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Interview Tips to Secure the Job

Watch this practical run-through of how to perform well at an interview, whether it's online or face to face.

Learn how to:

• Prepare thoroughly – practicalities and research 
• Answer competency based questions effectively
• Answer career gap and salary questions well
• Impress with intelligent questioning

And secure your dream job!

Useful for anyone currently job searching or seeking a move in the near future.

Watch our webinar ‘Interview Tips to Secure the Job’, with Ten2Two’s Jo Gregory and Tracey Adams linked below.



Jo Gregory (00:53):

So, welcome everybody. Thank you ever so much for giving us your time this evening. my name's Jo. I'm one of the directors with Ten2Two. In case you don't know, Ten2Two are a specialist recruitment consultancy, focusing on part-time and flexible recruitment. We also provide consultancy services. We've been around for 17 years. Is that right? Goodness me. I've only been here for eight of them but have loved every minute of it. We're all very, very passionate about what we do. And one of the additional benefits, if you like, to signing up with Ten2Two, as all of you know, is these webinars that we run.

Jo Gregory (01:48):

This evening's webinar topic is interview tips to secure the job. So we're going to take you through a lot of content. Tracey's going to be gagging for a drink by the end of this <laugh>. The basic plan for the evening is that we'll have around 25 minutes worth, 25 minutes, maybe 30 minutes worth of content, and then, 10 minutes Q and A at the end. So just a little bit of housekeeping for you. First of all, we are recording this evening, so please don't worry about making copious notes. Please don't worry if you've missed something. You will receive a copy of the recording, so you will be able to watch it again at your leisure. Pause, fast forward, rewind, do whatever you need to. In addition to that, we have a Q and A box, instead of a chat box.

Jo Gregory (02:36):

The reason for this is so that you can ask maybe slightly more personal questions, without everybody seeing. So that Q and A is seen by Tracey and I, but not everybody else who's joined the webinar this evening. Hopefully we will have time to address the questions that you have asked. I'll either interrupt Tracey, which I'll try not to do too much because there is, as I said, a lot to get through. If we don't get round to answering your questions live this evening within the Q and A section, then we will do everything we can to follow up in the next couple of days. They will either be included in the Q and A document that will be sent out to everybody, or if it's something slightly more personal that we think needs some more attention, we will try and come back to you individually. Yeah, there is always the opportunity to get in touch with us separately. Our contact details will be at the end, and you all will have received emails relating to this evening from Ruth. You can always email your queries to her and she can forward them onto the relevant member of the team.

Jo Gregory (03:36):

I think those are the main things that I needed to go through. So without further ado, I think we're a full house now. Goodness me. Yeah. I'm going to hand over to my lovely colleague Tracey, who's going to be taking you through the content this evening.

Tracey Adams (03:50):

Jo, thank you. Good evening, everybody. So I'm not going to repeat anything that Jo said. So what are we talking about tonight? It is absolutely jam packed with loads of tips, and I hope you take away something that's really helpful. There's all sorts of stuff around interviewing tonight. So let's have a look at the agenda. Just quickly, you know, why have an interview? Why are interviews helpful, useful? Then we will then look at the preparation, the basics and what content you need to prepare. The types of interviews and types of questions you might come across. Competency based questions are always incredibly popular. A popular topic. We get loads of questions on competency, so we'll cover a little bit of that and hopefully clear that up for you. Then there's on the day - some basics.

Tracey Adams (04:43):

That'll be a rattle through a list of things just to look out for and think about on the day, on the day in the, in the interview questions. Those are possibly some of the more trickier questions you might be worried about. Quick summary and then time for questions Q and A at the end. So, without further ado, again, I'm going to keep saying this because I'm conscious of the time.


So why an interview? So even though we've seen more testing in recent years in recruitment and interview is still the main method of recruiting. It serves number of purposes, most of which are obvious, but it's probably worth reiterating. So we know it's still the main method of recruiting. So it's the first chance for an employer to check if the person they meet can back up the paperwork that they've seen. So, you know, it's really important that your CV really does reflect you and that you are confident and comfortable in talking about your CV and your experience.

