Welcome to Chiumento Recruitment Solutions

Questions to ask at interview – A quick guide

Do you struggle to think of suitable questions to ask at an interview? Here are a few topics to help you have a range of questions ready to ask…

1. Structure – Where does the role fit within the team/department/organisation. What is the management structure like. What areas of the business would you be working closest with, for example marketing, procurement, sales, finance etc. Why are they recruiting is it a new role/someone leaving/sickness or maternity cover?
2. Current projects what projects is the team/current incumbent working on. What would an average day look like and what tasks would need to be done each day/week.
3. Big success what are the teams past successes. How do they measure success and reward it?
4. Culture what is the culture like, is the office quite or noisy, do people often stay late or leave on time, are there many social activities either formally or informally organised
5. Future plans – what are the future plans/strategy for the organisation/team. Are there any upcoming large projects that you’d be working on should you get the role.
6. Training – What is the general policy with regards to training or ongoing development. Do they conduct this in-house, is there budget for external training or professional qualifications?
7. Next steps – what are the next steps within the recruitment process, how many other people are they seeing. A brave question that I’ve been asked a few times, is whether the interviewer has any concerns about hiring you, or if they’ve any feedback. This is one that as an interviewer is hard to ask as there is a fine line between honesty and sounding mean. So I’d suggest using this with caution and bear in mind you might not get a 100% truthful response.

This is by no means and exhaustive list of suitable questions to ask at an interview, but it should give you some guidance as to areas you can ask about. But remember listen to what the interviewer(s) say, as they might have answered many of the questions above during the interview. For example, I know I always start my interviews by giving the candidate an overview of the team structure and where that fits within the wider organisation. It’s generally a good idea to have a pen and paper/pad handy so you can jot down any questions that spring to mind on the day.

Now you’re armed with all the information you need to succeed… However, if you’re not at the interview stage yet then check out our other top tips and get your job search off to a flying start.

If you need any help in securing your next HR job check out our latest vacancies or if you need assistance with any HR recruitment then please get in touch…

Interview tips

interview tips
You’ve passed the initial CV scanning, telephone and maybe even Skype interview and you’ve been called for a face-to-face interview.  Congratulations…  Now you just need to impress your interviewer and make it through to the second round to be in with a chance of securing the role.  But it is at this stage that many candidates who look amazing ‘on paper’, fail to impress on the day. 

Here are our top interview tips to make sure you do your best on the day…
1. Do your preparation – failing to prepare is preparing to fail…  make sure you do the basic preparation before your interview.  Know who you’re meeting, where and when.  Research the company, check their website and social media activity. Read through your CV and the job description and ideally have both to hand.  Being late won’t make a good first impression – leave in plenty of time, ideally arrive 30-45 minutes beforehand and find a coffee shop or somewhere to sit and go through your notes. Read our guide to interview preparation.

2. Relax – it’s an easy thing to say, but harder to do.  Interviews can be nerve wracking, but try to relax and not let nerves get the better of you.   Take some deep breaths, try to think of it as an exciting experience, that could lead to a new job. Rather than something you must endure. 

3. Be nice – It’s a simple thing but one that is easy to forget.  From the moment you walk in the door your interview starts.  Be polite to the receptionist, don’t sit there discussing the antics of last weekend with your friend on the phone, sit nice and quietly and answer a politely answer any questions your asked. Often another memeber of the team will collect your from reception, make small talk with them, as they maybe a potential team member who is also assessing you.  While it is the ultimately the interviewer you need to impress, they may well ask the opinion of others.  So, make sure they don’t have anything negative to say.

4. Be concise – while it’s never a good idea to answer a question with a simple yes or no, there is a fine line between a detailed answer and rambling on.  Try to keep your answers thorough without veering too far off the subject matter.  One trick is to try to structure your answers according to the STAR technique (Situation, Task, Analysis, Result). Practice doing this beforehand so you’ll be comfortable with the concept on the day and give clear and concise answers.

5. Be positive – Interviewers have many potentially tricky questions up their sleeve.  From the almost standard, ‘what is your biggest weakness?’ to ‘Why are do you want to leave your current role’ and ‘Tell me about a time you failed?’  Whatever your answer try to keep a positive spin on it.  While you may be leaving because your boss is a nightmare or you can’t stand your colleagues we wouldn’t suggest being that blunt.  Don't lie but maybe focus on other aspects such as lack of progression or a desire to break into a new sector for example.

6. Sell yourself – an interview is basically a sales pitch and you’re the product.  So make sure every question you answer paints you in the best light possible.  For example, if answering a question involves discussing a team project, try not to start every sentence with ‘We…’.  It’s not a good idea to lie or take credit for something that isn’t your work, but focus the answer on the role you played.  Where possible have facts and figures to hand to back up the examples you give.  If you increased sales by 50% or reduced costs by £50,000 then say so.  It makes the answer all the more believable and impressive.

