Confessions of a broken-hearted recruiter

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As you may have noticed, we are growing our team currently and the responsibility for finding new hires has fallen to me. Now this isn’t the first time I have recruited ‘in-house’ but blimey, can there any be more pressure than recruiting for other recruiters!?? As with any in-house role, you feel acute pressure to deliver results for each vacancy, not least because your client is ever-present and usually extremely senior and influential in the wider business. Fail to meet their expectations and you risk damaging your reputation internally. This is a risk that agency recruiters also face with their clients however the difference being that they don’t have to sit in the same office/ attend meetings/have lunch with said client on a daily basis! The pressure also comes when you have a personal stake in the results. AdMore need new people if we are to grow and my own career development and that of my colleagues depends on us doing just that. Like any recruitment, in addition to finding people that can do the job, I also need to make sure that they will fit within the team – something which becomes more important when you know the individuals in the team so well. Anyone working in agency recruitment will tell you that finding great consultants is difficult, unless you are employing a ‘bums on seats’ hiring strategy! Finding people with the right values, who will be able to engage with candidates and clients at all levels and crucially, win over clients who may have had a poor recruitment experience previously, is no mean feat. They also must be highly commercial, results driven, resilient and hard-working. Most challenging of all, they need to have a ‘spark’, that dreaded Holy Grail that is impossible to judge on paper! Having said all that, recruiting for a company I know inside out and am hugely passionate about is a privilege and great fun so I feel more than up for the challenge. Recently however, I had a reminder of how brutal the role of a recruiter can be and thought it worth sharing the experience. I met a guy. He was capable, driven, well presented, commercial and best of all, he had the ‘spark’! Those of you in recruitment will recognise the feeling when you meet a great candidate, one who you know your client will love. I left our first meeting floating on air. Fair to say I was excited! I was confident that my Directors would like him and that he would fit into the team. Before I knew it, I was imagining him in the office, joining in the daily banter, bringing something new to our team social events. I envisioned him becoming a top biller, delighting candidates and clients with his professionalism and charm. And I, having found this rarest of gems and persuaded him to join our team, would bask in this reflected glory! The problem is, for a moment I forgot the fundamental rules of recruitment, namely: If something is too good to be true, it usually is. If something can go wrong, it probably will. NEVER EVER celebrate a placement until it is water-tight. Like all whirlwind romances, the spark is easily extinguished and it turned out that my candidate had a hidden past, one which I should have explored more thoroughly before getting so carried away. My fantasy disappeared faster than you could say ‘pathological liar’ and left me, well, more than a little broken-hearted. A loss of appetite and sleepless night ensued…how could I have been so stupid? I felt hurt and humiliated that I had put my faith in this person only to be let down and worse still, championed him so passionately him to my Directors. Those of you in recruitment know that this happens and you don’t have long to wallow in self-pity. So, I have dusted myself off and have reminded myself of the fundamental rules of recruitment, namely: Move on quickly and keep focused on the next placement Get back on the bike (phone!) – the next great candidate could be just a call away and… You can’t keep a good woman down!   If you are interested in joining the lovely team at AdMore and have drive, resilience, commerciality and integrity, please contact me at sophie.mackenzie@admore-recruitment.co.uk  
 

Now is the time to push your salary up!

