Interview questions and how to answer them

Interviews can be scary, let’s be honest! But as with everything, the key to success is preparation. Now we all know that an interview (in the traditional sense) is basically a sit down conversation between you and your potential future employer where you will be asked a series of questions to assess your suitability for the role in question. While you can never be entirely sure of what questions you will be asked in an interview, there are some proactive steps you can take to ensure you are prepared, such as having some answers prepare for some commonly used interview questions. Some examples can be found below (you’re welcome!!).

If you were a biscuit, what kind of biscuit would you be?

Yes, some companies really do ask questions like this during interviews! Believe it or not, we have heard this question asked on more than one occasion so having something prepared just in case it does come up can’t hurt! While questions like this can be off-putting, they’re a fun way for Client’s to really get to a little bit more about you. For example, if you’re hard worker and tend not to crumble under pressure (pun slightly intended), then would you say you’re comparable to a hobnob biscuit? If you’re reliable and likeable, would you say this makes you a chocolate digestive? While it sounds a little strange, it kind of makes sense! Try and remember to always relate this question back to your key skills and qualities, rather than just saying you’re a rich tea biscuit simply because you like them!

What is your biggest weakness?

This can be another tricky question to fathom. Rule number one is to never sit and say things like “well, I tend to be late to things quite a lot” (although your interviewer may have already noticed this if you are serial offender of tardiness!). Either way, this is not what your interviewer wants to hear! While everyone has weaknesses (and we all do, let’s be honest), the key to success with this question is to think about a weakness of yours, how you have tried or are trying to address it and how you have turned it into an eventual strength. For example, if you used to struggle with juggling multiple projects at once but your time as a student, whereby you had to juggle multiple deadlines and assignments at any one time, you may now have learned how to manage your time more effectively, multitask and prioritise your workload. Easy, right?

What was the reason for leaving your last role?

First things first, don’t badmouth your last employer. I repeat, do not badmouth your last employer! Now you may have left your last role because you hated the job and your manager wasn’t very nice to you but you must avoid saying this as it doesn’t give a great first impression. Basically, you need to avoid saying anything negative (yes your job may have been boring but again, don’t tell them that!). Instead, you could say that the role wasn’t challenging enough for you, and you like a challenge!

What do you know about the company and why do you want to work for us?

This question is a biggie! It is asked in almost all interviews and if you fail to answer this properly, it can be a deal breaker on that job offer! Don’t let that scare you because this is a super easy question to get right! The key to answering this question is to do your research! We really cannot stress enough how important it is to research the company you’re being interviewed for. If you’re asked this question and you don’t know what the company even do (let alone know why you want to work for them!) then you will appear unorganised and disinterested and not the kind of candidate they want on their team! So show off what you know about them (you don’t need to memorise their entire website, don’t worry!) and be sure to let them know that your skills and experience match what they’re looking for (refer back to the job description for a recap) whilst using examples to back this up as you go along. Also make sure you mention why you want to work for the company in particular, not just why you’re perfect for the role; if they’re an expanding, up and coming business, then let them know that you think this an exciting prospect and explain how you think you can help continue to drive this business forward. You’ll be onto a winner!

Is there anything you would like to ask me?

Always, always have something prepared to ask! Saying no and darting for the exit doesn’t look good. Ask questions and show an interest, it’s what your interviewer wants to see! Most interviewers will round off an interview in this way and it should be taken as your opportunity to ask anything you aren’t entirely sure on or wanted to know (however you should be mindful to stick to just the one question as the interview is almost over so it’s not the best time to ask 20 questions!). Now don’t take this as an opportunity to ask if you get paid for being off sick because, well, it won’t fill your interviewer with confidence if that is all you’re concerned about! Instead, opt for questions such as “How will my progress be monitored?” or “What is the Company’s plan for the future?”. Questions like this will undoubtedly impress your interviewer.

What are your salary expectations?

