Interview etiquette: expert tips!

How would you rate your interview etiquette? This post contains must-read advice for anyone who has not been interviewed for some time, those who keep being interviewed but are struggling to find a job, and even those who are due to be interviewing someone soon!

Interview etiquette: the rules of engagement

There are a number of rules of thumb when it comes to your general interview approach. Our first source clearly covers the basics:

  • Doing your interview research – from the job spec, to the company website, its social feeds, and any recent news reports.
  • Preparing to ask your own questions.
  • Letting you know how early you should be.
  • Anticipating the ‘greatest weakness’ question (tip: prepare something other than ‘I’m a perfectionist’, which is the most common response).
  • And watching your body language.

As we say, these are the basics. They are expected of all interview candidates and they signal that you’re taking the process seriously.

You can also use these tips to go beyond the basics and set yourself apart. For instance, using your research findings to prepare a document that demonstrates how your experience and/or skill-set suits the company’s mission or needs.

With many candidates spending just 30 minutes on their interview research, your efforts can really pay off.

Interview etiquette: questions to avoid

We’ve mentioned being prepared to ask your own interview questions. Some questions can naturally arise throughout the conversation and it may feel appropriate to ask these at the time. However, you’ll also usually receive an opportunity to ask any outstanding questions towards the end of the interview.

It’s best to spend a bit of time brainstorming this aspect in advance. What do you really want to know about the company or role?

If your prospective salary is the first thing to come to mind, think again! This was one of the five worst questions to ask at interview.

Instead, it could be wiser to think along the lines of asking the interviewer about their own experiences working for the company, their primary goals, expectations or similar.

Where possible, you can use their answer as a final opportunity to ‘sell yourself’ by drawing a connection between their response and your suitability for the role.

Interview etiquette: what you really want to say

The Independent has shared a number of handy insights for anyone who really wants to brush up on their interview technique.

They called it ‘The Four Most Important Phrases to say in a job interview’. It’s a longer-form piece, which outlines…

  1. The best way to respond when asked ‘tell me more about yourself’.
  2. How to show the interviewer that you know the challenges they’re trying to address and how you can help resolve them.
  3. Clearly expressing your ‘value and relevance’, alongside your greatest accomplishments.
  4. Finding a professional way to ascertain your possible suitability for the role.

The Independent also has a second article (already linked above regarding why not to say you’re a perfectionist) highlighting some other interview etiquette tips. These include not making a dig about your current or previous boss, being honest if you’re interviewing elsewhere and not asking about your holiday entitlement.

Interview etiquette: as an interviewer

Prospective interviewers will also want to check their interview etiquette – and the law! – when considering their upcoming questions. It turns out that 85% of interviewers are regularly asking inappropriate, and off-limits, questions. These include asking about:

  • A candidate’s accent
  • Date of birth
  • Year of graduation
  • Marital or relationship status
  • Plans to start a family

For more interview guidance and support, please call your Recruitment Consultant on 01225 313130. Looking for CV advice? Download our free PDF



Are you married to your job?

Does it feel like you’re married to your work? If so, you’re among more than a ¼ of British employees who feel this way…

Research led by Perkbox (and shared by Recruiting Times) shows that:

  • 45% of people routinely work more than an hour beyond their standard day – with weekends included.
  • Almost ¼ have cancelled a personal commitment, such as a date or a party, due to their work.
  • 1 in 10 say that being married to their job has caused a relationship breakdown.
  • 30% of respondents feel “like they’re always at work, even when they’re at home”.

Technology once again bears some of the brunt of the blame. 70% of employees have received out-of-hours communications via email, text or phone call. 25% even think they send more messages to their colleagues or boss than they do their friends.

A number of health implications are additionally discussed. These findings support People Management’s report, which states that: ‘always on employees are more engaged but also more stressed.’

An overworking culture…

The Perkbox study only has 2,000 respondents. However, it closely reflects wider research. For instance, the TUC’s exploration of 5 million UK workers. This reveals that a total of £2 billion worth of unpaid overtime was undertaken in 2018.

While acknowledging that many people are prepared to work some overtime when needed, the TUC suggests that there are employers who are taking advantage of their teams. As a result, they’re calling for new rights that will make such employers more accountable.

Once again, the health impact of these working practices is discussed, alongside the reduced productivity that results from a culture of overwork.

Appearances may be deceptive!

Over on HR Magazine, a separate report explores the productivity issue in more detail. This post cites research from Maxis Global Benefits Network, which found that 79% of UK office professionals work an extra three days of overtime each month.

