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Interview Skills to Secure the Job

Being invited to a job interview can be an exciting prospect. But it can also feel quite daunting, especially if it’s been a while since your last interview.


At Ten2Two we created a helpful webinar for our members, ‘Interview Skills to Secure the Job’.  The webinar takes you through some helpful tips and tricks to make the most of the opportunity. How should you prepare for interview? What interview questions should you ask? What do you need to think about on the day of your interview? How should you answer those tricky questions?

Make sure you check out our Interview Questions and Answers blog too. 

There we talk about some of the Interview FAQs most frequently asked by our members.

Watch our webinar ‘Interview Skills to Secure the Job’:


Here’s some of the audience feedback from the webinar:

“Good, clear advice with examples.”

“Really helpful refresher.”

“Very helpful and interesting.”

“Really helpful to be reminded of good interview etiquette and techniques, especially as I’ve not had an interview since before Covid.“

“A great webinar with very clear points.“

“Super useful: very pragmatic and very reassuring.”

“It was succinct and just the right length of time.”

“Thought it was very well structured and presented with useful information.”

“Well structured, full of relevant information.”



Deborah O’Sullivan(01:22):

Absolutely. Absolutely. Okay, I think we are at, we are at eight o’clock, so let’s make a start. Um, cause we don’t have very long tonight. Um, so welcome. Hello, welcome. Thanks for joining us. It’s lovely to see you all. Um, we are here tonight to talk about interview skills, um, in the hope that we can give you some hints and tips that means the next interview you go to, you will actually secure the job. So that’s why we are here.

I’m Deborah O’ Sullivan, I’m Managing Director at Ten2Two and I’m delighted this evening to be joined by, um, Jo Gregory, one of my fellow directors. And she’s gonna be taking us through the presentation. So for those of you who perhaps don’t know, um, Ten2Two is a recruitment agency that specializes in flexible and part-time jobs. So if you’re not already registered with us and you are looking for a flexible or part-time job, then go on our website tomorrow and register. It’s a really simple process.

Deborah O’Sullivan(02:22):

Um, and then you’ll start receiving our job alerts. So the format of this evening is that we will do a 30 minute presentation. Please put your questions in the q and a box at the bottom of your screen as they come to you. And I will keep an eye on those as we go through. Um, I’ll interrupt Jo if it’s appropriate, but if not, we’ll save them to the end. We will send out tomorrow, um, a hints and tips guide, so you don’t need to be scribbling madly unless you want to. Um, and this is being recorded, so that will be available on Friday. It takes a little while to process, but should be available on Friday. So I think that’s everything I need to say. So I’ll hand over to Jo. Hi Jo.

Jo Gregory (03:06):

Hi Deb. Thank you for that. Hi everybody, and as I said before, thank you so much for giving us your time this evening. This is gonna be, uh, a bit of a whistle stop tour through interview tips. We could talk all day about interview tips and often do with candidates. Those of you who are registered with us and have been through a process with us, will know that we give, uh, a lot of guidance to our candidates who are going for interview. And we hope that what we can go through tonight, will just give you a little bit of a, an overview and a top up. As Deb said, if you’ve got any questions, please let us know and this will be recorded so you can catch back up on anything that you miss. So what are we gonna go through today?

Jo Gregory (03:52):

Um, the agenda’s got quite a lot in it, so I’ll try and talk fast and not waffle. Deb will tell me off if I do. Um, starting off with why an interview. Um, then moving on to preparation – basics and content. Uh, types of interview and interview questions. I know there’s lots of different words thrown around about different types of interviews and styles of questioning, so hopefully we will cover that. Competency based questioning is something we get asked a lot about and I know sounds a lot scarier than it is.

Um, then coming onto on the day, uh, the basics for you to think about and, um, on the day the questions for you to think about because as we will repeat a lot, this is a two-way process. This isn’t just them asking you questions. The other is almost as important if not more important. Um, then we’ll summarize and as Deb said, we’ll go through any questions that you might have at the end.