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Now is the time to push your salary up! One of the best things that I get to do in my job, albeit not so much over the recession, is to advise candidates that they should be asking for more money.  
  • We are not in recession any more, we are in growth.
  • The jobs market is tightening; More jobs & fewer candidates.
  • Most retailers have by-and-large stabilised…even Tesco.
  You will have seen the press recently about large scale pay increases in the US, with Walmart, McDonalds and Dominos all making significant pledges: http://www.mlive.com/business. There is also a growing pressure on government, in the UK, to increase the minimum wage or move to a living wage model. But how does this impact you? Well, anecdotally, we have seen significant improvements over the past 12-18 months on salary & packages at the mid-senior management level (£50-150k). Indeed, the job market has tightened quite considerably since Autumn 2014. The unemployed candidate pool has shrunk to almost normal levels (in Retail at this level), with the usual ebb and flow one would expect in this space. The influx of people coming out of P4U and Tesco over the last 6 months has barely been felt with most people back in employment incredibly quickly. When you compare to the collapse of Woolies, Comet et al, it is a different world. Many people at mid level look at some of the less positive national employment data and wrongly assume that this applies to all job functions and levels. It doesn’t. Retail cut faster and harder than any other employment sector. A full year ahead of Lehmans, we saw this from late summer 2007.  8 Years ago! The public sector is still trying to align itself to the real world with various predictions of the budget not being balanced until 2020, or beyond (12 years to get the house in order… you are lucky if you get 12 weeks in retail if the numbers drop, but hey-ho!). Retail is now under-resourced in many functions, especially the newer areas such as digital. Over the recession Area Managers and Divisional Managers were seen as a cost centre, and were cut accordingly. As a result succession was stymied and a talent shortage is developing across the market. As growth kicks in, plenty of big retailers are knocking on the door of double digit L4L’s in some categories / geographies; and field managers will be seen as a profit centre. L&D is getting investment again too. I am seeing this talent shortage now - in the agency world you have the benefit of working with multiple clients so you develop a relatively balanced view. So demand is beginning to exceed supply and we all know what that drives. A cynic might accuse me of driving the wrong behaviours or expectations. Go for it, that’s fine. The reality is that many large employers have taken advantage over the recession because supply exceeded demand. So, at long last, I am getting the opportunity to say to some candidates… “Don’t undervalue yourself, you should be asking for more.” Happy days!   P.S. I am seriously going to regret this blog given I have a number of offers pending!
 

Why psychometric tests are rarely used appropriately in retail

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I’m not a big fan of how psychometric testing is used in retail. I know that in a world of big data analytics this might sound a tad limited. Am I that typical recruiter trying to find the path of least resistance to make a fee? If I’m being honest with myself there is probably a small part of me that thinks like that. However, my real issue with the liberal use of psychometric testing is that very few companies use it appropriately. I wrote a blog late last year about how I believe psychometric tests are being increasingly used to select Retail leaders (psychometric-testing). I touched on the topic of revisiting psychometric scoring later in an individual’s career to correlate the hiring process with career results. It is my belief that, particularly in a retail leadership context, unless the HR / Recruitment team are collating this psychometric data and then comparing on an annual basis with an individual’s performance then it is , to all intents and purposes, pointless. A good friend of mine worked for a legal firm which ranked its workforce on billings performance - he was the top performer out of 30 people, by quite some distance. His MD introduced psychometric testing to the hiring process a couple of years after he joined. It was used as a simple pass or fail. A couple of years on, they also revisited their workforce who had been hired prior to the use of testing. My friend’s MD confided privately with him that, had he been tested, he would never have been hired. There are lots of arguments to support the use of testing in the hiring process, for instance, that it can help with providing targeted interview questions, ascertaining a level of intellect, whether a candidate can work with numbers, words, shapes, reasoning etc. In some job specialisms it makes perfect sense. However in retail leadership roles I am currently highly sceptical about the correlations. I am happy to be corrected on this, but only through evidence. It would be very interesting to see the results of a study performed by a retail employer correlating psychometric results (collated from an application process) with employee performance in the role. If you know of any, please highlight in the comments below. Do good emotional intelligence scores correlate with great engagement surveys? Does a high numerical reasoning score equate to strong on-going P&L results? Does a collection of various reasoning tests equate to a leader who is able to balance a scorecard / suite of KPIs? The good old fashioned interview has gone in and out of fashion over the years, often with Human Resources keen to steer line managers on to a more professional path. Hiring people we like is no longer in vogue (albeit that is often still the reality). I am keen that this article is not seen as a dig at HR because I believe using the tests is actually the right thing to do IF the results are revisited, revised and used to alter the benchmark and application process. An interview generally provides you with an overview of PREVIOUS performance while Psychometrics are more of a predictor of future / potential performance. If we are not measuring the accuracy of these tests then to be blunt, they really do lose their authenticity. As an aside, at AdMore we are planning to introduce additional psychometric testing, NOT as a pass or fail, but to complement our own hiring process. We already use ‘strengths’ based testing (strengthscope™) to identify what energises an individual and to provide a platform for a development plan from day one. However, we are also interested to see whether there is a correlation between psychometric scores and performance. We’ll provide you with an update in a couple of years!   Get your FREE CV Template
 

