Competition Ts + Cs – June 2016

(a) This prize draw is open to registered users of Jobs24 and aged 18 years or over. Employees of Archant Community Media Limited (“Archant”), their families, agents or anyone else professionally associated with the draw may not enter.
(b) Only one entry is allowed per person.
(c) One Marks and Spencer gift card to the value of £150 will be offered as a prize.
(d) Contact details of the winner must be provided to within one (1) calendar month of the winner being notified. If details are not received by such date the winner forfeits the Prize.
(e) The winners will be drawn at random from all correct entries received by Sunday 3rd June 2016 and the winner will be notified via email within five days of the closing date of the prize draw. Should Archant be unable to contact the winner or should the winner be unable to accept their prize, Archant reserves the right to award the prize to another entrant, drawn in accordance with these terms and conditions.
(f) Archant reserves the right to report details of prize draw winners, to take photographs (or other visual media) and to publish such media.
g) The prize must be taken as offered with no alternative. In the event that the prize cannot be supplied no liability will attach to Archant.
(h) Archant excludes all liability for loss or damage you may suffer as a result of the prize draw.
(i) Entry into any prize draw does not give rise to any binding agreement between the parties.

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Dreaded Interview Question No. 3: ‘What weaknesses or flaws do you have?’

second interviewThis is one interview question which is so universally dreaded that it has become a bit of a cliché. It is very hard to give an honest and sincere answer to this question – and yet interviewers still insist on asking it! Why is this?

How you answer the ‘weaknesses’ question can be extremely telling. By asking this the interviewer is putting you in a difficult situation and observing how you react. A great candidate is always looking for ways to improve themselves so being aware of your weaknesses can be a good thing. Here is the jobs24 guide to negotiating the dreaded ‘weaknesses’ question without putting off your new employer.

Firstly, it is important to select your weakness carefully. (Unless you’re a saint you will probably have more than one to choose from.) Try and avoid picking a weakness that relates directly to anything required in the job specification. For example, if ‘excellent time keeping’ is listed as a desirable trait then don’t admit to being late a lot. It is also important to pick a weakness which can be fixed and, even better, pick a weakness that you’re already trying to improve upon. Above all it’s important to pick a real weakness! Don’t fake out and say ‘I always work too hard’ or ‘I’m too much of a perfectionist.’ The interviewer will see right through it and will not thank you for trying to pull the wool over their eyes.

Once you’ve picked your weakness outline it briefly and then go on to explain why you struggle with this issue. Once you’ve done this, show the interviewer that you’re aware that it’s a problem and demonstrate how you are trying to improve yourself.

Here’s an example where delegation is the chosen weakness:

  1. I sometimes have difficulty delegating my workload to my colleagues.
  2. I struggle with this because I know if I do it my way I will be 100% happy with the result.
  3. I’m aware however, that delegation is important and doing everything alone can slow down the process.
  4. I’ve been really focusing on trying to delegate more and have been on a manager course which has helped me learn how to pass on pieces of work in a clear and professional manner. I have found that my colleagues don’t mind being given a bit of extra work and I think we’re working more efficiently as a team because of my improved delegation skills.

This answer shows that you are capable of self-analysis and, most importantly, self-improvement which is bound to impress your interviewer.

So even though the ‘weaknesses’ question can make you cringe with cliché it is an interview favourite for a reason. Take it seriously, be honest and you’ll be starting your new job before you know it.

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Dreaded Interview Question No.2 – ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years?’

Most of us don’t have a rigid five year plan. This doesn’t mean that we’re not career driven people, it simply means that we’re willing to explore new career options as and when they present themselves.Job_Interview_1

For this reason, the ‘five year’ question can be an intimidating one in an interview situation. The question can come in many different forms. For example, ‘What are your long-term career goals?’ or ‘what’s most important to you in your career?’ Essentially the interviewer wants to understand how this job fits within your plans for the future.

Here are a few quick do’s and don’ts when it comes to answering the ‘five year plan’ interview question.

