Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 – Loneliness and the Workplace
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and this year’s campaign is raising awareness of loneliness. One of the many effects of the pandemic has been to increase both the frequency and complexity of mental health issues, with people feeling isolated and lonely, even if they continued working.
The Mental Health Foundation created Mental Health Awareness Week 21 years ago, and it has become one of the biggest awareness weeks across the UK and globally. The Foundation’s purpose is to drive change towards a mentally healthy society for all, helping people to understand, protect and sustain their mental health. For 2022, the Mental Health Foundation is raising awareness of the impact of loneliness on our mental health and the steps we can take to address it.
We chatted with Kisi Kent, Service Manager for the NHS Steps2Wellbeing for North Dorset to explore more about people’s wellbeing in the workplace, the impact of the pandemic, and what we can do if we need help and advice.
Tell us a little bit about Steps2Wellbeing?
“Steps2Wellbeing is a team of NHS Therapists who offer a variety of therapies for mild to moderate anxiety and depression. Work is recognised as a huge factor in people’s wellbeing, and we collaborate with a team of employment advisors to support people to find work or stay in work.”
Why is it important to increase awareness about mental health and wellbeing?
“Mental health problems have long been a common issue with a quarter of people likely to experience a mental health problem at some point in their lifetime. We talk to lots of people experiencing mental health problems at work, with around 15% of the workforce likely to have mental health problems at any one time. Evidence suggests that depression alone is the most expensive illness globally in terms of its economic impact through lost workdays, reduced productivity, sick pay, and cost of care. For instance, almost 13% of sickness absence in the UK is attributable to poor mental health.” (2)
What impact on mental health has the pandemic had for people?
“Since the pandemic both the frequency and complexity of mental health problems have increased. For some people, work will have contributed to the deterioration in mental health during the pandemic, particularly if they worked from home. I have seen factors such as the lack of designated space to work from home, the struggle to separate work and homelife, employers using invasive surveillance technology to check work productivity, and feelings of isolation, all contributing to work related stress.”
“Women have been particularly affected by the pandemic. Typically, we have seen that women took the main responsibility for home schooling, whilst still trying to juggle work and running the household. Therefore, it is no surprise that women in full time work are nearly twice as likely to have a common mental health problem as men (3).”
“It is also important to recognise that for many people, working from home has been a positive experience with people not wanting to return to the office. It really does depend on the environment that someone is working in, and the amount of autonomy and support employers give their staff. We know from research that the biggest risk factor for employment burnout is lack of control over work and being micromanaged.”
Why do you think this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is focused on loneliness?
“Alongside unemployment and work-related difficulties being a risk factor for mental health, loneliness also plays a huge role in our mental health and wellbeing. The pandemic resulted in enforced isolation, affecting our connectedness with others. We missed out on seeing our family and friends in a social way, and our work habits changed. Whilst its true to say that working from home can worsen loneliness, it is also possible to be in a busy work environment and still feel isolated from colleagues if everybody is busy with their work, or socially distancing.”
What advice can you give people who are experiencing loneliness right now?
“The first thing I will say is that you are not alone. If you are feeling lonely in your work environment, then it is likely that others will also be feeling lonely. Be brave and try to organise regular lunches or walks with colleagues, others will be grateful for the company too. If you work from home, you can still organise social get togethers. At a team meeting ask people to brainstorm ideas for simple social activities that can be done either in person or via a video chat. I have set up a weekly drop in lunch for my staff so that there is a protected space for people to meet up and have a chat.”
“If you are discussing a work-related issue with a colleague, take a few extra moments to ask them about how their day has gone or tell them a little about your day. This will help to build connections with your colleagues and make you feel closer to them. If you notice someone is particularly quiet and tends to be very reserved, make an extra effort to talk to them. It may be that they are just shy and need extra support to build connections.”
What if people are nervous about putting themselves out there?
“If all of this feels daunting and you are experiencing negative thoughts such as ‘if I arrange something no one will come’, or ‘I will make a fool of myself’ or ‘people won’t like me’, then remind yourself that these are just thoughts, not facts. Ask yourself what you would say to a friend who was having these thoughts. You can also consider talking to us at Steps2Wellbeing about cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help you shift your perspective.”
After the last couple years of being told to self-isolate and social distance, its no surprise that it is having a toll on our mental health and wellbeing, particularly with our work environments going through so much change. Mental Health Awareness Week is a chance to see other people’s stories, gain a new perspective and find support and understanding. You can find out more about the Foundation and this year’s campaign here Mental Health Awareness Week.
Steps2Wellbeing in Dorset
If you would like to learn more about the support available from Kisi’s team you can visit the Steps2Wellbeing website. There’s lots of information and resources available and you can refer yourself to their service by heading to the Steps2Wellbeing self-referral online form. Alternatively, you can call them on 0300 790 6828.
We also offer our temporary workers a confidential counselling service helpline. If you’d like to find out more about this our team will be happy to help.
- Mental Health Foundation website 1 in 6.8 people experience mental health problems in the workplace
- Mental Health Foundation website Mental health statistics: 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions
- Mental Health Foundation website Mental health statistics: Women in full-time employment are nearly twice as likely to have a common mental health problem as full-time employed men (19.8% vs 10.9%)
Still here to support you – Candidate update
Following the Government’s announcement at the weekend, it is business as usual at Octopus Personnel, although the team will be working remotely now.
