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: https://www.gov.uk/travel-disruption-your-rights-at-work

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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.

Source: www.careerbuilder.com

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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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Top 5 worst fictional bosses of all time

No one gets through their career without encountering a boss who seems to make your working life a bit of an ordeal. But before you start planning your escape route, perhaps you should take a moment to read through our top 5 five worst fictional bosses of all time:

5. Basil Fawlty- Fawlty Towers

Basil FawltyTactless, misanthropic, arrogant- these are all words you could use to accurately describe Basil Fawlty. As the owner and manager of the farcical guesthouse Fawlty Towers, Basil spends most of his time intimidating his customers, beating up his clumsy Spanish waiter, Manuel, and creeping around anyone he thinks might be of any ‘importance’. When things go wrong Basil takes out his frustration on his staff, usually armed with a frying pan.

“A satisfied customer- we should have him stuffed”- Basil Fawlty on Customer Service


4. Charles Montgomery Burns- The Simpsons

MR BURNSMr Burns is the antagonist in The Simpsons and is also arguably one of television’s most villainous bosses. Owner of Springfield’s Nuclear Power Plant, he takes great pleasure in tormenting the residents of Springfield. His insatiable desire for wealth, power and fortune overlooks any regard he has for health and safety or the wellbeing of his staff. Not only does he forget the names of his employees but, like an evil puppet-master, he also takes great pleasure in monitoring them via closed circuit cameras and subjecting them to gruelling labour in inhumane conditions.

“Smithers, release the hounds…”- Mr Burns on Leadership


3. Miranda Priestly- The Devil Wears Prada

miranda priestlyThe fashion industry is notoriously ruthless and when you work for tyrannical fashion editor Miranda Priestly it’s just about as bad as it gets. When she’s not pitting her staff against each other, she’s making endless, impossible demands and generally trampling over the spirits of her young, aspiring fashion journalists. If they say you need thick skin and a strong backbone to work in the fashion industry, then to endure Ms. Priestly you’d probably have to be Godzilla.

“Is there some reason that my coffee isn’t here? Has she died or something”- Miranda Priestly on People Management


2. David Brent- The Office

David BrentWhen it comes to worst bosses, David Brent tops the cringe-ometer. Not only is he socially inept, but he also seems to be oblivious to how his staff really see him. Brent likes to promote himself as a comedian, musician and philosopher much to the displeasure of his staff. Arguably HR’s worst nightmare, he bears an unwittingly offensive attitude, particularly towards women and ethnic minorities and has on several occasions compared himself to a cross between Jesus and MC Hammer.

“Avoid employing unlucky people – throw half of the pile of CVs in the bin without reading them”- David Brent on Recruitment


1. Darth Vader- Star Wars

darth vaderWorking for an Evil Galactic Overlord is a pretty stressful job, expect long hours, non-existent holiday pay, and if you were hoping for a company Imperial Star Destroyer this year you may as well forget it. When he’s not choking his staff to death, Darth Vader is annihilating entire planets so you might want to keep the fact you lost the company’s budget reports to yourself…

“When I left you I was but the learner. Now I am the master.”- Darth Vader on Career Progression

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Top 5 things to avoid when writing a CV

Spelling Mistake CVYou’ve spent hours trying to create the perfect CV and have considered everything from layout to font size, yet you still can’t seem to land yourself that dream job. But before you throw in the towel, have you considered that you might be dropping a serious CV clanger that’s costing you an interview. Take a moment to read through our top 5 things to avoid when writing your CV:

Generic CV– Try not to use the ‘one size fits all’ approach when applying for jobs. We know it’s probably tempting to use a generic CV, especially at 2am when you’ve just finished completing a company’s 20 page application form, but tailoring your CV to suit the role you are applying for can be the difference between getting an interview and not. So make sure you do your research about the company first and try to sum up the key qualities that you think you could bring to the specific job. This will demonstrate that you are serious about the role and eager to work for the company.

Spelling mistakes– It might sound like an obvious one, but this really is one of the most costly errors you can make on your CV. There’s a special place where employers file these grammatical gaffes…the wastepaper bin. So read, and read again and remember that spellcheckers are not always a fail safe, some mistakes can slip through the net so if you’re not sure, get a family member or friend to have a read for you.

Lying/ misleading– While it might be tempting to embellish your CV slightly, potential employers will pick up on this- remember that companies do background checks and might ask for a reference from your previous employer. So bear this in mind when you claim to be a word-renowned lion tamer or fluent in Pig Latin.

Ditch the embarrassing email address– fairyprincessssxoxo@aol.com might have been a cute email address when you were 15 but it doesn’t really scream professionalism. Keep it simple, and make sure your email address resembles your name. After all this could become your point of contact for the next few years of your career, so you might want to check that your online identity is something you would feel comfortable using. That includes you beerlover99….

Don’t just list qualities- There’s a reason why your teacher drummed the Point, Evidence, Explain essay method into your head: because it’s relevant to any kind of persuasive writing- that includes your CV!  So be dissuaded from just listing that you’re a “good communicator”, “great team-player” or “enthusiastic”- what you need to be doing is explaining how you have demonstrated these qualities in your previous job role and what positive impact you made.

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