interview questions
5 tricky interview questions and how to answer them

Interviews can be grueling

and even the most prepared candidates can be caught off-guard by a difficult and unexpected question.

Often, tricky questions aren’t asked to trip you up but rather to get a sense of what you’re really like so the interviewer can assess your suitability for the role. Here are some tricky questions and tips on how to answer them to bear in mind when preparing for that all important interview.

Why do you want to leave your current job?

The trap: The interviewer is looking for red flags such as “I don’t like my boss” or “I was expected to work extra hours” or “They made me do things that weren’t part of my role”. While they may be valid reasons, these types of answers won’t portray you in a good light and the interviewer may come away thinking that you are difficult to work with and unwilling to go the extra mile.

How to answer: Keep the focus on you and your future aspirations. Never speak negatively about your current/previous employers. Talk enthusiastically about the opportunity you are interviewing for and explain how it offers you the challenge/progression/opportunity to use your skills that you’ve been looking for.

What’s your biggest weakness?

The trap: Obviously you don’t want to highlight any flaws that will harm your chances of being offered the job. If you struggle with timekeeping, DON’T tell them you’re often late! If you don’t handle criticism well DON’T admit to bursting into every time a colleague pulls you up on a mistake.

How to answer: Identify a weakness that could also be seen as a strength, then explain what you’re doing to fix it. For example “I have a tendency to say yes and overcommit myself. I really don’t like saying ‘no’ but I’ve realised that it’s better than letting people down. I’m learning to take on only as much as I can deliver to a high standard, and rather than say I’m too busy to help, I give colleagues realistic timeframes I’ll be able to deliver”.

Which part of the job will be most challenging for you?

The trap: The interviewer is trying to find out if you lack any of the required skills and experience for the role. If you start talking about parts of the job description you have never done before or don’t like doing, you might find yourself out of the running.

How to answer: This is an opportunity to let your potential employer know that you are keen to sharpen your skills and continue to develop. If there’s an area where you lack formal qualifications, talk about what you are doing to build your skills – i.e. “I’ve loads of experience in creating Risk Assessments working safely but never done the formal training, so I’m doing the IOSH Managing Safely course make sure I’m up to date and aware of the latest legislation.”

Where do you want to be in 5 years?

The trap: The interviewer is trying to work out if your aspirations and career plans align with the role and the company. If you see this job as a ‘stepping stone’ DON’T admit it. Employers don’t want to invest time in recruiting and training someone who is only in it for the short term. Make sure you’re prepared to answer this question – a wishy washy answer makes it look like you don’t know where you’re heading.

How to answer: This is an opportunity to demonstrate you’ve done your research. If the company are growing, you could work this into your answer if you’re keen to progress. You don’t need to profess that you see yourself with the company until the end you your days but show that you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve and that you’re committed to your field.

Tell me about yourself.

The trap: This seems like a straight forward question, and interviewers often open with this but so many candidates go off on a tangent and talk for too long about irrelevant things. The interviewer most likely wants to find out about how you tackle this invitation to talk about yourself. Will you brag endlessly about how amazing you are? Talk for ages about irrelevant topics like your pets or favourite food? Or raise alarm bells by telling them about a recent breakup or childcare problems?

How to answer: Keep your answer focused on your skills, experience and career to date. This is an opportunity to get across information about yourself that will make you stand out for the role. The real question being asked here is ‘Why should I give you this job?’. So if the job adverts states that the ideal candidate is a great communicator, talk about experience you’ve had delivering presentations or influencing colleagues with your concise communication skills.

contract recruitment
6 golden rules for a successful CV

It may be stating the obvious,

but when searching for a new job, your CV is vital.

You could be the perfect person for the job but if your CV doesn’t demonstrate that, you can forget it. Make sure you get it right by following our 6 golden rules and the interview invitations will follow.

Don’t tell fibs

Although it may be tempting to stretch the truth or just outright lie on your CV, it’s a really bad idea. If you’re applying for a job that requires you to be skilled in injection moulding, don’t say you are if you’re not – you’ll be found out!

Tailor it to the role you’re applying for

Applying for jobs can be time consuming and tedious but rather than firing out the same version of your CV to lots employers, take time to tweak it for the role you’re applying for. Read the advert, think about what kind of person the employer is looking for and amend your CV accordingly. For example, if the ideal candidate should have experience in Project Management and you’ve got it, make sure your CV says so. What’s more, you can highlight this near the top of your CV, by adding a RELEVANT SKILLS & EXPERIENCE section after your personal statement. This will help the employer to see at first glance that you have skills they’re looking for.