Here when you need us
The office will be closed with effect from today, but we are working from 8:30 – 5:30 p.m. Monday – Thursday, finishing at 5 p.m. on a Friday. You can call on 01747 825568 or email email@example.com for any questions or help you may need.
Same quality service online
Please do not post timesheets into the office, as the office is now closed. Timesheets posted through the letterbox cannot be processed and this may cause a delay to your payment.
You can submit your timesheet via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or take a photo of the timesheet on your phone; visit www.octopuspersonnel.co.uk; click on the upload timesheet button at the top of the page; attach the image and fill in your name, mobile and email address and click send!
Looking for a new role
If you are searching for a new position, make sure that we have your most up to date details and CV to make sure we can act swiftly and effectively to support you. Make sure you are signed up for job alerts – job alerts keep you ahead of the game by notifying you as soon as a relevant position becomes available.
Working with the best companies in the South West
Our relationships with you, our candidates, and our clients is what makes the Octopus difference so special. Whilst the new normal has made many changes, this is still the bedrock of what we do. We continue to work extremely closely with our clients to understand their evolving needs, meaning we can bring you the best roles currently available in the local area.
The best advice tailored to you
Our website is a one stop shop for everything you need. You can search our current vacancies, register, submit your CV, download guides to improve your CV, covering letter and interview technique, polish your interview answers, nail that online interview or improve your LinkedIn Profile. Didn’t find what you need? Give us a call – our recruitment consultants are experts and their advice is free!
Whatever your needs, we are here to help. You can contact us via phone on 01747 825568 or drop us an email so we can answer any questions you may have.
Successful Recruitment during the Pandemic
We’re in this together
Despite the news continuing to report challenges for individuals, families and companies alike, successful recruitment during the pandemic is still possible. We are working with our candidates and clients closely to safeguard the health and safety of all. We take our responsibility to support our communities, those who are vulnerable, and the healthcare providers who are on the front lines of this pandemic extremely seriously.
Following the Prime Minister’s recent announcement, people living in England will be asked to work from home where possible and pubs, bars and restaurants will be required to close at 10pm each night under a series of new restrictions. Under these new rules, the requirement to wear face masks has now been extended. If you need to attend the office for any reason, please make sure you wear a face covering at all times.
We have initiated some changes to ensure we remain one step ahead and that we continue to do the right thing for our team, candidates and clients.
The Octopus office will remain open, but we will be offering virtual appointments only for the time being. You can still meet with us in lots of different ways: using #Zoom, #Facetime or #WhatsApp. Our policies and provision for ensuring we help reduce the spread of Coronavirus have proved effective so far and we will continue to liaise with our clients to ensure we prove the best support and advice to our candidates.
If a virtual appointment does not suit you, we are, as always, on the phones (01747 825568) ready to discuss alternative arrangements with you.
This year has changed the focus of many businesses and allowed us as a recruitment company to bring forward our digital plans. Our commitment to meeting with each candidate at the start of their journey remains at the heart of what we do, so we are very excited to share with you that we have now integrated the latest video software into our recruitment process!
We have already found this gives clients a better insight into the team and cultural fit of a candidate, whilst reducing the time to hire and supporting an accurate first stage screening process. For candidates, it provides a great platform to sell themselves within a matter of seconds, getting your personality, experience and USP across, bringing your CV alive!
So keep an eye out on our social media and website, where we will be revealing all over the next course of the next month!!
Here for you
As mentioned, we are at the end of the phone to support you in any way we can.
For job seekers, our website offers a wide range of resources to help you efficiently navigate the job search, advice on redundancy, making sure your CV and interview skills are up to date, improving your LinkedIn Profile and much more.
Do you have symptoms of COVID 19?
The most important symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of any of the following;
- A new continuous cough
- A high temperature
- A loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell
For most people, COVID-19 will be a mild illness. However, if you have any of the symptoms above, stay at home and arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19 – go to testing to arrange. Please see all the latest guidance here.
If you are experiencing any symptoms whilst working for Octopus Personnel you must notify us immediately.
Advice from the NHS on when to self-isolate is here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-advice/
Advice from the Government to Employer, Employees and Business can be read here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19
Advice on travel and returning from travel is here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus and from the Foreign Office Website: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice You should notify Octopus Personnel if you have been abroad in the last month.
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-information-for-the-public provides further information, including symptoms and the latest advice.
What to do when you’ve been made redundant
As the Government tries to kick-start the economy during the easing of Coronavirus pandemic restrictions, redundancy is, unfortunately, affecting more and more people. With the Government’s coronavirus support schemes set to end later this year, there may be more redundancies to come. Being made redundant can leave you wondering what can I do now? Our Recruitment Team, Sandra, Lucie and Alice, offer their best advice on the next steps you could take.
“There is an intense wave of emotion which comes with being made redundant,” explains Sandra, Octopus Personnel Director. “Shock, anxiety, fear can all be immediately overwhelming, followed by a loss of confidence and sense of identity. It’s a challenging time. But it comes with opportunities too. There may be some financial compensation, so it can give you time to take stock and explore your options moving forward.”
