Preparing you for competency based interview questions
Preparing you for competency based interview questions

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General

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Career Advice

12/08/20

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Competency based interview questions vary widely between sectors and depending on the level of responsibility to which you are applying. The type of competencies against which you will be assessed also depends on the role and the company who is interviewing you. For example, some companies view leadership as a competency on its own whilst others prefer to split leadership between a wide range of components (creativity, flexibility, strategic thinking or vision for example). Adaptability - Adjusts to changing environments whilst maintaining effectiveness. Which change of job did you find the most difficult to make?Tell us about the biggest change that you have had to deal with. How did you cope with it? Compliance - Conforms to company policies and procedures. How do you ensure compliance with policies in your area of responsibility?Tell us about a time when you went against company policy? Why did you do it and how did you handle it? Communication - Communicates effectively, listens sensitively, adapts communication and fosters effective communication with others. Verbal Tell us about a situation where your communication skills made a difference to a situation?Describe a time when you had to win someone over, who was reluctant or unresponsive.Describe a situation where you had to explain something complex to a colleague or a client. Which problems did you encounter and how did you deal with them?What is the worst communication situation that you have experienced?How do you prepare for an important meeting?Tell us about a situation when you failed to communicate appropriately.Demonstrate how you vary your communication approach according to the audience that you are addressing.Describe a situation when you had to communicate a message to someone, knowing that you were right and that they were wrong and reluctant to accept your point of view. Listening Give us an example where your listening skills proved crucial to an outcome.Tell us about a time when you were asked to summarise complex points.Tell us about a time when you had trouble remaining focussed on your audience. How did you handle this?What place does empathy play in your work? Give an example where you needed to show empathy?Describe a situation where you had to deal with an angry customer. Written What type of writing have you done? Give examples? What makes you think that you are good at it?How do you feel writing a report differs from preparing an oral presentation?What positive and negative feedback have you received about your writing skills? Give an example where one of your reports was criticised.How do you plan the writing of a report? Conflict management - Encourages creative tension and differences of opinions. Anticipates and takes steps to prevent counterproductive confrontations. Manages and resolves conflicts and disagreements in a constructive manner. Tell us about a time when you felt that conflict or differences were a positive driving force in your organisation. How did you handle the conflict to optimise its benefit?Tell us about a time when you had to deal with a conflict within your team.Tell us about a situation where conflict led to a negative outcome. How did you handle the situation and what did you learn from it?Give us an example where you were unable to deal with a difficult member of your team. Creativity and Innovation - Develops new insights into situations; questions conventional approaches; encourages new ideas and innovations; designs and implements new or cutting edge programs/processes. Tell us about a project or situation where you felt that the conventional approach would not be suitable. How did you derive and manage a new approach? Which challenges did you face and how did you address them?Tell us about a situation where you trusted your team to derive a new approach to an old problem. How did you manage the process?Tell us about a time when you had to convince a senior colleague that change was necessary. What made you think that your new approach would be better suited? Decisiveness - Makes well-informed, effective, and timely decisions, even when data is limited or solutions produce unpleasant consequences; perceives the impact and implications of decisions. What big decision did you make recently? How did you go about it?How did you reach the decision that you wanted to change your job?Give an example of a time when you had to delay a decision to reflect on the situation. What did you need to do this?What is the decision that you have put off the longest? Why?When was the last time you refused to make a decision?Give us an example of a situation where you had to make a decision without the input of key players, but knowing these key players would judge you on that decision (e.g. superior unavailable at the time).Tell us about a time when you had to make a decision without knowledge of the full facts.Tell us about a situation where you made a decision that involuntarily impacted negatively on others. How did you make that decision and how did you handle its consequences?Tell us about a decision that you made, which you knew would be unpopular with a group of people.How did you handle the decision-making process and how did you manage expectations?Tell us about a situation where you made a decision too quickly and got it wrong. Why made you take that decision? Delegation - Able to make full and best use of subordinate, providing appropriate support. What type of responsibilities do you delegate? Give examples of projects where you made best use of delegation.Give an example of a project or task that you felt compelled to complete on your own. What stopped you from delegating?Give an example of a situation where you reluctantly delegated to a colleague. How did you feel about it?Give an example where you delegated a task to the wrong person? How did you make that decision at the time, what happened and what did you learn from it?How do you cope with having to go away from the office for long periods of time (e.g. holidays)? Explain how you would delegate responsibilities based on your current situation. External awareness - Understands and keeps up-to-date on local, national, and international policies and trends that affect the organisation and shape stakeholders’ views; is aware of the organisation’s impact on the external environment. Describe through examples drawn from your experience how you measure and take account of the impact of your decisions on external parties.Give an example where you underestimated the impact of your decisions on stakeholders external to your organisation. Flexibility - Modifies their approach to achieve a goal. Is open to change and new information; rapidly adapts to new information, changing conditions, or unexpected obstacles. Describe a situation where you had to change your approach half-way through a project or task following new input into the project.Describe a situation where you started off thinking that your approach was the best, but needed to alter your course during the implementation.Describe a situation where one of your projects suffered a setback due to an unexpected change in circumstances.Describe a situation where you were