Flexible working – what it means to me

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For those of you who stumble across our blog regularly, you will know that I recently returned from 6 months’ Maternity Leave. I have previously compared life with a new baby to the scene in the film I am Legend where Will Smith cowers in the bath with his dog, waiting for night to fall and the zombies to arrive. Night time brings no relief, at least not in my house, so the past few months at work have seen me struggling on very little sleep and amusing my colleagues with my inability to get the tea order right!
In addition to chronic sleep deprivation, I have had:

One sick day (Norovirus, yuk)
One early finish (to collect sick baby from nursery)
Two days off looking after my sick baby (virus)
One early finish (to take said baby to the doctors)
One day working from home (traffic issues)
Several early finishes to ensure I get back in time to collect children from childcare (due to said traffic issues)
One late start due to School Nativity

You may well be thinking that I am the world’s most unreliable employee and I must admit that this is how I have felt in recent months. Had my company not been so understanding, I fear for my sanity! Furthermore, this list doesn’t account for the other steps I have had to take to keep family (and work) going, namely, calling the cavalry down from the North (my parents) to babysit so I could make up the time lost and come in to work on my day off, drafting in my long-suffering neighbour to pick up the children when I was stuck in traffic, my husband taking days off to minimise further impact on my job and the evenings spent in front of the laptop so as to not miss a deadline.

For working parents, I’m guessing this may hit a nerve and I know from speaking to friends in a similar position that they too are stretching their employer’s flexibility to the limit - compounded at this time of year with bad weather, traffic and never-ending child-born viruses.

I am incredibly grateful that I work for a company who are able (and willing) to be supportive of my personal situation and (I hope) they know that I will repay that flexibility in the months and years to come when my children are older and less prone to sickness.

But what of my colleagues who don’t yet have children and may never have them? Is their personal life less important? Absolutely not.
Over the past few months, I have been acutely aware that I have been given latitude that some of my colleagues have not needed. Although I have greater need of flexibility at the moment, what does flexibility mean to them and how, as a company, do we make sure our approach is equitable?

There is no question that, until I had children, I could count my total career sick days on one hand. As life moves on, employees arguably have greater need of flexibility, whether that be when they start a family or god forbid, when they need time off to care for sick relatives. What is clear is that a company’s willingness to show flexibility speaks volumes about their Values and how they treat their people.
This needs to be balanced with a sensible approach on the part of the employee and requires trust on both sides.
For my part, it helps that I am in a role which lends itself to flexible working – I am in control of my own workload and am able to work from home in emergencies. I appreciate that in some positions, it is impossible to work flexibly without prior notice and someone to replace you.

In January, we are launching a formal Flexible Working Policy. The new policy will enable team members to stagger start and finish times so they can factor in social time – to go out after work, catch an earlier flight, have a lie in, book a hair appointment, hit the golf course – without detracting from core business hours. Hopefully, in addition to our current ability to work from home, this will enhance our team’s work-life balance and ensure that everyone feels the benefit of flexible working.

Flexibility will always mean different things to different people depending on the life stage they are at and the challenge for any company is how they tailor their approach to the individual’s needs. As our own business grows, this will become a greater challenge. For the moment I am just grateful that my company is willing to bear with me until I get back on an even keel and trusts me not to abuse their generosity.

 

 

Why should Recruiters feel embarrassed about their job?

A colleague of mine was at a dinner party at the weekend, having replied to the standard question of what she does for a living the person retorted; “You must work with some right ***kers then!” In another conversation in the office it quickly became apparent that many of us often say anything other than we are ‘recruitment consultants’ when discussing our jobs socially.

It is virtually impossible to scroll through my activity feed on LinkedIn and not see an article where recruiters (agency and in-house) are taking a bashing. In truth much of that bashing comes from one side against the other often only serving to perpetuate unnecessary negative stereotypes. Unfortunately it is our candidates and clients who are the collateral damage.

