wisely.

  • Expect the unexpected

More and more clients are aware that many questions can be prepared for, so expect a few curve balls. Most recently, a client of mine asked “what piece of living room furniture would you be?” Not technically a competency based interview, but one that will make you think. Also, I have known interviewers to throw a role-play into the middle of an interview to show evidence of the example a candidate gave. So be prepared to be able to back up what you say! Some of the oddest interview questions of the last 12 months can be found here

We haven’t covered general interview tips, but you can find more information here and here

I would be interested to hear of any other key points you may have, or any testing questions you may have been asked.

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While we have seen an increase in the use of Skype and other video based technology it would seem that the use of the Telephone Interview is back on the rise. It is an inexpensive method for judging cultural and or behavioural fit and is often the first stage in recruitment processes; Forming the backbone of a labour intensive campaign or quite simply an ‘informal chat’ for a senior executive. It is however, full of pitfalls for candidates. Here are ten easy to follow tips that will ensure you create the best impression possible.

1) Get the Environment right:

Try to avoid conducting the interview in a busy, noisy environment or indeed in your car. A private office where you will not be disturbed is perfect. Too many telephone interviews are interrupted by questions from colleagues, or the barista behind the counter at Starbucks! Ensure you allow enough time for the interview and do not assume it will be a ‘quick ten minutes.’  Use a landline for receiving the call. Poor mobile phone reception is the single biggest reason why many telephone interviews fail to take place. While they are technological wonders, our mobile phones are surprisingly unreliable at the worst possible time when it comes to their most fundamental function; making and receiving calls.

2) Prepare.

This is a fantastic opportunity to have your notes and CV in front of you during the interview. Make sure you summarise your notes focussing on key points to avoid scripted answers.

3) Sit in front of the mirror.

This may seem a little odd but quite simply it will give you an indication of how you are coming across. Do you look animated? Is your head up? Perhaps most importantly are you smiling? If not then try to focus on doing so, this may translate in you feeling more confident and therefore sounding more positive!  Alternatively you could try standing up and walking around. If you are more comfortable walking and talking then ensure you are in the right environment to do this. Many people feel they are more animated when upright and this allows for a greater level of focus.

4) DO NOT actively listen when asked questions.

A common mistake to make, however actively listening in a telephone interview can disrupt flow as you will find the interviewer may stop talking. This can lead to a disjointed and awkward conversation.

5) Ask the interviewer to rephrase or repeat back the question.

If you are slightly uncertain about the question either ask the interviewer to rephrase or indeed paraphrase this back. You should try to avoid doing this repeatedly but it is better to get your answer right first time.

6) Use regular pauses.

Leave healthy pauses after every two or three sentences to allow the interviewer to either drill further down or confirm they have heard enough.

7) Vary your pace, pitch and tone.

It is very difficult to convey energy and empathy over the phone so it is important that you vary your speech. The monotone interview is the bane of all interviewers!

8) Practice a CV run through.

The structure of telephone interviews will often vary but a standard format will be CV based. If you are asked to run through your career history you should qualify how long this should last. Do they want a 30 second elevator pitch or a detailed 30 minute conversation? Either way, plan ahead!

9) Build rapport early on but avoid too many jokes!

As with all interviews first impressions count. Good interviewers will try to break the ice early on. Reciprocate and avoid coming across as ‘cold.’

10) Ask Questions.

Like most interviews you will get a chance to ask questions. If an interviewer has a solid day of telephone interviews you will probably stand out more if you ask an insightful question about the business/role and more importantly about them.

I hope this helps and as always feel free to add some suggestions to the comments below. Jez Styles

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By Jez Styles, AdMore Recruitment– Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.

I read an article late last year that has kept coming back to me in recent months. The article (a study by Lauren Rivera) from the December issue of the American Sociological Review suggested that Employers are often more likely to hire a person they would want to socialise with than the ‘best’ individual for the job. The article didn’t suggest that employers were hiring the wrong people, but that they would prefer to hire someone that they have bonded with, would perceive to be a future friend or who made them feel good about themselves.