7. Ask questions – Asking questions at the end shows interest, it’s a good idea to have a few potential ones lined up.  For example asking about the company culture, what the company’s plans are for the next 5 years, what training support there is etc. But make sure you don't ask questions that have already been answered during the interview.

Now you’re armed with all the information you need to succeed…  However, if you’re not at the interview stage yet then check out our other top tips and get your job search off to a flying start.

If you need any help in securing your next HR job check out our latest vacancies or if you need assistance with any HR recruitment then please get in touch…

Interview Preparation – a quick guide

So you’ve passed the initial stages, perhaps had a phone or a Skype call and you’ve been called for a face-to-face interview. Congratulations. This is your chance to sell yourself, showcase your skills and experience and make sure you’re the preferred candidate. But it’s also at this stage that many of those that look like a fantastic match on paper, fail to make an impression in person.  One reason is lack of interview preparation – just like an exam you need to prepare for an interview.

No idea where to start with your interview preparation?  Don’t worry to give you the best chance of success here is our interview preparation checklist to complete before the big day!

1.      The basics – you’ll be surprised how often candidates turn up at the wrong place, wrong time or ask for the wrong person.  Make sure you’ve asked your consultant who you’re meeting, where and when. Find out the best route, how long it will take and anything that could cause delays. Factor all this in when planning your journey on the day. So you’re not panicking on the day, plan your outfit in advance. Check everything still fits and is clean – the red wine stain on your suit from a wedding last summer won’t make the best first impression, nor will the blouse with a button missing.

2.      Know the role – when looking for a new job it is likely that you’ve applied for a number of positions. Make sure you know the role you’ve applied for. Print out and read the job description/advert to get a better understanding of the role and how it fits within the organisation.

3.      Know yourself – an interview is basically a sales pitch, and you’re the product. As any salesman will tell you, if you don’t know your product you won’t be able to sell it. Print out your CV, go through your skills and experience. Think about any key achievements and make a note of key stats, such as savings made, leads generated etc.. Compare your CV to the job description and try to pull out specific examples of how you meet their requirements.

4.      Research, research, research – researching the company is as much about making sure the organisation is right for you as it is about impressing the interviewer.  Visit the company website, look at the products and services they have to offer, if they have one, read their blog or any recent news articles.  Check out their LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook pages.  This will help give an insight into their company culture and the issues they feel strongly about for example. You don’t need to stop at researching the organisation, the majority of workers in the UK have a LinkedIn profile, while we’re not suggesting you link with your interviewer, you can have a look at their profile and that of other people within the organisation.

5.      Speak to your recruiter – your recruitment consultant will have spent the past few weeks, months or even years working with the hiring manager. So ask them for their insider knowledge, any tips or guidance they can give you to help you stand out.

Remember as the famous quote says..  ‘failing to prepare, is preparing to fail’. So make sure you’ve done your interview preparation and are ready to shine at interview!

If you’re still looking for your next role check out our latest vacancies or if you need help with any HR recruitment then please get in touch.

Top tips to surviving a Skype interview

If you say the words ‘Skype interview’ to many job seekers, it will send a shiver down their spine. Visions of fuzzy images on screen, stilted conversation and WiFi dropping out half way through is enough to scare anyone off. But it needn’t be that way, the quality of Skype calls means it’s as close to being in the same room as you can be. It is a useful recruitment tool, whether as an additional stage or in-place of a first-round face-to-face interview it enables both interviewer and interviewee to gain a deeper understanding of each other than is possible in a simple phone call.

If you have been called to an interview via Skype then don’t panic, below are a few tips and pointers to help you take it in your stride.

  1. Be prepared – treat it as if you would any other interview. Do all the usual preparation, research the company, know who you are talking to, their name, job title, make a note of any questions you want to ask etc. Have everything you might need during the interview to hand, a pen and paper, a copy of the job description/advert, your CV. It’s also a good idea to have a glass of water ready, as lots of talking, especially while nervous can dry your mouth out. If you don’t want to replicate the BBC correspondent whose children walked in while he was live on air, then make sure you warn anyone else in the house that you’re taking a call.
  2. Location – think about where you’re going to sit, ideally to minimise back-ground noise and disruptions you should be in a private location, rather than a public place. So you’re able to talk freely try and set up your computer or lap-top on a table so you’re not juggling it on your lap. Remember to check what can be seen behind you and remove anything unsuitable (underwear drying on a clothes horse for example!).
  3. Lights, camera, action – the point of a Skype call is that you can see each other, so don’t neglect lighting, it plays a big part in making you appear clearly on screen. A bright light behind you such as a window will make it almost impossible for you to be seen clearly, you’ll appear as a shadow. On the inverse, sat facing a window runs the risk of being blinded by the sun and spending half the call squinting (not a good look). Test out a few different locations and see which gives the best picture.
  4. Dress accordingly –  unlike a telephone interview you can be seen on Skype, so make sure you dress appropriately and treat it as if it were a face-to-face interview. This will not only make the right impression but also get you in the right, professional frame of mind. While it might be tempting to be more casual from the waist down, you never know what might happen so it’s best to plan for all eventualities and be smart from head to toe.
  5. Do a test run – if you’re not a regular Skype user then do a couple of test calls to friends and family. This will help you get your camera and microphone set up correctly and make you more familiar and comfortable with the system and how it works.
  6. Don’t panic technology has a habit of going wrong at the crucial moment. While doing a test run can reduce the chances of this happening, if the worst does happen, don’t panic. If you get cut off mid call, take a moment to compose yourself before calling back. If you lose sound or visuals then don’t just sit there, let the person at the other end know and quickly try to rectify the situation.