  1. Don’t hint that this is not your dream job. A career goal which is totally unconnected to the position you’re applying for will not convince the interviewer that you are passionate about the job in hand. ‘I would like to do this job to fill time until my band makes it’ is one answer sure to put off the employer.
  1. Don’t lie. They’re not expecting you to swear undying devotion to the company. ‘In five years I hope to be working in this same job with the same people doing the same thing day in day out’ is NOT what the interviewer wants to hear. They just want to know that you are a worthwhile investment. Even though you may not stick around for ever – the fact is you’re more likely to stay with the company and work your hardest if this job fits in with your long term career goals.
  1. Don’t be flaky. Stick to one career goal. Even though there may be a couple of different career options that you have your eye on, a focused answer will convince the interviewer that you are a motivated individual.
  1. Tell a story. Try and link your career goal to an experience you’ve had in your past. For example, ‘I worked as a team leader at a pub for a while and really enjoyed the challenge of managing a team to work as efficiently as possible. For this reason I would like to explore management in the future.’
  1. Be prepared! As ever the best way to answer this question is to think of a few relevant examples in advance. This will help you feel confident and calm when going into your interview which is bound to make you shine to the interviewer.
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Dreaded interview question no. 1: Facing a conflict

In the next few instalments of the jobs24 blog we are going to be tackling some of our most dreaded interview questions. We’ve all had one of those moments in an interview where you’re presented with a question which makes your mind go blank – hopefully these step-by-step guides will help you go into your next interview with the confidence to answer any question that’s thrown at you.Job_Interview_1

Preparing for an interview can seem like an impossible task. How can you guess what they will ask? What if they throw in a curveball question? The important thing to remember is that there aren’t as many questions as you might think – they just appear in different guises.

Your interviewer might change the wordings but essentially they will only ask you five types of question:

  1. The conflict question
  2. The goal question
  3. The character questions
  4. The initiative question
  5. The opinion question

To begin with we will focus on the conflict question. This question can come in many different forms but in essence it just gives you a space to show off your interpersonal skills and problem solving ability. This can be a difficult question because in interviews we tend to focus exclusively on the positive. However it is important to acknowledge conflict and demonstrate that you can act professionally in difficult situations.

The best way to do this is to use the STAR method:

  1. Situation or Task: Remember to outline your situation in a clear and concise manner. The interviewer doesn’t need to know the boring details. Try and outline the situation or task that you were presented with in 4 or 5 bullet points only.
  2. Action: Here you should sum up the action that you took. It’s good to demonstrate communication skills. For example, ‘There had been a chain of miscommunications via email so I decided to talk with my colleague directly and listened carefully to what he/she had to say before explaining my own position in a calm, professional manner.’
  3. Result: It’s important to demonstrate pride in what you’ve achieved in your previous position. If you’re pleased with the way you diffused a situation then let it show! It is also helpful at this point to mention a positive outcome for the company. For example, ‘as a result of my efforts the company saw an increase in sales and I formed valuable working relationships.’

This is a great question to practice answering before an interview because it helps you prepare precise examples. Just remember the simple steps of the STAR method and your interview technique is sure to make you shine!

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‘My real passion is badminton’: Should hobbies take up valuable space on your CV?

Everyone knows that the first place an employer will look when given a CV is at previous work experience and qualifications. These should come at the top of the CV and be the main focus of any application. But how much do future employers really want to know about your interests outside work?

Some employers might like to see well-rounded applicants whereas others might view a hobbies section on your CV as an attempt to bulk out an otherwise flimsy application. Here are a few dos and don’ts when it comes to including past times on your CV.

1. Some hobbies are not going to help your application. For example, everyone enjoys socialising with friends or going to the cinema. Try and pick hobbies which require commitment. Also, be careful when it comes to listing ‘reading’ as a hobby. Make sure you can back this up with some literature that would impress an employer… so not Fifty Shades!

2. Hobbies only belong on your CV if they can support your application. A bullet point list of hobbies (- singing – football – baking) isn’t going to impress anyone. However, explaining how your hobby is relevant might help your application to stand out. For example, ‘I have been an active member of my local choir for a number of years and have been responsible for organising concerts, publicising the choir and sourcing sheet music.’ If you cannot find a reason why your hobby would impress an employer, don’t include it!

3. There are some cases where it is vital to include your hobbies. For example, if you’re applying to be a gym instructor an interest in sports and exercise should be a priority. Also, if you’re applying for your first job including hobbies can be an effective way of demonstrating that you are a proactive person.

4. Lastly, remember that the aim of your application is to convince the employer that you are passionate about the job… not your hobbies. Too much emphasis placed on your local badminton tournament, for example, will not make you stand out as an attractive candidate. Getting the balance right can be tricky but a brief section about interests outside work can make you standout as a well-rounded and proactive candidate.