asked to do something that you had never attempted previously.Give us an example of a situation where your initial approach failed and you had to change?Describe your strongest and your weakest colleagues. How do you cope with such diversity of personalities?If we gave you a new project to manage, how would you decide how to approach it? Independence Acts based on their convictions and not systematically the accepted wisdom. When did you depart from the “party line” to accomplish your goal?Which decisions do you feel able to make on your own and which do you require senior support to make?Describe a situation where you had a disagreement or an argument with a superior. How did you handle it?When do you feel that it is justified for you to go against accepted principles or policy?Which constraints are imposed on you in your current job and how do you deal with these?When did you make a decision that wasn’t yours to make?Describe a project or situation where you took a project to completion despite important opposition.When have you gone beyond the limits of your authority in making a decision? Influencing - Ability to convince others to own expressed point of view, gain agreement and acceptance of plans, activities or products. Describe a situation where you were able to influence others on an important issue. What approaches or strategies did you use?Describe a situation where you needed to influence different stakeholders who had different agendas. What approaches or strategies did you use?Tell us about an idea that you manage to sell to your superior, which represented a challenge.What is your worst selling experience?Describe the project or idea you were most satisfied to sell to your management.Describe a time where you failed to sell an idea you knew was the right one. Integrity - Ability to maintain job related, social, organisational and ethical norms. When have you had to lie to achieve your aims? Why did you do so and how do you feel you could have achieved the same aim in a different way?Tell me about a time when you showed integrity and professionalism.Tell us about a time when someone asked you something that you objected to. How did you handle the situation?Have you ever been asked to do something illegal, immoral or against your principles? What did you do?What would you do if your boss asked you to do something illegal?Tell us about a situation where you had to remind a colleague of the meaning of “integrity”. Leadership - Acts as a role model. Anticipates and plans for change. Communicates a vision to a team. Tell us about a situation where you had to get a team to improve its performance. What were the problems and how did you address them?Describe a situation where you had to drive a team through change. How did you achieve this?Describe a situation where you needed to inspire a team. What challenges did you meet and how did you achieve your objectives?Tell us about a situation where you faced reluctance from your team to accept the direction that you were setting.Describe a project or situation where you had to use different leadership styles to reach your goal.Describe a time when you were less successful as a leader than you would have wanted to be. Leveraging diversity - Fosters an inclusive workplace where diversity and individual differences are valued and leveraged to achieve the vision and mission of the organisation. Give an example of a situation or project where a positive outcome depended on the work of people from a wide range of backgrounds and ideas.Tell us about a time when you included someone in your team or a project because you felt they would bring something different to the team. Organisational awareness - Demonstrates an understanding of underlying organisational issues. Describe a project where you needed to involve input from other departments. How did you identify that need and how did you ensure buy-in from the appropriate leaders and managers?Describe a time when you failed to engage at the right level in your organisation. Why did you do that and how did you handle the situation? Resilience and tenacity - Deals effectively with pressure; remains optimistic and persistent, even under adversity. Recovers quickly from setbacks. Stays with a problem/line of thinking until a solution is reached or no longer reasonably attainable. Tell us about a situation where things deteriorated quickly. How did you react to recover from that situation?Tell us about a project where you achieved success despite the odds being stacked against you. How did you ensure that you pulled through?Tell us about your biggest failure. How did you recover and what have you learnt from that incident?Give us an example of a situation where you knew that a project or task would place you under great pressure. How did you plan your approach and remain motivated?How do you deal with stress?Give us an example of a situation where you worked under pressure.Under what conditions do you work best and worst?Which recent project or situation has caused you the most stress? How did you deal with it?When did you last lose your temper?When was the last time that you were upset with yourself?What makes you frustrated or impatient at work?What is the biggest challenge that you have faced in your career. How did you overcome it?Tell us about a time when you pushed one of your ideas successfully despite strong opposition.Which course or topics have you found most difficult? How did you address the challenge? Risk taking - Takes calculated risks, weighing up pros and cons appropriately. Tell us about risks that you have taken in your professional or personal life? How did you go about making your decision?Please describe one of your current or recently completed projects, setting out the risks involved. How did you make decisions and how do you know that you made the right ones?What risks do you see in moving to this new post? Sensitivity to others - Aware of other people and environment and own impact on these. Takes into account other people’s feelings and needs. What problems has one of your staff or colleagues brought to you recently? How did you assist them?Tell us about an unpopular decision that you made recently? What thought process did you follow before making it? How did your colleagues/clients react and how did you deal with their reaction?How do you deal with “time wasters”? Give a recent example.When was the last time you had an argument with a colleague?When did you last upset someone?What steps do you take to understand your colleagues’ personalities? Give an example where you found it hard to adjust to one particular colleague. Teamwork - Contributes fully to the team effort and plays an integral part in the smooth running of teams without necessarily taking the lead. Describe a situation in which you were a member of a team. What did you do to positively contribute to it?Tell us about a situation where you played an important role in a project as a member of a team, not as a leader.How do you ensure that every member of the team is allowed to participate?Give us an example where you worked in a dysfunctional team. Why was it dysfunctional and how did you attempt to change things?Give an example of a time when you had to deal with a conflict within your team; what did you do to help resolve the situation?How do you build relationships with other members of your team?How do you bring difficult colleagues on board? Give us an example where you had to do this.