It may be a touchy subject for some but it is something that needs to be discussed sooner rather than later. A tip here is to set a realistic expectation for yourself and your skills. Everyone would like to go into an interview and say they would like to be paid £110,000 a year but unfortunately, that’s not always possible!! So have a look at similar jobs online and get an idea at the kinds of salary they’re advertising. At least then you’re going in with an educated expectation, rather than a blind stab in the dark! It is worth remembering however that this is only your first interview, so there is no need for harsh salary negotiations at this stage. Go in with a broad range of what you’re looking for, i.e, a starting salary of £18,000-£22,000 and leave the rest until you’ve bagged yourself the role!

 

If you’re looking for work then feel free to call TurnerFox on 01623 656303 or send your CV to recruit@turnerfox.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help!

 

By Holly Brailsford

What to wear to an interview

So your prep for your interview is almost complete; you’ve done your research on the company, you’ve planned your route for the big day and then the outfit decisions strike! You could do all the prep and practice in the world but first impressions really do count so it’s time to think: what should you wear to an interview?

Plan, plan, plan

Now by this stage, you’ll be an expert in planning; you’ll have all of your interview questions and answers rehearsed, (you may have even been practicing your handshake!), so your outfit is no different. The last thing you want to be doing is popping to the local supermarket on the morning of your interview because you’ve noticed your trusty go-to trousers have finally let you down and have a huge hole in them! So prepare your outfit in plenty of time. Make sure your outfit is laundered and pressed and be sure to try the whole outfit on so you know everything goes nicely together! Plus, the more organised you are ahead of time, the more relaxed can will be on the big day with not a fluster in sight!

If you’re really not sure what to wear and you’re thinking “HELP!” then it is worth remembering that being over-dressed will always trump being under-dressed. Most office environments will usually adhere to a smart office wear dress code (unless it’s a special occasion of course!), whereas there is room for a little flexibility if you’re going for a more creative role, for example. In the instance that you’re being interviewed for a creative role then there is room to show off your individuality. The key here is to do your research on the company or speak with your Recruitment Consultant (if you’re working with an agency) to figure out the best outfit option for you!

Overall, a good suit, whether trouser or skirt, is a good go-to outfit for almost any interview; it shows you’ve made an effort and are the smart, sophisticated candidate you claim to be! Plus, we all know that if you look good, you feel good! You’ll be feeling confident, which again, is a good first impression to make. So, opt for things such as crisp shirts or blouses, blazers, ties, tailored trousers and smart shoes (try to stick to colours such as black, grey or navy rather than hot pink and jazzy patterns for your first interview) and you’ll be on to a winner!

Finishing touches

Whilst your outfit is a biggie, don’t forget about the finer details! Things such as unpolished shoes, an untucked shirt, chipped nail polish and unkempt hair will not compliment all the effort you made with your outfit so be sure to bare them in mind! Also remember to consider things such as the bag and/or umbrella you’re taking, if they’re not smart they have the potential to ruin your entire outfit. Remember, polished and professional is key!

If a recruitment agency is helping you find your next role and you’re ever unsure on what to wear to an interview then your Recruitment Consultant will be able to offer advice relating to the role and company in question as they will more than likely have been to the Client’s premises so will have seen the culture and environment first hand and will have asked about dress code already! If not, then you can always ask a friend or family member for advice because we all know how useful a second opinion can be!

For help finding your next role then feel free to call TurnerFox on 01623 656303 or send your CV to recruit@turnerfox.co.uk. We look forward to hearing from you!

 

By Holly Brailsford

 

Interview types you need to know about!

Interview types you need to know about!

Believe it or not, not all interviews take place on a one-to-one, face-to-face basis so it’s worth taking a look at all of the different interview styles so you’re fully prepared for every eventuality!

Face-to-Face

So let’s start with the basics, the face-to-face interview. It’s an oldie but a goodie and one which is still used quite commonly. In a nutshell, in this scenario you will sit down with the person interviewing you for a conversation about yourself and your experience. You will be asked an array of open-ended questions (and be given the opportunity to ask some questions of your own!) and your suitability for the role is based on the answers you give to these questions. Simple!

