Posts Tagged ‘interview’

Preparing for Telephone Interviews

Friday, July 19th, 2013

Telephone interviews have become more and more  popular with some clients, particularly those  who  slot in recruitment to  their other busy work schedule. They are not just used in situations where the job seeker or employer is relocating. They are also invaluable in circumstances where a Manager travels a lot and is hard to pin down from one day to the next. A swift telephone interview can increase an applicants “buy in” to the company.  They can also be a great way to quickly filter through and create a small shortlist , or address any immediate questions about an applicants suitability.

Unfortunately some job seekers don’t take them seriously and their approach to telephone interviews is rather nonchalant.  They don’t view the employer as serious as one who commits to spending the time meeting an applicant face to face at the first stage. This is disappointing considering the various reasons why a telephone interview is the best first option.

If you are ever asked to attend a telephone interview, think twice before you presume or doubt the commitment of what could be a fantastic future employer. Although it is always preferable to meet face to face for a first round interview,  telephone interviews should not be considered second rate and should be taken just as seriously. It is not just about proving yourself, but should also give job seekers the opportunity to ask as many questions and find out more about the role.

To help you on your way here are some top tips.

Research the company , the role and the interviewer before the interview

This means look at the website, news articles, information from the recruitment consultant, social media updates , blogs and make sure you understand what they do , or if anything interesting catches your eye about what they do. What is happening in the business, can you find any information from employees about working there?

Look at the job description.  What are the skills they are looking for? Do you understand the role? Can you provide examples of where you have applied those skills? What do you like about the sound of the role?

Consider who is conducting the telephone interview. Is it the Line manager? In this  case you will be able to find out more about the day to day role and culture or team

Is it the Human resources manager? They generally have a slightly different angle and look at your overall fit for the role and company and may not be able to talk so much about details of day to day responsibilities.

Choose the right setting

It goes without saying, choose a quiet place. Find out how long the telephone interview will be, if possible use a landline or turn off your call waiting on your mobile phone, find a quiet room, not a street corner in your lunch break.

Make sure there are no distractions (e.g. children running round at home, sitting in a bisy coffee bar)

The right setting will enable you to focus more clearly on the actual interview and listen to the questions.

Prepare for questions they may ask, and prepare questions to ask depending on who is interviewing

What do you like about the role? What are you looking for?  Does this match what they offer? Why do you want to leave?

The questions may be competency based (see our feature on competency  based questions for tips)

Ask them questions and prepare a few, not just about money and hours (never in first interview) but what they are looking for, why they are hiring, what challenges of role might be

Be aware of how you sound

They may not see you but the way you come across on the phone is important. Present yourself well, use your tone to convey enthusiasm, if it makes you more alert, stand up! They may not see you but it will make a difference on the way you come across.

Take notes if you can, always helpful as this may be way to summarise or review what they said

Close the interview : let them know what you think about the role and them if you are keen and do ask them what the next stage is in the process. Ask them if they have any reservations about your application and if they do, respond to them. This may be your only chance.

Finally take it seriously, you may be required to work on the phone a lot in your new job and this might be a test to see how you come across.

Control your staffing costs

Friday, June 7th, 2013

Today’s news has been celebrating signs of growth in the UK economy with a record increase in the number of houses sold in May 2013, the number of new cars sold in the UK in the same period and with evidence showing an increase in the number of permanent jobs on offer in the recruitment industry.

Despite all this, the pressure is still on for business to control their staffing and in particular, their recruitment costs; many firms have geared their HR and Operations practices to reviewing internal recruitment , in the mission to find additional ways to save money.

Here we offer you are some ideas which may benefit your business and help reduce the overall cost of recruitment

Firstly, ensure that the recruitment process for the business is clear. Do your Managers know how to go about starting the hiring process, who should be involved ? which external agencies, sources they can use? What tests or selection methods are used and they should involve in the process and how much budget they have?

Make sure you are clear about the role you are looking to fill. What do you want the role to contribute to the company, department and team, on a short, medium and long term basis. If you are unsure about where the role will head or the effect of this will be on the business in the long term, then ask yourself if this could be covered on a temporary basis.