  • 79% of people also report to a ‘desk time’ focus, meaning that they’re ‘expected to be seen at their desks’ most of the time.
  • It may be thought this would boost productivity. Yet, conversely, many employees (almost 1/3) are spreading out their workloads to appear more productive than they truly are.

You won’t be surprised to hear that this article also finds a connection between long working hours and anxiety, stress and poor work-life balance.

So, is it time to divorce your job?!

If you’re no longer enjoying your work, or you feel it’s having a negative effect on your personal life, you may want to reconsider your options. Review the latest jobs and be sure to discuss your priorities with your recruitment consultant.



Working parents news roundup

There are have been a number of new articles regarding the challenges faced by working parents…

The part-time penalty

Source: Working Families & Bright Horizons

Our first news source cites stats from the ‘Modern Families Index 2019’. Both the summary and full edition reports are available for free download.

Working Families and Bright Horizons Family Solutions founded this annual report in 2012. The index explores how UK parents ‘manage the balance between work and family life.’ So what did this year’s index show?

  • Part-time working parents have a 21% chance of a workplace promotion over the next three years. This is compared to the 45% chance for full-time employees.
  • Mothers tend to have to wait two years more than fathers for promotions, which is largely due to the fact that more mothers work part-time hours.
  • Working parents are facing vast workloads. 78% work more than their contractual hours. 60% say this is due to their high workload, while 52% attribute it to the company’s working culture.
  • Flexible working opportunities are far from meeting demand. 86% of parents wish to work flexibly, yet only 49% currently do so.
  • Out of work, parents are finding their relationships and home life are being negatively affected. They’re struggling to find sufficient leisure time for their children (47%), their relationship with their partner is being impaired (48%), and these pressures are even sparking arguments with their children (28%).
  • Additionally, 47% of parents feel that work-life boundaries are being ‘blurred by technology.’

Further stats detail concerns regarding the physical wellbeing impact in terms of sleep, exercise and diet.

Both the government and employers are being called upon to help ease some of the pressures described.

Childcare as a barrier

Source: Personnel Today & Travelodge

Of course, there are also many parents who long to be working parents yet are struggling to find suitable employment. Research finds…

  • 86% of unemployed parents ‘want to return to work’.
  • 67% would like the chance to move up their career ladder.
  • However, 61% have lost confidence as a result of their career break.
  • And 59% say it is a challenge to find work that suits their school run schedule.

Personnel Today also share a number of insights regarding the personal motivations to return to work.

Facilities lacking

Source: Personnel Today & Slater and Gordon

Breastfeeding mothers are also facing additional workplace challenges.

  • 56% of women have been forced to express milk in unsuitable places, from the staff room (18%) to their car (14%), and even their desk (11%).
  • 70% of businesses have not discussed this matter with their employees prior to their return from maternity leave.
  • And 29% of employees feel too embarrassed to raise the topic.

A number of consequences are discussed in the piece, which also highlights the stress and anxiety experienced by breastfeeding mothers.

Safety concerns are also raised owing to the fact that the milk is not always expressed in a hygienic setting.

Any parents affected by issues relating to childcare or employment rights, or those who simply wish to understand more about the benefits and tax credits available to them, can visit the Working Families website. The organisation also offers a helpline service. 

To see our latest vacancies, please visit our jobs page.  



Are you being upskilled at work?

Employers may be failing to ensure their team is regularly upskilled. And their employees may pay the price with their future career…

What is upskilling (and is upskilled even a word)?!

It might sound like just another marketing buzzword. However, ‘upskilling‘ has entered the Cambridge Dictionary and is defined as “the process of learning new skills or teaching workers new skills”.

The latest findings from the City & Guilds Group (as reported by HR Review) reveal that:

  • 76% of professionals feel it is important to continually refresh their skill-set. Vitally, this is stated as ‘regardless of age or career position’.
  • 81% predict some degree of change in their job skills requirements within the next five years.
  • Yet only 46% of people are receiving adequate training support from their employer to ensure they’re prepared for these changing needs.
  • What’s more, 1/4 of respondents say they are not receiving enough feedback regarding their skills development priorities.
  • Certain employee groups are less likely to be upskilled. 48% of employees aged 55 and above did not receive any skills training in 2018.
  • 42% of all part-time workers additionally report the same.

Why aren’t workers being upskilled?