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Competency based interview questions vary widely between sectors and depending on the level of responsibility to which you are applying.

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Paul Roche

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Paul Roche

Paul Roche

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Paul Roche

How to resign the right way, and navigate a counter-offer conversation
How to resign the right way, and navigate a counter-offer conversation

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General

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Career Advice

12/08/20

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Even the best of job opportunities have their downsides, and the decision to change jobs should never be made lightly. Once the decision has been made, however, it should be firm and final, because reversing it could be a costly career mistake.Assuming you have been a valued employee, your company will not want to lose you, particularly in the short term, and will likely extend you a counter offer – a flattering inducement designed to tempt you into changing your mind. But as tempting and ego-gratifying as accepting a counter offer may be, interviews with employees who have succumbed to them have shown that the majority suffered setbacks later in their careers. " If the person resigning is a key employee, the manager and company will generally make whatever promises it takes to influence a reversal of the decision to terminate. Changing jobs can be an intense process, and companies know they stand a good chance of keeping the employee – at least for a while – if they can just 'press the right buttons'.  Before you let the flattery of a counter offer tempt you, consider these universally accepted truths below:No matter what the company may say, you will forever be considered a flight risk. Having once demonstrated your 'lack of loyalty' by having looked for another job, you will lose your status as a 'team player' and your place in the inner circle.Companies have long memories and know that even if you decide to stay, statistically you are almost certain to leave them again. You will always be suspected of being on a job interview whenever you are absent from work for any reason. The counter offer, therefore, is usually nothing more than a stalling device to keep you around until your employer can quietly find a replacement for you.Numerous studies have shown that the basic reasons for wanting to change jobs in the first place will nearly always resurface. Changes made as the result of a counter offer rarely last beyond the short-term. For very good reasons, well-managed companies usually do not make counter offers. They believe their policies are fair and equitable and will address any issues prior to a resignation, not afterwardsYour resignation letter Your goal should be to resign in a manner that discourages a counter offer from ever being made in the first place. This is accomplished by stating in unmistakable terms that your decision is final. A less direct approach is likely to leave the impression that what you are really doing is attempting to use your job offer to extract concessions.To eliminate any possible misunderstanding, always submit your resignation in writing. Your typewritten letter should be brief and should contain an unambiguous statement of resignation, an expression of thanks for the professional association you have enjoyed, a final date of employment, and a cooperative statement expressing your willingness to help during the transition period prior to your last day of work. The resignation meetingIf anything is said that even sounds like a lead into a counter offer, simply say, “I didn’t come here to force you into a bidding war. I simply have been presented with an opportunity I cannot pass up.” Then use the statement that should be the basis for the last line of your resignation letter: “Is there anything that I can do to help during the transition time before my last day?”During your resignation meeting, you should be prepared for a reaction, which could range from shock, disappointment, or they may congratulate you. Regardless of the company’s reaction, your plan is to remain calm and professional. It is imperative that you handle your part of the resignation meeting in a courteous and professional manner. The kind of character reference the company will give you in the future will be strongly influenced by the impression you left behind when you resigned. The final few daysRemember that co-workers will be curious about why you are leaving. Whether they corner you at work or call you at home, tell them exactly what you told the company. Anything you say will most likely get back to your employer and make the departure more difficult. Finally, do not underestimate the importance of your performance during your last two weeks. It is a serious mistake to become “mentally unemployed” and wind down while working out your notice. Give it your very best effort right up until the last minute you’re there. You will never be sorry you did.By using the strategies and techniques outlined above, you will resign with a high degree of professionalism and without burning any bridges behind you. Your plan is to remain calm, courteous and in control at all times - Good luck!

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Even the best of job opportunities have their downsides, and the decision to change jobs should never be made lightly.

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Thomas Wesseldine

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Thomas Wesseldine

Thomas Wesseldine

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Thomas Wesseldine

Writing a compelling CV in a competitive jobs market
Writing a compelling CV in a competitive jobs market

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Career Advice

12/08/20

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Your CV is usually the first impression that a potential employer will have of you and your ability to do the job. Therefore, it is extremely important that your CV presents the strongest and most relevant information. It's essential for you to get across the key points in a concise and clear manner, as you often have less than five seconds to grab the reader’s attention.Be honestExaggerating your responsibilities or achievements is not recommended and could greatly impact your future chances of securing a role. Never falsify dates or jobs to hide periods of unemployment, as a basic check could expose any of these hidden areas. Leaving you exposed to more questions which may ruin your chance of landing the job. Be honest, open and explain any gaps. Back it up and support the claims you make regarding responsibilities and key achievements with facts and comparative data wherever possible.StructurePersonal details: name, address, mobile, email, visa status (if applicable). Qualifications: professional and formal, education. Include any Specialisations, eg. Auditor within IFRS Career highlights: short bullet point synopsis of your recent positions and achievements. Highlight anything that sells your overall strengths. Outline your work history in reverse chronological order. Where possible, include quantitative measurements of success and place an emphasis on the most relevant roles to the job you are applying for.Your work history should be detailed with experience and achievements and should include: Job titleCompany namedates employedKey experience areasOverview of responsibilities (5-10 bullet points depending on the seniority of the role - the greater the seniority, the more detail will be expected).Achievements: List any key achievements within the role, key projects you participated in, etc.Length is important, a maximum of two pages is preferable; your CV only needs to get you an interview. Use bullet points with your most recent experience at the top of the list. This will help to keep your CV concise and relevant to the role that you are applying for. Keep to the facts and don’t try to be funny. Other people’s sense of humor may be very different to your own and it can come across as rude or insulting. ReferencesWhen dealing with references, you do not need to include names of your references or ‘references upon request’ at this stage. If a recruiter asks for names, ensure you have spoken to your contacts and that they are willing and able. The more senior executive, the better.Layout Keep the language simple; avoid jargon that a recruiter or employer may not understand.Highlight achievements in bullet point style so that they are easy to read.Do not include a photo.Ensure your CV is in Word format.Use a clear typeface.Ensure there are no spelling mistakes or grammatical errors.Any roles over 10 years ago do not need much detail. Key things to rememberRegularly revisit your CV and update the content. Trying to remember what you did when you started your role five years ago may be difficult! Being relevant, highlight any key skills you have which are requested in the job description, these could appear on the front page as a summary. If it has been more than five years since you graduated, place your education at the bottom. If you have not finished your degree or do not have a formal qualification, explain this thoroughly.  We’re aware that following your ACA qualification you will be considering the next steps in your career. The newly qualified ACA job market is competitive, so differentiating yourself is essential. Download our ACA CV guide here.