Given the amount of focus on CVs, interview techniques, innovative job searches (etc, etc) most candidates could be forgiven for focussing on the ‘technical’ side of looking for a job. Getting ‘in front’ of an employer is for most candidates the primary focus and in an increasingly results driven culture it is easy to forget how important it is – to put it simply – that you and the employer like each other. Talk to any recruiter and they will confirm, if there is a shared past or common interest the candidate has a much better chance of getting the job. I believe this is particularly true in Retail where often there are no technical qualifications to differentiate one candidate from another.

So, if you are looking for a job, what can you do? Here are a few tips on how to build rapport and give you the best possible chance of landing a job offer!

  1. First impressions are crucial –  I wrote about how to create a great first impression (read here) in the first ten seconds previously. It is fairly obvious but if you don’t get the first impression right you will face an uphill battle to build rapport. You really want your interviewer to have an immediate gut reaction that they like you.
  2. Positive Body language – Smile, make eye contact, and lean in when you want to really engage. Again, you are appealing to the interviewer on a subconscious level. Where possible you should try to match your interviewer…
  3. Mirroring & Matching – This often seen as a bit of a ‘dark art’ but it is quite simple to do. The best way to learn how to do this is to just focus on one element at a time in every day conversations until you are a little more adept at combining several elements. Where possible you should match voice tone, speed and sound; breathing rates & body posture; speech patterns including specific buzz words and the level of detail. The interviewer will see a similarity in how you come across which was central to Lauren Rivera’s research.
  4. Use the person’s name wherever possible – There is a huge amount of research available but in essence people like to hear their own name. This is linked to how your brain reacts on a subconscious level and is linked to your development as a child. Read here for more information.
  5. Take a genuine interest in the interviewer and focus on them not the organisation – It is worth setting yourself some specific objectives about what you want to find out about the ‘person.’ The simple fact is that people tend to like talking about themselves. Be prepared to ask follow up questions and show genuine interest. Show empathy and indicate wherever there is common ground. Again, any chance you get to indicate commonality will give the interviewer the impression you could be a potential friend in the future.
  6. Similar activities , similarity matters – It is worth doing some research, via contacts and social media, in to what the interviewer does in their spare time and what they are passionate about. Are they a sports fan, do they go to the opera, do they have kids (and therefore do none of the aforementioned activities!)? Where possible you should get this in to the conversation. Once again, if there is a similarity of interests the interviewer will be inclined to move you up the shortlist.
  7. Compliment the person – Everyone likes praise (method of delivery is crucial for some though). If the opportunity arises give some compliments. Keep it relevant to the interviewer and try not to be too sycophantic!

Overall, keep in mind that you want to generate a sense of similarity between you and the interviewer.

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Previous blogs on interviewing:

Top ten tips for candidates from Assessment Centre Veterans

Top Tips For A Competency Based Interview

Top 10 tips for a successful Telephone Interview

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By Russell Adams, AdMore Recruitment– Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.

Following on from my recent blog on what to expect from your recruitment consultant, I have had a number of people asking for advice about how to gauge whether their consultant really knows what they are talking about. As I have said before, I get very frustrated by the fact that our industry is largely unregulated and that the very poor practice of a minority of consultants damage the image of the industry for all. The questions below will hopefully give you some insight into the competence of the consultant and whether they are someone you should be trusting to handle your career. The first group of questions below are appropriate when you first register with the consultant and the later questions are more suitable when discussing a specific assignment.

  • Who are your major clients and how long have you been recruiting for them?

It is important to understand a consultant’s client base for a number of reasons. Firstly, it will allow you to assess the extent to which they might be successful in placing you and the relevance of their clients to your sector and experience. Secondly, it will give you a real insight in to how strong their network is within your sector. Equally important is getting an understanding of the length of time they have recruited for their clients. Long established and successful client relationships will give you a good indication that they deliver for their clients and are therefore likely to deliver for you.

  • What is your background?

In an ideal world your specialist recruiter will have relevant industry experience. If they have personally worked in the sector and even held similar roles to those they are recruiting, then some would argue this will make them a more effective recruiter as they will be able to empathise with the challenges presented in those positions.  However, it is not essential they have relevant sector experience, there are certainly many great recruiters out there who don’t. What the best recruiters will have however is in-depth knowledge of their sector which they will maintain with constant research. What is most important is how they manage the recruitment process and the value they are able to add to you through their knowledge of the client, the role and the hiring manager, all of which will hopefully give you a competitive edge over your competition.