Quantify your achievements

It’s easy to say how great you are on your CV, but you can add so much more weight to your claims if you back it up your achievements with numbers. For example, if you’ve increased productivity on the factory floor, be specific; tell them you’ve increased output by 35% over a 6 month period. Make sure your numbers are robust though, and be prepared to elaborate at interview (remember golden rule #1!).

Don’t leave gaps

Gaps on your CV tend to rouse suspicion. Employers sift through so many CVs that they’re often looking for reasons to discount candidates and whittle down to a shortlist to invite for interview. Chunks of unaccounted time are a classic reason to send CVs to the ‘No’ pile. If you’ve got a reason for the gap, state it and put a positive spin on it. If you’ve done any volunteer work, training courses or anything else that has sharpened your skills, don’t keep it to yourself, let your prospective employer know!

Proof read!

DON’T waste all that hard work honing your CV by sending it out with glaring mistakes. Errors in your CV will tell employers that you don’t have attention to detail. Use a spell checker and get someone else to read it over with fresh eyes. You may have read it 100 times but it’s amazing how many mistakes go unnoticed in your own work.

Use keywords

If you’re uploading your CV to job websites such as CV Library or Total Jobs so that recruiters can find you, keywords are really important. Recruiters will search for candidates by industry, skills, job title, qualifications etc, so make sure you can be found. Think about these keywords and include them in your CV.

keep calm
How to Handle Your Resignation Without Burning Bridges

Some words of wisdom

from Charlene Howie, Senior Recruitment Consultant at PEP.

Break ups are tough, even with your employer! When you’ve accepted a great new job, you need to be prepared for the awkward bit that comes next… RESIGNING.

If you’ve taken the decision to apply for jobs and attend interviews then it’s very likely you have some serious frustrations with your current employer or your job role (or both!)

While you celebrate your success of landing that new job you’ve worked so hard to get, it’s important to stop and think about what comes next. It’s likely in this skill short industry that your employer will want you to stay!  Finding a replacement for you will be tough and time consuming. They are likely to present a counter offer or utter the words; “What can we do to make you stay?

Consider what your response will be before you’re asked this question and you’ll be well armed to make the best decision for you. Here are a few things you should think about:

Why are they only able to offer what you want now?

You should ask yourself why they are offering something different now? Why didn’t they do this without your resignation? Will you need to do this next time you feel frustrated or feel undervalued? If accepting a counter offer means you are jumping to a new salary banding a bit sooner consider the implications.  Will your wages and opportunities within the company stagnate?

Your boss now knows you’re unhappy…

Will you ever be considered loyal again? You’ve resigned, will they be biding their time to find a solution in case you want to leave again? If you stay, do you risk being overlooked for promotion?

Why did you want to leave in the first place?

Was your drive for looking for a new job entirely salary driven?  If it was, a counter offer may seem like a good solution, but will you need to resign every time you want a pay rise? Were there any other reasons you wanted a new job and is your employer addressing those issues?  If you want to accept, make sure that you consider everything first so you know you will be happy in the long term, not just for the next 6 months.

What about the company who you’ve accepted the job with?

Will you ever want to work there in future? Will you potentially work with those people again later in your career? You need to manage this well. If you decide a counter offer is right for you, tell the other company quickly – you need to leave them with a professional impression of you.

 

You should expect that a Director, MD or CEO will call you or come and speak to you about your resignation. This will feel very flattering. They may be really worried about you leaving, but ask yourself why they are making you feel so important now? Stay level headed and do not be blindsided by flattery.

All in all it’s not easy to resign but you should celebrate your success at landing a new role. Getting a new job is always on the lists for the “10 most difficult things to do” and it’s also likely you have beaten a number of other applicants to get the job. As soon as you have this awkward bit out of the way, it is onwards and upwards with your career!

 

Ready to find your dream job?  We can help! Get in touch on 01606 601035 or register your CV.