Jo Gregory (04:47):

Fire them through during the chat in case you forget. I know that I often do when I’m on webinars, forget by the end what it was I wanted to ask. So why do we have interviews? Um, ever since work began, interviews have been a thing. So why are they still there when so much else has changed? They are still the main method of recruiting. So even though testing and other things have come into the process, a bog standard interview is still the main process of recruiting.

Um, main reasons are most of them are fairly obvious, but it’s worth running through them anyway. They’re a chance for the employer to check that you match what you’ve said. So if you say that you’ve done some particular jobs or you have some particular skills, is for them to be able to drill down into those and, and rest their mind at ease that you have actually done those things.

Jo Gregory (05:40):

Deep dive into your skillset. So really digging into those skills and asking questions around the level of competence that you have in that particular area, the level of experience that you have in that particular area. Test that it’s a fit for both sides. So this is really, really important. Um, whether it’s a remote interview or a face-to-face interview, it’s a chance for both sides to decide whether they like each other and want to work together. Um, which I’m sure all of you will agree is exceptionally important. And that’s for both sides.

So this is where it comes into play that it’s just as important for you to ask questions and feel that connection and that comfort as it is for them. And a chance to evaluate the company and the role. So again, I’ll say again, this is for you to evaluate them as much as it is for them to evaluate you.

Jo Gregory (06:32):

Um, hopefully there’ll be an opportunity for you to visit the workplace. Obviously with remote working and remote interviewing becoming more common, a lot of stuff is done at home, um, including the interview process. However, if you are due to be at a location for some of your working time, this is a great opportunity to go and see that location, um, and check out the journey and to check out, you know, your other colleagues and everything else that there is to know about the workplace. Preparation. Preparation really, really is key for interviews. Um, and there’s a lot of things that you need to cover. So it it’s worth having a think about all of the different areas that you need to be prepared in. Um, it sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many times we hear from clients that this just hasn’t been researched enough.

Jo Gregory (07:23):



And that is researching the company and the industry. There’s so much information available to us now. Google is our friend, um, the company website, the company LinkedIn profile, trade journals, if they still exist and if they’re relevant for the company. Um, but also if you can, digging deeper into things. So going onto social media, seeing what the company is saying and what people are saying to them. Um, Facebook, Twitter, Glassdoor, for those of you who want to explore that avenue, understanding that a lot of it needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. Um, yeah, just doing as much research as you can and understanding their position within the industry.



Um, obviously if you come through us again, you’ll know that we send out links, uh, to the LinkedIn pages normally of the person who will be interviewing you. We’re so lucky to have this information at our fingertips.

Jo Gregory (08:18):

Go and research that person. Find out a bit about them. Give yourself the heads up before you meet with them. Um, you never know what you might find out you have in common or what interesting tidbit you can find out about them. That might actually be a real icebreaker in the interview.



On the practical side of things, the place. Double check exactly where you are going. Do a dry run if you need to. Make sure you know where the train station is, where the parking is, make sure you know if there’s any awkward pathways you need to navigate. Anything that might trip you up on the day. Just make sure that you’re aware of it and give yourself that little bit extra time in case there’s been an accident on the M25. I know everybody who lives anywhere near the M25 knows this is exactly what I’m talking about.

Jo Gregory (09:03):


Um, dress, I know it’s one of the things that I prepare most on for an interview <laugh>. Um, first impressions are incredibly powerful. It takes four seconds to make first impression, good first impression, and four years to repair a bad one. And most interview processes don’t last four years, so you don’t get that opportunity. Um, it’s important that you dress appropriately. So a lot of businesses are much more casual these days. Even still make sure that you are dressing appropriately for the fact that you’re going for an interview. It’s not a bad question to ask what the company dress code is and take their steer. If in doubt, go smart. That includes accessories. So making sure that you’re removing any jewelry that might not be business appropriate. Also think about personal hygiene a little bit.