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Your CV is usually the first impression that a potential employer will have of you and your ability to do the job.

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Matthew Fitzpatrick

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Matthew Fitzpatrick

Matthew Fitzpatrick

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Matthew Fitzpatrick

Preparing for your interview - some key advice
Preparing for your interview - some key advice

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Career Advice

12/08/20

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Going to an interview can be daunting, especially if it's your first time, or if you really want to land the role. Preparation is key, and with the right advice you will feel relaxed and confident when making your first impression.  Before your interview do some research   Find out as much as you can about the company you are applying to - their products/services, scale, structure etc. There are a few other sources you can try to find this information, the most reliable would be:   The company website Annual reports LinkedIn Google   Best of all, if you can, speak to someone who works for the company. Of course, this is not always possible, but it is a very useful source of information. LinkedIn is a good way to connect with existing employees and reach out to them.   Key preparations   Check the location before the day and explore alternative options of transport. Read through the job description, know where your role will fit into the organisation. Expect the interviewer to do a CV walkthrough, spend some time going through your CV, making sure to familiarise yourself with your previous roles and projects along with dates. Be prepared for any technical questions that could arise from reviewing your CV. Be prepared to explain your reasons for leaving each role. Have a mental note of all key achievements in each role.   Day of the interview and arrival   Plan to arrive 15 minutes early, always leave plenty of time and assume you are going to be held up and check for traffic reports if necessary.    Best practices   Introduce yourself politely. Arrive on time or early if possible. Turn your mobile phone off during the interview. Express yourself clearly. Smile as much as possible during the interview. Show how your experience can benefit the company. Ask questions concerning the company for which you are being interviewed. Show willingness to learn and progress. Be assertive without being aggressive. Prepare 10 relevant questions; you will probably cover five in the interview. Refrain from answering questions with a yes or no - expand where possible. Answer all questions truthfully and honestly. Stay positive about previous employers. Show that you have put time and energy into planning your career and that this is a crucial step toward your future. Do not talk about the salary and benefits package - getting an offer is the main priority and salary negotiations will follow. For every responsibility/requirement on the job specification, ensure you have at least one example of an experience or a transferable skill that covers that requirement for the interview.   Telephone interviews   As a minimum you should brush up on the company’s business structure, clients, products, industry terminology, or anything else that may relate to the position you are applying for. Spending an hour or two researching these things before an interview can make a great impression on your interviewers and possibly land you a second interview or even a job.   Always remember:   Keep a glass of water handy. Smile - this will project a positive image to the listener and will change the tone of your voice. Speak slowly and enunciate clearly, be careful not to speak over the interviewer. Keep your CV in clear view, on the top of your desk, so it is at your fingertips when you need to answer questions. Have a short list of your accomplishments available to review. Have a pen and paper handy for note taking. Make sure your phone is charged and you are in an area with good reception.   Read more about how to conduct a great video interview.    Talking about your experience   Keep examples recent and relevant from the last five years, and use a variety of different examples. It is often seen as a weakness to use the same scenario for different questions. If you do not understand a question, ask for clarification. Take your time in answering a question – it is better to give a decent answer after a few seconds pause, rather than a garbled, nonsensical answer immediately. Avoid clichéd answers to questions such as “I’m a great team player”, which you cannot back up with examples from the workplace.   Think about the different interviewers motivations:  - When interviewed by HR their main concern will be to ensure that you fit the company culture, but  they will not be able to assess your ability to do the job.  - A line manager will be able to test your skills and assess whether they will be able to work with you on a daily basis.   Competency based interviewing   Competency based interviewing (link this to blog 4) is a series of scenario-based questions designed to examine your strength across a number of soft skills. The concept behind this type of question, where you are asked to give a specific example of a real-life situation in the workplace, is that the interviewer is able to determine how you will behave in the future, based on how you behaved in the past.   A competency question will start with something like …. “Describe a situation when……” or “Tell me about a time when…..” It is important that you respond accordingly, with one specific example, rather than saying what you would, could or should do. Prepare examples for each of the competencies; and rehearse your answers. Remember that the word ‘we’ should not form part of your answer, replace it with ‘I’. It is you they want to hear about. The hiring manager after all, is looking to hire you, not your team.   To prepare yourself for the competency questions you will need to understand the STAR (situation, task, action, result) method of structuring your answer. The STAR technique enables you to showcase your relevant experience with the interviewer in a methodical manner. We recommend doing some in-depth preparation before the interview so that you can have some great examples to quote.   Some interview example questions:   Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way. Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgement and logic in solving a problem. Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done. Give me an example of a time when you had to make a split second decision. What is your typical way of dealing with conflict? Give me an example. Tell me about a time you were able to successfully deal with another person even when that individual may not have personally liked you (or vice versa). Tell me about a difficult decision you have made in the last year. Give me an example of a time when something you tried to accomplish failed. Tell me about a time when you were forced to make an unpopular decision. What do you expect from this role?   Communication, talking the interviewers language   A good tip is to always be aware of the tempo of the interview, if your interviewer is talking and asking questions slowly or quickly, respond in a like manner. Try to maintain eye contact and try to gauge the understanding of the individual(s) you are meeting with. Don’t become too technical and lose someone who is unfamiliar with what you are talking about, the same applies for the reverse. Don’t talk high level when you have a technical audience, they will be looking for detail.   If there are multiple people interviewing you, share attention between them and be sure to answer questions to the person that directed them. Avoid talking too much - this is a difficult one, but the talking should be fairly even between interviewer and interviewee. Make sure you pause if you’re in the middle of a long answer to allow the interviewer to speak if they need to.   Always remember:   If late, only apologise once. Remember what you have said to each interviewer. It is fine to duplicate information across the interviews, but make sure you are not repeating yourself to the same person. Sometimes, interviewers may have a short chat between interviews and the second interviewer may be given the task of probing a particular area, so expect some repetition. Never say overly negative things about your current employer or reasons for leaving. Focus on the future, not on the past.   Feedback   After the interview it is essential that you call Marks Sattin and provide prompt feedback. In most situations your recruiter will not be able to get feedback from the client without speaking to you first. Any delay in providing this feedback can slow down the whole process. Whether it is positive or negative, it is essential that you take it on board and use it for future interviews.   Feedback is a great learning opportunity for you and even the very best candidates often need several interviews in order to secure their ideal role.  