“It’s important to get the right support and realise it isn’t your fault,” says Alice, Octopus Personnel Recruitment Consultant. “Once you’ve had time to process the news, there are positive steps you can take to make changes and seek a new role.”
Get the right advice
“Don’t worry alone,” says Sandra, “Get support and advice from people who understand the situation.” If you need advice on being made redundant, free help is available. A good first port of call is ACAS, an independent public body that offers free impartial advice on employment rights, rules and best practice.
Take stock of how you’re feeling
Losing a job is a huge adjustment and it’s normal to experience a range of emotions. Shock, anger, resentment, relief and much more are all common to feel in a short period of time. Make sure you give yourself space and time to express these feelings, and talk to other people about what you are experiencing.
Being made redundant during the pandemic is nothing to be ashamed of; you are not to blame for this turn of events and having some social support during this time can help you cope. Mind has great advice for dealing with redundancy and supporting your mental health. “Check out my mindfulness techniques to help you process your feelings and begin to take steps to decide on what you want to do next,” recommends Lucie.
Manage uncertainty by taking small steps
Redundancy can lead to lots of worries about the future and the pandemic feels very unpredictable right now. Lucie says, “Try to focus on the things you can control. Whilst you may not be able to return to your old job, you can spend some time polishing your CV. You can get help and advice on celebrating your skills and experience in your CV, on making the most of online interviews and how to answer those tricky interview questions.”
“By accepting the things we can’t control, we can start to focus our energy on the things we can. You’ll start to see the way ahead.”
Look at things differently
Alice says, “If you want to do something different, go for it. Don’t be put off by re-training. It’s an experience in itself. If you’ve spent some time looking at your CV, you can seek out training opportunities to strengthen weaknesses in your CV and skill set or help you transition to a new field or role.”
“There are plenty of online and short courses across a broad range of fields. Make sure you have researched any courses before you start and try to look for industry-recognised training providers before you invest your time and money.”
Consider temporary work
Some people might make a quick step from one job to the next after a redundancy. But for those looking to explore options, or people working in industries which have less demand currently, a temporary gig such as a short-term contract could be the answer.
Lucie explained, “A temporary job can be great for buying you breathing space. It offers structure to your week, which is important when it comes to staying motivated, and it’s an opportunity to pick up new skills and experience different work environments and meet new people.”
Come and see us!
At Octopus Personnel, the recruitment team are here waiting to support YOU! We are experts at presenting our candidates to ensure the employer is able to see all the skills and experience you are bringing to a role, and preparing you to succeed at interview. Years of industry expertise and outstanding relationships with our clients, and grasp of the needs of their business, means we are perfectly positioned within the market to guide you to your new role. You can sign up here or call the office on 01747 825568 to arrange an interview.
COVID-19 Procedures: Don’t worry!
In line with the government guidelines, we are excited to be reopening the Octopus office as a new safe and welcoming environment. We wanted to update you about the COVID-19 procedures, which will be in place should you need to come and visit us from the Monday 6th July 2020.
Staying safe with Octopus Personnel
When you arrive at the front office door, it may be locked – don’t worry! This is to make sure there is only one person visiting the office at any one time. Just knock on the door and someone will be with you.
When the door is unlocked, you will be met by Mike who is managing the front desk – don’t worry! Please wait for Mike to return to behind his desk and then come on in! There is an automatic hand sanitiser next to the door. Just place your hand under the dispenser and clean your hands.
You will now see a new mat across the floor, a rope and Mike behind a screen – don’t worry! The carpet is a helpful reminder to simply stand on the feet marks and let Mike know what you need.
If you need to collect paperwork – don’t worry! All paperwork is safely stored in wipeable folders at the front of the office which are cleaned throughout the day. You can simply and safely collect what you need.
If you want to register with us – don’t worry! You can still meet with us in lots of different ways; using #Zoom, #Facetime or #WhatsApp and now face-to-face appointments will be offered if no other choice is an option.
If you need to submit your timesheet – don’t worry! With the new #website, it couldn’t be easier!
- Take a photo of the timesheet on your phone
- Go to www.octopuspersonnel.co.uk on your phone
- Click on the upload timesheet button on the top right hand corner of the homepage
- Attach the image and fill in your name, mobile and email address
- Click send
It’s done! Simple. Safe.
Whatever your needs, we are here to help – don’t worry! You can contact us via phone on 01747 825568, drop us an email or contact us so we can answer any questions you may have about our COVID-19 procedures.
Comms are key
Comms are key
Through social media and emails, we have worked hard during this time to keep all of you, our clients, and our candidates up to speed. This has allowed us to maintain a high level of engagement for the business from clients and candidates, and has ensured we are constantly registering new high-calibre candidates and able to respond to the changing needs of our clients.
We have and will continue to go above and beyond, offering the same high quality support and guidance, whilst starting to work more flexibly. We are now taking forward the lessons we have learnt over these past months, to continue to offer a comprehensive package of online support as well as operating a physical presence in the office, and comms will remain key.