Tracey Adams (05:39):

It's a deep dive into your skillset. So the hiring manager, whoever is recruiting you to whoever is doing the interview, would be very keen to do a much deeper dive into what you talk about on your CV and more. It's a chance for you to test out if it's a fit for you too. And this is something that a lot of people forget. This is a 50 50 process. You know, you will be surprised how many people go to an interview and come away thinking, actually, I'm not sure it's for me, and you must use this opportunity for you as well. So it is a test for fit on both sides. And you know, it, it's a chance for you to evaluate the company and the role, which is sort of the same thing, but, but also the office.

Tracey Adams (06:33):

An opportunity to visit the workplace. If you're going to be based in an office even once a week, you know, there's an opportunity there to see what it's like. So how do you prepare? Let's start with the basics. Some of these are very obvious, I think, but you'd be surprised how many times we get feedback from clients who suggest that not enough time has been spent on some of these points. So, first of all, the company and the industry. So make sure that you've researched the company as much as you can. There's so many sources you can go to research the company. The obvious ones are the company website. And don't just go to the first homepage and a couple of pages. You know, go to their blogs, go to their news releases, their press releases, see what interesting stuff they might be doing recently. Have they won new business? Are they out in the community doing something really interesting? So have a look at that. There's also social media. There's so many sources that they might be posting stuff across social media, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, excuse me. Go and have a look at those and see if there's anything more informal.

Tracey Adams (07:40):

Little tickle, excuse me.

Jo Gregory (07:44):

Well, while Tracey clears her throat. I'll throw in that Glassdoor is also a really useful website. However, do always take a pinch of salt that, as with any reviews, it's only if the people feel hugely negative or hugely positive, you're unlikely to get that middle ground being reviewed, but it's a tool to use in your research.

Tracey Adams (08:06):

Absolutely. Thank you, <laugh>. The other thing to research is the people that you're going to be interviewed by. So at Ten2Two, if you're coming through us, we tend to give you the names of the people that are going to be interviewing you and a link to their LinkedIn profile if we have one. But if that's, if it's not us, and you're going elsewhere direct, go and do your research into the people who are going to be interviewing you. Excuse me, it's a really good advantage to look at their profiles. You never know. There might be something in common, which you can use in conversation. But it's also just good to get a feel for what's ahead of you. The place. This might sound really sort of basic, but just double check the exact location of your interview.

Tracey Adams (08:51):

You know, who are you meeting there, who do you need to ask for ask? But in terms of access and parking, is there parking? Do you need to allow extra time? I'm a real early bird. I'm always early for places, but I'd much rather be early in case something happens on route. So just check for, for all of those details. And then dress, dress code, first impressions are the most powerful, and the hardest to change. So, if it only, apparently it only takes four seconds to make your first impression and four years to change a bad one. So just make your initial impression count, and you're not going to be in the interview for four years to change their mind. So <laugh>. So make sure that first one counts. It is important that you dress appropriately.

Tracey Adams (09:42):

If you haven't worked for a while, ask us, you know, if you're going for an interview through us, ask your friends, you know, do some research. Look at what, look at their website, look at what you think. If you can see team pictures, what you think they're wearing, if in doubt, always go smart. You know, no one is ever going to criticize someone going to interview looking smart, everybody knows it's an interview. You'd be better going a bit smarter than underdressed. Remove any jewelry that could be considered unprofessional. It may be fine outside of work, but not every employer might think that. If you are a smoker or vaper, try not to smoke immediately before the interview. It could be quite obvious when you walk into an enclosed office space. And it's nice to have a bit of a spritz of perfume before you go or aftershave, but don't go mad.

Tracey Adams (10:39):

Again, same thing as vaping and smoking. It might, could be a bit overpowering. So just some simple tips there on, on preparation, basics. Content - this is so, so important. This absolutely is the foundations, the building blocks of what you are going to do in your interview and what you're going to talk about. Spend time doing this. You would need to be showing them that you are the best candidate for the job. So how are you going to show them that you are the best candidate for the job and you need to demonstrate what you can do for the job and the company. So here's some tips. The first three I'm going to group together. So, you need to review the job description thoroughly, or the job advert. You need to look at the role and the responsibilities within the role. And you need to look at the skills they are asking for in the person specification alongside this.