  • It appears employers are most concerned by their staff taking time out of their usual working day (42%).
  • The cost of training is also proving to be a barrier for employers (29%).
  • While few individuals feel they can fund training themselves outside of work (28%).

How can you ensure you’re being upskilled?

These are concerning stats and there are some great comments regarding the importance of prioritising learning and development at work. Yet what do you do if you’re the employee and your skills haven’t been refreshed for some time?

  1. Where possible, use appraisals as an opportunity to ask your employer how you can keep your skills relevant to the changing needs of the organisation. This will help plant a seed and could point you in the right direction, even if the company is unable to finance training at present.
  2. Do your own research. Explore articles and podcasts regarding the future of your industry. See if there are any common themes or predictions.
  3. Use your findings to research ways to upskill at home. These don’t always have to be costly. Again, podcasts, websites and books can teach you a lot.
  4.  Explore how a new job role could help you upskill. It may be that you’re ready for your next career step. Keep an extra close eye on any job descriptions that closely match your experience yet also offer the chance to learn something new.

You can always email your CV to one of our Recruitment Consultants (here’s what to include in your cover email). Alternatively, you’re welcome to upload your details via the site today. 



Is your salary the most important factor?

Investigating whether your salary is the most important of all the job benefits. What else appeals to today’s job-seekers and what’s so important about this research?

Let’s start with the importance of this topic. As we mentioned in our last post, job vacancy numbers have reached an all-time high. This means that each employer has to work all the harder to impress suitable applicants.

This also means that there are regular surveys to ascertain which factors are most likely to attract a candidate into a new role. Surveys such as the one behind the ‘Attracting the Right Talent – Meeting Demands through the Job Offering Report.’

Salary isn’t (necessarily!) the most important factor…

  • At present, just over 1/3 of the nation’s professionals say their ‘career expectations are not being met’. They most prioritise…
  • Working for an employer that ‘values you’ (25%)
  • The opportunity to gain experience (17%)
  • Creating a strong work-life balance (18%)
  • And developing personal technical skills and abilities (11%)

Those that had worked for their employer for more than five years were even more likely to rate feeling valued and work-life balance as most important.

Alongside this, 60% of people prioritise the chance to develop their career within their job role.

You’ll see salary is yet to be mentioned. However, there is some regional variation here. In the South, workers are more likely to prioritise the career and lifestyle factors mentioned. Whereas the majority of professionals in the North East and Midlands valued their salary above all else.

There’s also some sector difference. The banking and financial services industry was the only sector that specifically regarded a pay rise as their primary career priority.

The report says there’s been a marked shift in attitudes due to the ‘millennial impact’. This group of workers is placing greater importance on lifestyle elements beyond pay rates.

What does this all mean?

We can see that attitudes are changing. However, it’s not long ago we heard that the UK is more salary-minded than any other European country and that 62% of people primarily work for this reason.

It’s worth considering the research as a whole. Salaries are incredibly important to many workers, yet there are also plenty of other factors that are relevant to job searching…and the acceptance of job offers.

  • As a candidate: it’s useful to consider your own priorities. What matters most in your career right now? Be sure to let your Recruitment Consultant know what you’re looking for. You can include some of this information right from your first email to your agency.
  • As an employer: take a look at your employee attraction offering. Are you making your team feel valued, do you help to create a positive work-life balance, and are you ensuring your staff receives regular skills development? What’s more, are you communicating these messages in your job advertisements? This post will help you to sharpen your employee attraction strategy.

For specialist recruitment support, please call the office on 01225 313130. Further details are available on our Contact page



A positive recruitment agency relationship

How your recruitment agency relationship affects your job search. Plus the latest news regarding the UK jobs boom…

Your recruitment agency relationship:

HR News has just released some great data surrounding the benefits of working with recruitment agencies. They report that:

  • The majority (64%) of candidates surveyed worked with a recruitment agency to ‘find at least one job’ last year.
  • 88% of people most value the communication received from their agency. This includes support, reassurance and guidance throughout the recruitment process.
  • Around 1/4 of respondents additionally appreciate the prospect of a long-term recruitment agency relationship. They understand how the insights garnered by their consultants can help to support their later career progress.
  • A similar number of people look for specialist recruitment agencies who will understand the intricacies of their industry – and, consequently, provide valuable insights for candidates.
  • Poor agency communications understandably cause job-seekers to utilise alternative routes.
  • However, more than 2/5 of candidates stated that they found their job search ‘easy’.