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Snow days are a thing of the past…

Around this time of year the prospect of snow can be both exciting and daunting. Now that the snow days of our school years are long behind us, the prospect of travelling to work in the snow can be unappealing to say the least. But how hard should you try to get to work? Like the weather outside, this subject can be a grey area for many, so here are some key points to remember as an employer or an employee in the cold winter months.

1. Employees are not automatically entitled to pay due to travel disruptions. If you are unable to get to work employers might ask staff to take paid holiday (annual leave.) So trying your hardest to get to work is recommended.

2. If you are able to work from home then this might be another option presented to you by your employer. Flexibility in these situations is important and if you are able to come to a compromise such as this with your employer then do so.

3. School closures can make for difficult scenarios because not everyone will be affected by school closure and it seems unfair to penalise either those who are affected or those who are not. Staff who take a leave of absence to look after children might be asked to take this as holiday.

4. If the building is closed employers can’t usually deduct pay. They may, however request that you go to another office or work from home.

5. Make sure you are clear on the rules in the event that you cannot get to work. Find out the employer’s policy now, before it’s too late.

Please note that rights about travel disruption can be outlined in the employment contract – employees should check this first. For further details visit:

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Your January Jobs Detox

Lots of people think of January as a particularly gloomy month. Christmas is over, it’s cold outside and the dryathlon is already starting to wear thin. Here at Jobs24, however, we prefer to think of January as an exciting month. Self-improvement is in the air, people are trying new things and challenging themselves. Along with getting fit, a change of career is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions around. Here are Jobs24’s top three tips for how to get a fresh approach to your employment hunt in 2015.Jobs detox

1. Open your mind. A drastic career change can be a scary prospect but thinking outside the box during a job search can be the most beneficial approach. If you’re not enjoying your current work then perhaps you need to completely rethink your skill set. Do you enjoy the team work aspect of your job or perhaps the organisational side is your strength? By picking up on these transferable skills you will find that a new range of jobs are available to you.

2. Reassess the situation. As well as being a great time for new starts, January is also the perfect opportunity to reflect on the year just gone. If you’ve been looking for work for a while then this is the time to go back over your CV and rewrite that cover letter. Every time that you send out an application that you’re not entirely happy with you’re missing an opportunity to get that dream job.

3. Be organised. If you’ve been looking for a job for a while it can be easy for one week to drift into another without feeling as though you’re making any progress. Set yourself achievable goals; perhaps aim to apply for three jobs per week. Being structured and organised in your approach to finding a job is not only going to make it more likely that you will get work, it will also put you in a good mindset for when you start your new job.

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Social Media Sussed


It is impossible to avoid having an online presence nowadays. Even if you don’t have a Facebook or Twitter account your lack of profile automatically says a lot about your preferences. On the other hand, having a strong, professional online presence can be a great way to boost your employability. In 2013 CareerBuilder conducted a survey to discover what social media behaviour impressed or put off employers. They found that employers disliked:

  • Candidates who had posted provocative/ inappropriate photos
  • Candidates who had bad mouthed previous employers
  • Candidates who had poor communications skills
  • Candidates who had lied about qualifications

However, employers were impressed by candidates who had:

  • Conveyed a professional image
  • Shown their personality
  • Displayed a wide range of interests
  • Demonstrated good communications skills.

As this survey reveals, social media image can both help and hinder your job search. Here are jobs24’s top four tips for how to improve your online presence:

  1. Search yourself. To begin working on your online presence you must first be able to see what employers see. Try typing your name into a search engine and see what pops up
  2. Write a book or product review on Amazon. This is a quick and easy way to create a positive trail of online activity. Perhaps pick a book which has relevance to your chosen career. Make sure you express yourself as eloquently as you can to maximise your appeal to future employers.
  3. Check your privacy settings! It’s fine to use Facebook purely for social purposes (after all it is social media) but make sure you’ve adjusted your privacy settings accordingly. Facebook changes their policies on privacy every so often so it’s good practice to make sure you keep an eye on how much of your personal information is available online.
  4. Set up a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is a great way of ensuring employers find the information you want them to find. You can use LinkedIn as an online CV to list your previous employment. You can also ask old employers or colleagues to ‘recommend you’ on LinkedIn – the online equivalent of a reference. Creating a LinkedIn profile for future employers to find is sure to give the impression of professionalism, especially if you’d rather keep Facebook for personal use.