  • How long have you been in recruitment?

This may not be a question you need to ask but it is certainly information you would be wise to check on LinkedIn. While it is not essential that the consultant has multiple years of experience, you should check their experience in recruitment and the wider industry to understand their true knowledge. Ultimately you are interested in how well networked they are in your “space” as this will be a major factor in their ability to place you in a position.

  • What can I expect from you?

Recruitment consultants get a lot of bad press and more often than not deservedly so. Many of the complaints concern levels of communication and mis-management of expectations. Often what is lacking is some honesty and transparency. This is a great question to ask your consultant and should not only give you an understanding of what to expect but also an insight into the honesty of the individual and how they conduct themselves. Be wary of consultants that promise the world – it’s a tough market out there!

  • How many recruitment companies have you worked for?

This may be quite a challenging or controversial question and is one probably best answered using the power of LinkedIn. In the workplace today people often move on more frequently than in the past as they look to progress their careers and develop. However, recruitment is a very results driven industry and one where failure to deliver will often result in the consultant moving on. The track record of your consultant again will give you an insight into how they perform and what they are likely to deliver for you.

  • Have you got any feedback on my CV?

The consultant should be adding value to you in a number of different areas. This should include areas like your CV, interview technique, industry knowledge etc. A great consultant will have a long term view and will understand that time spent improving your CV and interviewing technique will not only increase their chances of placing you but will also help develop a long term relationship.

  • Have you placed with the business previously?

This is a great question to ask a consultant when they are briefing you on a particular assignment. A great consultant should be able to add significant value to the recruitment process and utilise their knowledge of the business to assist you through each stage. There is a first time for everything but a consultant with experience and knowledge of client will be able to assist you to a much greater extent during the recruitment process. They will also have knowledge of the company culture and be able to advise what the company is really like to work for. Also, experience of having successful placed people will have built their understanding of exactly what the client is looking for and so they are less likely to be wasting your time with inappropriate assignments.

  • Have you met the Line Manager?

This is a great question to ask a consultant as again this indicates the depth of the consultant’s relationship with the client. For the reasons discussed above, as a candidate you should benefit considerably from the knowledge and experience the consultant has of their client.

  • What is the recruitment process

Your consultant should be able to advise you in advance of the recruitment process, the stages you will need to go through and what preparation should be done. The market is fiercely competitive and better preparation and knowledge can help you differentiate yourself against other candidates. While not every process is pre-planned, most of the big corporates use a specific template. Your consultant should be able to provide you with a job description, information on the competencies being assessed and potential ‘quirks’ within the process.

  • What should I do to develop my career in XXXX?

A good consultant should be able and happy to provide you with strong career advice. Consultants are experts in their field and are likely to have some sound advice and suggestions about your career plan and how you can maximise your potential. There is nothing wrong in asking their advice and their response will give you a good insight into their knowledge and experience.

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By Sophie Mackenzie, AdMore Recruitment– Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.

 

For those of you who are as yet unaware of glassdoor.com, it is a US based site whose aim is to create a community providing a source of information about prospective employers, job roles and salaries based on anonymous reviews from employees. They have recently launched their UK site, glassdoor.co.uk .

The format of each review comprises Pros and Cons and Advice to Senior Management along with star ratings given for the following criteria: Compensations & Benefits, Culture & Values, Career Opportunities, Senior Leadership, Work/Life Balance and CEO Rating.

It is a simple format and undoubtedly can prove a useful resource when researching companies or preparing for interviews.

Under each company profile, it includes a Recent News section which is useful for ensuring you are up to date with latest Press Releases, results or general news.

Understandably, the large, global businesses have the most reviews (often in their thousands) with some sectors being more broadly represented than others, particularly the Management Consultancies, Technology companies and Financial Services. I would guess therefore that reviews on these businesses are a pretty accurate reflection of working life within those companies.

Within Retail, the major UK brands are represented although many have a limited numbers of reviews – I’m sure this will change as more people in the UK become aware of its existence. Until there is a significant body of material on each company, I think it will be a while before it provides enough insight to accurately reflect what it is like to work for a particular company.

In their Community Guidelines, glassdoor are clear that participants should write balanced reviews without reverting to bitter or overly personal accounts of their own experience. Reviewers must be current or former employees of that business within the past 3 years and so there is reason to assume that the integrity of the reviews is good.