This very public bashing of recruiters is often justified and clearly Social Media has given people a voice they didn’t have previously. I do understand that if you have been treated badly then you will seek some redress but it seems to have lost all sense of proportion. There are serial bashers whom post prolifically. I guess what annoys me is that it is no better than any other prejudice.

Do you agree with any of these statements?

  • Those who can, ‘do,’ those that can’t teach.
  • All accountants are boring.
  • Anyone who works for the civil service is lazy and couldn’t cope in the private sector.
  • HR is a pointless function and most HR professionals are merely administrators.
  • All sales-men are sharks.
  • Never trust a lawyer.
  • All estate agents are ….s (fill in the blank).
  • Shop workers are miserable and just ‘doing a job.’
  • Receptionists don’t care.
  • Trades people avoid tax.
  • Journalists just want a scoop and will roll any one over to get a story.
  • All politicians are out for their own gain.
  • Models are generally stupid.

I could go on…and on…there is generally a derogatory prejudice of one sort or another about most professions. Unfortunately insecure or badly informed people tend to make themselves feel better, or justify there own existence, through the abuse of others.

There is absolutely a place for healthy debate about industries and professions but it seems to have got a bit too acceptable to bash recruiters in recent years. What we do is often highly visible and yes there are a fair few bad eggs in the industry, but as my statements above indicate it doesn’t justify the application of snobbery to a career choice.

Recently I placed a candidate in to a role after 18 months of being unemployed. She was close to giving up and had lost all her confidence. I convinced a line manager to meet her, made endless prep calls, took an emotional rant on the chin, and convinced the line manager to prioritise her application over another candidate. I am confident that had I not used my skill and influence as a recruiter that person would still be unemployed. She is doing really well in her job now. She wont however be shouting from the rooftops about this experience because firstly I didn’t feel the need to impress upon her how I had influenced proceedings (that would not have been a confidence builder for her) and secondly she isn’t the type of person to broadcast her own private experience of working with a recruiter. It is personal to her and I respect that.

I have no doubt that many individuals will have little sympathy, I chose my profession after all, but my point is that there is an awful lot of good work done by recruiters and perhaps we should celebrate the positives rather than continuously reflect on the negatives.

Creating and feeding negative stereotypes is bad for everyone.

 

Does our reliance on recruitment technology reduce our chances of getting the best result?

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On Friday night I drove the family over to Gloucestershire to see some friends for the weekend. We decided to drive after work in the hope that the kids would fall asleep and therefore give us the most peaceful journey possible. Now, anyone who knows me will tell you that I am not a "man's man" when it comes to cars and driving. I don't have much interest in a car other than whether it has a good radio; can accommodate twins, prams and accompanying baggage in the boot and whether it will get me reliably from A to B. So it probably won't come as much of a surprise when I tell you that I also don't know the UK road network particularly well either and as such, have come to be utterly reliant on our beautiful, life saving and occasionally very frustrating Satellite Navigation System. Embarrassingly, I don't even have a map in the car.

We set off from Surrey at 5.30pm and our trusty SatNav confidently told me that we would arrive at our destination at 7.30pm. My geography is just about good enough to I realise that when my SatNav instructed me to come off at the M3 rather than the M4, it was taking a short cut, probably across country. It didn't really feel right though - surely driving through busy urban areas at rush hour isn't a good idea? An hour later, when we eventually joined the M4, the kids were still awake as the stop/start nature of the traffic hadn't created the best conditions for toddlers to nod off. As such, my stress levels went up a couple of notches as the whining started!

We got through the slow traffic on the M4 and seemed to be making some headway until my SatNav, which historically has had a predilection for cross country driving, instructed us to leave the motorway after what felt like a premature amount of miles. My Swedish wife, utterly lacking in geographic, spatial awareness and at times common sense, was pretty direct in her response to my querying the sense of this; "Do what the ***** SatNav says, you don't know what you are doing, it does!" I think this takes back seat driving to a whole new level. Anyway, against my better instinct, I complied (if you know the Swedes you'll know this is the best adjective) fearing that if I rebelled I would live to regret it!