Repurposing the Office Space
With the business running successfully remotely, we are now stretching forward into our 42 day plan and repurposing the office for the return. This week, the Octopus space has been completely redesigned with the protection of candidates and the team at the heart of every choice. Gone are the seating area, computers, extra desks, visible paperwork or anything which could hamper the thorough and regular cleaning of the office. Now, clear signage and robust procedures, which ensure the safety of all. Using clearly outlined policies and procedures which all staff members have contributed to, we have tried to plan and prepare for all eventualities.
Our online window
Over the past few months changes to online behaviour has accelerated in pace, with other large-scale changes and, like any other business, it was vital we were able to keep up and meet demand. The launch of the new Octopus website came at the perfect time for the business. Although we couldn’t celebrate the launch as we had planned, the website has been the centrepiece of keeping the office running remotely. From candidate needs (remote registration, job application, timesheet submission etc.) to client needs (registering a vacancy, requesting a callback, or quickly updating the team about ongoing demands) the website has allowed us to continue to broaden our mentoring and personal on-boarding service.
Thank you for the feedback we received last week about returning to the office – the lessons learnt and shared make us all stronger.
We would like to hear from you again and ask: “What has been vital in ensuring the safety of your staff?”
Meet with us virtually or in the office
As we take the next steps into the #newnormal, we wanted to provide all our candidates with an update. As you know, the business is running successfully remotely, but we are now working hard to implement steps for us to safely return to the office and we wanted to share our approach with you.
Our target date for opening the office on a part time basis, is the Monday 6th July 2020. You will then be able to meet with us virtually or in the office.
From this date, the office opening hours will be 10am – 2pm, Monday through to Friday. And we will still be available, as normal, from 8:30am – 5:30pm, Monday – Thursday and 8:30am – 5pm, on a Friday.
If you do come to visit it us in the office, every care has been taken to ensure your safety. Clear signage, roped off areas, screens and a strict one candidate only in the office at any time, means you can visit knowing your safety is our priority. Before we open, you will receive a clear email with labelled images and detailed information about how we plan to keep you safe.
Talk to us your way
Our comprehensive candidate care package is designed to fit in with your life and needs. You can still meet with us virtually using; Zoom, Facetime or WhatsApp and now face-to-face appointments will be offered if no other choice is an option. All of our paperwork is designed to be completed remotely and returned via email, making it flexible to your needs.
Here for all your needs
Our website is a one stop shop for everything you need. You can search our current vacancies, register, submit your CV, download guides to improve your; CV, covering letter and interview technique, and explore our top tips for job seeking and finding the perfect role in the blog.
Please do get in contact if you have any other questions about our return to the office and we look forward to welcoming you, virtually or face-or-face, next time we see you. Remember to follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter for further updates.
Approaching the new work normal
The whole country is now exploring what the new work normal looks like for their business. Octopus Personnel, as a team, are now working hard to implement steps for us to start safely returning to the office and we wanted to share our approach with you.
There are so many competing challenges for businesses at the moment and it can, at times, be hard to see the wood for the trees. To help us, we have moved our focus to a 42 day rolling plan, which is constantly updated by the whole team, and we have used ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’ to make sure all aspects of the team’s welfare is being considered.
A practical approach
Physiological needs are the easiest to meet, but have, in their own right, needed consideration when returning to the office. Making sure that everyone is able to do their job safely has been the first priority. From who is using the kettle to how the desks are positioned, everything within the office is being considered to ensure these needs can be met. We are ensuring that we have a good working environment for all, alongside the right tools to safely perform our roles.
Safety: our biggest concern
Safety is obviously of paramount concern during this time. Screens, sanitiser, floor markings, routes in and out of the office are all being addressed, but perhaps most importantly all members of the team have access to the plan and can raise any issues they are concerned about. A Health & Safety inspection is also booked to ensure that every aspect of provision has been thought through. Everyone’s opinion has been treated with respect, allowing all ideas to be put forward and the best ones developed.
Our continued passion
Belonging is perhaps one of the easiest needs for the Octopus family to meet, as we had such a strong underlying team ethos. Weekly Zoom meetings help us remain connected and as mentioned, every member of the team is a stakeholder in the return to the office, whether they will be office based or not. The team dynamic has never been stronger and that is most certainly down to the quality of communication we share. The same vision for the business continues to be held by all.
The challenges, which businesses have faced already and continue to face, are not to be underestimated. Using Microsoft Teams, we have made sure that each member of the team is recognised for their contribution each day. Goals have become much shorter focused, as we push the business forward day by day and all successes are shared and celebrated. From placing temps to completing payroll, every task is being shared and recognised by all to maintain transparency and inclusion.
This all means that the Octopus team is here and ready to ‘think big’. Everyone has had the opportunity to be creative, to have a vision for the future, to reinvent, and provide direct input to senior leadership. Creative solutions, the application of technology and a lot of hard work have helped Octopus navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic so far and means we are ready and raring to go as we push the business forward again into the new normal.
It would be great to hear how you have been and how you are approaching the return to the new world of work? Drop us an email to email@example.com or request a call back here.