Tracey Adams (11:32):

Review your cv absolutely thoroughly. And then you've got to match the two. You know, you need to make sure that on your cv, you are matching the skills and responsibilities needed for that role, and that you are going to have evidence to talk about the two. So that's onto the next point. Number four, number five's jumped in there as well. But number four, think of examples to support those key areas. You can do this in a number of ways. So one thing to do would be perhaps think back over projects you've worked on, achievements you've had, you know - successes. Give yourself a range of ones to choose from. We say about three, three or four should give you enough fodder to keep coming back to and using those achievements or projects in your past to think of things that you can bring into the conversation.

Tracey Adams (12:28):

And we'll talk about in a few slides, the questions, competency, behavioral questions, et cetera. But if you can just remember some big achievements or projects, you can use that going forwards. Know your motivations and reasons. So, spend a little time thinking about yourself and how you can be perceived as an interested, enthusiastic candidate. You know, be clear about why you want the job. The interviewer might well ask you, why do you want this job? What is it about the company that attracts you? You know, are you going to find the job rewarding? Is it using your hard won skills? You know, do you want to work in a team again? Do you want to work in a growing business? Now, the flexible hours and the location might be really what's attracting you. And I know that happens a lot.

Tracey Adams (13:23):

You know, we are often seeking these utopian part-time roles that work around everything. But try not to use that as your primary reason for going for the job. You know, the employer will want you to feel engaged in their proposition, their role, their company. Be prepared to talk about yourself and your aspirations. So be prepared to talk about yourself, your aspirations. Again, talking about the flexibility is fine, but not the main priority. you can, by all means, bring up that you are still career motivated. You know, you are very career orientated. talk about what drives you, how can the job contribute to your aims.

Tracey Adams (14:13):

So don't be afraid to talk about what you think you can bring to the role at whatever stage you're at in your career. It could be experience, it could be adaptability, it could be strong skills in the organization. So just think through what you might want to say at that point. Types of interview. So, the telephone or videos are usually used in the early stages. Typically, a process will include two of these. What we're seeing at the moment is typically a telephone or video for a first stage and then a face-to-face Face-to-face obviously disappeared during the pandemic, but it's most definitely coming back as the main form of interview at this point. So telephone or video will usually be an initial screening, to see if there's a fit. If you're invited to the next stage - face to face.

Tracey Adams (15:14):

Usually the face-to-face will be with two people from the organization. So you could well get a HR person and the hiring manager. Don't be daunted, you know, just don't be daunted by it. There may well be two people. Just accept that. Everybody we know when they interview are very nice <laugh>, so don't put them on a sort of a pedestal. Panel interviews are used more often in formal organizations, perhaps where there's a lot of decision makers needed to reach a consensus. So big corporates, charities, public sector. And big corporates may sometimes run assessment days, if they're recruiting a big cohort at one point.

Jo Gregory (16:01):

Just to jump in there as well, Tracey, sorry. The assessment part is becoming something that's more common as well. So I don’t know if we go on to talk about this later, I could be jumping ahead of our own content.

Tracey Adams (16:13):

No, we don't talk about assessments.

Jo Gregory (16:15):

So even the SMEs that we tend to deal with more regularly than large corporates are bringing in assessments on a more regular basis. These assessments might be job related, so it could be attention to detail, or skills within a certain piece of software. It may be something to do with customer service. Or alternatively it could be something more along the line of psychometric. So assessing personality type, or ways in which you prefer to be communicated with. These are very, very rarely taken in isolation as a decision in the process, but they are additional information for the decision makers to use with everything else that they've gleaned through their telephone call with you and their face-to-face. so again, as with being faced with more than one person in a room, please don't see these assessments as terrifying and that you must achieve a hundred percent or don't see the psychometrics as something that's trying to catch you out. That's not what they're there for. They are there to add an additional layer of information for the decision maker.