Jo Gregory (10:00):

It sounds uncomfortable, but make sure that if you are a smoker, maybe you don’t smoke immediately before the interview. If you enjoy good food, make sure you don’t eat anything too smelly before the interview. And think about how much perfume you’re wearing. You know, you might wanna give yourself a bit of a spritz, but you don’t wanna overwhelm the person interviewing you. So again, it might sound like an uncomfortable area, but just have a think about the people who are gonna be in the room with you. Um, if it’s an online interview, the preparation is slightly different on some of those aspects. We’ll come onto that bit later. And we do have extensive, uh, preparation tips for those of you who might be having an online interview through us. Again, we can share with our members.

Jo Gregory (10:45):

Preparation – content

So the content, um, not only do you need to prepare what we’ve just talked about, but you need to think about the content of what the interviewer is going to be talking to you about. Um, and how you are gonna present yourself as the very best candidate for the role. So how are you gonna show them that you’re the best candidate for the job? What are you gonna talk about about yourself? How are you gonna make sure that you are really getting that message across that you are the very best person they could find? What is it that you can do for that job and for the wider company? What is unique and special about you and your experience? How do we prepare this?

Review the job description and the job ads. So make sure you’ve gone through that job description and you know what it is they’re looking for. You know, the competencies, the skills, the experience that are required to do that job. Review your CV in line with what they’re looking for and make sure that you feel confident you can extrapolate from that CV all of the different things that they’re hoping to achieve.

Jo Gregory (11:50):

Match your job description to the cv, to the job. Um, think of examples to support the key areas. It’s really important that you go armed with well thought out examples or well remembered examples from your experience.  Two or three in your back pocket, in detail, so that any questions they ask that might need to be based on past experience, you are gonna have those to hand to answer them. Make sure that those have facts and figures attached to them if possible. So, for example, increased sales by 10% year on year, if that’s part of your remit. Um, or maybe reduced headcount spend or something.

Jo Gregory (12:36):

Know your motivations and reasons. Um, many of you here tonight, your motivation is gonna be around working part-time or working flexibly. That is a perfectly valid, uh, reason. It’s perfectly valid motivation. However, the person interviewing you might wanna hear something a bit more focused on the role itself or a bit more focused on your interest in the business. So make sure that you’ve, again, done your research and you’ve aligned your motivations to the job at hand to the opportunity.

Be prepared to talk about yourself and your aspirations. Um, so, you know, be ambitious. Don’t be afraid to be ambitious. Talk about how you, you’re really excited about what it is that they are doing, that they’re offering, about the different tasks available within the role. That’s what they want to hear. And hopefully it’s all true. You know, hopefully you are excited about the opportunity and the fact that it’s flexible just adds that extra layer of excitement and relevance for you.


Types of interview

Jo Gregory (13:41):

So, types of interview, this has changed <laugh>. Um, it’s now the norm, um, to have a telephone or a video interview to start off with. And actually sometimes those video interviews aren’t even with a person. So we are finding that more and more organizations, uh, are using digital technology or even AI to conduct their first round interviews. Most of the businesses we work with aren’t, most of them are still using real people. Um, but don’t be surprised if there is some sort of faceless assessment at the beginning of your interview process. Um, obviously it means that there’s sort of, um, an ease into the process sometimes.

Uh, but as I said, there’s still quite a lot to do to prepare yourself for a video interview and we can offer additional support on that side of things. Face-to-face interviews are by far the most common, um, normally with two individuals from the organization. Um, and normally based around a mix of questioning styles. Panel interviews can be used or even assessment centres. These are normally for more senior roles or for, um, group employment, uh, with larger corporates. Um, charities also often use assessment centers, um, to make sure that they’re meeting the criteria they need to recruit against.


Types of questions

Jo Gregory (15:18):

Types of questions. As we’ve just said, you’ll often get a mixture of types of questions throughout the interview. The real key here is not to worry too much about what types of questions you’re being asked most of the time. As long as you’re prepared. As long as you’ve got those three examples, as long as you’ve done your thinking, you will be absolutely fine. If you need to take a breath, if you need the employer to ask the question again, don’t be afraid to take a breath, have a sip of water, have a think. It’s better to do that than blurt out whatever comes to mind because sometimes you just need to gather your thoughts.