At this point the heavens opened and what had been gentle rain became torrential. We were deep in the countryside - no lights, no other cars and limited visibility. Brilliant. The kids had realised that they were not getting out of the car anytime soon and their whining took on a slightly more urgent tone. Due to the rain I had to slow down to what felt like a snail's pace as I made my way through unfamiliar territory and at one T junction, atop a hill, it was so pitch black I felt like I was driving blind. Just when I thought the journey couldn't get any worse, our SatNav lost its link due to the weather conditions. We were in the middle of nowhere and had lost our only way of finding our destination. There was only one option, I had to call our host and ask him to give us live directions. We eventually arrived at 9.30pm, bleary eyed, with two screaming (and vomiting) toddlers. The journey took twice as long and was far more stressful than it needed to be.

This trip got me thinking; the Recruitment Industry (agency and in-house) has become increasingly reliant on technology and in recent years, Social Media to source candidates. As an example, it is not uncommon now for some businesses to focus their entire candidate attraction policy around Linkedin. Although this is undoubtedly a useful tool for recruiters, it is best used to complement other sourcing methods.

There are a number of parallels between this situation and my fateful trip. How many of these have we all experienced at some point?

 

A journey (job brief) that at first seemed straightforward that took some unexpected turns.

A lack of basic preparation (why bother considering what is the best recruitment strategy when Social Media has all the answers?).

Adverse (market) conditions affecting the usefulness of the technology.

Allowing other 'stakeholders' to influence decisions through their own dependence on said technology.

Wasting time on unnecessary diversions (Social Media can be a terrible drain on time).

Stakeholders becoming angry and frustrated at the lack of a result within an agreed time-frame .

Placing too great a value on the use of ONE technological tool rather than a combination of skills.

Eventually calling in the support of a specialist, too late in the process to rectify some of my failings (to my stakeholders I had failed, regardless of the end result).

...And most alarmingly, such an utter reliance on one tool that I was blinkered, thinking that just because it would get me to my final destination, it would automatically be inthe best way. I had become used to settling for second best without even realising it.

 

Improvements in technology have certainly made recruitment easier but it should not be relied upon to always yield the best result. Referrals, recommendations and good old head hunting should be central to any senior level recruitment strategy.

Going forward, I will buy a map book, a car charger for my mobile phone (battery nearly died on me), I will download a decent maps function to my phone, I will check an online route planner before setting off, I will seek the advice of experts (or in their absence a suitably impressive Alpha male) and perhaps most importantly I will ensure that my wife is aware that I am doing all of this!

In short, I will not rely on only ONE tool to get the best result.

Jez Styles

 

In 2014 what is the most important thing Retail candidates must demonstrate at interview?

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The retail recruitment market is now moving at its fastest pace since 2007. I can’t back this statement up with statistics (other than overall unemployment is now down to 6.8%) but I have spoken to a lot of employers and candidates recently and they have all said the same thing, it is much better out there. In fact it is dramatically different to this time last year. Candidates whom were struggling to get an interview previously now often have anywhere from 3-5 processes. Clearly this creates a new problem, what roles do you go for…another blog for another time!

Despite the fact that the market is shifting, it is still, just, an employer driven market. I stated in my previous blog that I think this will have tipped in the candidates favour by September. In the meantime employers are still relatively cautious with interview processes usually running over several stages, psychometric tests common place and the assessment centre used liberally to work through volume.

However, regardless of how employers are approaching their selection there is one trait/behaviour/characteristic that they all want to see.

ENERGY

As retailers pull out of cost cutting and look to growth they will need a different type of leadership. The vast majority of retailers have taken a battering over the last six years and while in the main the fittest have survived there is still a big job at hand. The rate of change has been fast over the recession but few retailers have a genuinely joined up multi-channel strategy or have truly embraced the range of technological resources available. The high street isn’t dead either and there are a lot of chains looking to expand again. This is only going to increase as the economy improves, confidence returns and retailers look to invest again.

As a result employers are looking for candidates with the drive, passion and desire to support this growth. They need ENERGY.

I think I’ve lost count of the amount of times I have asked candidates to demonstrate energy at an interview, a bit of fizz as a client said to me last week. So how do you demonstrate ‘fizz’?

1)      Talk with your hands.

2)      Use positive body language, lean forward, keep a good posture at all times.

3)      Vary your pitch, tone, volume and pace of talking.

4)     Talk about things, when relevant, that you are genuinely passionate about.

