Top 5 Tips to smash your next interview!


Hopefully, you realised that my last post was tongue in cheek- if you missed it, you can read it here-  How to Trump your Jobsearch.  I’m hoping so.  I haven’t received any complaints yet stating that someone tried the “crotch grab” in interview.

But, I’m not all whimsy- I am a serious career recruiter goddammit, and I have gems of wisdom to hurl at your eyes right now!  To cover myself for the last blog, I thought it worth giving my top 5 tips to succeed in your next interview.  Now, this is a well trodden path with swarms of blogs (what is the collective noun for blogs??) giving the basic advice- you can see a couple here and here.  But most people know this, so I want to help you stand out from the rest of the interviewees (whats the collective noun for interviewees- I’d like to suggest a nerves of interviewees).

So my Top 5 Tips to smash your next interview out of the park are:

  1. Be Yourself– It sounds easy, but it is the one people struggle with the most.  But why?  It’s just a conversation at the end of the day.  A conversation which could change the rest of your life, but it’s still just a conversation.  And the best bit, it is a conversation all about you!!!  How great is that?  That is a topic you probably know quite a bit about!  In all seriousness, interviewers want to feel engaged with the interviewee, and if you are too guarded and trying to force the issue too much, that won’t happen.  The fact is that most people will be very formal, very false, and very unhuman. The robots haven’t taken over yet (quite), so interviewers are still looking for PEOPLE with a PERSONALITY and want to get to know the person behind the CV to ensure they will be a good “fit” for their team/department/company.  So stop pretending to be someone or something else.  Relax, be yourself, be natural, and if they don’t like you- you probably wouldn’t have liked working there anyway, so move on to the next interview.
  2. Tell them a story– I obviously don’t mean take in a copy of Each Peach Pear Plum or The Gruffalo’s Child (spot the man with young kids), but create an engaging answer by making it REAL.  When asked a competency question, set the scene, tell them what you had to do and why you needed to do that and what the resultant outcome was.  Try and add emotion to it too to really create a rich picture which interviewers will remember afterwards (this is also called the STAR technique).
  3. Be aware of “what you are packing” – I don’t mean a suitcase, I mean know what you have to offer- what benefit you can bring to the organisation.  Have a think about your strengths, how you have developed and where you are wanting you career to go, and align that with their organisation.
  4. Have a plan and tell them about it– This is a really useful trick for a number of reasons.  Before the interview, do as much prep as you can- find out what they want for this role and where they see it going, where the department is going, and put together a rough plan of what you would do in the first month, first 3 months and first 6 months.  During the interview, ask questions that will help inform your plan and sell the plan back to them.  This not only shows them that you have put real thought in to working there, it also demonstrates your focus and commitment to the role you haven’t even got yet, but even more so, it puts you in the role in their heads.  If they are picturing you in the role, you are already halfway there!  Try it, I promise it works!
  5. Focus on the future– at the end of the interview, there is always an expectation to ask some questions.  When I’m preparing candidates for interview, it’s one of the things I’m asked most-“what questions should I ask”?  The one most people pedal is “Ask them why they work there”, or “Could you see me working here?”  Neither are necessarily bad, but I feel they are becoming a bit too common and bland, and the second one sometimes make interviewers awkward if they don’t actually see you working there.  I suggest asking them about the future of the organisation, but also identify some future challenges that they may have, and what are they doing to overcome it.  For example, in the Social Housing market, you could ask what they are doing regarding the digital agenda, or what are their long term plans after the 4th year of rent cuts- are they preparing for additional cuts etc?  This not only allows you to assess if they have a clear plan for the future (you should be interested in this for your own career) but it generates an interesting dialogue and may even create an opportunity for you to offer your thoughts and how you feel the market is unfolding.  It also shows that you are thinking about working for them in the mid to long term- another attractive trait!

So, I hope you find the above more useful than my Trump blog, and I’d be interested in your feedback on whether the above has worked for you.  If I can ever help you prepare or practice for the above (if you work in Social Housing in the UK), feel free to contact me.




How to “Trump” the job search….

So today has been the day everyone jumps on the Trump bandwagon and everyone has been thinking of what relevant content they can put out there that includes Trump-isms, Trump observations and learns from his rise from rich joke to Leader of the Free world.

Being a recruiter, the theme seems to be around, “Trump becoming President of the USA is the reason why you should go for that job, even if you don’t have the relevant experience”, or “Set your sights high, as you never know how far you can get”.  As well intentioned as they are, (and I do agree to an extent, more so with the second point), its just feels like content crow-barred in to take advantage of the exposure.

So I won’t resort you to any of that………..