Tracey Adams (17:26):

Yeah. Thanks Jo. So let's go on to the types of question. You'll likely get a mix of questions at interview. and I'll quickly explain the various types here. the key message though is don't worry about the categories. I'm breaking them down in categories because it will help explain some of the types. But don't worry about the categories. Just try when you're in an interview, just understand what the interviewer might be looking for when asking the question. Don't be afraid to take a few seconds to pause and think before answering. You don't have to fill a gap, a silent gap, while you think - they'll clearly see that you are thinking about it. And I think an interviewer would rather you sat and thought it through, considered it, and gave a considered answer. So there's nothing wrong with that, you know, and if you've done your prep and you have some of those examples I talked about a project, an achievement and some success, you know, you shouldn't have a problem really pulling from those points to answer these questions.

Tracey Adams (18:27):

We’ll do a bit more on competency questions on the next slide as well. But let's just look at these first. Now questioning works on the principle that past behavior is the best indicator of future performance. So let's go down and look at the, sort of, the first types of questions we've got. Apologies, let me just go for that work history. This is obviously going through your cv, chronologically. So it's important you know your CV inside and out. They might ask about career moves, and they might explore some of your experiences and skills in more depth in some of the roles, all of the roles, depending on time. So, a typical question would be – can you briefly talk me through your cv? So this is where you just need to make sure you know your cv. Competency based questions. Now, this may form a major part of questioning, and they are typically questions based around the skills needed to perform the job.

Tracey Adams (19:35):

So, for example - tell me about a time when you supported a colleague who was struggling with an area of work. So this is covering teamwork, so that the skill of teamwork. Another one could be, give me an example of an experience that reflects your commitment to customer focus. So clearly this is sort of your client facing, customer facing skills they want an example of. Behavioral - behavioral questioning seeks to show how a candidate thinks. So here's one example. Give an example of a time when you didn't meet a goal and how you handled this. So this is really dealing with perhaps failure. It could be resilience. Because they may want you to show how you got back up and, and tried again. Another one could be, tell me about a time when you had to persuade someone resistant to your direction to perform a task. You know, that could well be, again, resilience, but it could also be leadership skills that you're demonstrating, and behavioral skills you're demonstrating.

Tracey Adams (20:39):

And then finally, what we're seeing more and more of now are values based questions to see if your values match the company. Values are becoming important to both businesses and candidates. You know, we talk to a lot of candidates now who have quite strong values and are looking for companies that align with their values. So this is quite interesting. So you want to make sure this is a good opportunity in the interview to make sure that you correlate, they correlate with you and you correlate with their values, and see what's important to both sides. So one of them might be, you know, describe a situation where you have demonstrated integrity.

Tracey Adams (21:21):

So it may be hard to preempt every single question they are going to ask. And then we've got a list of potential interview questions that we can share in our resources. And it's pages, it's two pages of solid lists of questions because there are so many variations of what could be asked, but these are the core sort of approaches, that you, you need to think about and have in your back pocket. so, let's go and have a look now. and with values, just to point on values, actually, you can identify if a company has values or not, because they usually publish them on their website. So as part of your research, you would hopefully have spotted this, by looking at their, their details. And there's another one. So tell us about a time when you've worked for an organization that's matched your values.

Tracey Adams (22:10):

Don't worry about the categories. They are all questions at the end of the day. So competency based and behavioral questions. So I think you've possibly heard of the star method. this does come up quite a bit and it is a useful tool to have and to think about when you are considering how to answer questions. And it would be worth having two or three of these ready in your mind, some of the core things that you think the job's going to need. So STAR stands for situation, task, action, result. it is really useful. So for every question they'd be looking for an answer that describes a task that needs to be completed, or the situation that you are confronted with, you were confronted with, in another time in the past. So for example, I led a group of colleagues in a team presentation to potential clients.

Tracey Adams (23:05):

So if that's the situation or task, what's the action? We presented to around 20 big industry players in the hope of winning their business. I delegated sections of the presentation to each team member and we discussed our ideas in a series of meetings. After extensive research and practice sessions, our group presentation went off without a hitch. So that was the action that I took and can be credited to me for, for sorting that part out. So result - as a result of this hard work and team effort, we won the business of 15 clients. So there you've got a really nice clear outcome. So that's, that's a clear, good way of describing something. So be clear and short and concise. On the day. This is the list of stuff that really, it's the basics, but just a little checklist to go through. So if you've got a video interview, make sure you test your tech.