5)      Drink a coffee.

6)      Ensure your eyes are ‘sparkling!’ Get a good nights sleep and if you are still looking a bit tired then try some eye drops.

7)     Smile, smile and smile. Laughing helps too.

If you feel you can’t really demonstrate energy in your interview, you are probably applying for the wrong job! Everyone excepts that you shouldn’t try and be someone that you are not but this is your one chance to impress a potential employer and convince them of your energy and drive to perform. Make sure you take that opportunity.

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Top 10 tips: Writing a Retail Business Plan for interviews

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The last few months have seen a significant improvement in market conditions and the volume of vacancies is increasing significantly. However while the pool of immediately available candidates has dropped sharply in recent months there is still some strong competition coming from ‘passive’ candidates entering the market for the first time in several years. As a result it is still important that you approach every interview process you enter with energy and focus. We are finding that Retailers are increasingly using business presentations as a useful tool for judging the calibre of candidates. Presentations provide a huge amount of insight in to candidates, covering your capabilities in research, written communication skills, verbal communication skills, analytical capability, financial and commercial acumen, leadership / management style, key focus areas, strategic thinking, detail…. The list could go on and on! The temptation in any recruitment process is to focus on the interview but in reality the presentation will often be the element that can set you apart from other candidates and therefore determine your success. We have compiled a few tips, some very obvious, that might help you prepare your presentation. 1. Read the brief. Read the brief, Read the brief and keep reading the brief. It is all too easy to take the presentation in the direction that you want to go but ultimately does it answer the question? This is both the easiest thing to get right, but often the first thing to get wrong. Revisit the brief title throughout your preparation and after each draft to ensure you are on track. 2. Keep your slides to a sensible number. We have all heard of the saying, death by power-point, but it is well versed for a reason! The number of slides required will depend on the presentation time allowed and the information you are required to present, as a rough guide you should allocate 2-4 minutes per slide. A useful tip might be to include additional information such as a PEST or SWOT analysis in to an appendix rather than the body of the presentation. This allows you to demonstrate methodology and perhaps detail without killing your presentation. 3. Keep text to a minimum and break it up. Text heavy presentations tend to miss an opportunity in that you will fail to demonstrate a multi-skilled approach to communication. People have different preferences in how they absorb information and it is best to vary the presentation of your slides; pictures, graphics, diagrams, graphs and charts will have a greater impact that just text. Slides with text should have no more than 3-5 bullet points. You can take additional notes with you to act as a prompt. You will lose the interviewers if they mentally ‘wonder’ off while reading a text heavy slide. 4. Ask a peer or recruiter to review each draft. It is crucial that you seek advice and support throughout your preparation. Depending on the circumstances of your application you should try to get someone with knowledge of the interviewer to review your presentation. They may be able to provide some insight in to style or specific preferences. Take on board any feedback and act upon it. 5. Cover the obvious Key areas. People, Profit, Product. It is crucial that you relate this to the customer throughout your slides and verbal presentation. 6. Know the business you are presenting to: In order to get the right tone you should be mindful of the company’s vision, values and mission statement. It is also important that you have read any press releases or industry press articles about the business. If a company is doing well they are likely to be looking for a different candidate than a business that is issuing profit warnings. 7. Be mindful of confidentiality. In all likelihood during your research you will pick up confidential information from conversations with various people. It is important to strike a balance between demonstrating an intimate knowledge of your prospective employer and putting people in an awkward position. Where you have any concerns it might be best to keep some points for verbal reference only. 8. Punctuation, spelling & Font. The devil is in the detail and a failure to get this right could undermine your entire presentation. I recently presented to a client whom picked up on what he thought was a spelling mistake, he became quite fixated on this and it was quite disconcerting. Fortunately the spelling was correct but it serves to show that you need to be confident that you have covered the detail! 9. Judge your audience. Is humour appropriate or perhaps something highly creative? If you are presenting to a fashion retailer then the style and imagery will be critical. Likewise some people just want it to be very simple. Either way, ensure you understand what the interviewer’s preferences are. 10. Structure, structure, structure. Ensure your presentation has an introduction, perhaps detailing the brief, the body of the presentation and a conclusion. The main body should flow from slide to slide. I would be interested to hear any other tips that you may have. Get your FREE CV Template
 

