How to conduct phone interviews – a guide for hiring managers

In the dynamic world of recruitment, phone interviews have become an essential tool for screening candidates and narrowing down the pool of potential hires. While these virtual conversations offer convenience and flexibility, they can also present challenges for hiring managers who are less accustomed to conducting interviews over the phone.

If you’re a hiring manager who finds yourself occasionally tasked with phone interviews, fear not! This guide will equip you with the best practice tips to ensure your phone interviews are effective, engaging, and productive.

When should you use phone interviews?

Phone interviews offer several advantages over traditional in-person interviews, making them a valuable tool for hiring managers. Here are some reasons why it might be appropriate to conduct a phone interview:

  1. Initial Candidate Screening: Phone interviews are a great way to quickly screen a large pool of candidates and identify those who best align with the job requirements. This initial screening can help narrow down the pool to a more manageable number of candidates for in-person interviews.
  2. Geographic Flexibility: Phone interviews eliminate geographical barriers, allowing you to consider candidates from a wider range of locations. This can expand the talent pool and uncover qualified individuals who might not otherwise be considered due to their location.
  3. Cost-Effectiveness: Phone interviews are significantly less expensive than in-person interviews, saving time and resources for both you and the candidate. Eliminating travel costs and reducing scheduling conflicts makes the process more efficient and cost-effective.
  4. Convenience and Accessibility: Phone interviews offer convenience and accessibility for both parties. Candidates can participate from the comfort of their homes or offices, and you can conduct interviews from a variety of locations.
  5. Early Assessment of Communication Skills: Phone interviews provide an opportunity to assess a candidate’s verbal communication skills, which are crucial for many roles. This early assessment can help identify candidates who can effectively communicate and collaborate effectively. This would be particularly useful if you’re recruiting for a customer service or public facing role.
  6. Identifying Cultural Fit: Phone interviews can also help gauge a candidate’s cultural fit with the company. By asking about their work style, values, and aspirations, you can assess whether the candidate would align well with the company’s culture.
  7. Providing Feedback and Guidance: Phone interviews can also serve as a platform for providing feedback and guidance to candidates. Hiring managers can offer constructive suggestions for improvement, helping candidates enhance their interviewing skills and prepare for future opportunities.

How should you conduct a phone interview?

Before you pick up the phone, it’s crucial to prepare thoroughly.

Preparation is Key: Setting the Stage for Success

  1. Reviewing the Candidate’s CV: Familiarise yourself with the candidate’s background, skills, and experience to tailor your questions accordingly.
  2. Establishing a Quiet Space: Choose a quiet, distraction-free environment to ensure a focused conversation.
  3. Preparing a List of Questions: Develop a set of questions that align with the job requirements and assess the candidate’s fit for the role. This will keep the conversation on track and allow you to assess candidates fairly.
  4. Reviewing Company Information: Be ready to provide concise and informative answers about your company’s culture, values, and mission.

Engaging the Candidate: Creating a Positive and Productive Dialogue

  1. Establish a Rapport: Begin the conversation with a warm and welcoming tone to put the candidate at ease.
  2. Active Listening: Pay close attention to the candidate’s responses, demonstrating genuine interest in their qualifications.
  3. Ask Open-Ended Questions: Encourage elaboration and in-depth responses to gain a deeper understanding of the candidate’s experiences.
  4. Encourage Questions: Invite the candidate to ask questions about the role, the company, or the interview process.

Assessing the Candidate: Evaluating Fit and Potential

  1. Focus on Relevant Skills and Experience: Tailor your questions to assess the candidate’s specific skills and experience required for the role. Remember, that this is likely a screening conversation and you don’t need to go too in-depth. Save that for in-person interviews.
  2. Observe Communication Skills: Pay attention to the candidate’s communication style, clarity, and professionalism. This will give you an idea on their fit in your team as well.