Top tips for success:

  • Research the company and role you’ve applied for (this is very important as you will more than likely be asked what you know about the company so don’t be caught out at the first hurdle!)
  • Chose a suitable outfit so you look professional and polished
  • Plan your route and allow plenty of time to get there taking into account any potential disruptions
  • Have some answers prepared for common interview questions and have some questions of your own for your interviewer

Telephone

Telephone interviews are exactly what they say on the tin: interviews via the telephone! Most of the time, these interviews are done prior to a face-to-face interview (they’re not done for every interview, so don’t worry!). It’s a simple way for the interviewer to get to know a little about you whilst observing your telephone and communication skills at the same time.

Top tips for success:

  • Research the company and role in question
  • Eliminate any distractions (such as your mobile phone or TV!)
  • Prepare some answers to popular interview questions, as well as some questions you want to ask them
  • Have a copy of your CV to hand so you’re both reading from the same page (literally!)
  • The same as if you were being interviewed face-to-face, remember to listen carefully to the questions being asked and think about your answers

Group

Group interviews are used to interview a number of candidates at the same time; this could be due to the company having more than one position to fill, or because group work is a pivotal part of the role in question. Group interviews are often used to assess your ability to work well within a team, solve problems and communicate effectively through a variety of tasks from role plays to debates. Now we know that the idea of a group interview tends to fill people with dread, but it doesn’t need to! The key to success is to remember that you’re always being assessed so you need to be aware of yourself; for example, if another candidate is speaking, make sure you’re listening (not looking around the room yawning!).

One of the things people tend to worry about with group interviews is not standing out enough from the other candidates. The key here is to make sure you actively engage in group discussions; make yourself known but don’t overpower others, talk over them or interrupt. It’s a fine line to tread but once you’ve cracked it, you’ll be onto a winner!

Top tips for success:

  • Research the company and the role in question (we know we keep saying this but we can’t stress enough how important this is!)
  • Chose a suitable outfit
  • Prepare some answers to common questions as well as thinking about some ice-breaker answers (the interviewer may ask the group to each give a fun fact about themselves for example, so have something prepared!)

Video

Video interviews aren’t the most common interview types but are still worth mentioning just in case one ever sneaks up on you! They may be done via a live stream whereby you’re remotely being interviewed face-to face (useful if the role you’ve applied for is in another country for example), or you may be asked to pre-record your answers and send them back to the company in question. Either way, we understand that not everyone feels comfortable in front of the camera so it’s worth thinking about how to best prepare yourself to bag yourself the role despite your nerves!

Top tips for success:

  • Do your research on the company and role
  • Have some answers and questions for the interviewer prepared
  • Organise your surroundings (let’s face it, a huge mess behind you in your video doesn’t look great!)
  • Plan a suitable outfit (no PJs!)
  • Eliminate any potential disruptions
  • And most importantly, make sure your tech is working properly! Check your camera, microphone and internet are all fully-functioning; the last thing you want is a tech disaster mid-interview so plan ahead!

Competency-based and Assessment Days

Competency-based interviews and assessment days are similar to one another in the sense that it is your skills and abilities that will be put to the test. Both will use a range of tasks and exercises to assess an array of skills and qualities which relate to the role in question. Depending on what the role you’re being interviewed for is, you could be asked to do anything from a proofreading exercise, to a delivering customer service on a mock telephone call!

Competency-based interviews and assessment days differ however in the sense that assessment days are often open to a number of candidates, whereas competency interviews tend to be done on a one-to-one basis. In a competency-based interview, your interviewer is looking for you to demonstrate certain skills and qualities. For example, if your interviewer asks you to describe a time where you delivered excellent customer service, you would need to think of a situation where you did, explain the action you took and then the outcome of your actions. Easy!

Top tips for success:

  • Research the company and role (as always!)
  • Plan your outfit
  • For competency based interviews, have a look at the job description to identify what key skills they’re looking for and prepare some examples of when you’ve demonstrated this skill (try to think of a mixture of examples including at work, in education or in everyday life!)
  • For assessment days, if possible, try to prepare for some of the tests you’re likely to be faced with

If a recruitment agency has put you forward for a role and you have bagged yourself an interview, then your Recruitment Consultant will let you know what kind of interview to expect and will be able to help with any questions or queries you may have throughout the process, so don’t panic!

