Friday, 3 October 2014

10 Great Interview Tips

Whether you’re looking for your first job or you’re a seasoned professional who has been there and done it, we all get a bit nervous about interviews.

There is a great article written by Chris Meredith, CEO at, for The Telegraph newspaper, which shows what are seen as the ten greatest ‘sins’ we make when invited for an interview and how we can overcome them. Here we talk about the article and add our own points:

10 Great Interview Tips. What to do (and what not to do) in an interview. Picture courtesy of Microsoft

1: “I’m too much of a perfectionist!”
Seen in the article as the obvious answer to give when asked about any weaknesses (and one that we admit to using ourselves!), lots of people say they are too much of a perfectionist in an interview. But if lots of people use it, it won’t make you stand out from the crowd (and if the last three people the interviewers have seen all say the same thing they may inwardly groan and nod off when you explain why being a perfectionist is a weakness that can be turned into a strength). 

Try to think of another example, Chris suggests, where you have overcome something that you felt was holding you back or you are trying to improve – maybe the company is global and you know a little of a foreign language but are trying to improve it by taking a course in order to expand your communication skills?

2: “My old boss was an idiot”
We agree with Chris in that saying this in an interview will do nothing but make you look bad. You’ll look like someone with a chip on your shoulder, possibly a trouble maker and a gossip. They’ll wonder what you would say about them behind their back if they offered you the job, which they probably won’t do. 

Don’t focus on any bad points of your current/previous job, even if there are many. Instead, if asked why you want to leave, focus on you and your ambitions and, as the article suggests, how the job interests you – don’t let someone you’re trying to get away from overshadow you and scupper your chances.

3: “Where do I see myself in five years? In your job”
The article makes the point that this answer will do nothing but make you seem too cocky. A little ambition is a good thing but saying you want the interviewers job will surely do nothing but get their hackles up! 

We suggest, if asked where you want to be in five years’ time, you tailor your answer to the company whilst highlighting your personal skills and abilities, for example, “I’d like to have developed my role as a Specialist Nurse by successfully setting up the new screening department and ensuring all the nurses and healthcare assistants that will be working in it are well trained and fulfilled in their roles. 

I’d like to have a well-run department where patients feel comfortable and at ease when they attend for their appointments and on a personal note I’d like to have undertaken my Masters and be able to voice my opinions and have my ideas listened to.”

4: “You look great”
We can’t believe that anyone would actually say this in an interview unless it was for a fashion house or something similar, but even then… Being professional is essential in an interview and if you get offered the job you have plenty of time to get to know your new bosses and only then should you make (nice!) comments on their appearance and only if you think they’d appreciate it. Chris Meredith suggests instead impressing them with your knowledge of the company and the prospective role.

5: “Sorry I’m late”
An obvious one, but as the article states it’s imperative to be on time for your interview. Have a trial run, know your options for getting there, whether by car or public transport, and ensure you are there in good time. Is there parking space? Is there a long walk from the bus stop or train station? If the company is located in a business centre, familiarise yourself with its location within the complex so you don’t get lost when you get there. 

Take their phone number just in case: only to be used in an emergency, but if a major accident or incident occurs on the way that they are likely to know about and it affects you, it would be a good idea to let them know. Being on time (or a little early) means you have chance to gather your thoughts and try and relax a little…

6: “I don’t know”
Chris Meredith suggests you do your research on the company to ensure you are prepared if they ask you any questions about it and how you will fit in with them. Even if you are going for an internal position it makes sense to ensure you have all your facts and figures correct and have a knowledge of the company’s aims, values and plans. 

They are bound to ask you something relating to your knowledge of the company and/or the position on offer so it makes sense to swot up beforehand.

7: “I don’t have any questions”
It’s easy to say you don’t have any questions when asked at the end of the interview, as you can feel that you are somehow lucky to be there and that the ball is in the interviewer’s court. 

However, the article says you should be prepared with a question or two that shows your interest in the company. It suggests you ask about your personal development opportunities. How about the ability to develop a certain project or have specific training in a certain area? Just try to keep it closely related to the job and realistic… which leads us on to the next point!

8: “How much holiday do I get?”
Unless it is an unusual job which involves complicated shift routines or international travelling it’s likely the holiday entitlements are similar to most other companies. Your employment contract will show you your holiday entitlement and it’s wise to leave any mention of holidays out of the interview itself. 

If you get the call to offer you the job and you are about to go away for a week or two, inform them about it so they know there may be a delay in you starting the job. But by discussing it in the interview room makes you look, Chris Meredith says, “like someone who is just looking for an easy life”.

9: “I’ll just take this call”
The article strongly advises you to turn your mobile phone off before you go into the interview room. Friends and family texting you to wish you good luck will only be distracting to both you and the interviewers and will lead to some embarrassment. 

However, purposely checking the latest twitter or Facebook updates will surely lead to you not being seen in a good light, even if the job is a Social Media manager! And whatever you do, never read a text or update whilst hold your hand out and saying “Bear With” in ‘Miranda’ fashion!

10: “I thought you already had a copy”
Take copies of your CV with you to the interview, recommends the article. Read the information you have been given carefully to see if you need to take copies of your certificates, most likely if you are applying for a graduate entry job. You may be asked to take a portfolio of your work, depending on the position. Some companies ask you to take your passport or proof of identification. So be prepared and make sure you have everything to hand.

It’s always wise to be sure your CV is up to date and you can explain any gaps in your employment. And of course, don’t be tempted to embellish too much in case you get caught out!

Read the full article on The Telegraph's website here.

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Thursday, 31 October 2013

Is the 'women better than men at multi-tasking' theory true?