Leaving a Lasting Impression: Concluding the Interview Effectively

  1. Summarise Key Points: Briefly recap the main takeaways from the interview, demonstrating your attentiveness.
  2. Reiterate Next Steps: Clearly outline the next steps in the hiring process, including timelines and expectations.
  3. Express Gratitude: Thank the candidate for their time and consideration.

The benefits of phone interviews

Phone interviews offer a versatile and effective method for screening, assessing, and connecting with potential candidates. It’s a great way of seeing beyond someone’s CV and avoid the pitfall of dismissing “overqualified” candidates. By using the advantages of phone interviews, companies can expand their talent pool, streamline the hiring process, and identify top talent who are well-suited for the role and the company culture.

Make a positive impression

Remember, phone interviews are not just about assessing candidates; they also provide an opportunity for your company to make a positive impression. By following these best practices, you can conduct effective phone interviews that leave a lasting impression on candidates and help you identify top talent for your organisation.

Sandra Smart

About the author

I believe that recruitment is at the heart of a growing economy and that a different type of recruitment service, with honesty, efficiency and integrity at its heart, can benefit all. Octopus Personnel is the result of hard work, focus and commitment to that vision – to delivering consistently great results for our candidates and clients alike, as well as ensuring the agency is a vibrant, inclusive, inspirational place to work and develop rewarding careers.

Menopause in the Workplace – Spotlight for Employers

New Guidance on Menopause: Supporting Your Team.

At our recruitment agency, we prioritise building a workplace that embraces diversity and supports every employee’s well-being. The spotlight is now on the new menopause guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), emphasising the importance of understanding and accommodating menopausal symptoms in the workplace.

The new EHRC guidance provides clarity on employers’ responsibilities and offers us valuable insights on how to best support employees going through this natural phase of life. According to CIPD research, two thirds of working women aged 40-60 with menopausal symptoms said they’ve mostly had a negative impact on them at work.

Baroness Kishwer Falkner, chair of the EHRC, said: “As Britain’s equality watchdog, we are concerned both by how many women report being forced out of a role (owing) to their menopause-related symptoms and how many don’t feel safe enough to request the workplace adjustments.”

Its important to stay informed and create a supportive environment for your team members experiencing menopause. Let’s break down the key points you should be aware of.

Employers’ Obligations on menopause in the workplace.

The Equality Act 2010 protects employees from discrimination based on age, sex and disability. The EHRC says that where menopause symptoms have a long-term and substantial impact on a worker’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, these symptoms could be considered a disability. This means you might need to make reasonable adjustments to support your employees.

Health and safety first: You’re legally required to assess and manage risks in the workplace, and that includes factors impacting your employees’ health, like menopause.

What You Can Do:

  • Educate yourself and your managers: Get clued up on the EHRC guidance and its implications. This will help you answer questions and create informed policies.
  • Take a look at your existing policies: Are your current policies, like flexible working or dress codes, inclusive enough to support employees experiencing menopause? Let’s make sure everyone feels comfortable at work.
  • Talk openly and honestly: Encourage open and respectful dialogue about menopause. Workshops, info sessions, or anonymous surveys can be a great way to get the conversation started.
  • Offer support resources: Provide access to information on managing symptoms, employee assistance programs, or referrals to healthcare professionals.
  • Make adjustments when needed: If an employee’s symptoms affect their work, talk to them and see if there are adjustments you can make, like flexible hours or a cooler workspace. Everyone’s situation is different, so be understanding.

Remember, creating a safe space for open communication is key. Here are some tips:

  • Normalise the conversation: Let’s make talking about menopause as normal as chatting about the weekend!
  • Train your managers: Don’t assume your managers know how to handle sensitive topics. Equip them with the skills to have supportive and sensitive conversations with employees.
  • Lead by example: Show your commitment by participating in awareness initiatives or even sharing your own experiences (if comfortable, of course). ️

By understanding your obligations and taking these steps, you can create a welcoming and inclusive workplace where everyone feels valued, supported, and able to thrive at all stages of their lives.

Want to learn more?