 

About the author: Charlene graduated from the University of Liverpool in 2008 with an honours degree in English Language. Since then she has accrued nine years experience recruiting into the technical, construction and property sectors across the UK and internationally. She is a passionate advocate of our innovative and quality-focused recruitment service and offers a unique approach to developing her network in the construction and property market.

history of engineering
A Timeline Of UK Engineering

What Is Engineering?

The accepted definition of engineering is ‘the branch of science and technology concerned with the design, building and use of engines, machines and structures’.

It isn’t surprising to learn that the term ‘engineer’ was first used in a military context, to describe a maker of machines used for this purpose, e.g. catapults.

The roots of the word ‘engine’ go back a little further, to the 13th century, when the word, derived from the Latin ‘ingenium’ was first used to describe a product of “innate quality, especially mental power, hence a clever invention.” (This description comes from Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary of 2006).

So, from these broad roots, it’s unsurprising that ‘engineering’ has come to have such a diverse meaning, but essentially covering innovation in and manufacturing of clever machines, devices and solutions to physical-world problems.

The Three Phases Of Engineering Innovation

Engineering can be thought of as having developed in three waves, and we will split this article to cover one each of these. These are, in chronological order, the industrial/Victorian age, the motor age, and the computer/digital age. To keep these articles reasonably ‘bite-sized’, we will split them into one for each of these categories, beginning with when the industrial development of the UK as we know it is generally considered to have begun in earnest.

The industrial/Victorian Age And The Beginning Of Mass Production

In its earliest days, the evolution of engineering was heavily associated with improvements in practises in agriculture, designed to boost productivity, and remove some of the manual labour involved in planting and harvesting crops.

This led to the invention of new tools which helped greatly improve the health of farm workers through reducing the effort needed to plant and harvest crops, notably the refinement of the seed drill developed by Jethro Tull, and first used in the UK in 1701 – which allowed for even spacing of seeds as they were planted, so greatly increasing yields and productivity.

Unknotting Problems In Textile Production

But the true father of modern industrial methods is generally considered to be Sir Richard Arkwright. Again, his innovations were designed to improve productivity, but his field of specialism was the textiles industry, which was growing strongly in his native Derbyshire and elsewhere across the Midlands and northern England.

Arkwright’s first taste of entrepreneurship came when he tried to set up a business travelling around the country buying human hair to use to make wigs. Although this soon ran into trouble, he had made good contacts among working cotton weavers and spinners, and used these to help him refine James Hargreaves’ original ‘Spinning Jenny’ design, to produce a machine which involved less physical labour, yet produced a stronger yarn. He patented his wool carding machine in 1775.

Before his death, in 1792, Arkwright also became the first man to adapt James Watt’s invention of the steam engine to use it as a means of powering a loom for producing cotton. Arguably the first industrial tycoon, he established factories in Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Lancashire and Scotland, and became a wealthy man.

Building The Links Between Goods And Their Markets

Once the products of these huge new mills started to be produced in large amounts, the next hurdle to making them widely available to the people was to develop a transport infrastructure which allowed all parts of the country to be accessed reasonably easily.

So the next major development was the development of railways – and again, engineering expertise was the facilitator which enabled them to be developed and spread widely.

Historian David Starkie has argued that the roads, canals, railways and ports which made Britain into the first great worldwide industrial power could not have come about without the foresight of the first generation of consulting engineers: “Shareholders took most of the risks, but specialists took the strategic decisions, initially the consulting engineers,” he wrote.

Foremost among these was George Stephenson, who built the world’s first commercially-viable locomotive, and went on to design and build the world’s first public railway, which ran from Stockton to Darlington, on Teesside, and opened in 1825. He followed this with the first railway to run directly between two major cities, the Liverpool and Manchester railway of 1830.

However, Stephenson only did for the railways what Thomas Telford had achieved for canals, a generation earlier. These provided the first means of transporting bulk quantities of goods over long distances. Compared with railways, canals required minimal engineering, as many were cut in straight lines as far as possible. But the engineering expertise came into its own when they required bridges (aqueducts) and locks, as means of carrying them across valleys and up and down steep inclines. In devising notable means of doing this, such as the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, near Llangollen in north Wales, Telford was the first person to challenge the preconception that man-made structures had to fit in with, and where needed, around, existing natural features. So its opening, in 1805, became a template for the work of Stephenson just a few decades later.