Being clear about this could save you a lot of hassle in the long term. You may not be sure how the role may develop but  there are many talented freelancers/ temp workers who would be more than happy to commit to something indefinitely with the possibility that a permanent contract may come out of it. Equally there are many people who would commit to contract work without having a permanent job at the end of it.

Have you looked at whether the role can be filled internally, either by one person or split across a team of people? Considering internal applicants first has its benefits;  it is easier to get an appraisal of how that internal applicant performed in their job so you can see whether they are suitable for your requirements;  you can be sure that the internal applicant  knows the culture and business of the company which can be sometimes daunting to a new employee; and finally  employees like to see that the company they work for put their staff first and will always give them an opportunity to apply for a role before hiring externally. Not only is it great PR for the company, it can also increase your staff retention rate which should always be at the top of the agenda.

Ensure that the role has been authorised or “signed off”. Check this before actually starting the hiring process. There is nothing more costly, frustrating, and embarrassing for a company than asking your managers to spend hours on finding and sourcing the right person, to find that the actual job has not been authorised by the correct people and the initial offer of employment has to be withdrawn. This may sound obvious but we have heard of this happening to some of our candidates over the last 6 months.

Check whether the person you are looking to hire exists; is the job one which will be easy to source?  Do you offer a competitive salary and benefits package? Are you looking for the right person?  Not thinking about where this person is currently working or understanding what these people should be paid, could result in a long wait to recruit the right candidate.

Work with the best recruitment agencies; the adage that recruiting in- house will always save money is not always true. Although companies argue that their fees for using external agencies are high, working with the right suppliers ensures that you have access to the best people in the market. Good recruiters are experts who can advise you. They know their market , they have first- hand experience in dealing with the type of people you are looking to attract and can tell you what they want.  They have access to a broader range of people that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to meet, and they are also able to provide full objective details regarding a candidates motivation and experience which could save you a lot of unwanted interviewing time.  You may struggle to get an honest appraisal from a candidate if you are interviewing them directly and you may end up spending more hours interviewing people who aren’t suitable rather than the shortlisted 2 or 3 people.

Recruitment companies are also handy when there are a large number of similar jobs advertised by your competitors, when you are trying to rebuild a reputation in the industry or when you want to develop a new offering in your business but are looking to bring in the expertise in confidence.

Work hard on building your relationships with your suppliers;  ensure they are updated on changes in the business, briefed fully on your needs and make sure that you have a very positive business relationship. You want them to always out you at the fore front of their minds when they meet an exceptional candidate .Let them also tell you about brilliant people even when you aren’t hiring as you never know how quickly your circumstances may change. Your star employee may suddenly decide to go travelling or change careers. Having a backup is always useful.

Always check references.  Verify education , work  visas and qualifications as well as work experience. By doing all of these you may be able to identify a bad hire before it happens and save you and your team a lot of pain in the long run.

Plan ahead and don’t leave recruitment until the last minute. After all, notice periods or surges in workloads can mean that if you have no cover, your client will suffer and you could ultimately lose their faith in you and your business.

Involve as many relevant people in the interview process. There might be nothing mroe costly than hiring someone who doesn’t fit into the team. People tend to embrace new recruits if they feel part of the recruitment process and don’t feel so threatened. However on the other side of the coin, involving too many people can mean that you lose valuable time in the hiring process and the relationship between the applicant and their potential new manager can suffer.

Rethink how you are selling the business and make sure you sell the business; if they are a high demand candidate and you know that good people are very hard to find then you need to make sure they can understand what the benefits and attractions are to join your company. Many Managers forget this part and feel that their company reputation speaks for itself, but as we all know this is never the case as there will always be someone out there who might be better at promoting their business. You can’t afford to make mistakes as this could delay the hiring process and be more costly to the business.

There is always a USP in a role (unique selling point), or a carrot to attract someone to join the company, it is just important to identify that so you can make sure you are always presenting your company in the best possible way. Equally, make sure that the opportunity you are selling matches the career aspirations that the applicant has.

By adopting the ideas listed above,  you should be confident that you will save your business time, manage expectations and reduce your overall recruitment costs.     