This is a spotlight on new employer guidance, not an expert guide. To make sure you get the right information, check out the EHRC guidance.

As always, Octopus Personnel is here to help. If you have any questions or need some extra support, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re just a phone call or email away.

Looking for more inspiration on supporting your employees? Read our blog How can businesses support workers in the cost of living crisis? 


Sandra Smart

About the author

I believe that recruitment is at the heart of a growing economy and that a different type of recruitment service, with honesty, efficiency and integrity at its heart, can benefit all. Octopus Personnel is the result of hard work, focus and commitment to that vision – to delivering consistently great results for our candidates and clients alike, as well as ensuring the agency is a vibrant, inclusive, inspirational place to work and develop rewarding careers.

Survive the Festive Season with These Stress-Busting Tips

Christmas: A Season of Festive Fun or a Stressful Frenzy?

The Christmas season is a time for joy, cheer, and of course, plenty of stress! Between family gatherings, shopping sprees, and the pressure to create the perfect Christmas experience, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and burnt out. But fear not, for we’re here to help you navigate this joyous yet demanding time without losing your festive spirit or your sanity.

Survive the festive season with these stress-busting tips.

Baby its cold outside.

Christmastime is a time for giving, but not giving up your own needs and well-being. It’s perfectly okay to decline that extra party invitation or that last-minute baking marathon. Saying ‘no’ allows you to focus on what truly matters to you and makes December more enjoyable overall.

One more sleep.

Sleep is the ultimate stress reliever, so make sure you’re getting enough shut-eye throughout the festive season. Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night to recharge your body and mind. A well-rested you is better equipped to handle the hustle and bustle of Christmas.

Holly jolly Christmas.

Healthy eating is not just about weight management; it’s also essential for maintaining mental clarity and reducing stress. While you’re indulging in festive treats, don’t forget to fill your plate with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains along the way.

Jingle bell rock.

Regular exercise is a great way to combat stress and boost your mood. Even a short walk or some light yoga during your lunch break can make a significant difference. So, lace up your trainers and get moving!

Have yourself a merry little Christmas.

Mindfulness techniques like meditation and deep breathing can help calm your mind and reduce anxiety. Even just a few minutes of mindfulness can make a big difference in your overall well-being.

Lonely this Christmas.

Don’t try to shoulder all the responsibilities yourself. Delegate tasks to family members, friends, and colleagues. And don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed.

All I want for Christmas.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of Christmas, it’s easy to forget to appreciate the simple things. Take time to savour the delicious food, the laughter of loved ones, and the warmth of the holiday spirit.

Step into Christmas.

Make time for activities that help you relax and recharge. Whether it’s reading a good book, taking a bath, or listening to soothing music, find things that bring you joy and help you de-stress.

Underneath the tree.

Christmastime is about the spirit of giving, not giving yourself a panic attack. Remember to enjoy the season, focus on spending quality time with loved ones, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year?

Remember, Christmas should be a time of joy and celebration, not of stress and burnout. By taking care of yourselves and prioritising your well-being, you can survive work during the festive season with our stress-busting tips. Enjoy the season to the fullest and create lasting memories that will bring you happiness throughout the year.


If you’d like to read more about reducing stress in the workplace, try reading our blog The Mindful Office: 5 Simple Ways to improve your Well-being, reduce Work Stress and increase Productivity.


Erin Belmont

About the author

I look after the marketing for Octopus – from the social media and website you see online to the events we put on throughout the year.

I love being in the middle of things, soaking up the lively dynamic atmosphere. The team at Octopus really care about our job searchers and clients and do everything they can to understand everyone’s needs and make intelligent and productive job matches. Their drive and fun loving spirit inspire me every day!


5 transferable skills that shine in any job.

Let’s talk about some hidden gems that lie within you: those transferable soft skills that you might not have given much thought to. These are the skills that transcend job titles and industries, the ones that make you a valuable asset in any role you choose to pursue.

Ok, but why are they so important?