If you’re looking for work then give TurnerFox a call on 01623 65303 or email us at recruit@turnerfox.co.uk. We look forward to hearing from you!

 

By Holly Brailsford

Preparing for your interview – Top tips!

Congratulations, you’ve bagged yourself an interview! You’ve perfected your CV, aced your job search and now it’s time to get yourself in front of your potential future employer and show them why they need you on their team. Now we get that interviews can be scary and it’s completely normal to feel nervous or even downright panicked; but worry not, we are here to help!

Preparation and planning – Research and Questions

The key to interview success is preparation. We know this can sound a little bit clichéd but if you aren’t prepared for your interview, it’s highly likely that you’ll be panicked and flustered which probably won’t give the greatest impression and probably won’t bag you the job! So what do you need to prepare and plan for?

First things first, do your research on the company! Visit their website, have a look at what they do and maybe even take a look at their LinkedIn profile to see who it is you’ll be meeting with if putting a face to the name makes you feel a little more at ease!

Researching the company is a very important part of preparing for any job interview; it is more than likely that your interviewer will ask what you know about the company and why you want to work for them, so don’t be caught out at the first hurdle! The more the more you know about them, the better it looks; it shows your interest as well as the fact that you’re super organised!

Another way to impress your interviewer with your preparation skills is to think about your answers to some common interview questions. A lot of companies will ask some pretty standard questions such as “What is your biggest weakness?”, others will ask things such as describe what kind of biscuit you would be (no really, we have heard this on more than one occasion!) so you don’t want to be caught out by unusual, and sometimes tricky questions like these so have some answers prepared. A top tip for answering tricky interview questions is to always try to put a positive spin on your answers. For example, if you have to mention your biggest weakness, be sure to describe how you have overcome this weakness in the past and how you have grown from it. Another big tip is to look at the job description of the role you’re being interviewed for, this is your golden ticket to finding out what it is the interviewer is looking for and is a good indicator of how you can tailor your answers to meet their criteria. If they’re looking for a forward-thinking, driven individual then make sure you give examples of how you fit those characteristics (but only if it’s true of course, lying in your interview is a big no-no, as is bad-mouthing your past employer; just don’t do it okay?!).

Whilst on the subject of interview questions, it is worth noting that an interview is not a one-way street. Whilst the interviewer wants to know if you’re a good fit for their company, you also need to know if the company is a good fit for you. Your interviewer will probably ask if you have any questions for them at the end of your interview; this is your chance to ask any lurking questions you may have about the company or the role, so use it! Having some well thought out questions, such as “How will my progress be monitored?” will really impress the interviewer, rather than you just staring blankly at them and darting for the door! Questions for your interviewer, again, really show your interest and enthusiasm for the role, and who doesn’t want to employ someone like that?! Be aware though that there are some questions to avoid asking such as “Will I get sick pay?” for the obvious reasons!

Preparation and planning – Everything else!

Now the actual face-to-face part of the interview isn’t the only thing you need to prepare for. Making sure you know exactly where your interview is, how to get there and how long it’s going to take to get there are other really important parts of your interview preparation (you don’t want to be rushing or turning up late!). If possible, we recommend having a trial run of getting to the company in question at a similar time of day to your interview so you can accommodate for any traffic delays for example. Top tip: arriving around 15 minutes early to your interview shows that you are eager and organised and also gives you time to settle in before you interview, rather than running through the door at the last minute!

With first impressions in mind, always plan and prepare your outfit in plenty of time to ensure you look polished and professional. When it comes to interviews, it’s always worth thinking that you look overdressed, rather than underdressed. Your recruitment consultant (provided that an agency is helping you with your job search that is) would be the best point of call for any wardrobe related queries so give them a call and they will be happy to assist! But as a general rule: if in doubt, get your suit out!

You should also be aware of your body language; firstly, it is important to be warm and friendly to everyone you come across when you arrive to your interview (you don’t know who you may be bumping into!), but also remember to think about the following: give a good handshake, make eye contact, don’t slouch, fold your arms, yawn or roll your eyes (again, for obvious reasons!).