Tracey Adams (24:08):

make sure it works. You know, use the computer that you're going to have it on, test it on that. Try not to use a mobile phone if you can help it. I mean, if you have to use a mobile phone 'cause you're out and about and you're at lunchtime, you know, perhaps pre-warn the interviewer that it's going to be on your phone because you are, you are in your lunch hour from work. But test your tech. Check your backgrounds, make sure you haven't got a load of washing in the background and everything. So, so check all of that. We've done a recent YouTube webinar on this, which we’ll include a link to, which is about presenting yourself online. So we'll include a link to that. Turn your phone off, mine's off now, turn your phone off. Arrive with time to spare.

Tracey Adams (24:53):

So obviously if it's a face to face, arrive with time to spare. Remember your body language, always smile, try and relax. Again, look at that recent webinar I talked about. It's all about body language and how you present yourself. Mention distractions. So, if you are, if you are in a face-to-face interview and the sun is really shining on you and you can feel yourself getting hot, or you've got a wobbly chair that you are worried is going to break, mention it straight away. They won't mind. If it's on a video and you've got roadworks outside that you just can't control. Maybe mention it at the start to explain. Appear interested. Sounds like a daft thing to say, but we sometimes have had feedback that candidates may have looked bored or disinterested in the job. So it could be nerves, fear, but you know, just keep that eye contact, smile. Listen carefully to the question, allow the interview to finish. And if it's really important, jump in with a question there. But otherwise you can save questions to the end. Answer questions directly, as we've said. Be concise. Don't waffle, I waffle a lot. But if you have a tendency to do this, try and stick to those examples you've pre-prepared.

Tracey Adams (26:11):

Be honest, tell the truth. You know, if you don't understand a question, please say so. Take your time. So if it is a complex question, gather your thoughts. Don't worry about a few seconds of silence. Stay positive. This is positiveness about your previous employers generally. So again, we have had feedback where a candidate was really negative about a couple of previous employers. So if, if it wasn't the right culture for you, we get that that happens. You know, you do find you're in jobs that aren't right. Try to present the learning and the positive you've taken out of the situation rather than talking about a negative.

Tracey Adams (26:53):

Let's see what we got next. Trying to speed this up a bit, Jo. Sorry. Always maintain professionalism. You know, even if the interviewer starts to get really chatty and casual and informal, you know, stay professional. And show your keen. If you like the sound of the job, make sure the interviewer knows that, you know, make those noises in the interview or at the end. Shake hands and smile when you leave. if you're nervous about shaking hands, take the lead from the interviewer. You know, obviously post pandemic, some people are still a bit more nervous about it. It's, it's not as common, but sort of take, let the interviewer take the lead. So on the day - answering questions. So these are perhaps some of the more tricky questions. So know how to describe your strengths and characteristics. And it's often hard to talk about yourself,

Tracey Adams (27:42):

but that's what interviews are all about. So make sure you can describe yourself with language that you are comfortable with. That sounds like you, you know, you haven't grabbed it off the internet. And come across as confident but not cocky. Know your CV and the job description inside out. This is the prep we've been talking about. It may seem obvious, but you must go back over your CV and know those dates, know those career moves, know some of the projects and work you achieved in those jobs. and as we've said, have three projects or so that you, things that you were proud of on that CV that you can pull on. When using examples of achievements, use facts and figures if you can, to bring them to life. That's always really helpful. And use your research to tailor your answers.

Tracey Adams (28:36):

So when answering questions, keep in mind your research and tailor your answers in the context of the role. So try to recognize when this is and isn't possible. So if it isn't possible, say the role wants experience of moving software in a finance department, but you haven't done that, but you might have had to run a project moving software in a HR capacity. Talk about that because it's relevant, it's linked, you know. Know your agenda. So from your preparation, you should know what key messages you want to get across. And although you can't control what the interviewer is going to ask you, keep in mind the key points you want to make during that interview and try and weave them in when you can. And you could even base your own questions at the end on maybe your agenda.