Craft the perfect interview response
Is there such a thing as the perfect interview response? Whether face-to-face or online, nailing the answers to those tricky interview questions is key to selling yourself to a prospective employer. You need to be fluent, practised and polished with examples to back up each of your points. Here are 10 key questions and how to craft the perfect interview answers. This will take time, thought and practise – but it will definitely be worth it when the job offer comes!
“Tell Me About Yourself…”
With such a broad range of possible answers, this question often trips interviewees up. The perfect interview answer will not be your life story; they want to know about where you are now professionally and what you have learnt from previous employment experiences.
Lucie’s Pro Tip
- Be succinct and to the point (which means practising beforehand).
- Pick out three key events from your work history which provide a coherent story about where you are now professionally and what you have learnt. Choose a specific skill and experience from each job.
- Talk about what makes you excited about this opportunity – be specific!
- Use your company research to illustrate how you already have the strengths and qualities they are searching for.
“What Is Your Greatest Strength?”
The perfect interview answer here will be based on your company research, showing you already know the qualities the company is looking for and you can use this opportunity to illustrate one you haven’t yet shown in the interview.
Lucie’s Pro Tip
- This question really lets you guide the interview where you want it to go. This is your chance to relate your most impressive success story, so take advantage!
- Highlight a strength that is crucial to the position.
- Don’t make claims that you can’t illustrate with a brief example or fact.
“What Is Your Greatest Accomplishment?”
This is somewhat similar to the “what is your greatest strength?” question and can be handled along the same lines. You want to pick an accomplishment that shows you have the qualities that the company puts value in and that are desirable for the position you’re interviewing for.
Lucie’s Pro Tip
- Talk about an accomplishment that exhibits how you will be a perfect fit for the company and for the position you’re interviewing for.
- Try and show some genuine passion when you’re talking about your accomplishment.
“What Is Your Greatest Weakness?”
Don’t pick a weakness that is a key competency for the job! The perfect interview response will involve choosing your weaknesses wisely and showing that you have taken steps to “work on it”.
Lucie’s Pro Tip
- Show that you are aware of your weakness and what you have done to overcome it.
- Show that you are “self-aware” and that you have the ability to take steps to improve yourself – through education, experience or mentoring.
“Describe A Difficult Work Situation And What You Did To Overcome It…”
The perfect interview response here is to pick a success story that shows you exhibiting the qualities/skills required at the job and company you are interviewing for.
Lucie’s Pro Tip
- Pick an example that shows you tackling a problem that could arise at the new company you’re interviewing for. This shows your value.
- Be specific and fairly concise.
- Use the S.T.A.R. Method:
(Describe the situation that you were in or the task that you needed to accomplish. You must describe a specific event or situation, not a generalised description of what you have done in the past. Be sure to give enough detail for the interviewer to understand. This situation can be from a previous job, from a volunteer experience, or any relevant event.)
(What did you need to achieve and why? What goal were you working toward?)
(Summary of the problem and the action you took. Describe the actions you took to address the situation with an appropriate amount of detail and keep the focus on YOU. What specific steps did you take and what was your particular contribution? Be careful that you don’t describe what the team or group did when talking about a project, but what you actually did. Use the word “I,” not “we” when describing actions.)
(Describe the outcome of your actions and don’t be shy about taking credit for your behaviour. What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? Make sure your answer contains multiple positive results, preferably with a specific piece fact or figure which illustrates your success.)
- Don’t bash anyone in your success story. (Coworker, boss or customer!)
“Why Do You Want To Work For Us?”
The perfect interview response will demonstrate that you want to become an integral part of the company, to grow and develop with the needs of the business and demonstrate how your “wants” coincide with their “needs”. Review LinkedIn, Bloomberg, FT,Wall Street Journal etc. for mention of the company over the past six months. Review employee testimonials on Glassdoor.
Lucie’s Pro Tip
- Choose 4 specific things you like about the company. Do your homework before and find out the needs of the company and talk about how you’re passionate about “fulfilling those needs”.
- Be complimentary. Most people enjoy being flattered. (Just don’t go overboard)
- Show how your strengths perfectly align with the job position and company culture.
“Why Should We Hire You?”
The secret to success here is to be specific and evidence-based. You have already used your company research and the job description to find out exactly why the company is hiring someone for this position. Demonstrating that you understand the problem the new hire needs to solve will make you seem like the perfect candidate!
Lucie’s Pro Tip
- Show the hiring manager that you are uniquely suited to filling this position. Be the candidate that solves the problem!
- Show you know some significant details about the company and their general practices because you have researched the firm and are prepared.
- Tell a “success story” that highlights how you have the ‘qualities’ needed to fill their specific needs – make sure you use a different example.
- Don’t be too modest or too arrogant; you can avoid this by being specific and factual about your role in the examples you use. Again, preparation is key!
“Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?”
Preparation for this question is vital to seem plausible and truthful. The perfect interview response takes practise so it’s fluent and coherent.
Lucie’s Pro Tip
- If you left voluntarily be sure to explain why. For example: you wanted a different challenge. How does this company offer you a specific characteristic or opportunity which your previous employer didn’t have? Explain what attracts you to this company.
- If you were let go, be honest and explain the situation and own it. Explain what you learned from the experience, because the interviewer knows you’re human, you make mistakes, and just wants to see that you were able to do something about it.