Jo Gregory (15:57):

Preparation is key. Um, so we’ll cover competency based questions in a minute cause I know a lot of you, um, get a little bit concerned about exactly what they are. But questioning normally works on the principle that past behavior is an indicator of future performance. So a lot of the questions are gonna be based on what you have done in the past, your work history to establish the facts on your cv. This is very often a chronological run through of what you have done in the past. So really knowing your CV inside out is really, really key. Understanding that they’re gonna ask about your reasons for moving from one role to another.

They’re gonna ask about detailed experience within each of the companies. Um, they might ask some quite tricky questions and we will come onto those in a minute. Can you briefly talk me through your CV? Some of us, it’s not that brief, but you wanna try and make sure that you’ve had a bit of a practice running through it and you can kind of give them the highlights, preempt some of the questions that they’re gonna ask around why you’ve moved from one to another.

Deborah O’Sullivan(17:03):

Oh, sorry, just to quickly interrupt. There’s a question, um, which is partly about the preparation, but also about that question where someone’s saying they understand that their experience should match the job description, but their CV is their CV, so they obviously can’t change their CV. So how would you suggest that when you’re talking through your CV, you try and make it more relevant for the role?

Jo Gregory (17:26):

Brilliant question. Um, we find that we have a lot of people who are pivoting their careers, um, when they come through us as an agency. Um, and we can, again, support more detailed, um, questions, but in general, you can make sure that your skills are still aligned. So even if your specific activity, your specific job description, specific job titles don’t match the job titles that they’re looking for in their ideal experienced candidate, you can extrapolate from the job description and your CV, the skills that are required, the core competencies, the abilities, and make sure that they are being pulled from your CV. And you’re talking about those in your CV run through, um, maybe highlighting those more so than highlighting the job titles that you’ve held.

Deborah O’Sullivan(18:21):

Yeah, and another one, Jo, I would, I would always say is that, you know, if you’ve worked for a small fast growing company that maybe had external investors and multiple stakeholders, say that as you’re going through your CV, if that matches the company you are interviewing with or you know, if you can find anything that links you and the company or the industry to the job, it’s worth highlighting.

Jo Gregory (18:41):

Absolutely. Um, competency based. So competency based interviewing is establishing the skills that are needed to perform the job and finding out from you if you have those skills and competencies. So a question might be

tell me about a time when you supported a colleague who was struggling with an area of work

and that might be able to assess your ability to work as a team. Another question might be,

give me an example of an experience that reflects your commitment to customer focus.

Um, this again might help them to understand your dedication to customer focus or your ability to put the customer first.

Jo Gregory (19:29):

Behavioural, these types of questions show how a candidate thinks. So their core behaviours.

Give me an example of when you didn’t meet a goal and how you handled this.

Obviously, resilience, um, is something that we all need to one level or another. Some positions are gonna need a higher level of resilience than others.

Tell me about a time when you had to persuade someone resistant to your direction to perform a task.

Again, this is to do with leadership, making sure that you meet the leadership qualities that they need in this role. And sometimes they’ll ask values questions.  Company values are becoming more and more important to both companies and to employees. And making sure that there is a correlation between your personal values and the values of the business. Um, so a business with values along the lines of integrity might ask a question such as describe a situation where you have demonstrated integrity.

Jo Gregory (20:31):

Now obviously it’s very difficult to have specific examples of all of these, but the more research you’ve done into the organization, the more prepared you’re gonna be. Because if they’ve got values in place, they normally will publish those on their social media or on their website, and you’ll be able think about those and think about whether they align with your own and maybe even think about examples from your past when you’ve been able to demonstrate those values as with behaviour and competency, which you should be able to understand what they’re looking for from the job description.