Transferable soft skills can be applied across lots of industries and roles. They are often contrasted with “hard skills,” which are specific technical skills required for a particular job. While hard skills are important, employers value soft skills because they are used in a wider range of settings.

Employers value transferable soft skills because they are essential for success in any workplace. These skills are often what make the difference between a good employee and a great employee and could be what sets your application apart from the others.

Great, but how do I develop my soft skills?

You’ve been developing them all your life, through social situations, school and work life. Here are a few ideas to grow your soft skills.

  • Take on new challenges: Step outside of your comfort zone and try new things. This will help you develop your adaptability, problem-solving, and teamwork skills.
  • Volunteer your time or join a group: Volunteering is a great way to gain experience in a variety of settings and develop your communication, interpersonal, and teamwork skills. It might be that you try temping to gain some new experience. For some inspiration, check out my blog 10-things-i-love-about-temping.
  • Take workshops, classes or webinars: There are many classes and workshops available, both online and in person, that can help you develop your transferable soft skills.
  • Seek feedback: Ask your colleagues, friends, and family for feedback on your skills. This will help you identify areas where you can improve. In fact, friends and family are often the best people to see you as you are and identify skills that you’ve overlooked.

Developing transferable soft skills is an investment in your future. Develop these skills for success in any career you choose.

5 transferable soft skills that shine in any job.


Communication is the cornerstone of any successful task, and it’s a skill that shines brightly in any job. Whether you’re crafting compelling emails, presenting your idea in a team meeting, or simply having a friendly chat with a colleague, strong communication skills ensure that your message is clear, concise, and well-received.


Problem-solving is like having a superhero cape in your professional wardrobe. It’s the ability to identify issues, analyse potential solutions, and implement the most effective one. Whether you’re troubleshooting a technical glitch (turn it off and on again?!), resolving a stock issue, or navigating a tricky customer situation, problem-solving skills make you the go-to person for resolving dilemmas.


In today’s collaborative world, teamwork is the key that unlocks success. It’s about working harmoniously with others, sharing ideas, and supporting each other to achieve common goals. Whether you’re discussing ideas with colleagues, helping to train a new person, or managing a team, strong teamwork skills make you an essential part of the professional puzzle.


They say change is the only constant in life, and adaptability is your superpower to navigate it smoothly. It’s the ability to embrace new ideas, adjust to evolving circumstances, and roll with the punches. Whether you’re facing a sudden shift in company policies or learning a new software program, adaptability ensures you thrive in a dynamic environment.

Time Management

Time management is the art of orchestrating your tasks and making the most of every minute. It’s about setting priorities, avoiding distractions, and accomplishing goals within deadlines. Whether you’re juggling multiple projects or managing a busy workload, strong time management skills make you a productivity powerhouse.


Depending on the job you’re going for, you might want to add some others. Initiative (acting without being told what to do), or interpersonal skills (building positive relationships with others) are great additions.

Leadership (inspiring and motivating others) and decision-making skills (making sound judgements based on available information) are highly valued for management or supervisory roles. Creativity (the ability to generate new ideas) is also a sought-after skill.

Don’t forget to give real-life examples.

These transferable soft skills are not just job requirements. They are the keys to unlocking your full potential and achieving success in any field you choose. Nurture these skills and let them shine.  You will pave the way to a fulfilling and rewarding career journey.

Remember, you should provide real-life examples of your transferable skills to make them meaningful. Don’t make them up, or you will get caught out at interview. Be honest and authentic, but don’t be afraid to be your biggest champion.

Here to help.

Our Octopus recruiters can help you work out which transferable skills are important to shout about. Ask about transferable skills in your next catch up or when registering with us. For more CV tips, try our blog on CV-success.


Anna Wiklinska

About the author

I’m on hand for our industrial and hospitality recruitment here at Octopus – think warehousing, production, construction, kitchen and technical type jobs. I also run our seasonal event work – this is a great option for those wanting to earn some extra money without commitment.

I really enjoy meeting our job hunters and helping them to find work. It’s been lovely to talk to local people and find out what matters to them.