- Don’t bash your last company or boss or anything along those lines
“Where Do You See Yourself In 5 Years?”
You DO want to show that you are an ambitious person BUT you need to show that you don’t have your “head in the clouds” and are focused on the job at hand.
Lucie’s Pro Tip
- Demonstrate when you answer the question your level of commitment to the position they are interviewing you for.
- After you have demonstrated your commitment to the role you are interviewing for, outline a realistic growth strategy that is directly tied to the role you’re in and the needs and values of the company. How will this role help you grow?
- Stress your interest in a long-term career at the company.
“Do You Have Any Questions For Me?”
The perfect interview response for this question will make you stand out from the crowd and show your knowledge and passion for the company or organisation you are interviewing for. Always have a few questions prepared and have one based around something you found during your company research phase.
Lucie’s Pro Tip
- Focus your questions on the company and what you can do for them.
- Ask about something you’ve discovered in your company research. This will show your passion and knowledge of the company.
- Ask if there is any reason the HR manager wouldn’t hire you. (This can be a little daunting to ask BUT can really pay off. It allows you to address something they may be thinking in their head but haven’t brought up.
Need further advice?
At Octopus Personnel, we are experts at presenting our candidates to ensure the employer is able to see all the skills and experience you are bringing to a role, and preparing you to succeed at interview with the perfect interview answers. Years of industry expertise and outstanding relationships with our clients, and grasp of the needs of their business, means we are perfectly positioned within the market to guide you to your new role. You can sign up here and call the office on 01747 825568 to arrange an interview.
Nailing an Online Interview in 4 easy steps!
Online interviews can feel daunting— especially if your prospective employer wants to chat face-to-face online. Whilst the format of online interviews are often similar to traditional, in-person meetings, they have some major differences that candidates should be prepared for. Below is my step-by-step guide to nailing your online interview. From setting up your technology to answering those tricky questions, this is a one stop shop to get you ready to shine!
Master the technology: do a test-run
In this day and age, technology is such a blessing – especially when it works! The only way to really feel comfortable and secure with the technology side of an online interview is practise! You need to use the method which your prospective employer prefers ( Skype, Facetime, Zoom, etc.) so download the program as soon as you are notified of your interview. Use their quick guide to getting set up or watch a youtube video to make sure you understand how to enable the video and audio on your computer. Do a test run with your recruitment consultant, friend or a family member if possible.
Lucie’s Pro Tip
Before the interview, ask for details of the format of the interview. Here are a few questions you can ask to make sure you are prepared:
- Is it an audio or audio and video interview?
- Will I be interviewed by someone live or are the questions pre-recorded?
- If they are pre-recorded, how many chances do I get to record my answer?
- What do I do or who should I call if I start having technical difficulties during the interview?
Dress to impress even in an online interview!
First impressions matter in an online interview, just the same as meeting face-to-face! Your appearance is crucial to making a good impression. When you are planning where you will sit during your interview, try on your chosen clothes. Make sure you are comfortable, they fit well and you are giving the impression you want on the screen. Take a screenshot of yourself and check!
Location matters so find the perfect spot! A quiet place with good, natural light is perfect if possible. The interviewer wants to be able to see your face clearly. Make sure the background is clean, professional and uncluttered. Choose a comfortable firm chair so you can sit up for the duration of the interview. Dress your home for the job! Make sure you have eliminated all possible distractions. Mute all notifications on your computer and set your phone to silent.
Lucie’s Pro Tip
Make sure you have chosen your location the day before. Then you have time to tidy, position items and you can focus on mentally rehearsing your answers on the day. Make sure there is no-one else about to distract during the interview, shut the cat out and switch off your phone! Don’t forget to smile! You are trying to build a relationship with your interviewer online the same way you would face-to-face so smile and engage!
Look your interviewer in the eye
Even in an online environment, eye contact is important. Instead of looking at the person on the screen, look directing into your webcam and stay focused and engaged. Practice your main taling points if you feel nervous and remember to slow down and speak clearly. Again, this might be a good idea to practise with your recruitment consultant, friend or a family member.
Lucie’s Pro Tip
If you are uncomfortable, put a picture of a friend or loved one next to the webcam and focus on them. This will help you relax and let your answers flow more easily whilst still remaining focused on the interviewer. Even though this is an online interview, don’t forget your traditional interview skills! Use the questions further down in the blog to help you confidently prepare your answers and make sure you have specific examples to share.
Preparation is key – nail those tricky questions!
Now you have the technology, location and your outfit all sorted, it’s time to revisit those key interview skills. Here are some of the key questions you are likely to be asked and how to nail the answer to make sure you show your best talents, experience and skills to the interviewer.
Lucie’s Pro Tip
Practise, practise, practise… the more you practise the more confident and flowing your answers will be. Make sure you have examples to back up every point. Use cue cards to support you during the online interview – but make sure they are out of sight. Read my blog here about the best answers to tricky interview questions here.
Need further advice?
At Octopus Personnel, we are experts at presenting our candidates to ensure the employer is able to see all the skills and experience you are bringing to a role, and preparing you to succeed at interview. Years of industry expertise and outstanding relationships with our clients, and grasp of the needs of their business, means we are perfectly positioned within the market to guide you to your new role. You can sign up here and call the office on 01747 825568 to arrange an interview.