Engineering’s Role In Creating An Empire

In this context, you could argue that the first true engineers to have an impact on our country were, in fact, the Romans. That’s because they realised the importance of being able to travel quickly between their major settlements – not just so that they could stay abreast of what was happening, but also in order to be able to easily transport goods in and out. So they built a network of roads which eventually stretched to more than 50,000 miles (80,000 kilometres), much of which is still in use today.

Roman engineers loved a challenge – they would rather have found a solution to enable them to build a road straight across an obstacle than take a more circuitous route around it.

In many ways, their desire to find long-term solutions to a problem which might only, in itself, be short-term or temporary, has been the founding principle of engineering ever since. It’s certainly what has distinguished many of the great pioneers of the discipline whose work has helped change the face of our country.

So when Britain was itself in expansionist mood throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, it was realised that expertise in building a working infrastructure, and routes which could be used for trade purposes, was one of the most important assets it could spread around the world.

In a second article in this series, we will look at the advent of motorisation and mass production, and examine how these formed the basis for the world we live in today.

Engineering, in its many forms, has been elementary in creating the modern, prosperous society we live in today. If you want to play a major part in keeping that prosperity going long into the future, why not consider directing your talents towards a career in one of the many sectors of modern engineering?

recruitment search
The 7 Top Qualities That Make A Good Recruitment Consultant

The recruitment sector

has mushroomed in recent years, as businesses in a wide variety of fields decide to outsource the responsibility for searching for candidates, and administration of the processes involved in choosing the right ones.

The shape of the UK’s business environment has changed dramatically over the last two or three decades. From a situation where big businesses dominated, and would often even build entire towns for their workforce, government analysis of the business landscape in 2015 showed that 95 per cent of businesses in the UK employed nine people or fewer.

Owners and managers of lots of businesses, especially those in the SME sector, i.e. with 50 or fewer employees, are often too busy simply ensuring that everything is running smoothly within their company to devote the time needed to the important job of looking for and attracting the right people to help their business develop and grow.

How This Has Changed The Face Of Recruitment

Today’s business manager is a multi-disciplined individual, who has to keep abreast of every part of day-to-day operations, while also having a grip on their vision for the longer term.

You therefore often hear the word ‘versatile’ used as a highly desirable quality for employees in businesses which have to be able to get themselves established to the point where they are looking to recruit extra staff.

But many businesses still require staff who have very specific kinds of expertise, and it is this contrast between highly specialised employees and ‘all-rounders’ which represents one of the biggest challenges to anyone working to recruit people to such firms, as the qualities required to assess whether candidates are suitable for any given role can be hugely varied.

As Business Has Specialised, So Have Recruiters

It used to be the case that a recruitment company would build up a wide base of client businesses in its local area, mainly through word-of-mouth recommendations and their own networking efforts, involving going out and visiting businesses and talking to senior people about their plans and their needs in the candidates they take on.

In this way, many acquired clients who worked in a wide variety of different business areas, which required the recruiters to quickly learn about what those companies did, their ethos, and what they would commonly look for in potential new employees.

But we have increasingly seen recruitment firms themselves which have been established specifically to meet the staffing needs of a particular business field. Engineering, sales and the media are three notable areas which have seen a sharp rise in the number of businesses dedicated to serving their specific needs.

These are usually set up by someone with substantial previous experience of working in the sector they wish to target. They may even have held an internal HR post, where they faced the challenge of attracting and recruiting staff directly for their employer. In this, they will have discovered the main attributes considered desirable in candidates for specific posts, and the procedures used to differentiate between them and find those most suitable.

That’s the case with us as Perpetual Recruitment, where our leading figures carved out successful careers in other sectors, getting to know their structures and practices, before bringing the insight they had gained to bear in a career in recruitment. So here, they present their seven top attributes needed if you have ambitions to follow them:

You Have The Sharply-Honed Instincts Of A Detective

Cheryl Wing, who runs a London-based company specialising in recruiting staff for companies in the HR sector, says one of the foremost qualities needed to succeed in the sector is an enquiring mind.

It’s necessary for recruitment consultants to check everything about a candidate, because as every experienced recruiter knows, there is nothing worse than sending a candidate to interview to have the client uncover they have lied and deceived in their CV. This reflects poorly on the consultant involved,” she writes.

You Keep Your Eyes On The Prize

Like many other businesses with a strong sales element, the ability to work towards achieving targets, and to thrive under the pressure this can bring, is a major factor in success in the recruitment field.