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For good advice on key preparations and what to expect during your next interview.

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Matthew Wilcox

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Matthew Wilcox

Matthew Wilcox

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Matthew Wilcox

How to conduct a video interview for maximum impact
How to conduct a video interview for maximum impact

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Career Advice

28/04/20

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Historically, hiring managers have been uncertain about choosing video interviews over an in-person interview. However, the recent Covid-19 crisis has meant that much of the UK’s - and the world’s - recruitment activity has moved online, and there is no denying that video interviewing is an integral part of this. Virtual interviews allow HR professionals to remotely hire the best talent. There are many benefits to the video interview – it saves time, suits flexible working and - with permission - you can record the session and watch it back to help you make your decision. Consider that most hiring managers conduct three interviews per candidate, with some organisations like Google following multi-stage interview hiring featuring different people from across the business. Now imagine how much time you can save by running a virtual meeting. But the question remains - how do you conduct a video interview for maximum impact? You’ll need to begin by adapting your pre-interview preparation. Prior to the interviewOne-way or two-way interview Video interviews are one of our top tips for hiring and onboarding remotely , but first you must choose which style suits you best. One-way interviews don’t require you to interview the candidate in real time; instead you send the questions on and have them record their answers. You can either use specialised video interviewing software which will send out invites and do the recording for you, or have the candidate record and send it on themselves.  A major benefit of this video interview style is the added ease – you don’t need to find a time where both you and the candidate are available, and you can watch it at your convenience. It allows you to create a more consistent process but this comes at the cost of an impersonal format. A two-way video interview entirely mimics the traditional interview, but without both you and the candidate being in the same room. Again, you can use specialised technology that can help you keep organised when interviewing multiple candidates. Because you are having a conversation in real-time, this two-way conversation allows you to understand the candidate better. Also, you have the chance to ask follow-up questions, which is a luxury you do not have in a one-way interview. Choose your room wisely When choosing which room you’ll conduct the video interview in, make sure it’s a quiet space with good lighting and consider using a backdrop. These are all small factors but they will help the meeting run smoothly and look professional – both of which will ensure the video interview has maximum impact. Depending on the video interview software you use, you may be able to select a neutral backdrop to virtually overlay your home setting. Do a test run 49% of businesses agree that video interviewing is a useful method to help them distinguish themselves from other employers. But to stand out for the right reasons your technology needs to be up to scratch. Check your tech before the interview, testing everything from your microphone volume to your internet connection. A top tip is to use a headset as this will cut out background noise.  A noticeable time lag will make communication difficult and even uncomfortable in some cases so your connection must be high quality. Additionally, any technical glitch on the day will interrupt the flow of the interview which can leave the candidate, or you, feeling thrown off balance. Having your technology set up and running without complications is the best way of ensuring that your video interview has maximum impact.  During the interview Remember that a virtual interview should feel as professional and flow as seamlessly as an in-person interview. Seven in ten candidates will share a negative job experience online, which can hurt your future recruiting efforts, whether they happen online or not. So it’s vital that you consider how you can make sure your video interviews run as seamlessly as possible. Here are some quick tips: Have their CV to hand No matter if you’re recording the video interview or not, you’ll want to have a hard copy of the candidate’s CV in front of you. When conducting multiple interviews, it’s a common problem to forget which candidate said what. Save yourself the task of searching back through the video clips and make detailed annotations; this will leave you more time to search for new leads or screen candidates. Put them at ease Interviews are notoriously nerve-wracking and despite not being in the same room as you, the candidate may still feel tense. To see their true potential, you must make them feel comfortable. It’s recommended that for a video interview you only need to frame your face and shoulders in the camera shot, which means that you’re relying on your facial expressions to communicate your body language. Therefore, strong eye contact and an encouraging smile are paramount and will help put the interviewee at ease. Slow it down Even if you have the best technical set up and a great internet connection, picking up on social cues can be tricky in a video interview. To make sure that you don’t miss out on any signals, keep the pace of the interview slow. Relaxing the speed will also alleviate any nerves for the candidate and allow them time to collect their thoughts and showcase their abilities. After the interview Keep in touch Just as you would after an in-person interview, it's crucial to maintain contact with the candidate, or the recruiter you're working with on their behalf. If you don’t keep regular contact with prospective employees, this signals that you are not serious about hiring them and the candidates may pursue other options. Therefore, to maintain access to the best pool of candidates, you should make a point of communicating timelines clearly and updating throughout the recruitment process. Making an offer There’s no use in waiting around to give candidates your verdict. Speed is of the essence and if you manage the timing poorly you risk losing your top candidates to other employers. Once you’ve made your decision it’s time to let your latest recruit know the good news and reach out to the other interviewees to thank them for their time. In summary For years hiring managers and recruiters have weighed up the benefits of video interviewing against in-person interviews but in light of recent changes to our global workforce, no one can deny how essential the virtual meetings are to keep businesses moving along as usual.  Marks Sattin has been recruiting for over 30 years If you found this advice on conducting a video interview for maximum impact helpful then you can view more of our market insights here. Marks Sattin is a specialist recruitment firm working with the best talent across banking, finance, executive search, technology and business change. And with over three decades of experience recruiting for these divisions, you can trust us to source the most suitable and talented candidates.