Navigating the change to an Employer Driven Market
Sandra Smart, Octopus Personnel Director, explains how COVID19 has flipped the candidate driven market on its back, and what the implications are for candidates and employers as we approach recruitment post lockdown in an employer driven market.
For the last couple of years, with unemployment at record lows, we have been operating in a candidate driven market. Put simply, this meant that high calibre candidates were often receiving multiple job offers, as well as their current employers trying to offer more for them to stay on as their employee.
The focus was on the whole package: more competitive salaries, flexible working patterns, stronger study support and a full career development plan. If a client couldn’t offer what a candidate was looking for, a competitor was. Clients had to invest heavily in the packages they were offering, but also in selling their culture, brand and reputation to attract top talent.
Thanks to the unprecedented challenges which the business world has met during the Coronavirus pandemic, suddenly the market has become saturated with candidates again, and, make no mistake, many are extremely high-calibre talent. However, during March, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) found that as a result of the unprecedented nature of the coronavirus crisis, confidence in making hiring and investment decisions fell by 21 percentage points compared with the previous month.
So how does this affect recruitment? How can you position yourself as an employer to benefit from this situation, attracting these high-quality candidates to your business, what effect will this have on those people seeking employment now, and how can recruitment agencies work to best serve both and ensure the right people are hired for the right jobs?
Strategic Recruitment for an Employer Driven Market
In a employer driven market, it is the companies who call the shots. They hire at their own pace, can focus wholly on their needs, and face little or no competition from peers in the industry. Due to the COVID19 impact, there are many high-calibre people seeking employment right now and, for those companies who are able to, recruiting now may bring many dividends.
Now, more than ever, we are working closely with our clients to understand how they are managing the crisis, and their strategic operations and workforce planning for the future. We are there to advise on successful recruitment strategies in practice and the flexibility of different types of recruitment.
We have continued to register high-quality candidates throughout this time to ensure we will be able to present the best qualified candidates, who we believe will dovetail with the company’s culture and vision, ready for virtual interviewing and, where required, digital onboarding to enable our clients to move swiftly and decisively.
Sandra’s advice to clients
Now isn’t the time to abandon all your hard work on culture, brand and reputation, but it is a perfect opportunity to find the right person with a depth of experience and drive who can fully fulfil your role. Be clear about the job role so candidates can visualise what a typical day at work might be like. Break responsibilities into short, clear job duties. Be clear about KPIs and decide which qualifications and experience you need. Think about the teams which this role works within and needs to gel with. All this information will help your recruitment consultant work hard, better, faster for you in finding the right person.
Working with the best talent
For candidates seeking employment, this is the toughest the employment market has been in a long time; it’s going to involve a lot of hard work, rejections and perseverance. But an employer driven market is not without hope.
As a recruitment agency, this is where we go above and beyond for every one of our candidates. We are there for the journey, not only talking them through roles, but advising them on changes in the market and how to most effectively self market through CVs and interviews. As many of our candidates are currently at home, or working from home, we are taking this opportunity to work even more closely with them, coaching them through the job hunt, helping them improve their CVs and keeping them focused and motivated. These quality relationships mean we are better able to advise our clients about the suitability of our candidates.
Sandra’s advice for candidates
Whilst the market is tough, there are still plenty of things you can do to make yourself as attractive as possible to a new employer.
Work with your recruitment consultant to improve your CV, and make sure you tailor it to each application.
Spend this time learning new skills, becoming part of professional discussions on LinkedIn and networking.
Your recruitment consultant can advise you on the challenges of the current market. This could mean you may need a new direction, be ready to work on a short term contract or explore temping to find that perfect fit. Be open to new suggestions.
The challenges of this market will mean many candidates, even those exceptionally well-qualified and experienced, are going to experience some nos. That’s ok. Ask for feedback, learn what you can and move on. It will be a yes soon!
How can Octopus Personnel help?
At Octopus Personnel, we are here to help and support you as you navigate these challenges. Whether you are looking for work or looking for workers, we are here at the end of the phone to help you. Call us on 01747 825568. Visit the website to request a call back or click on the send CV button to register with us.
Mental Health Awareness: Being ‘Mindful’ at Work
This is a Mental Health Awareness Week with a difference. With the unprecedented levels of change and anxiety about the impact of Coronavirus on our loved ones, on the economy and country as a whole, Lucie, Octopus Personnel Recruitment Consultant, describes 4 ways to promote good mental health during this time and to use mindfulness to support your team.
You and your team have probably faced significant adjustments to your working environment, whether you are now working from home or following social distancing rules in the workplace. Although there are emotional and practical challenges to handle with both of these scenarios, your whole team can benefit from a mindful approach to work and this week is a great time to reconnect with your team members to make sure everyone is connected and managing the ‘new normal’.
1. Be mindful of your time
Without the normal signals of the day, such as face-to-face meetings, lunch outings, making a cup of tea for everyone in the office, the day can seem to blur into one long slog. It is very tempting to start answering your work emails on your phone from the moment you wake up, and hard to ‘finish’ at the end of the day, meaning many are working longer, but not necessarily more productive hours.