As always with reviews, you must take each contribution in context and look at the overall theme which emerges from a number of reviews. Other factors to bear in mind are the level of the person reviewing (junior candidates will have a different perspective than senior managers although their opinion is no less insightful or valid). Equally with the Interview section, where people provide sample interview questions and insight into their application process, it is wise to be cautious. Interview processes can change and your preparation still needs to be thorough enough to deal with any unforeseen eventualities.

We are all becoming increasingly reliant on reviews whether that is before booking a holiday or buying something and they can be an incredibly powerful tool. Recently, before leaving on holiday, I accidentally stumbled upon some Tripadvisor reviews on my destination. They were so bad that I was tempted to cancel, however I kept an open mind and sure enough, I had a lovely time albeit with my eyes wide open and expecting the worst! With something as important as your career, the more research you can do the better, and as long as you keep an open mind, glassdoor.co.uk should prove to be a useful addition to your ‘career toolbox’.

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How to avoid joining the wrong business

8 great smartphone apps to support candidates in their job search

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By Jez Styles, AdMore Recruitment– Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.

Whenever I brief a candidate that there is an assessment centre in a recruitment process I tend to encounter a range of responses. I use the word ‘range’ pretty loosely as in truth the vast majority of candidates dread an ‘AC’ at worst and are ambivalent at best. Occasionally, when working with sales driven businesses you will encounter candidates that positively live for ‘out of the comfort zone’ experiences. Overall, I think my favourite response is from the AC veterans, the guys who have assessed other candidates, been assessed on multiple occasions and probably helped to write exercises previously. They know how it works, what they need to do and more importantly…how to impress. And yes…sssshhhhhh… some even enjoy the experience!

Here are some tips from AC veterans I have worked with:

  1. Prepare. Ask your recruiter for a copy of the competencies/qualities that are being assessed on the day. There is a good chance that the day will include an interview so you will have a great opportunity to really impress. If you are unable to clarify the competencies then ask for a job description or research the business. For further tips for an interview click here; Top tips for a competency based interview
  2. Get your mind-set right. Sales based candidates can skip to point three…this is not a competition. Most companies use assessment centres because they are looking for multiple candidates and/or because it gives a different insight in to candidate behaviour. If you enter an AC with the belief that you need ‘to win’ there is a good chance this will influence your behaviour in the inevitable group exercise and also social situations. It is better to think about being the best you can be. Also, avoid comparing your performance to your peers on the day. Most AC’s have a benchmark score for passing the day so if you beat everyone else but still do not benchmark you will fail.
  3. You are always being assessed. I have attended numerous ACs where candidates have hit the benchmark score, but in the ‘wash-up’ an assessor has recounted a conversation or observation that has created a negative impression. Avoid taking a cigarette break if you can. If you do take a break be aware any conversation you have is still being assessed. Similarly, if lunch is included be sure to maintain good manners and dare I say it sensible food choices. If an overnight stay is involved – stay clear of the alcohol! Finally, be aware of your body language, do not lean, slouch or invade people’s space. Think about your facial expressions when part of any group conversations or exercises – be positive and smile…a lot!
  4. Network. At the start of the day you should make a note of all the assessors, ideally name and job function. Over the course of the day you should spend time with each individual. It is crucial that you prepare a bank of insightful questions prior to the day. They might be geared towards an HR or Operations Director or other relevant function. Assessors will tend to remember the people that have asked intelligent questions and truly engaged them. It is also worth spending time getting to know the other candidates; there are networking opportunities for the future.
  5. Plan each task. In the heat of the moment it is easy to just launch in to a task. However, it is crucial that you take the time to read all relevant instructions. I assessed an AC last year where 5 individuals in a Group task all failed to read one crucial piece of information which led to them all failing the task. You should plan your time and allow for unexpected changes to the structure of the exercise (normally about ten minutes before you are due to finish!). All exercises are generally designed to put you under pressure to complete within a tight time-frame. Do not panic and importantly, ensure you complete the exercise. Finally, if you are offered various materials you would be wise to use them. An obvious one would be the provision of a flipchart for a presentation. Use it!
  6. Nail the Group exercise. Most candidates hate Group Exercises, often describing them as fake or ‘not a reflection of real life.’ While this may be true they are also remarkably affective at putting candidates under pressure which results in a multitude of interesting behaviours that you would not see in an interview or other exercise. There are a few things you can do to ensure you are perceived positively. Most importantly do not ‘over dominate’ the exercise. Avoid (contrary to popular belief) being the person that writes notes or prepares the flipchart presentation, you will quickly end up being side-lined from the conversation. Use your peers name when addressing them and invite the quieter participants to voice their opinion. Express your own ideas and ask for feedback. Ensure the group is on target to complete the task on time and if required steer the group to complete tasks as required. Finally, stand by the group’s ultimate decision/conclusion. Do not fall in to the trap of criticising other group members if faced with ‘apprentice’ style questions from the assessors.
  7. Do not let one bad exercise ruin your day. Confidence is crucial on an AC day and a single exercise will not usually determine your success or failure. If you perform badly on one exercise you must pick yourself back up and move forward.
  8. Take Psychometric exercises seriously. Psychometrics are being increasingly used in advance of AC days to either highlight areas to explore over the course of the day or to provide additional evidence of capability.
  9. Be positive. Over the course of the day you will have numerous conversations and will experience a range of emotions.  It is important that you remain positive and that you express this. Do not fall in to the trap of making any negative comments about the assessors, the AC, other delegates, current employer, ex-boss or your consultant. I have witnessed numerous candidates ‘de-selecting’ themselves through a flippant remark to the wrong person.