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Historically, hiring managers have been uncertain about choosing video interviews over an in-person interview.

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Sophie Walker

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Sophie Walker

Sophie Walker

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Sophie Walker

Maintaining good mental health in a time of isolation
Maintaining good mental health in a time of isolation

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General

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Career Advice

26/03/20

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At Marks Sattin we are well into our second week of working from home in accordance with government advice on social distancing and self-isolation. It has been quite the change – working in a recruitment office typically comes with an energetic atmosphere; colleagues bouncing ideas back and forth (as well as harmless banter), praise if someone closes a deal, or successfully headhunts a great candidate, as well as the all important element of instant constructive feedback. This is tough to replicate whilst working from home! With this in mind, I have put together some advice with our candidates and clients in mind, who may be going through the same adjustments. Focusing on good mental health and wellbeing in these strange times is a priority. Below are a few of what I believe to be some key considerations of maintaining good mental health during this time of social distancing/working from home. These are: • Routine • Exercise • Contact  • Stress and anxiety Routine Working from home carries with it a big change in your daily routine. No tube or train back and forth every day, which will be a blessing for some, but equally no chat with colleagues over lunch, and no longer being in an environment which encourages a structured approach to your working day. Here are a few tips on how to adjust to the change: Create a dedicated work space Productivity can be a challenge occasionally which can be made more difficult at home – there are more distractions and no colleagues around to keep you in check. Do your best to make your home office as work like as possible – no sitting with your laptop in bed. Have a separate, quiet space where you are less prone to outside influence. Invest your commuting time into something productive The general commute is typically around 50 minutes each way, although plenty of people will suffer worse than that! It doesn’t take much imagination to think of ways you could use that time, both to improve your mental health as well as invest in yourself. Stick to your normal wake up schedule and use the early morning, rather than lying in and waiting for your work day to start, do some exercise. A morning run (especially in the sunshine) will put you in a great mood by the time you get back to your home desk. You could read a book, educational or otherwise, or just put a bit of extra time into making yourself an indulgent breakfast – the possibilities are endless and using your time with a purpose is essential to good mental wellbeing. Make positive changes to your diet An often unavoidable downside of office life is the effects it has on your diet – speed is prioritised over nutritional value and often an unhealthy pick-me-up or two is inevitable. It’s rare that a day goes by in our office that someone doesn’t show up with chocolate or sweets! Working from home offers a great chance to flip this on its head. Put time into meal planning for the week; get creative, eat more vegetables (immune boosting) and less processed food. Time to cook for yourself can help you eat better which is beneficial for your mental health, physical health and not to mention your wallet! Exercise For many, exercise is a big contributor to a positive mental outlook, and as we’re all aware all our usual gyms and exercise studios are now closed. This begs us to reinvent our exercise routine, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Get outdoors if you can As the saying goes; outside is free! If you are healthy and focusing on social distancing rather than self-isolating, then now is a great time to utilise any nature spaces you might have nearby. Put on your running or walking shoes and go explore.  On top of this it is more important than ever to get a regular supply of vitamin D - it may even be worth considering purchasing a daily supplement. If you want to get serious and specific about your running, think about entering an event later in the year and kick off your training for it. I was already down to race the Yorkshire marathon in October, so I have plenty of time to get some mileage in! Do research, invest in a heart rate monitor or another activity tracker, put all your runs up on Strava (other apps are available) and use this challenge to motivate and inspire you and others. Home gym Indoor training can be just as beneficial, even just to break up the working day – you can’t exactly crack out push-ups in the middle of a real office can you?  Try and do a set number of your chosen exercise on the minute, every minute for 30 minutes – 10 push ups like this and you’ll have done 300 in far less time than the average London commute. Three times a week and in a month you will have done 3,600. Google and YouTube are your exercise friends, research some videos and keep track of what you do and share it with your friends or colleagues, maybe even make it a company competition. Setting challenges for yourself outside of work will help you stay mentally strong through these tough times. Contact As difficult as the current predicament is, never in human history have we been better equipped to deal with the human contact aspects of pandemic induced self-isolation.  Colleagues Interaction at the workplace helps the day go by, whether that be productive conversations or just back and forth about the daily news or sport. Since working from home our team have held a daily google hangout at 9am where we talk through our work related plans for the day but a section of it is just general conversation – it’s a great way to make sure you have some form of human contact that is also productive to your work! Friends and family With the new stricter self-isolation rules imposed by the government, seeing your family and friends is all but impossible. This can be a serious drain on people’s mental health, especially on weekends where normal plans have evaporated and time can stand still. Again, video is a wonderful tool to maintain contact. Applications like Houseparty have made it easier than ever to stay in touch with those you care about; why not try a virtual movie night or virtual happy hour? Stress and anxiety Apprehension about the future plays a large part in mental wellbeing. So the question is how can we maintain a positive mind-set? Health The situation we find ourselves in is one where an individual’s health, and that of their immediate family members, is at a higher level of risk than normal. The best way to deal with the tension that this can cause is to take a hold of the areas you can control. Practice excellent hygiene, stay healthy and follow isolation guidelines. If you’re taking charge of these, you can make a difference to your wellbeing, making you less anxious about health impacts. Overall mind-set This won’t be for everyone but it’s important to limit your engagement with COVID-19 related news to once or twice a day, don’t let it overwhelm you. Too much information from too many sources is a recipe for anxiety. Control the “controllables” and don’t try to change what you have no power over. Set goals; it is hard to stay positive without a purpose. These can be long or short term; enter a running race later in the year, learn a language, start a house project – whatever it is, focus time in your day towards achieving it and this will give your mind something to work on. Track your progress and watch as you improve week on week. What do you think? We would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on how you are coping with the lockdown and indeed how you might be making the best of it! Comment on our LinkedIn post here.  