Without these rhythmic breaks to the day, many of us can feel fatigued and burnt-out. So how can we bring mental health awareness to the forefront and use mindfulness to help us adjust to this ‘new normal’?
In its simplest form, mindfulness means awareness. Practising mindfulness offers a way to pay attention to the present moment. This awareness of ourselves and the world around us can improve our mental wellbeing. Slowing down can feel against common sense, but in some ways, it’s the kind of recharging you need most to get even more done. Mindful employees are well employees! Taking breaks throughout the day is key to being productive, and you can help shape your team’s day to embed these habits.
If you want your employees to be mindful and take breaks, you can use your schedule to show it’s a priority. Allocate slots for ‘taking lunch’, making sure people are stepping away from their work. Book zoom lunches were your team can socialise. Encourage them to take a walk or go into the garden to have a little quiet time to regroup. Be firm about start and finish times and thank your team for their hard work and make sure they sign off. Open up a discussion about what works to help them switch off.
Lead by example and help normalise taking breaks from work or getting outside for short strolls: during lunch breaks, in the morning before checking emails, or even while on calls. Productivity will increase. When getting outside isn’t feasible for all of your team, share some movement and exercise videos to get short bursts of movement throughout the day. Get them moving with Joe Wicks in the morning – hilarious if you do it as a team over Zoom. Ask everyone to track how far the walk/run in a week and add it all together to see where in the world the team could have reached this week.
Wherever possible, offer flexible working. Use Project Management tools, such Microsoft Teams or Basecamp, to provide real-time solutions for team members working remotely. Allowing team members to adapt their hours, making employees feel valued and, in turn, produce even better work. As a parent during this pandemic, your childcare duties don’t stop when you sit down at your desk for work in the morning. A family-friendly work approach is vital to get the best from your employees. Listen carefully to their needs, understand the challenges faced by working parents, be open to their solutions which balance business needs and their childcare demands.
2. Stay connected: being together whilst apart
Whether social distancing in the workplace, or working from home, one of the biggest challenges facing us in the ‘new normal’ is the feeling of isolation, a definite focus for mental health awareness. There has never been a more important time to work on team bonding, despite the social distance. “No work talk” social hangouts, Friday team drinks, quizzes and find me a picture of you (when you were six, of you walking outside, of your favourite hobby…) can promote easy discussion, help your team bond and help them connect to times and activities which brought them pleasure before. Get to know everyone properly and you’ll get the best from them.
Be curious and open up discussions about how this new situation is working for everyone. Review the approach you have taken so far and listen carefully to comments and suggestions from your team. Listening to your employees is vital. Employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work. Listening to your employees is at the forefront of ensuring equality and inclusiveness in the workplace – and getting the best from everyone!
We do our best work when our mind and body are at ease. When it’s your turn to share, show your mental health awareness and keep the mindful focus with educational resources such as mindfulness apps to download, share your tips on creating the right environment for the right work mode and use little prompt cards/notes you can share remotely on quick mindful exercises. Empower your employees with my 5 Simple Ways to improve your Well-being, reduce Work Stress and increase Productivity blog here. Encourage your team to find a couple of places that provide comfortable working space if they are working from home. Changing where you are working during the day is a simple way of resetting your mind.
3. Recognition matters: get creative
Perhaps even more vital than before, recognition for hard work and effort is vital in these times. Feedback and recognition should always tie back to a company’s core values and mission. Employees want to be reminded that their work has purpose and meaning – making a difference makes you happy!
You are already probably excellent at recognising your team’s effort, but make sure your praise is specific and public. Praise them, nominate them for awards and publicly say that you’re grateful for their work. It motivates them to do more great work and will pay off in the company’s success. This is no less true now. Use the praise function on teams. Make it specific, genuine and talk about impact. Share larger gains on your company’s social media. Recognise those individuals with foresight who are driving the company forward.
4. Be a role model: engage and lead
Finally, model the right thing! If you want your team to keep their focus on mental health awareness, you need to make sure you are making those healthy choices too! It’s really important to encourage employees to be self-aware about their own personalities and tendencies, as some people are more prone to imbalances and stress than others. Through your words, actions, and example, emphasise the need to continually assess one’s goals to determine what brings satisfaction, inner peace, and balance. Empowering your employees to take control over their work and home lives can have a profound impact on their job satisfaction and performance, enabling you to do what’s best and most effective for your company.
Show how much you value your team and re-energise and engage them through CPD. Investing in the team in this way during this time gives you a more dynamic and cohesive team for the challenges ahead, ensures they remain invested in the business and provides a change in pace which often helps employees see their work, and find their motivation, in new ways. Be their coach. Develop their strengths and help them improve with weaknesses.
Have I convinced you? What have you got to lose?
At Octopus Personnel, we take the well-being of our staff and candidates seriously. Years of industry expertise, a healthy dose of mindfulness and outstanding relationships with our clients, and grasp of the needs of their business, means we are perfectly positioned within the market to the right employee who will drive your business forward. Explore our services here or call the office on 01747 825568 to find out how we can support your staffing needs, be they temporary or permanent.