I hope this helps and please share your tenth tip in the comments below or via our Blog page on LinkedIn:

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Click one of the links below for further blogs from AdMore:

Do Today’s candidates have a ‘hierarchy of needs?’

8 Great Smartphone apps to support candidates in their job search

How to avoid joining the wrong business

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By Jez Styles, AdMore Recruitment– Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development

15 questions you need to ask before accepting an offer.

This year we have seen a significant increase in the number of candidates returning to the job market, albeit relatively passively in a lot of cases. Surprisingly, while the reasons can be poles apart such as redundancy or a lack of career progression, it can often drive similar behaviours amongst candidates. I have commented previously that a significant number of candidates have made the wrong decision about a career move because they have not completed their due diligence. While this list is not exhaustive, considering the following points before accepting an offer may help you in your decision.

Why is there a vacancy?

Ask this question when you are briefed by an agency, ask this question in your first interview and ask this question in your final interview.

How often is this position recruited?

This is a very difficult question to ask in an interview but you need to know the answer. Linkedin provides a good opportunity to do some research and it is worth making contact with a couple of past employees to informally ask them about how often the role has been / is recruited.

Why do people leave the business?

Ask everyone!

How many people have been promoted internally at my proposed level in the last 2-3 years? Who was the last person to be promoted and what did they do to achieve this?

How is the business performing financially?

Check out the last set of company accounts. This is particularly important if the business is small and relatively unknown.

What is my prospective Line Manager like to work for?

It is crucial you work hard to informally reference your new boss. Speak to people you trust to seek their opinion. Check out their Social Media (Linkedin/ Twitter) profiles.

What does your Sponsor(s) think?

It often takes someone without prejudice to give you some simple and much needed honest advice.

What was the average bonus payment in the last financial year and what was the average pay rise?

Do I fit the company culturally?

Look at the company’s values and working culture. Do you like what you see? Does the reality match up with what is described in their marketing material? Again, talk to employees past and present.

Why do they want me?

This is a difficult question to ask as you will want to believe it is because you are the best candidate. However, are there other reasons, for instance your inside knowledge of one of their competitors?

Does my consultant sound convinced that he/she is recruiting for a great business?

It is worth working hard to build a good personal relationship with your consultant as they will provide the odd snippet of information that could help you to make your decision.

Does the offer of employment and/or contract match what I have been told verbally?

Don’t be afraid to dig deeply in to the Terms &Conditions of the contract however be careful how you position your resulting queries.

When did the company last restructure and are there any plans to do so in the future?

Look for a pattern, you will be amazed by how often retailers restructure from one working model to another.

What impact will this move have on my personal brand or future career opportunities?

Am I taking this job because I want it or because I think I have to take it?

Think about the longer term implications of taking a job for the wrong reasons.

This is of course not an exhaustive list, and would welcome any thoughts and additions to the above.