It sounds like quite a lot, doesn’t it? It’s a bit of work preparing for an interview. Um, um, here we go. Another one about values.

Tell us about a time when you’ve worked with an organization that has matched your values.

So again, an opportunity to think back through your career so far, um, and make sure you’ve got examples to pull on. Don’t worry about the categories, don’t worry about what types of questioning it is. Just make sure you’re prepared.


The STAR method

Jo Gregory (21:31):

So some of you will have heard of the star method before. Um, it’s a well-structured way of answering a question and we’ll make sure that you are ticking a lot of boxes for the employer. Uh, it’s a very good way of asking, answering competency based and behavioural questions. Um, and it’s based around structuring your answer. So giving, outlining a situational task, outlining the action taken and outlining the results. So as an example

I led a group of colleagues in a team presentation to potential clients.

That would be the situational task.

We presented to around 20 big industry players in the hope of winning their business. I delegated sections of the presentation to each team and we discussed our ideas at a series of meetings. After extensive research and practice, our group presentation went off without a hitch.

That was the action and that was action that I took. So that can be credited to me.

As a result of this hard work and the team effort, we won the business of 15 clients.

That’s the result. And it’s got numbers attached to it as well. So you’ve got a nice clear, positive result from the action that you took. Be clear and concise. Make sure that you, if it’s a team effort, make sure you’re attributing it to the team. If it’s something that you have specifically done, make sure you’re making that clear and as if you can use numbers, facts, and figures.


On the Day – the basics

Jo Gregory (23:09):

So on the day, on the day, you’re gonna be nervous, that’s a given. Um, but there are things that you can do to make sure that you’re keeping those nerves at bay. If you are having a video interview, make sure you test your tech. Deborah and I just before we went live, had a bit of a tech issue, but we’d built in time for that. Um, obviously sometimes it’s difficult to actually get on the live link before the interview starts, but you can do everything you can.

You can make sure your laptop’s charged. You can make sure that your phone’s switched of. Going into these now.  Make sure you don’t have any distractions. Make your phone is off. Um, arrive with time to spare. That goes for video and face-to-face interviews. Make sure that you are there ready in time. You know, you don’t wanna be dashing around, adjusting your chair, pulling your shirt into place.

Jo Gregory (23:59):

Um, remember your body language. Body language is a really interesting one for remote interviews. And you find there’s different people, people who gesticulate even more when they’re online or people who don’t move at all and are very, very still. Neither is necessarily right or wrong. Um, I’m sure that we’ll mention it a bit later. But we’ve got a wonderful, wonderful webinar, um, with a good friend of Ten2Two, uh, an actor. And he talks about your online presence. If you can go onto YouTube and search for it, I would strongly recommend having a, a watch because it is really helpful for presenting yourself online. And it’s really funny.


Mention distractions. So make sure that if there are any distractions, if you’ve got, um, people outside doing roadworks that you just can’t do anything about, make sure that you’re clear about that maybe getting in the way just so that it’s out there and not uncomfortable for you later. Appear interested. Now, hopefully you are interested in the job that you’re going for and hopefully you won’t have to appear it, but it is difficult, especially online to really get that interest across. So make sure that you’re clear about it. Make sure that you are maintaining eye contact. Make sure that you are smiling. And make sure that you are giving off all of those cues that you are very obviously interested.

Jo Gregory (25:27):

Listen to what’s being said. Um, give the interviewer a chance to finish the question that they’re asking. Um, and make sure you are, you are kind of holding any questions back until the end, unless it’s something that is imperative and you have to know right there and then.

Answer questions directly. Try not to waffle too much if possible. Again, I waffle a lot when I’m nervous. We all do. Um, but the more prepared you are, the better you’re gonna be able to answer those questions directly.

Be honest. Um, it is amazing how many people slip up and tell porky pies in interviews and it’s really not worth it because you’ll end up getting yourself in a muddle. Um, so as much as you can do, stick to your preparations. Stick to what you are capable of, um, and take your time. As we said before, have a sip of water. Take a breather, ask the interviewer to repeat the question. There is no rush. You don’t need to rush through the interview.