How can businesses support workers in the cost of living crisis?

New report from the Living Wage Foundation.

The Living Wage Foundation has published a new report that found that despite inflation easing, the cost of living crisis is far from over for Britain’s 3.5 million low-paid workers. Half of those surveyed reported that they are worse off than a year ago, with 65% saying it was because of the increased cost of living. The report also found that food bank usage is higher than a year ago for those on the lowest pay, with 60% having visited food banks over the past 12 months.

This is hurting workers’ health, relationships, and quality of life. The Living Wage Foundation calls on businesses to pay their staff a real Living Wage, calculated based on living costs. By committing to the real Living Wage, you can help to make a difference in the lives of low-paid workers and their families.

As a business, you can help by:

  • Paying your staff a real Living Wage.
  • Partnering with local charities and organisations that support low paid workers.
  • Advocating for policies that support low paid workers, such as increasing the minimum wage and expanding access to affordable housing.

By taking these steps, you can help to make a difference in the lives of low paid workers and their families.

What if you can’t increase the wage bill right now?

We know that the cost of living crisis has had a catastrophic effect on businesses as well. Some businesses are struggling to make ends meet and increasing the wage bill is just not an option right now. However, there are still ways to support your workers. Here are a few ideas:

  • Offer flexible working arrangements. This can help your workers to save on childcare and transportation costs.
  • Provide access to training and development opportunities. This can help your employees to upskill and improve their earning potential.
  • Partner with local charities and organisations that support low-paid workers. This could involve offering discounts or donations to these organisations or volunteering your time and expertise. For example, you could partner with a local food bank to provide your workers and your local community with access to affordable food.
  • Advocate for policies that support low-paid workers, such as increasing the minimum wage and expanding access to affordable housing. You can do this by contacting your local councillors and letting them know that you support these policies.
  • Offer shared transportation to and from work. This could involve setting up a carpool or cycle-to-work scheme or providing subsidised shuttle buses.
  • Provide on-site meals or snacks at a discounted price. This can help your staff to save money on food costs.
  • Offer child care assistance. This could involve providing on-site childcare or making childcare vouchers more accessible. Find out about the local childcare options available and help employees to share their recommendations and experience with their colleagues.
  • Offer financial planning assistance. This could involve providing workers with access to a financial advisor or offering educational workshops on budgeting and money management.

Every little bit helps! By taking some of these steps, businesses can make a big difference in the lives of their employees.

Where to start.

Be creative and flexible. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to supporting your employees. What works for one business may not work for another. Be willing to try different things and to adjust your approach as needed.

Get feedback from your teams. Talk to your employees about what they need and want. What would make their lives easier? What would help them to be more productive and engaged at work?

Work with other like-minded businesses. Partner with other businesses in your community to offer shared resources and support to your workers. For example, you could work together to set up a carpool program or to provide subsidised childcare. Your local Chamber of Commerce network could be a great place to start.

Be patient and persistent. It takes time and effort to make a real difference Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results immediately. Just keep working at it, and you will eventually make a difference.

Make a difference.

Supporting your employees is not just the right thing to do, it also makes good commercial sense. By supporting your workers, you can create a more positive and productive work environment for everyone and make a real difference to your internal marketing. You can also help to build a stronger and more resilient community.

 You can read the full report from the Living Wage Foundation Inflation eases but cost of living crisis far from over to learn more.

Erin Belmont

About the author

I look after the marketing for Octopus – from the social media and website you see online to the events we put on throughout the year.

I love being in the middle of things, soaking up the lively dynamic atmosphere. The team at Octopus really care about our job searchers and clients and do everything they can to understand everyone’s needs and make intelligent and productive job matches. Their drive and fun loving spirit inspire me every day!