Common competency based questions

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

While competency based interviewing has always been a favourite tool of the selection process within industry, professional practice firms have been slower to incorporate this into their own recruitment techniques. However, more and more recruitment partners within practice firms are coming to realise the benefits of selecting new employees through this recruitment process.

The basic premise driving this type of interview is that a candidate’s past performance is the best predictor of future performance. Competency based questions are directly linked to an essential function of the position.

Interviews not based on behavioural interviewing techniques usually tend to focus exclusively on education and experience, precisely the same information that is on the CV. This information was what got the candidate the interview and should only form the actual basis of the interview itself. To predict how an applicant is likely to handle the job, HR managers need to ask for examples of things the candidate has actually done that would demonstrate the key characteristics the firm needs.

The categories and examples of competency-based questions follow:

Organisational awareness

Describe the structure of your company and give an example of how you work within this culture to achieve a personal / professional goal

Also describe how you would perceive the new company and how you would adapt to this culture.

Strategic thinking

Describe your most challenging audit and what you changed to adapt to that scenario

How did you go about assessing your own performance within this assignment?


How do you keep your clients informed about difficult issues that directly affect their bottom line?

Give an example  of a difficult or sensitive situation that required you to use excellent communication skills

Give an example  of how you have developed communication skills in others (particularly helpful when interviewing at managerial level)

Client focus

Give an example  of how you provided service to a client beyond their expectations. How did you identify this need? What was their reaction?

Describe the process you use to stay in touch with clients’ short and long-term needs.

Client relationship

Describe how you develop new client relationships

Describe how you keep your existing client base despite threats from competition.


Describe a  situation in which you were a member of a team. What did you do to make a positive contribution to the team?

Describe a situation where there was conflict within the team and how you resolved  it.

Leadership ability

Describe how you led a team (comprising trainees, juniors and seniors) through a difficult audit. How did you improve their work?

Describe a situation where you had to take charge either with a demanding client or with your own team.

This is particularly relevant at managerial level where partners are looking for an individual who can make a positive profit making contribution for the firm:

Describe something you have done that was new for your firm that improved the performance of your team or the value of the work done

Have you done anything innovative (either produced surveys or written reports) that  would be of direct interest to your clients or enhanced awareness of your firm?

Time management

Give me a specific example of a time when you failed to complete an audit assignment on time

How did this outcome affect your firm?

What could you have done differently?

How has that experience affected the way you deal with deadlines now?

The major benefits of this type of interviewing are that these questions allow the candidate to relate their answer to a real life experience rather than giving a generic textbook answer. This enables the candidate to reveal the most relevant information in context to the current job opportunity.

It is ironic that while most hiring is done around technical skills, most staff retention issues arise based on softer skills such as attitude. A technical question would never reveal such a potential behavioural flaw. When competency-based behavioural interviewing forms the framework for the entire recruitment process, interviewers are able to make much more effective hiring decisions.

As more and more practice firms adapt to new legislation and new environments, each employee is becoming more commercially astute. No longer seen as mere auditors, they are taking on the role of business consultants and ambassadors for their own firm. Competency-based behavioural interviewing enables the interviewers to select the best possible candidate for their firm and as such is an invaluable tool for any recruitment partner.


The 10 C’s of People Management; a Decalogue of good management tips.

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

 by Samantha Judd

Experienced and professional recruiters value a robust recruitment process and at boycerecruitment  we work with clients to ensure that job specifications are clear and that we understand how the role we are recruiting fits into teams, departments and company’s business goals.

There are proven benefits for all when job functions and accountabilities are fully scoped.  Hiring managers should be clear what the accountabilities are whilst hiring; so when shortlisting CVs and setting interview questions, they can identify the competencies required.   By outlining expectations from the start, the selection and hiring process will allow applicants visibility and a chance to demonstrate their suitability, enthusiasm and interest.

Recruitment and selection is only the starting point of a successful hire and recruiters should not be tasked with guaranteeing each hire for an indefinite period.  Instead, it should be recognised that energy and time should be invested in leaders and managers to ensure they understand what their contribution to the on-going responsibilities to the team are and how they can impact the wider business goals.

Unless people managers are prepared to work hard, coach and empower their staff to achieve goals they label themselves a colleague rather than a manager.    In other words, even if your employee has undertaken rigorous pre-selection, interview, testing, referencing, vetting, training   and induction processes; the litmus test of success will be how they are managed and in turn how you allow them to manage you.