Stay positive. Um, make sure that you are not being negative about a past employer. Yes, it might have been a negative situation. Um, they don’t need to know that. You know, there is always a positive frame for every situation and try to make sure you maintain that positivity. Um, again, we’ve heard back from employers that it’s, it’s left a really bad taste in their mouth when candidates have talked negatively about past employers.

Jo Gregory (27:05):

Always maintain your professionalism. Um, again, make sure that you’re smiling. Make sure that you are, uh, engaging with the interviewer. Show that you’re keen, you know, ask for feedback if you feel confident in doing so. Make sure they understand how interested you are in the opportunity. Um, and then if appropriate, shake hands at the end. Always take the lead from the interviewer. Obviously post covid world, some people don’t wanna shake hands anymore, but most people are now shaking hands.

On the Day – Answering Questions

So this is where we’re gonna come onto some of the more tricky questions that might be asked.

Deborah O’Sullivan(27:53):

No, sorry, I’m just, I’m just gonna say we’ve got five more minutes of presentation. Okay. But I think we’ve got lots of questions, but I think actually gonna, you’re about to answer quite a lot of them in this next couple of slides, so I think we’re

Jo Gregory (28:04):

Okay. Okay. Hopefully I’ll, but we can always, we can always go through them and I will hurry up a little bit. Sorry. Okay. Um, describe your strengths and characteristics. It is so normal to feel uncomfortable talking about your strengths. So many of us do. Um, again, preparation is key here. If you can think about your core strengths and have evidence to back those up, you will feel more comfortable talking about them because you will believe them more. Um, so make sure that you’ve done that prep. Make sure that you’ve taken the time to look back on your career and be proud of your achievements. Be proud of what you’ve done and walk into that interview with head held high. Just don’t be too cocky.

Deborah O’Sullivan(28:46):

So a question, actually there’s a few people have said this.

What happens if you’re on a break and I either or you’ve been on a long break,

either the things you can remember are a long time ago. Or you can’t remember them at all. Somebody’s just actually put baby brain on the question.

Jo Gregory (29:04):

<laugh>, um,

Deborah O’Sullivan(29:05):

We get it <laugh>. Um, but you know, what would be your advice for people who haven’t actually got very current, um, examples?

Jo Gregory (29:13):

So your examples don’t necessarily need to be current. There’s a number of things that you can do here. So if you’ve been on a break, the chances are you’ve still been doing something very valuable that still uses a lot of skills. You can use those examples if you feel as though you really genuinely can’t reflect back to your professional past. Outside of that, get in touch with somebody that you used to work with and have a chat with them. Get them to remind you how brilliant you were and still are. Spend some time reminiscing. Spend some time going through your cv, thinking about those days that you used to be at work. I know it feels like you are never gonna remember it all, but it will all come rushing back.

Um, we work very closely with a couple of career coaches who have got some brilliant exercises, um, that can really, really help you reconnect with that old professional self. So maybe Google some of those career coaches. Um, maybe we can send out some links tomorrow, Deb, I’m not sure. Um, but there are lots of exercises that you can do just to get your head in that right space. I, I’m not saying it’s easy and it’s almost more difficult when you have had a break because sometimes your confidence does get knocked. But a lot of this is building that confidence back up. Um, and taking an old colleague out for a drink is always a nice experience. Gets you away from the baby. (smile)

Jo Gregory (30:39):

Know your CV and the job description inside out.

As we’ve said a few times here, just making sure that you’ve done that research. Just prepare, prepare, prepare. Um, it’s really critical for you to have those examples in your back pocket. Use your research to tailor answers.  So that research that you’ve done on the company, on the industry, all of that can be crept into your answers, which does two things. It makes sure that your answers are really relevant to the people that you are answering the questions of. And it also shows that you’ve done your research and that you know what you’re talking about. So try and be clever with your answers. Try and weave in some of that research.