Top 10 tips for a successful Telephone Interview

While we have seen an increase in the use of Skype and other video based technology it would seem that the use of the Telephone Interview is back on the rise. It is an inexpensive method for judging cultural and or behavioural fit and is often the first stage in recruitment processes; Forming the backbone of a labour intensive campaign or quite simply an ‘informal chat’ for a senior executive. It is however, full of pitfalls for candidates. Here are ten easy to follow tips that will ensure you create the best impression possible. 1) Get the Environment right: Try to avoid conducting the interview in a busy, noisy environment or indeed in your car. A private office where you will not be disturbed is perfect. Too many telephone interviews are interrupted by questions from colleagues, or the barista behind the counter at Starbucks! Ensure you allow enough time for the interview and do not assume it will be a ‘quick ten minutes.’  Use a landline for receiving the call. Poor mobile phone reception is the single biggest reason why many telephone interviews fail to take place. While they are technological wonders, our mobile phones are surprisingly unreliable at the worst possible time when it comes to their most fundamental function; making and receiving calls. 2) Prepare. This is a fantastic opportunity to have your notes and CV in front of you during the interview. Make sure you summarise your notes focussing on key points to avoid scripted answers. 3) Sit in front of the mirror. This may seem a little odd but quite simply it will give you an indication of how you are coming across. Do you look animated? Is your head up? Perhaps most importantly are you smiling? If not then try to focus on doing so, this may translate in you feeling more confident and therefore sounding more positive!  Alternatively you could try standing up and walking around. If you are more comfortable walking and talking then ensure you are in the right environment to do this. Many people feel they are more animated when upright and this allows for a greater level of focus. 4) DO NOT actively listen when asked questions. A common mistake to make, however actively listening in a telephone interview can disrupt flow as you will find the interviewer may stop talking. This can lead to a disjointed and awkward conversation. 5) Ask the interviewer to rephrase or repeat back the question. If you are slightly uncertain about the question either ask the interviewer to rephrase or indeed paraphrase this back. You should try to avoid doing this repeatedly but it is better to get your answer right first time. 6) Use regular pauses. Leave healthy pauses after every two or three sentences to allow the interviewer to either drill further down or confirm they have heard enough. 7) Vary your pace, pitch and tone. It is very difficult to convey energy and empathy over the phone so it is important that you vary your speech. The monotone interview is the bane of all interviewers! 8) Practice a CV run through. The structure of telephone interviews will often vary but a standard format will be CV based. If you are asked to run through your career history you should qualify how long this should last. Do they want a 30 second elevator pitch or a detailed 30 minute conversation? Either way, plan ahead! 9) Build rapport early on but avoid too many jokes! As with all interviews first impressions count. Good interviewers will try to break the ice early on. Reciprocate and avoid coming across as ‘cold.’ 10) Ask Questions. Like most interviews you will get a chance to ask questions. If an interviewer has a solid day of telephone interviews you will probably stand out more if you ask an insightful question about the business/role and more importantly about them.   Get your FREE CV Template
 

Are LinkedIn closing the loop on email?

A short blog this one but a very interesting development for anyone that uses LinkedIn regularly. I tried replying to a message that I had received via a LinkedIn contact earlier.  When I hit reply (via outlook) the address came up as – “Conversation on LinkedIn.” I hit send without really registering this change and immediately received a bounce-back.   Has anyone else experienced this? Now this may not seem all that significant but in essence all communication is clearly being moved to within the platform – thus closing the loop, or should I say net?  So if you want to engage in a conversation…you will absolutely have to log into LinkedIn. This will theoretically increase engagement and therefore the potential for LinkedIn to push adverts and sponsored posts. However, I think that this is likely to be part of a wider plan to tap in to a new revenue stream that up to now they have resisted rolling out across the board. Inmail already exists as part of the premium packages but has lost its impact in the last 18 months (there are plenty of blogs out there already about this). So it seems almost inevitable that LinkedIn are likely to charge for messages within the platform, much like Facebook already does. Would you use LinkedIn as prolifically as you have in the past if you have to pay for messages?