If you treat it like any other interview, do your preparation, speak clearly, maintain eye contact and answer the questions to the best of your ability then it will give you the best chance of success. On a final note, don’t forget about your user name, while PartyChick21 might have been fun while at University it won’t give the best first impression.  Just like your email address, keep it simple, professional and boring, use your name.

If you’re still hunting for your ideal role then have a look at our latest vacancies or get in touch

Work-life integration: it’s a digital thing

Traditionally, just like computer code, work was pretty much a binary thing. It was, quite simply, a matter of on or off. A traditional working day would be 010 – ie off, on, off. You turned up and switched on at 9 and then switched off again at 5.

Today our working day is much more likely to read like a computer programme – eg 01010101010101010. That’s because the boundaries between life and work are no longer defined by sharp boundaries. And that’s down to digital transformation.

The internet age means we all increasingly expect to do things where and when we want. We used to accept that shops shut early on Wednesdays and weren’t open at all on Sundays. Now we expect to stream video 24 hours a day and buy goods and services on-line whenever we feel like it. We won’t be constrained as consumers – and our concept of time is increasingly defined by the click. We get instant gratification or we go elsewhere.

The upshot of all this is that work has to change too. Just ask all those people in retail who work Sundays – or even nightshifts in supermarkets that stay open 24 hours a day. Our demands as consumers shape the way organisations have to increasingly reorganise work. That reorganisation has fed the boom of zero hours contracts and the gig economy as businesses have to be able to turn capacity on and off in infinitely variable ways to match the ever changing and increasingly unpredictable demands of customers.

When Chiumento was started back in 1994, the decision was made to adopt a fully associate delivery model. We were ‘gigging’ but didn’t know it – the term didn’t come into general use until 2009.

Interestingly, PWC’s NexGen research suggests that flexibility in how and when they work is a major motivator for Gen Y. In fact, it seems more important than money. And remember, GEN Y’s will be around 50% of the workforce by 2020.

The disjoint that we increasingly see is that employers demand more flexibility on one hand – yet reject it on the other. They want people to be responsive to the realities of ever more demanding customer expectations. Yet show little flexibility in terms of allowing people to choose where and how they work.

Article after article reports that people want greater flexibility – eg to work from home rather than commute to a fixed location. Yet many employers still struggle with even the odd day. Sometimes that’s down to technology – but more often it is down to management culture and a lack of trust.

Here at Chiumento we think this whole issue of work-life integration will dominate the world of work over the next decade. Those employers who embrace flexibility will get the pick of the talent crop. Unconstrained by location they can tap the best people wherever they are based. If an employee wants to change location that’s fine. They can relocate 100, 200 or even more miles and still carry on doing a great job.

To date, digital transformation has largely been about customer experience. We think it will soon expand to embrace employment experience too. Don’t offer a digital remote working environment and your talent pool will shrink. Not every job can benefit – but ever more will. Get left behind and you’ll find recruitment ever harder.

We’ve practised what we preach. Our flexibility means we have an IT Director in Reading and a Marketing Manager in Croydon. Our finance person is in Oxfordshire and one of our recruiters has just relocated to Norfolk to get a better lifestyle. None of them would be with us if we’d said “you must all work in the same place”.

What they all get is that work doesn’t fit in neat compartments. That might mean a few hours working evenings or weekends when clients need us to. But equally it means they can do things that matter to their families. We call it work-life integration. It will never be “balanced” as that implies fixed boundaries.

Next time you are hiring ask yourself this question: can the job be done remotely? If it can you’ll open up a much bigger talent pool. If you offer part-time working that will make it even bigger. Skill shortages are often just as much about our inflexibility as they are about genuine lack of talent.

Written by Ian Gooden, CEO of Chiumento Group. For more information on how we can help with any recruitment needs, whether you’re looking for your next role, want to expand your HR team or for any wider people related services such as outplacement or talent management please get in touch on 020 7224 3307 or email  info@chiumento-recruitment.uk







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