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By Jez Styles, AdMore Recruitment– Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.

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By Jez Styles, AdMore Recruitment– Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.

I have always been a big fan of Maslow (click here to learn more) and despite modern Psychological doctrine having exposed flaws in this theory of motivation I cannot help but feel that it has a great deal of relevance to how many candidates manage their job search today. I believe that the recession has fundamentally changed how many candidates view their future job selection and crucially what is most important. Having spoken to a number of colleagues within recruitment, and admittedly this evidence is purely anecdotal; we have seen a very real shift towards a ‘hierarchy of needs.’

Having spoken to many hundreds if not thousands of candidates over the course of the recession the first question that the majority of candidates will ask is; does it pay enough? Interestingly, prior to the recession the same question was probably being asked with a slightly different emphasis; how much can I earn? The key difference is that candidates are now focused on whether the salary will cover their costs rather than enabling them to invest. Arguably, it amounts to the same thing but it does indicate a rather different mind-set. I have found that salary has acted as a much smaller ‘barrier to entry’ than prior to the recession when candidates were more focused on achieving a significant uplift in package rather than merely covering their costs.

The second most important element is Job Security. Prior to 2008 the majority of candidates barely talked about security. Unsurprisingly, and against a backdrop of numerous business collapses this has become the second most important criteria.

The third element that most candidates will tend to want to judge is their cultural fit. One key consequence of the recession is that many people have taken jobs under duress (whether that is financial or emotional) that they might not otherwise have done so. Often, these individuals have been perfectly capable of doing the job but for whatever reason have not been a good cultural fit. In the early to mid part of the recession that led to further turnover and as a result, increased anxiety in the market.

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These first three elements, in blue in my pyramid, are I feel the most essential for candidates today. The next two elements tend to be asked by fewer candidates but interestingly they are perhaps the most important for future financial, intellectual and emotional prosperity.

The fourth element is a two way street! Will I be valued and will I value them (employer & colleagues)? Many candidates tend not to think about this prior to accepting an offer as the first three elements can often be all consuming in importance. However, this will often determine the longevity of the role. It has a particular relevance for Gen Y candidates whom often place this as a key requirement for future positions.

The final element, the famous ‘self-actualisation,’ in my pyramid is; will I grow?

Many candidates will ask what the opportunities for progression are but I think they are missing an opportunity here. In truth most companies will, during a hiring process, indicate there is room for progression without committing to anything specific. The more savvy candidates will ascertain what the company does to ‘grow’ their people. What is the performance review process, what support and development is there, do they even have an L&D team post recession, how much money are they prepared to spend on external education?

So what does this mean for recruiters? The way in which we attract candidates through technology and social media continues to evolve at a dramatic rate.  I believe that most candidates seek to satisfy the first three elements early in their job search with the further two elements being a focus further in to an interview process. Given the lack of confidence in the current jobs market it has become crucial that employers and their recruiters seek to address these basic needs early in any recruitment campaign. A failure to do so will only serve to reduce the pool of available talent!

NB: You will note that I haven’t placed any emphasis on whether candidates question their level of capability / competence to do the job. The reason behind this is that I believe most candidates have a much higher level of self-confidence in today’s market and to some extent rely upon the employer’s ability to select on capability.

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By Jez Styles, AdMore Recruitment– Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.

killbill

Shane Horn – Senior Partner, AdMore Recruitment

The Competency Based Interview is now widely used and so you will undoubtedly face one as you move through your job search process. Ultimately, this is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your skills and ability to do the job you are being assessed for. You can view a more detailed description here

So what is the best approach and how do you ensure that you walk away from the meeting confident that you have performed well?

  • Plan and prepare.

This may sound obvious, but interviews take practice. There will be a number of questions you will naturally ready for, but there will be many that are designed to challenge you. The key here is to have examples ready but you must deliver them in a natural way. A good interviewer will be able to spot a formulaic, pre-planned answer, and will ask you again if they want to challenge you further. You may be able to give an example of dealing with a difficult situation, but can you name three? Can you name one outside of a work situation? You can learn more here

  • Understand what the competencies are that you are going to be questioned on.