Tracey Adams (29:29):

On the day – trickier questions. So let's have a look. We'll get lots of questions on these. We always get lots of questions on these. So turn any career gap into a positive. Many people come to us who've had a gap. We have done a webinar on career breaks. If you've had a gap, don't linger on it, but don't apologize for it either. It's common. It’s great if you can talk about it and show maybe new skills and experience you've gained in that period. And by all means, say how excited you are about getting back into a career that you loved. You know, sort of - you are enthusiastic, you've had your gap, that's it, ready. How to answer if you're asked about salary. So this is a really uncomfortable topic for people to talk about and not, it doesn't always come up in interviews 'cause that might be handled by the recruiter for you, if you're going through a recruiter.

Tracey Adams (30:24):

So if you are asked about salary, you could talk about ballpark figures. And you could talk about whether you are flexible or not. You could understand if they have a budget. I mean, hopefully this has been covered upfront. So before your interview, you hopefully understand that there is a budget in mind or there is a range that they have in mind. You could mention that flexibility is top of your list and you are open to salary within reason. So yeah, so if you don't feel comfortable or confident talking about that in the interview, you can walk away and think about it afterwards and get back to them. But I actually don't think it comes up as often in interviews, probably more with the recruiter in advance. Do you think that's fair, Jo?

Jo Gregory (31:13):

Sorry, I was just typing somebody in answer. Yes, I completely agree. A lot of the time the conversation around salary will be kept outside of the interview itself. However, you do need an answer in your back pocket just in case it's brought up. And that answer can be a placeholder. It can be something that gets you out of having that - if you feel it's an uncomfortable discussion to have face-to-face. Yeah, yeah. But you do need something to come back on, otherwise you're going to fumble on words and make it more uncomfortable. Yeah.

Tracey Adams (31:46):

So, I’m just conscious of time. The other questions that you might get asked about is, you know, flexibility. So the role might be flexible, it might be hybrid, it might be part-time. They might want to ask about your experience of working flexibly before. So just have an awareness that yes, you know, you are comfortable working in a team where everybody's on different working patterns, or with working hybrid. We use Teams, we communicate easily. You might be asked about childcare, be prepared to handle this question. Interviewers sometimes ask about whether you need to set up childcare in order to do the job. They shouldn't do. But if they do, you don't need to go into massive detail. You can just say you have options and move on to the next question. Next answer. The ‘too senior’, we've all heard it.

Tracey Adams (32:31):

‘You're overqualified’, ‘you're too senior’. It can be perceived that you're trading down. if you've done a more senior role in your past career than the one, than the one you're being interviewed for, you know, why would you be happy doing this? You may need to convince the interviewer, that you can do a good job at this level. You can make really valued contributions, you know, and you won't be bored and leave within a month. So just bear that in mind and be ready to be convincing. And asking great questions - sSo if you're keen on the role, you'll probably be buzzing with questions. However, it is also worth having some pre-prepared in your back pocket questions. So use your research that you've done, the prep, to ask things that are relevant to the role and the company. It could be, you know, I know you've just opened a new office. Are there any plans for further expansion? How many people do you have in the department? What level of marketing spend? If it's a marketing job, what level of marketing spend you currently have? What does a five year picture look like for the company or the department? You know, it could be anything like that. You know, you need to tailor it to the role in the company but do have a couple in your back pocket.

Tracey Adams (33:42):

So to summarize, preparation is absolutely key. Particularly thinking of those projects, stuff you've done in the past. Three or four things that you can draw on to evidence your experience and skills. Tailor your answers for the role in the company. Ask great questions. Try to relax and enjoy the process. I know it's easier said than done. It is a two-way street. Remember that. It is also about you deciding if the job's right for you. So that's a rattle through. Questions. We've got a few minutes, I think we've got about six minutes for your questions. I'm sure there's been loads.

Jo Gregory (34:21):

We have been chatting away in the q and a. So thank you everybody for your questions. I'm sorry there are a few of you I haven't managed to respond to as yet, but that's exactly what now is for. Well done Tracey, and thank you so very much for getting through so much content. I really hope that people found that useful, and are able to take away something valuable from that. As we said at the opening, this is being recorded. It will come out to you in the coming days. So you can pause, read, listen, whatever it is you want to do, make notes. And if you have got questions, there's loads of lovely emojis going. Can you see them? So thank you very much. We have had some fantastic questions. There've been lots of them.