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At Marks Sattin we are well into our second week of working from home in accordance with government advice on social distancing and self-isolation.

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Harris Asher

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Harris Asher

Harris Asher

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Harris Asher

Why all leaders need to be effective coaches | A contribution from Intoo consultancy
Why all leaders need to be effective coaches | A contribution from Intoo consultancy

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Change & Transformation

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Career Advice

16/09/19

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According to Bersin by Deloitte, ‘Organisations with senior leaders who coach effectively and frequently, improve their business results by 21% as compared to those who never coach.’ Coaching, therefore, should not just be a ‘nice to have’, more an indispensable part of a leader’s skillset. Here’s why: The role of a leader Business today is demanding and rapidly changeable and that is mirrored in the role of the leader. While managers may traditionally plan, organise and control, a true leader must establish a purpose teams can unite behind and develop a road map of how to achieve it. They must harness the talents of their team by taking the time to understand them, involve them and allow them the opportunities for long-term growth and advancement. Removing barriers and driving effective collaboration between teams (or team members) will move the organisation towards shared goals while driving the highest standards – a must in the pursuit of excellence. A leader must be an accomplished team builder – inspiring, motivating and resolving conflict – to create committed and empowered teams. They must focus on long-term results and guide others towards those desired commercial outcomes. Recognition is also fundamental to the development of high performing teams. Leaders can motivate individuals by delivering positive feedback in response to positive actions. By setting ambitious goals they can prevent complacency and mediocracy. The role of coaching in leading teams Let’s look at some of the key skills professionals gain from being coached: • The support needed for peak performance • Adapted learning styles for greater traction • Feedback they can actually apply • Room to work on problems and discover solutions • An environment that fosters independence • Skills which match the organisation’s need We can see a great correlation between the role of a leader and the benefits brought by coaching. Indeed, applying a coaching approach becomes a logical pathway for leaders looking to engender high performance. The coaching skills needed by leaders Some leaders may already naturally possess many of the skills needed for themselves and their teams to excel. However, balancing the dual roles of leadership – delivering on short term objectives while supporting and developing your team – can be a challenge for even the most experienced and successful operators. If people in your team are struggling, the ability to switch to ‘coach mode’, aiding them to problem solve, overcome challenges and ultimately get the best out of them, can be priceless. A Harvard Business Review report defined coaching as ‘a style of management primarily characterised by asking employees questions that help them fulfil their immediate responsibilities more effectively and advance their development as professionals over time’. Leaders that apply these coaching techniques challenge the coachee to think differently, shifting the employee’s thinking from problem to solution. They elicit creativity in the employee which helps progression towards objectives. Employees realise a greater awareness of the business’s needs, take greater responsibility for them and with that, collective team performance increases. Powerful outcomes Undoubtedly, as your leaders master the art of coaching, the improved effectiveness of your teams will help deliver your desired business performance. The opening quote from Bersin by Deloitte demonstrates the potential impact on the bottom line, however the benefits for those businesses investing in coaching skills are numerous. Coaching improves productivity through speed of decision making by empowering employees and managers to make decisions themselves. We see less command and control and more resourceful teams capable of taking ownership of problems and figuring out solutions. Ten to twelve years ago, many leadership experts were talking about the need to lead in VUCA times (Volatility uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) and that constant change would become an everyday feature of business life. Fast forward ten years and this is certainly true. Looking at the UK and a business landscape dominated by Brexit, the ability to predict the next few weeks let alone the next few months is a challenge. Operating effectively when everything is in a constant state of flux is a must. A coaching driven environment creates greater leadership resilience and agility, not simply in the leaders themselves but also in their teams, helping them to manage changing challenges quickly. It allows them to react to uncertainty without paralysis and today there is a real need for this. Embedding a coaching philosophy across your organisation and ensuring your leaders develop effective coaching skills enables many facets of a business to function more effectively – including: onboarding, engagement, performance, knowledge transfer and development as well as safeguarding the wellbeing of teams. Ultimately, by empowering team members to develop their own talents and flourish, they contribute more significantly to the leader’s objectives and the overall success of the organisation. Leaders who are skilled coaches, capable of switching hats quickly, are therefore critical components that no organisation can afford to be without. INTOO UK and Ireland is a talent management business committed to helping organisations create environments where talent really thrives, true potential is realised and business results are achieved. The 10th edition of our highly regarded Market Insight Report represents the views of over 1,100 professionals, and contains insights from our specialist consultants and key business partners on market and employment trends. If you’re looking to find out more on salary benchmarking and the motivations driving the modern workforce today, download our full report which contains key contributions from Western Union Business Solutions, Women in Fund Finance, Seddons Solicitors and Breaking the Silence.