The UK jobs boom continues…

Over on Recruiting Times, we hear that the UK jobs boom remains in ‘full force’ and that the women’s unemployment rate has reached a record low.

The article, which cites stats from The Office for National Statistics (ONS), reveals:

  • National employment has now reached 32.6 million people.
  • Unemployment fell to 1.36 million – 100,000 fewer people than last year.
  • The women’s unemployment level has dropped below 4% for the first time.
  • Yet, job vacancy numbers have risen by 16,000 to a total of 870,000 jobs. Which is also a record figure – and a sign of the ongoing skills shortage.

It’s interesting to note that zero-hour contracts can also contribute to high employment rates and growth figures. In other words, there may still be many people who are recorded as employed yet not receiving regular work assignments (or, for that matter, a regular income!).

We’d always recommend finding a recruitment agency who specialises in the types of vacancies that you’re searching for. The Recruitment & Employment Confederation offers a handy guide to help you to choose an agency. This includes a member directory, which we’re proud to be a part of.

Working with Appoint:

Did you know we specialise in commercial office jobs in Bath and the surrounding Somerset and Wiltshire areas? We recruit for an array of openings, including (yet not limited to!):

  • Administration
  • Customer services
  • Finance & financial services
  • Sales & marketing
  • Project management
  • IT & technical

This includes everything from temporary assignments to contract bookings and permanent roles.

We opened in 1999, so have garnered a wealth of industry expertise. We’re privileged to be able to share our insights with our candidates and clients throughout the region.

You can learn more about us on our Candidates page. You can also take a look at our jobs page to see and apply for our latest vacancies. We look forward to hearing from you.



A happy workspace?

There’s a lot of talk about workplace happiness, yet how about a happy workspace? We’ll explore how your surroundings impact your mental health…

Why this research matters:

While you couldn’t be blamed for thinking there are more pressing issues to consider, how you feel about your working environment could actually be part of a large (and expensive!) problem.

Poor employee ‘enthusiasm’ in January could now contribute to an annual national cost of £93 billion.

So how are people feeling about their surroundings?

According to the ‘In Pursuit of Office Happiness’ report by Staples…

  • 1/5 of workers say their workspace is ‘depressing’, with 31% feeling ‘ashamed’ of it, and 24% having gone so far as to lie about their surroundings.
  • 81% believe ‘a well-functioning and attractive workspace’ positively affects a team’s mental health.
  • 68% say greater investment in their workspace would make them feel more valued.
  • 35% are struggling to concentrate due to noisy offices.

These findings cause 46% of employees to believe they would ‘be happier in a different job.’

Ideas to create a happy workspace:

The report also offers a number of tweaks that could contribute to a happy workspace. These include introducing:

  • An office dog (27%)
  • Free spa or yoga offerings (27%)
  • Nice stationery (23%)
  • Access to free healthy snacks (23%)
  • Hammocks or sleeping pods (20%)
  • And even punch bags (20%)

It’s not clear how many options were provided to respondents. While the responses may not suit you or your employer, it’s clear that businesses need to consider realistic changes that they can make.

This might start with some simple decorative changes – from pot plants to artwork, furnishings and lighting. There’s a whole separate report on the impact of the latter.

Naturally, if there’s more at the root of your low job enthusiasm than lighting, stationery, and snacks, it might be time to step up your job search



The ageing workforce news roundup

The government is calling on businesses to do more to support the ageing workforce. There has been a wealth of news regarding this topic, in addition to age discrimination, over recent months. Time to explore the leading themes…

Do you feel your age is ‘holding you back?’

Source: Personnel Today

  • Around 1/2 of employees aged 50 and over believe their age could ‘hold them back’ in their job applications.
  • Almost 1 in 7 additionally believe they’ve already been declined a role due to their age.
  • In addition, 1/3 say they’ve not received as many training and promotion opportunities as younger colleagues.

These findings come from a survey conducted by the Centre for Ageing Better. They believe the UK could create up to £20 billion more GDP annually simply by “halving the ’employment gap’ between workers aged 50 to state pension age and those in their late 40s.”

The article also cites a number of positive suggestions to aid the inclusivity of older employees.

A diverse workforce presents benefits

Source: HR News

The older workforce is also a growing workforce. In only a decade, the number of over-50s workers will expand by approximately 27 million people.