Know your agenda. So this is where again, it it gets a little bit personal, um, from your prep, you should know what key messages it is that you want to get across. You should know what, what it is that you want them to leave the interview knowing about you and why you are the best person for the role. So even if some of those key points haven’t been specifically asked about, make sure you’re thinking about them all the time so that you can weave them into the answers, so that you can weave them into the discussion. Um, and even base your questions around them. You know, find a way of bringing them up in a discussion through your questioning.

Jo Gregory (32:00):

On the day – Trickier questions

This is where we’re probably gonna answer a lot of the questions that you’ve got sitting there.

Turn any career gap into a positive. So many people come to us who have got career gaps for one reason or another. Um, make sure that you are using any experiences that you’ve had in that career gap to further your skills and experience. Make sure that you are really turning it into a positive and make sure you are also saying how hungry you are to get back to work.

Answer if asked about salary. This is uncomfortable for people for a number of reasons, but again, yes.

Deborah O’Sullivan(32:38):

Can I just say, Jo, we’ve had a lot of questions about this. Um, so I’ll let you carry on. But just so you know, there’s lots of interest about salary.

Jo Gregory (32:45):

Okay, so there’ll probably be lots of interest for a number of different reasons. Talking about salary, talking about money, it’s not very British, we don’t do it very often. Um, you can do a number of things, you can talk about a ballpark if necessary. You can turn the question back around and talk to them about their budget available for the role. Um, know how flexible you are willing to be is is the real key.  To be able to go into that interview and understand whether you are able to be flexible on a specific amount.

A lot of the time the flexibility is gonna be the real driver for you rather than the money against the role. You could talk about that being your key driver and again, kind of diffuse the situation around salary. One of the trickiest areas that we come across is when you’ve come from a much higher earning role, um, than the role that you’re interviewing for.

Jo Gregory (33:38):

And often that can be a really difficult subject to address. Again, in that situation, you might wanna turn it around and talk about the role in relation to the budget available. So say, I understand that your budget available is dot dot dot and I’m more than comfortable to be paid within that budget or something. If you just cannot bring yourself to talk about it and you are through an agency, you can defer back to the agency. Um, however it shows a little bit more, kind of, professional confidence if you are comfortable to have a conversation if they do directly ask you about it.

Um, so the flexibility, again, make sure that um, they know that you have worked flexibly in the past, whether that be from home, whether that be um, part-time.  Use examples to demonstrate the success that you’ve had. Um, and yes, do talk about it being one of your drivers, um, especially if it diffuses the salary conversation.

Deborah O’Sullivan(34:41):

Um, we have a question on flexibility, Jo.

Yes. I’m just weaving them in now. So, um, we, we won’t have time at the end, but we might as well answer them <laugh>. Um, if you are able, if you want to work four days, how would you suggest then, what, at what point would you bring up that if you’ve applied for a full-time job?

Jo Gregory (35:00):

Okey dokey. Um, being part-time specialists, um, we often do try to establish the facts around the working conditions before an interview would be held. So, you know, if somebody is looking for four days, make sure that that’s clear from the application stage. However, I know that’s not always the case. I know a lot of people go and apply for full-time jobs and then negotiate part-time around that. Um, having sat on both sides of the table, I personally would bring that up as early as possible in the discussions. Um, just so that it was clear for both sides.

However, if you are keen to really demonstrate how perfect you are for the role, then I would wait until later in the process. Um, but I definitely wouldn’t leave it until the offer stage. I’d definitely try and make sure that it was talked about, ideally within the first interview. Um, just because it will give them a chance to think about it. It might be a topic of conversation for a second interview. You know, if, if they are open to a discussion you can really dig into it in that second interview, um, and make sure it’s something that’s gonna work on both sides. It is a tricky area though. Um, and a lot of it is gonna be about judging the company, reading the room, um, and kind of understanding that business’s overall level of flexibility and interest in part-time work.