Finishing touches

Some final points to consider are not essential but are still something worth mentioning. Take a copy of your CV; if your mind goes a little blank mid-interview when discussing your experience for example, it’s always nice to have something to jog your memory! You may also want to take along any relevant qualifications or certificates and maybe even a trusty bottle of water, you don’t want to be caught out in a coughing fit mid-interview (this may sound a little over-prepared but being organised never hurt anyone!).

If for any reason you’re not successful for the role at interview stage, remember that every interview adds to your experience and there is always something to take away from it and learn from, so never be too disheartened by it! There are plenty of other roles out there and your local recruitment agency will be more than happy to help find a role that’s just right for you!

Contact TurnerFox Recruitment on 01623 656303 or email us at recruit@turnerfox.co.uk for more info on how we can help find your next role!

 

By Holly Brailsford

A Guide to Job Searching

A Guide to Job Searching

So you’re looking for work; maybe you’re looking for career progression or a complete change of career all together! Either way, beginning your job search can be a pretty daunting task! With so much choice out there with the current abundance of online job boards and such, it’s sometimes difficult to know where is the best place to look for your next role, and more importantly, how to go about it. So where do you begin?

A good place to start when thinking about your job search is to figure out what it is you want to do. Take a look at your CV as a little reminder of all of your key skills, experience and interests and maybe even do some research on careers which incorporate your strongest skills. It is also worth thinking about what type of work you’re looking for: temporary, permanent, full time, part time, everyone has different requirements. Once you’ve decided on what kind of roles you’re going to apply for, it’s time to begin your search.

Recruitment Agencies

Using a recruitment agency to aid with your job search is a good starting point when beginning your job search as they do a lot of the hard work for you! Once you’re registered with an agency, a lot of the time they will come to you with positions they believe may be of interest to you based on the information you provide them with. With this in mind, it is worth noting that most agencies will cater to a variety of roles including temporary and part time positions, so it is always worth making it clear when contacting agencies what it is you’re looking for (and what you’re not looking for!).

Now I know you may be thinking “but how do I know which agency to contact?!”. Well there are plenty of recruitment agencies out there across the country recruiting for an array of different sectors from commercial to industrial to the all-out specialist agencies that recruit for the unusual to the downright bizarre (such as recruiting for staff to work on yachts!). Given the time taken at the start of your job-search process, you should already have a pretty good idea of what it is you’re looking for; from there you can work out what kind of agency would most benefit you. If you’re looking for a job in Accounts, contacting an industrial agency who specialise only in factory positions would not be the best choice of agency to contact, whereas a commercial agency would be better suited to your needs as they work with more appropriate Clients and have more relevant knowledge and experience. A quick internet search of recruitment agencies in your local area should bring up all of the information you need to make an informed decision; and if they’re recruiting for a role that interests you, then let them know!

Job Boards

Online job sites are pretty similar to one another in that they advertise for a variety of roles across the country for all kinds of companies and industry sectors; but don’t let this scare you!! The key to using job sites to aid your job search is to tailor them to your needs.

Job sites will allow you to enter all kinds of information in order to filter the results to make sure you’re only shown roles that apply to what you’re looking for, rather than having to sort through pages of jobs that won’t be of much interest to you! You will be able to input what kind of roles you’re looking for by using keywords, such as job titles, setting the location (and the distance you’re willing to travel to!) and your desired salary amongst other options. You can even browse through job categories if this is works better for you or if you’re just looking for a little more inspiration! Once you’ve personalised your search, you can save these pre-sets and have alerts for any suitable roles sent directly to you via email so you never miss out on an opportunity!

The key to making the most out of job sites is to have a play around with the personalised filtering options and really make the job site work for you; if you’re finding that the results are too broad, then try narrowing down your search, if the results are too narrow, then try altering some of the filters.

But again, if you’re looking for the expert advice and guidance then we recommend getting in touch with your local recruitment agencies as they can help you in ways which job boards can’t; they have excellent relationships with their Clients, exclusive roles that won’t show up on job boards, and they’re the friendly voice on the other end of the phone who are happy to help!

Call us on 01623 656303 or send us an email to recruit@turnerfox.co.uk. We look forward to hearing from you!

 

By Holly Brailsford