Jo Gregory (35:13):

So we're just going to pick out a few. If we do not come to your specific question, as I said at the beginning, we will try and address it either, generalized in the q and a document, or we will come back to you specifically. We always get a lot of questions around gaps, and we did talk about it briefly in the presentation, however, I would be remiss to not ask a question around gaps. And the specific question that we have had is that somebody has been off caring for an elderly relative, and they don't know whether to state that on their CV in advance of even attending the interview. What are your thoughts on that, Tracey?

Tracey Adams (35:57):

Yeah, well, we see career gaps for various reasons and I think that, you know, the point of the CV is not to raise any questions. It is perfectly acceptable to say, you know, career gap to you know, to look after children until primary school; career gap, to care for a relative; career gap to undertake personal projects and development, self-development. You know, it's a conversation and everybody in life has things that we have to do for our families or other, you know, and I think it's human, so you don't need to go loads of detail, but it just, it stops any sort of ‘what was the gap?’. There's just nothing there, you know, gap, you don't say anything. It's better to, I think, to say something briefly. You don't have to go into detail though.

Jo Gregory (36:46):

Absolutely. And as Tracey mentioned, we do have a specific webinar on career gaps, called Mind the Gap. So we will send out a link – if you’re desperate to watch it this evening, you can search for Mind the Gap on our YouTube channel. There's a brilliant question here. How should I answer the question – ‘What are your weaknesses?’ Oh, God, that great question. Oh,

Tracey Adams (37:09):

Everybody hates this question. Well, even if you think you haven't got a weakness, you need to think of one <laugh> for the interview, but do you know, it could be, you know, it could be something like, ‘I struggle to delegate’, but you could say, ‘I sometimes don't delegate as much as I could’, but you need to a ‘but’ because you need to go: ‘But I recognize that and over the past couple of roles, I've been working much better with my project team to copy them into meetings and emails and share communication much better. So it's much easier for the team to understand where we are and I feel confident delegating.’ So you've got to think of - have a weakness, but think of a ‘but I've been doing this more and I'm aware I need to do this to correct it’. Not just I'm aware, but you have been making strides to do that.

Jo Gregory (38:07):

Absolutely. It's an awesome opportunity to be able to, to demonstrate how you've addressed that weakness and how you've actually turned it into something that is personal development for you, and therefore a strength.

Tracey Adams (38:20):

Yeah, it's a horrible question.

Jo Gregory (38:22):

<laugh>. It's a horrible question. Nobody, nobody enjoys that question. Nobody enjoys being interviewed, really. Another question here. What are some good questions to ask the employer at the end of the interview?

Tracey Adams (38:35):

Yeah, well we had a few just back then, didn't we? But you could talk about things like, I had some, I wrote some down actually. There's loads you could do. You could, I mean, it depends what you know, is it, is it role specific? So it could be more around a marketing role you're going for, for example. Or it could be around if, if you, if you feel comfortable enough, you could ask one of the interviewers, why did you choose to work for this company? You know, what did you see in this company? You could ask about development opportunities in the company. How do you support ongoing personal development or do you support it? Do you like that? it could be around they've just been awarded B Corp. You know, what does that mean for the business? How exciting is that? So there's lots of, lots of things and you need to take it out of the research you've done on the company. There might genuinely be questions you've got about the job that the job advert didn't tell you, you know, so quite genuinely, there might be questions about that.

Jo Gregory (39:33):

Absolutely. It is a wonderful opportunity to show off how much you've researched by asking them something. And I've actually had very positive feedback from clients before where that exact question has been asked. You know, why did you choose to work for the company. Clients have really enjoyed being asked that because it gives them a chance to talk about their journey with the company or their experience working for the company. So that's a great one. We’ve got time for a couple more. I'm going to whizz through. Trying to find ones that have been quite generic. When an interviewer wants to do an initial 15 minute chat, which is something that is becoming more common. Since the pandemic, as we said, video and phone interviews as a first stage have become much, much more commonplace. And often if it is a telephone call, it can be quite short. So this attendee has asked what preparation is needed because obviously it will be quite a short conversation.