Jo Gregory (36:30):

Um, childcare.   Potential employers shouldn’t ask about childcare but be prepared that they might. Um, they need to know that you have the childcare provisions in place to be able to, to perform the role that they need you to perform. Um, you can cut this discussion very short and just explain, yes, I have childcare provisions in place, walk away. You know, they don’t need to know what the nursery is. They don’t need to know which grandparent’s gonna be looking after the kids. They just need to know that that provision is in place.

And the too senior question, um, a question that’s asked of our members all of the time, um, why are you going for this role? This one needs to be answered with a little bit of tact. Um, just ‘I want to get back to work’ sometimes won’t cut it. You know, they, they are gonna be worried that you are gonna get bored, they’re gonna be worried that you’re gonna leave.

Jo Gregory (37:22):

Making sure that you can demonstrate your interest in the role by talking about your knowledge of the role and the business are the best ways to really impress upon the employer that you are genuinely interested in the opportunity. So again, it’s down to that preparation. It’s making sure that you know what the business’s core values are. Making sure that you understand what their five year plan is. It’s making sure that you know what their most recent release is so that you can show them just how keen you are on them as a business, um, and how well suited you are to the role available.

Jo Gregory (38:00):

So in summary, uh, preparation is key unless we haven’t made that clear enough. Tailor your answers for the role and the company and ask great questions. Once you’ve got all of that in place, it’s time to relax and enjoy the interview. And please make sure it is a two-way street. You need to ask them things that are important to you. You need to establish whether you want to work for them, not just the business that you’ve researched, but those people in the room – whether you want to work with those people. Thank you so much for listening. <laugh>, I’m sorry if it went on over time. I promise we will get to your questions.

Deborah O’Sullivan(38:40):

Yes, so thank you Jo. That was excellent. Um, we’ve actually, we’ve got three minutes. So I have got one question, which I thought an additional question which I thought we might be worth asking, um, which is ‘I’ve been asked before about my weaknesses and I’m never sure the best way to answer this’. A very common question.

Jo Gregory (38:58):

Uh, and I’m there with you. I hate being asked about my weaknesses. Um, again, without sounding like I’m trying to dodge a bullet, be prepared. So have a think about where you feel you have areas for development. Don’t think of them as weaknesses. Think of them as areas for development. The best way that anybody has answered that question to me is to list out a few areas and immediately follow up with: ‘So I’ve done this to make sure that I can address that in myself’. ‘So I’ve done that.’ Make sure that people, the interviewer understands that if you are aware you have a weakness, you’ve either done something to address that or you understand what needs to be done to address that. So for example, um, I’m gonna use the worst one and it’s my worst weakness is my attention to detail.  It’s abysmal.

Jo Gregory (39:52):

So I make sure that in every <laugh> I’m gonna be honest, I make sure that in every project I factor in extra time to do extra checking through whatever document it is I’m working on, whatever process I’m working on because I’m aware of that in myself. Um, there’s also specific technologies that you can use which are amazing and save my life on regular occasions. Um, so if you can identify those weaknesses but make sure that you’ve kind of got a counter for them, then I’d say that’s the very best way to go about answering that question.

Deborah O’Sullivan(40:23):

Brilliant, lovely, thank you Jo. Um, so we’ve got, um, there’s about 15, 16 unanswered questions. So we will collate those tomorrow and get them out with answers to everybody so everybody can see the questions and the answers along with um, the little hints and tips sheet that I mentioned at the beginning. So that will come out tomorrow and then by Friday the recording should be available. Um, a couple of the things that Jo has mentioned we’ll include on the email, so uh, the link to the presentation skills, um, webinar and the couple of coaches that we work with, um, just in case anybody’s interested. So I think that’s everything. Thank you so much <laugh>, so much Jo for joining us. And thank you everybody for participating so fully and I hope you’ve got something useful out of tonight. Thank you very much.

Jo Gregory (41:15):

Thanks everyone. Good night. Bye.


38 min read