But this must not be at the expense of the dedication to finding the right ‘fit’ for an employer, as it is only through earning their respect and satisfaction that an external recruiter will advance in their own career and boost the standing of their business.

You Always Remain Positive

Of course, a large element of recruitment is being able to ‘sell’ the proposition offered by an employer to a potential candidate. You therefore need to be able to overcome any objections which may be put in your way as to why the opportunity you are presenting isn’t the right one for them – even if it sounds really tempting!

If you are working on the client side, you may find yourself almost becoming a remote ‘arm’ of their business, so be able to establish a close working relationship with the people in charge. That, in turn, should mean that you can plug into the ethos of that firm, making it easier for you to seek out the right kind of people. You’ll probably find the truth of the maxim “success breeds success”, meaning you will earn more business through recommendations, which will make your job so much easier.

You Know How To Measure Your Success

KPIs – or key performance indicators – are the ways in which you can evaluate how you are doing in your job, and decide how to focus your efforts.

But how will you know if you’ve been successful? You’ll probably have to achieve a set number of job postings per month, along with a proportion of successful outcomes for clients, and these will all have to be completed to timescales usually dictated by the clients themselves, as they will have a date in mind for when they want their new staff on board.

Before you get to this stage, though, you’ll probably have to do quite a lot of groundwork – so if that means making 10 calls in your first hour at work before you can move a face-to-face client or candidate meeting, then you shouldn’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and do it. And if you want to be a success, you should be prepared to not stop just because others do.

 

You Talk The Same Language As Your Clients – But Can Also Relate With A Wide Range of Candidates

To succeed in any line of work, you need a good spread of basic qualities – but in a highly competitive field such as recruitment and retention for businesses, a handful of extra attributes can help you well along the road to success.

The ability to listen to how your clients communicate, their tones of voice and the way in which they relate to each other and their own customers can be vital. Even in a highly technically-focused business, you should be able to sound as if you know what you’re talking about, as you’ll be expected to be able to filter out candidates who might be trying to do likewise – but are really just good at selling themselves.

As you progress towards recruiting for more senior roles, you may also need to adapt your way of doing business so that you can build effective relationships with the most senior executives in larger businesses or organisations in the public and private sector.

Due to the demands on their time, and their need to travel widely on business, these people may not be easy to reach for face-to-face conversations, so you will need to be equally adept at communicating via emails, texts and social media messaging.

 

You Look After Yourself

As with any career which people really enjoy, it’s easy to find yourself working ever-longer hours as you strive to set and achieve ever more ambitious goals.

But you need to remember the importance of ‘me’ and ‘family time’ to your general well-being and, even if your clients are ‘on call’ 24-7, know when to leave the office behind and spend time unwinding – whether that’s by visiting the gym, reading a book, catching up with the news, or enjoying time with your kids.

You can try to fool yourself by telling yourself that stress goes with the territory of having a fast-paced career – but what good will that be if you drive yourself to exhaustion in a couple of years?

You’ll have noticed that most, if not all, of these attributes apply to workers in many other sectors apart from recruitment. But this brings particular challenges, and as a fast-growing and ever-changing sector, new formulas for success in recruitment are being created all the time. So our final attribute must be:

 

You’re Prepared To Question The Status Quo

While certain founding principles, such as honesty, transparency and a respect for people with a variety of talents, will help keep you grounded in recruitment, no one ever became a huge success without taking some risks.

Think of Sir Richard Branson – he’s almost universally admired for his entrepreneurial spirit, and never tires of trying new things. When he identifies a business sector to which he feels he can bring something new and unique, he will follow his dream, in the process building a strong ethos which people who work for him can identify with, and be happy to promote to others.

Perhaps on a smaller scale, this is how whole industries and business sectors move forward and ensure that they stay relevant to their existing and potential customers.

So if you find that a certain aspect of your work isn’t getting the result you want, have the courage to realise it, and to ask how you need to change it. In recruitment, there are no hard and fast formulae for success, so your new ideas should always at least deserve to be listened to.

Have you heard any other pearls of wisdom from people who have been successful in business which you’ve adapted for yourself, and had dramatic results? We’d love to hear about them in the comments.

We have a unique and intricate understanding of the technical recruitment market. We are focused on quality of service rather than on sales and KPI’s.

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