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Your Interview Look

First impressions are most certainly lasting impressions and, as problematic as it may seem, many employers’ first impressions will be based on the way you look. To give yourself the best possible head start it is important to make sure you look the part. Here are jobs24’s top five tips for how to wow interviewers before you’ve even opened your mouth.ugly-betty-poncho_240

1.      Be comfortable!

First and foremost it is vital to feel comfortable. When choosing an interview outfit think long and hard about what you usually wear; do you often wear trousers or perhaps you feel more comfortable in a skirt? Try choosing an outfit you feel good in an adapting it to ensure it’s appropriate for a professional occasion. If you’re uncomfortable in your chosen outfit you won’t be able to concentrate fully on the interview and you can be sure that your interviewer will notice if you’re not 100% focused.

2.      Originality.

The likelihood is that your interviewer will be seeing several candidates for the position and may struggle to distinguish between 10 interviewees all in identical grey suits. Therefore, if you can display an element of your personality without compromising the professionalism of your outfit then do it! A well-placed bit of colour or individual accessory would do the trick but be sure not to over do it.

3.      Time for a groom…

Never has your mother’s advice about washing behind your ears been more appropriate! Your interviewer will be looking to see that you are an organised and composed human being and the easiest way to demonstrate this is by ensuring you look neat and tidy for the interview. Have you been meaning to get a haircut for a month or so? Well now is the time! If your food has a nasty habit of jumping off the plate and onto your clean, white shirt then try to avoid eating anything too high risk in your interview outfit. It doesn’t matter how much money to spend on posh, new clothes for your interview, if you don’t look neat in them then it’s money wasted.

4.      Accessories

Make sure your bag or briefcase is neatly organised. Take out all of those old receipts and the squished banana you never had the chance to eat. Trust us, you’ll be grateful when you lean down to retrieve your portfolio or CV and your bag doesn’t spill open with various incriminating items scattered across the table. Your interviewer will be wildly impressed by your organisational skills and professional persona.

5.      Feedback

Track down some friends or family who you know can be brutally honest (sometimes a bit too honest, perhaps) and ask for some advice. It doesn’t cost anything and you will probably get a more reliable picture this way than if you spend an hour staring in the mirror, stomach sucked in, looking at your best angle only!

So now that you’ve wowed your interviewer with your professional look it will be a easy to wow them with your intellect… Good luck!

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It’s your call: Make a good impression in your telephone interview

Telephone Interview image_edited-2

Telephone interviews are becoming increasingly common, not only are they a relatively inexpensive method of screening candidates, but they are also a great way for employers to assess whether you are suitable for the next stage of the application process.

A telephone interview might mean you don’t have to worry about how you look, but nevertheless, it’s still an interview; so you need to be just as prepared as you would be for a face-to-face interview. It’s important to research the job role and the company thoroughly as this will help you decide if the company is right for you and will also allow you to create knowledgeable answers and express how your skill set will fit in with the company’s values.

Just as you would for a regular interview, write up a list of strengths, weaknesses and accomplishments. It’s usually best to keep these to bullet points, that way you won’t be tempted to simply read out long paragraphs which will make your response sound stilted and rehearsed.

Before you start, make sure you are sat somewhere quiet where there are no distractions; at a desk is usually best as this will be easier for making notes. It’s also a good idea to have a copy of your CV in front of you. Again, try not to just recite what you have written, keep the conversation fluid; your prospective employer wants to see your personality and it’s also likely they will also have a copy in front of them.

If the recruiter has called you at an inconvenient time, for example if you are unable to sit somewhere private, then explain this to them and suggest some alternative times. Unless you can be sure that your mobile signal is going to be perfect, it’s usually best to use a landline.

The disadvantage of telephone interviews is that it’s hard to judge the reactions of your interviewer because you don’t have non-verbal cues like a smile or a nod to rely on. This can often leave telephone interviews feeling a little more rigid and formulaic than face-to-face interviews. However, smiling when you talk on the phone will make you feel more relaxed and confident, and also gives your voice a positive tone that naturally ensures you sound enthusiastic and keen.

Think about your answers carefully, if this means taking a couple of seconds to collect your thoughts then that’s fine, and if you don’t understand the question completely don’t be afraid to ask for a bit more clarification. Remember that your interviewer will also need a moment to write down your answers so don’t be too put off by short pauses. As you will be doing a lot of talking you may like to keep a glass of water handy.

This is your chance to shine against the other candidates so sound interested about the role and the company and ask relevant questions. At the end of the interview reiterate your interest in the role and outline specific points you discussed, finally make sure that you thank your employer for their time.


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