A paper has appeared in the BMC Psychology journal which tried to settle the age-old argument of whether women are better than men at multi-tasking. Written by researchers from the Universities of Glasgow, Leeds and Hertfordshire, the study focused on the widely-held belief that women performed better than men when undertaking several tasks at once.

Comprising of two experiments, 120 men and 120 women were given a computer based test: when they were only given one task at a time, both men and women performed the same. However, when they had to quickly switch between two different tasks both sexes slowed down as they concentrated more, but there was a small but noticeable difference as women performed slightly better. The researchers believe that this difference – when replicated many times over a day – meant that women were much more able to handle multiple tasks at the same times than men.

The second experiment, performed using a different group of 47 men and 47 women, was designed to more clearly resemble a ‘real life’ problem: they were given 8 minutes in which to do some simple maths, answer a telephone call, find a restaurant on a map and decide how they would go about searching for a key which had been lost in a field. The time limit was too short for them to finish all the tasks, so prioritisation played an important part as well as being organised and keeping calm.

This time there was no discernible difference between men and women as to how well they performed in the tasks, expect the test where they had to find a lost key: women were much better at thinking of how they would go about this and by demonstrating their chosen ‘route’ around the field on a piece of paper, they showed a much more organised and methodical way of going about it, whereas the men’s attempt seemed much more haphazard.

The researchers emphasise that due to the lack of other studies in this area the results shouldn’t be generalised across the whole population but taken in isolation until other studies are done, which they strongly recommend.

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Sunday, 13 October 2013

Survey of worker satisfaction puts UK behind Germany and America

A survey of 45,000 employees from 32 countries has found that 67% of workers in the UK are satisfied with their job compared to 68% in both Germany and France, 70& in Australia, 73% in New Zealand and the Netherlands, 74% in America and Belgium and 77% in Canada.

The study, commissioned by Randstad found that this leave over 9 million British workers who are unhappy in their work, with people aged between 35 and 44 feeling the most disillusioned. According to the results, this could lead to more staff illness and sick leave, as well as reduced productivity.

Conversely, people at both the beginning and end of their careers are the happiest where they are either motivated at the start of their working lives or looking forwards towards their impending retirement.

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Saturday, 12 October 2013

That's the way the biscuit crumbles...

Are you a good work colleague when it comes to biscuits? A survey of 600 people who work in an office, commissioned by, found that 75% of people passed the packet of biscuits around the office before eating one themselves, and whilst you may think this makes you more considerate and caring, the survey found that apparently this makes you more ambitious. 

The study also says that on average, a person will take two biscuits (or 2.79 technically, though who breaks them biscuits into smaller pieces?) and if you take three or more you are greedy.

The least popular type of biscuits were ones that will leave crumbs all over you and your desk or workspace, and around a half of people liked to dunk while the other half... don't.

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Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Etiquette courses for jobseekers

Social skills are very important at work and something probably all of us have thought about at some time – shaking hands, using the correct greeting or knowing what to say as small talk if you are stuck in the lift with boss.

A survey by Debretts, who has been teaching etiquette in the United Kingdom for more than 200 years and therefore presumably has a vested interest in the subject, found that school leavers and new graduates are lacking in this department and do now know how to ‘behave’ correctly.

Their major concern was people using their mobile phones during the day to send texts or see what their friends were up to as well as an inability to spell correctly. Debretts asked 58 senior executives for their opinions and 75% responded that being so used to communicating with other people via the internet or mobile phones had an impact on workers talking to other people, and this in turn affects their ability to form working relationships with work colleagues and clients.

Also highlighted were young employees coming in to work still feeling the effects of the night before or not dressed appropriately. Therefore, Debretts are now offering day and residential courses in order to teach people social skills at work. For those who are deadly serious about improving their communication and etiquette skills, the courses start at an eye-watering £1,000. Who said manners don’t cost anything?!

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Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Jaguar Land Rover creating 1,700 new jobs

In an announcement made at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Jaguar Land Rovers Chief Executive Ralf Speth outlined plans to create 1,700 new positions at its plant in Solihull, West Midlands due to a £1.5 billion investment.

The company is to expand its product range and new design teams will work on a new mid sized sports saloon with the chassis made out of aluminium. This new car is expected to be unveiled in 2015.

Speth feels the “announcement signals Jaguar Land Rover's ambitions to push the boundaries and redefine premium car ownership” and as it is a “business driven by design, technology and innovation and this investment and level of job creation is yet further evidence of our commitment to advancing the capability of the UK automotive sector and its supply chain”.

Audi is one car maker that uses aluminium in its car designs as it is lightweight enough to increase the fuel efficiency of the car and like other car makers Jaguar sees the potential of using the metal in its products.

Jaguar Land Rover, owned by Tata Motors since 2008, say that with the new jobs the total created at its Solihull site over the last three years comes to almost 11,000 and there are also obvious benefits to suppliers and local firms as the company employs more people and extends its range of cars.

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Friday, 6 September 2013

Possible three yearly checks for nurses and midwives under new scheme

Midwives and nurses working in the United Kingdom may face checks by patients, work colleagues and managers every three years in a new scheme proposed by The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

At the moment, nurses and midwives need to renew their fitness to practice, but following a number of disciplinary cases and the fallout from the Francis Report which looked into the issues raised at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, the NMC is keen to start a new process known as revalidation.

Under the proposed scheme, nurses and midwives will face the same kind of checks as Doctors (although they go through revalidation every five years) and will receive feedback on their performance, with those who are not up to scratch facing being prevented from working with patients.

There are around 670,000 midwives and nurses working in the UK and the revalidation process will be part of the normal appraisal system from 2015 if it is endorsed by the governing body of the NMC.  If the scheme gets the go ahead, there will be a consultation period in 2014.

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