Who am I kidding??  But I want to use his example to make some more accurate, insightful and potentially life-changing observations that may just help you secure that next role!?!?!! *

If we are to take any learns from the last 18 long, arduous (but sometimes funny) months, then it’s the following:

  1. When interviewing for a new job, don’t concentrate on what you can bring to the role, that’s a waste of time and effort.  Just attack the other interviewees and even the interviewing panel (consider claiming that they are rapists, fascists etc).  Just follow Donalds example, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re not sending you, they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bring crime. They’re rapists… And some, I assume, are good people.” 
  2. When creating your CV, don’t bother relying on facts, just make things up that sound good. Donald shows you how its done, “An ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office and told me that Barack Obama’s birth certificate is a fraud”
  3. Dress code for interviews is still important- might I suggest a suit, open shirt, but topped off with a nice baseball cap?
  4. Don’t be afraid of making huge claims of what you can achieve once you get the role, because by the time they realise you can’t deliver on it, you’ll already be in the role and they’re stuck with you and will have to deal with it, or pay you off.  Donald didn’t fully commit to this during his campaign, and avoided too much detail about what he would actually do, well, other than……trump-wall
  5. If interviewing with a member of the opposite sex, don’t think twice about grabbing them in the crotch- they love it….apparently!?!?!


I think its safe to say that everyone will probably take something from that little list, and we’ll see the unemployment rate across the whole world drop by 237% within 3 minutes.  It helps that I know all the best words, I suppose.

The next blog will be equally appropriately themed- I’ll publish it in about a month and will be covering the topic of, “What to do when you realise you have made a hideous hire!”

*N.B. Please take no heed of any of these points- I feel it necessary to state this, as there are people out there who voted for Trump to be POTUS, so it is feasible that some people may follow my advice and (in this case at least), would be very very bad! 😉 

Agency Mal-Practice#4-Throwing muck at a wall


It has been a while since my last exposé of the poor practices that some recruiters engage in, but something happened earlier this week, that compelled me to write this weeks blog about it.

This one is mainly aimed at the candidates out there- so if you are registered with an agency and see the following happening- you may want to reconsider who you are working with.

Earlier this week, one of my clients contacted me about a mid-level interim position to drive through some projects for them- a Head of Service type.  The client had chosen to use me and one other agency.

Later that day, one of the candidates I’d spoken to called me to say that had received an e-mail from another agency about a role which looked the same but wanted to check with me.  It basically had been sent out to their whole database and said,

“We’re recruiting for this role, give us a call if you are interested”.

Having had a chat about it and establishing that it probably was the same role, he then told me that he gets this all the time, but often not with suitable roles.  The candidate is a really strong Head of Service- bags of experience at this level and only looking for something similar.  This is the first such e-mail he had received that was appropriate- the rest have been Housing officers, income officers and even sheltered scheme manager roles!!

They are essentially saying- “we can’t be bothered to put some thought into who is going to meet the criteria for this role- you tell us if you think it’s right for you”.  The funny thing is that their website claims that they offer a “personal” service and make the candidates’ job search, their responsibility….hmmm

Now there is an argument to say that at least they get to consider anything that comes through and it isn’t too intrusive, but it hardly makes you feel like they are out there trying to find YOU a job, does it?!?!?

But that’s not all.

They obviously can’t be bothered to shortlist either.  Anyone that responds (hopefully within reason) seems to get sent through.  They seem to use the basis of, “if you throw enough muck at the wall, some of it will stick”!

I sent over my shortlist of 3 candidates as requested, and the client commented that she’d been inundated by CVs from the other agency.  They had come through in dribs and drabs (as though they had been sent straight over after every call).

Well that’s good isn’t it?  They have given a wide selection to the client and done it as soon as they could.

Hmmm, no.

  1.  You come to people like us as you don’t have the time to find suitable people yourself.  You want people to be assessed against your criteria so you don’t have to spend time sifting through inappropriate CVs- that’s what you pay us for!
  2. If CVs are being sent through sporadically, how can they have been assessed against the people that you have already been sent?
  3. If you are a candidate being sent over- your CV risks being lost in all the others that have been sent and how much will the agency push YOU in particular forward?

Recruiters justify their existence by their “commitment to quality”, their “extensive networks” and their ability to take the stress out of the recruitment process.

My advice?

If they aren’t genuinely committed to finding you a job- sack them off!

If they aren’t taking the burden of the search and sift process from you- sack them off!

So whether you are a candidate or a client- make sure you DEMAND quality, commitment and honesty from your agency!!  Otherwise you risk being some of the muck being flung at the wall!!