However, unfair and incorrect biases could indeed be halting the recruitment of this employee group. Yet when recruited, a number of benefits are actually presented. Some of the discussed include:

  • Access to established skills and valuable experience
  • High commitment to roles
  • Learning from previous lessons
  • An ability to lead less experienced team members
  • And the opportunity for ‘intergenerational mentoring’ – with a mutually beneficial relationship.

Overcoming the myths

Source: People Management

We mentioned bias above and it appears a number of stereotypes have formed around the older employee. These include concerns around the ability to learn, productivity levels, sickness absence and impending retirement.

Businesses clearly need to re-evaluate their assumptions. You can find evidence-based responses to each of the primary stereotypes in the original post.

Looking at the laws

Source: HR Magazine

It seems an appropriate time to mention that age discrimination is illegal. Age is one of the protected characteristics under the Equality Act. However, this isn’t doing enough to change business behaviour.

To this end, the Women and Equalities Committee has made a number of recommendations. These cover everything from age reporting to appropriate discussions around career decisions, employment terms, ‘performance management’ and ‘insured benefits’.

Looking to the future

Source:  HR Magazine

We opened today’s post with a mention of the government. They have called upon employers to be more flexible in a bid to support the ageing workforce.

Research from Saga Populus includes a number of suggestions. These primarily explore part-time roles and flexible working opportunities, which may encourage people to stay in the workforce longer.

Furthermore, they advise employers to explore their upskilling and retraining schemes.

And, finally, entering the world of AI

Source: HR Magazine

While some might fear artificial intelligence will displace the older worker, experts suggest otherwise.

As long as employees express empathy, and are willing to continually refresh their skills, they should remain highly employable.

Naturally, this topic concerns employees of all ages. Some say that 70% of today’s workers lack the career skills they’ll need in future.

For further recruitment advice, whether you’re looking for work or for a new team member, please call the office on 01225 313130.

Remember, we regularly update our news blog with advice that will help you to keep your skills current. 



GDPR: are you unknowingly breaching the law?

What does GDPR mean to you? Perhaps you thought your role in it all ended when you received your last ‘we don’t want to see you go, please stay on our mailing list’ request last summer. Well, you could be unknowingly (and regularly!) breaching this legislation in and out of work…

How employees risk breaching GDPR legislation…

What’s the issue here?

GDPR requires personal data to be secure at all times. Personal data refers to all ‘information about a particular living individual. It doesn’t even need to appear especially private in nature; if someone accessing the data could identify its subject then you are most definitely dealing with personal data.

For this reason, it’s suggested that pseudonyms and encryption, and other such measures, are used to secure all personal data.

Transferring data to phones and laptops, which can easily be lost or stolen, and email accounts and apps, which could be hacked or accessed by third parties, increases your risk of a data breach.

It’s not just employees overlooking GDPR. The Independent reports that many small businesses remain ‘clueless’ about the legislation.

Could you be dismissed for breaching GDPR?

Serious breaches could indeed lead to dismissal; your employer’s disciplinary procedures may state this.

GDPR requires more serious breaches to be reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office (‘ICO’). The ICO has a helpline which will guide you through the necessary measures to ensure the data breach is contained.

This isn’t to say that every breach must be reported to the ICO. Rather, it’s those that are higher risk.

What to do next…

  • Stop using personal accounts and tools to deal with work communications and/or data! If your employer is actually asking you to use these, direct them to the above links to ensure they are aware of the data breach risks.
  • Consult your employer’s GDPR guidelines and training materials.
  • Speak to your HR team or a manager if you have any additional concerns.
  • Visit the ACAS and ICO websites for legal information regarding GDPR.
  • Any employers would be wise to provide adequate training to all team members. Both to ensure you’re being responsible and to support your ‘learning culture’.


Money worries at work

Are money worries affecting your work? You might not associate financial concerns with recruitment discussions, however, this very topic has become an increasing news theme over recent months…

Most employees experience money worries.

But what does this all have to do with recruitment?

Working towards solutions…

  • This issue presents both a challenge and an opportunity. The more that these discussions take place, the more likely employers are to find ways of supporting their team. While the most innovative companies can make this another staff attraction and retention differentiator.
  • Professionals will also feel less alone in their money worries. Anyone who has concerns that they are unable to discuss with their employer would be wise to contact the Money Advice Service. This is a free, impartial service.
  • On a separate note, if you’ve never really got to grips with your payslip and tax code, this post should help.
  • If you’re wondering whether you could earn more for your career experience and skill-set, speak with your Recruitment Consultant. Regularly researching jobs in your industry can also improve your knowledge of the going market rates.