Most companies, unfortunately not all, will supply you with a list of core skills, or competencies that you will be assessed on. Most will appear on a well written job profile, but if you don’t have them, ask. A good agency will be able to help, as they will most likely have had candidates in the process before. A direct hiring manager will also have access to the information. If they don’t want to supply the information, try to understand why. I don’t know of anyone that hasn’t got a job offer because they wanted to be fully briefed.

  • Use the CAR approach

You may have the best examples to give, however if you can’t articulate them, you will fall down. You may have heard of STAR, but CAR – Context, Action, and Result is a lot simpler to remember. The easiest approach is to set the scene of the example, tell the interviewer what you did, and what the result of this was. This will allow you to tell a story in a natural style, and to talk through your situation in a clear way. It also allows the assessor to question you – this is a good thing! The more the interviewer questions you, the more engaged they are.

  •  Don’t allow the interviewer to put you off your game!

Some classically trained interviewers will follow the ‘script’, showing no emotion and won’t even ask you any questions. They may have a huge amount to get through in a short period of time. Don’t let this put you off! Be confident in your ability to answer the question. There should be an opportunity at the end of the interview to build rapport so use this time wisely.

  • Expect the unexpected

More and more clients are aware that many questions can be prepared for, so expect a few curve balls. Most recently, a client of mine asked “what piece of living room furniture would you be?” Not technically a competency based interview, but one that will make you think. Also, I have known interviewers to throw a role-play into the middle of an interview to show evidence of the example a candidate gave. So be prepared to be able to back up what you say! Some of the oddest interview questions of the last 12 months can be found here

We haven’t covered general interview tips, but you can find more information here and here

I would be interested to hear of any other key points you may have, or any testing questions you may have been asked.

 Shane Horn

newjob

By Russell Adams – Director, AdMore Recruitment

Tradition suggests that January is one of the best and busiest times to start your job search and looking at my phone log and inbox this week, that certainly appears to be the case.  But is January, potentially the busiest and most competitive month, really the best time to start your job search?

Arguably why would you want to be job hunting when the candidate flow is at its peak?  It is all too easy to find times in the year when not to search though. What about December when people perceive the market to be quiet or August, when everyone is on holiday ? Indeed any time when there will be fewer vacancies and more candidates. You can read more about our thoughts here

We cannot deny that activity does vary from month to month due to some of these factors however I don’t believe it has anywhere near the perceived impact.

A phone call at 8.30am on Monday reiterated to me the incorrect perception candidates have, when I was asked about the state of the 2013 market and what new opportunities had come up on the first Monday of a new year!  In the first week of January the market isn’t suddenly flooded with new vacancies and, let’s face it, in the current market we are rarely talking about brand new roles so the labour market is reliant on people resigning to start the musical chairs.

The job market and your job search are not linear. Simply waiting for the absolutely perfect job search ‘moment’ then jumping in with full determination and gusto before landing that dream job rarely happens.

So when is the best time to look for a new role?

Many would argue the best time to look for a position is when you need one.  I don’t totally agree with this statement – actually the best time to look for another position is when you are happy at work but anticipating that in the future, your career aspirations will not be met.  I think that good candidates manage their careers proactively, which is not about always looking out for the next role, but making sure that, both internally and externally, you are spending enough time on developing and building your network. Which businesses you would like to work for, what research can you undertake on that business, how can you network with existing employees? Starting your job search ISN’T SIMPLY SENDING OUT YOUR CV, it is about planning your job search and looking at what activity to undertake – Our How to create a successful campaign offers some handy pointers

Job searching is a time-intensive activity and it is important that individuals allow enough time. Launching your job search when you are about to move house or are in the midst of a renovation project for instance, isn’t the best idea. Your job search will take time and commitment so you need to make sure it is the right time for you.

It may be common sense however the reality is, that it is about you and your own situation. It is not just about timing and if timing becomes your only rationale you will more than likely not find the right opportunity. So don’t let the market dictate but take control and enter the job market when it is the right time for you.

What you should however start doing this month is thinking about your job search, your career management and those activities that will support your career development in the coming months.

Taking the time to invest in this strategy before you really need a new job takes the pressure off and allows total objectivity. Even more importantly, you won’t be seen by prospective employers as really needing a new job and from that perspective; you will be in a position of relative power.

My advice is to be process-centric rather than results- centric. In doing this, you may just discover that now really isn’t the right time for you to send out that CV.

Russell Adams

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