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Business today is demanding and rapidly changeable and that is mirrored in the role of the leader. While managers may traditionally plan, organise and control, a true leader must establish a purpose teams can unite behind and develop a road map of how to achieve it.

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Matthew Wilcox

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Matthew Wilcox

Matthew Wilcox

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Matthew Wilcox

Could job hopping damage your career?
Could job hopping damage your career?

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General

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Career Advice

01/01/19

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With the economy booming and demand for fiscally-savvy staff in a variety of industries on the rise, job opportunities are abundant and ever-increasing. Research conducted by us at Marks Sattin reveals that those working in the finance industry feel increasingly secure and are more open to moves, with 28% of respondents anticipating changing roles in the next 12 months. But what impact, both positive and negative, does job hopping have for your career? Why do people job hop? Changing jobs can be highly lucrative for finance professionals as our research revealed that the average finance professional seeks a salary premium of 15% on their basic package to consider a move – and based on an average salary of £67,083, that would be an increase of £10,062. However, monetary gain is not the only reason why a career-development minded professional would seek to change jobs. A new role or company can provide greater career development opportunities, offering quicker progression into a senior position. Drawbacks you should consider Those in the financial business should be cautious not to move too frequently, however. Loyalty is an increasingly important trait and a CV filled with roles occupied for less than 18 months is certain to raise eyebrows. Many employers in this sector make significant contributions to staff development and remunerate generously – which means while they are happy to invest in you, they will actively seek commitment from a potential employee to deem it a worthwhile exchange. Furthermore, those who job hop frequently not only risk coming across as opportunistic, but also as rigid employees who find it hard to adapt to working culture and successfully integrate into a workforce. Finance professionals should, of course, seek to take advantage of the benefits that changing jobs can bring. However, proceed with caution – too many moves and the offers may start to dry up! Find your perfect role with Marks Sattin Make your next career move with Marks Sattin by finding a job you will never want to let go of. We have many years of experience recruiting for the financial services industry and have a reputation for great candidate satisfaction. Look for your next lasting role here or contact us for tailored career advice.

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With the economy booming and demand for fiscally-savvy staff in a variety of industries on the rise, job opportunities are abundant and ever-increasing.

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Matthew Wilcox

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Matthew Wilcox

Matthew Wilcox

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Matthew Wilcox

From flexibility to instant impact – Why should you consider hiring an interim?
From flexibility to instant impact – Why should you consider hiring an interim?

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General

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Career Advice

11/07/18

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As a business evolves, or external influences around it change, businesses need to adapt to make sure they have the best resources and skills to succeed. Despite many businesses having good talent in their existing teams, there may be an area within their organisation which requires specialist skills or a time when their key talent is not available to work; this is where interim, temp and contractors come in! As such hiring an interim can have many advantages, such as giving you peace of mind and maximising profitability.  Instant impact Interims can help you in times of need, for example perhaps you have an unsettled team, a sudden hike in demand or an employee on maternity/paternity leave? All of these issues are common to most organisations and can hinder the businesses’ ability to deliver results in what is a highly competitive market. Hiring an interim employee can not only provide you with peace of mind, they are also cost effective and make the hiring process is simple. Technical specialists Contractors are experts in their field; this makes them perfectly suited for short to long term assignments, such as being hired to fulfil a slot within a management team or to cover a period of extended absence due to stress or family bereavement. Interim hires allow you to continue business as usual or add a specialist skill for a finite amount of time or for a specific project. No politics One of the many benefits of hiring an interim is their ability to adjust to new environments with ease and, being temporary they don’t need to concern themselves with any company politics or issues. An interim is as adaptable as a chameleon, as their main goal is meeting the requirements of their contract. They want to deliver results quickly and efficiently, this is how they add value and will become recognised as a go to person in the market. When hiring an interim the goal is to give you flexibility, making this solution the most cost effective way of dealing with a business shortage, assisting in meeting deliverables on time and on budget. Temp to perm? Interims can also be potential permanent hires and its common practice to witness temporary hires taking permanent contracts. This can happen when the interim contract has come to a natural end or even part way through and can be due to a number of reasons, such as the desire to keep a good hire where you feel you just can’t afford to lose them. However, be forewarned your offer could be turned down as interim contracts offer attractive benefits such as the potential tax efficiencies of working via their own limited company. On the other hand, you may have a career interim that is now open to permanent work. These are the people who will likely work even harder to impress the business hoping to turn their contract into a permanent one. Here you have the advantage of knowing how they operate, the lengths they will go to succeed – what better way to trial than seeing them in action! My take on hiring an interim Hiring an interim isn’t as hard as you may think. From your initial call with us, our expert industry knowledge will be able to identify your needs and provide you with a candidate or team of individuals who can come in and hit the ground running. Remember, an interim, temp, or contractor can genuinely minimise the loss of productivity, provide expertise and key skills which allow for greater business flexibility and results. If you would like to discuss this article further or simply enquire for more information, please feel free to contact us. Otherwise you can visit our job pages to see all our current vacancies in your area. 

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As a business evolves, or external influences around it change, businesses need to adapt to make sure they have the best resources and skills to succeed

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Mark Higgs

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Mark Higgs

Mark Higgs

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Mark Higgs