Brace yourself for 10 Commandments of People Management:


Thou shall be able to clearly vocalise what you expect of each team member.  This includes how they can access information required for the task, what you expect of them and by when.  It should be clear to you and them how this relates to the bigger team or company goal.


Thou shall be consistent about the expectations for performance. Additionally, your management tone, style and delivery should not waiver.  This applies to the goals you set, how you disseminate information, how you relate to other team members and how you deal with your own workload and attitude to work.


Great people managers pride themselves on effective communication and regularly appraise that the messages and information they deliver is being understood.   Effective communicators know how to adjust their style to suit the audience and don’t assume that their preferred communication style suits everyone.   Just because they have given the information to someone, they know that it does not necessarily mean that it has been understood or absorbed.


You are there to assist your team.  You should not be trying to trick them, catch them out or feather your own cap from others failings.  Your team are there to push and challenge you and you should embrace their enthusiasm and eagerness to impress and succeed.


Innovation and achievement in teams is most likely to occur in circumstances where teams work together.  In some collaborative situations managers may need to relinquish their management role and allow others the opportunity to shine.  This might include leading a project, running a meeting, delivering training or instigating a brainstorming session.  This keeps the flow of ideas fresh and ensures that the best solution to problems are found regardless of who finds it


Excitement, emotion, stress and tension are all part of what makes us human and are all part of the work landscape.  However, strong managers should be able to restore calm and refocus ideas and efforts to ensure a positive outcome.   To remain calm when dealing with problems is impressive and memorable.  The impact of losing it once in a while then becomes legendary.


You should be interested and keen to know more about your team, their experiences and about life and the world in general.  Assumption is dangerous and may lead to complacency.  In the workplace it can result in staleness, boredom and mistakes. The naturally curious ask questions which may otherwise be missed.  However, thou shall not confuse this with nosiness or gossip.


People managers have to say difficult and awkward things.  They have to acknowledge, and deal with their own and others’ mistakes, ask questions that others shy away from, make tough decisions and then stand by them whatever the outcome is.  The best people managers stand up and deal with these problems head on.  They generally earn respect regardless of the outcome as people appreciate their direct and straight approach.


Ensure that your plans and actions are considered and are of value.   Instigating or delegating a task or piece of work should be something which will benefit and empower the employee, you and the company.  It should not just be left to one side and never acted upon even if circumstances have changed as this is a sure way to breed resentment.  It will almost certainly mean that there will be no motivation to complete another task when it arises.

Chocolate, champagne, caviar, cigars, crisps, cake, coffee, cheese and children.

In other words, reward and recognition of good work and effort is important.   Small treats, work concessions or surprises for the team are motivating and good managers know how and when to use them.   If you have followed the Cs and taken people management seriously you will know whether a bottle of champers will be appreciated more than leaving an hour early to get home to collect their children from school or read them a bed time story.


10 great reasons to work in Recruitment

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013


This week we asked the team to give us their top reasons to work in recruitment .  We managed to rustle up 10 top  reasons to work in our industry.

These are not listed in order of popularity although the top three answers were 1, 3 and 10.

Here goes…..


1. It’s great to be part of the process in helping candidates find their dream job and make that placement.

2. The commission! Being rewarded  for the work you do. It is hard work, the hours can be long and it can be frustrating at times.

Nothing beats the thrill of placing a candidate in a job they wanted, the client is happy they have secured their services and you have earned commission from it.

3. The opportunity to build strong working relationships with clients and candidates.

4. The variety of jobs and people you meet and the chance to mix with different nationalities and cultures.

5. The fact that everyday is different and you are always learning from your clients, candidates and the market as a whole.

6. The dynamic, fast pace atmosphere when things are busy and everyone is on the phone.

7. Working with dynamic likeminded people.

8. The chance to make a difference.

9. The opportunity to work with some really exciting brands, learn about their sector and help them become even better by finding them fantastic people for their roles.

10. The responsibility  the role offers with the chance to manage your own desk and clients and have a real sense of ownership of the work you do.  What you put in you get out.