Tracey Adams (40:31):

It still needs to be preparation, you know, it might be 15 minutes, but you just don't know in that conversation - it might be literally a chat or you know, it, some clients might be quite relaxed, but others might do a mini version of an interview. So you still need to do preparation. Obviously they can't ask as much in 15 minutes, but I think the core thing is look at those skills. They're not going to have time to go deep into your cv. They're not going to have time to go deep into all of your projects that you've been successful at, or deliverables, but have one or one or two up your sleeve. Know your CV. By now, if you're going for interviews anyway, you should be up to speed on your cv. And don't forget, you know, this preparation you're doing for the 15 minute might well come in useful three days later, a week later because you might get to that next stage. So you've done a lot of it. You still need to do a bit of prep on the company. So I'd say you still need to do prep. Maybe not, you know, 20 hours worth <laugh>. Not that you do 20 hours of prep, honestly, but you know, you still need to make sure you're covering off bits of everything there. Because if they say it's informal, if a client says it's informal, any interview is an interview. Even if it's an informal chat, it's still an interview.

Jo Gregory (41:46):

Absolutely. And those decision makers are still going to be as, as you said right at the beginning of the presentation, they're still going to be receiving that first impression. Even if it's just a verbal rather than a physical conversation. Time for one more question before we close out, I think, and this is one that's been asked in a range of different ways. But it's around redundancy and how to address that within an interview scenario. So, this particular question said, ‘I’ve been made redundant. How do I go about answering how that came about? And does it reflect badly on me if I've been made redundant?’

Tracey Adams (42:24):

No, it doesn't reflect on you. Redundancy has become really quite common over the past, I'd say decade because you know, you've had recession, you've had Brexit, you've had, economy, pandemic <laugh>, how could I forget that one? You know, so people, CVs do often have at least one redundancy. I mean, you think you might be lucky if you haven't had a redundancy. So it is definitely more common nowadays and I'd say more normal. And I think most interviewers understand it's the role, not the person. It used to be seen as the person was made redundant, as in it was their fault. But now I do think interviewers now see that it's the role for various reasons. So be just be practical with your answer. You don't have to labour it. Don't go into loads of detail about it. You know, say unfortunately the company relocated to Scotland and I couldn't commute, or you know, unfortunately the company lost a major client and they had to downsize. Simple. You know - facts.

Tracey Adams (43:27):

If you're able, you know, don't be negative about it. It was something we mentioned earlier, you know, don't go, ‘It was really dreadful, you know, I felt, oh, oh, it was awful. We're all terrible. Didn't like the way they did it.’ You know, take it as a positive. They were actually, it was a really good opportunity. 'cause I've got out there and I, you know, I could change my scope. I could look for something a bit different. You know, but whilst I was there in the 10 years I was there, I learned so much. I'm really grateful for that time. Positive.

Jo Gregory (43:55):

Absolutely. Thank you so much for that. Rather than trying to squeeze in another question, I think we're going to close out now. And as I said, for anybody who we haven't come back to, please do not worry. We'll be addressing your questions over the next couple of days. So it just leaves me to say thank you again, Tracey, for all of that amazing information. I really do hope that ourattendee have taken, attendees have taken away something valuable. If you have enjoyed this evening, if you have taken something valuable away and you have the wherewithal or the desire, we would love you to be able to review us. You can do that on our Facebook page or on Google. Every review is really, really valuable and we really do appreciate anything that you are able to share.

Jo Gregory (44:48):

If you can't get onto either of those platforms and you've just got a sentence that you want to share with us, then please do pop it across on email, either to Tracey or I directly or by reply to Ruth. I'm sure she's emailed you many times over the last little while, reminding you about this evening. She's brilliant like that. Thank you again. Enjoy the rest of your evenings. Enjoy. If any of you do have interviews coming up, then the very best of luck. Good luck. I know that some people in the Q&A have been talking about interviews they've got in the next few days. Honestly, we wish you all the very best. Do hope that today has been useful.

41 min read