Continuing Professional Development is a journey

Continuing Professional Development (CPD): A key to career success

Whether you’re just starting out in your career or you’re an experienced professional, continuing professional development (CPD) is essential for your success. CPD is the process of continuously learning and developing your skills and knowledge throughout your career. It can help you progress in your current job, find a new job, and stay ahead of the curve in your industry. You may not have thought about it, but odds are, you’ve participated in CPD in your work life – whether it’s the fork lift training you completed or an interesting webinar in your job industry.

My CPD journey

As a recruitment consultant, I’m always looking for ways to improve my skills and knowledge. That’s why I’m a big believer in continuing professional development (CPD).

I’ve always loved learning and self-development. Last year, I completed online training for one of our new clients and gained a certificate in Safer Recruitment to sit alongside our recruitment for local schools.  I wanted to push myself and develop further into my roles, so I subsequently completed a professional industry- recognised qualification with the Recruitment & Employment Federation (REC).  This course was challenging, but it was also incredibly rewarding. I learned a lot about the latest trends and developments in the recruitment industry, and I gained new skills that I can use to better serve my clients and candidates.

I’ve also completed several online courses related to my field. In December 2022 I decided to access CPD learning online from home, and I completed Level 3 certificates in Recruitment, and Human Resource Management.  I was thrilled to get a Distinction and a Higher Distinction in these areas.  My current project shows how useful transferable skills are if you think outside the box. I have just started an online evening course in CPCAB Counselling, which develops listening and communication skills, something that is absolutely crucial in recruitment, after all, its a people business.

I’m a strong believer that CPD is essential for anyone who wants to progress in their career. By continuously learning and developing your skills, you can make yourself more marketable to potential employers and increase your earning potential.

4 ways CPD can help your career.

  1. Improved job performance: CPD improves your skills and knowledge, which can lead to better job performance and increased productivity.
  2. Increased career opportunities: CPD makes yourself more marketable to potential employers. When you have a strong CPD record, it shows employers that you are committed to your career and that you are always looking for ways to improve yourself.
  3. Higher earning potential: Studies have shown that people who engage in CPD tend to earn more than those who don’t. This is because CPD can help you develop the skills and knowledge that are in high demand by employers.
  4. Greater job satisfaction: CPD keeps you up to date on the latest trends and developments in your industry. This can make your job more interesting and challenging, and lead to greater job satisfaction.

How to engage in CPD

There are many different ways to get involved in your CPD.

  1. Taking courses and workshops: This is a great way to learn new skills and knowledge. There are many different types of courses and workshops available, both online and in person.
  2. Attending conferences, trade shows and networking meetings: This is a great way to learn about the latest trends and developments in your industry, and to network with other professionals. It can be anything from a national exhibition to a local networking breakfast.
  3. Reading industry publications and blogs: This is a great way to stay up to date on the latest news and information in your industry. Follow people or companies you like on social media.
  4. Mentoring or coaching: This is a great way to learn from more experienced professionals or colleagues.
  5. Volunteering: This is a great way to gain new skills and experience, and to make a difference in your community.

Still not sure? Here are some great ideas if you’re in the office, industrial, and hospitality sectors:

  • Office: Take a course on Microsoft Office Suite, learn a new programming language, or attend a seminar on project management.
  • Industrial: Take a course on safety procedures or learn how to operate new machinery.
  • Hospitality: Take a course on customer service or learn a new language.

Start searching online or on your social media channels for ideas. To get you started, head to Money Saving Expert | Free ways to learn new skills at home for free ways to learn new skills at home.

My top tips for getting started with CPD.

  1. Identify your goals. What do you want to achieve with CPD? Are you looking to learn new skills, develop your knowledge, or progress in your career?
  2. Research different CPD opportunities. There are many ways to engage in CPD, including taking courses, attending conferences, and reading industry publications.
  3. Talk to your employer! Find out what the company can offer you. They’ll be really pleased that you are showing an active interest in improving your skills.
  4. Create a CPD plan. This will help you to stay on track and achieve your goals.
  5. Set aside time for CPD. It’s important to schedule time for CPD, just as you would for any other important commitment.
  6. Reflect on your CPD journey. Take some time at the end of each year to reflect on your CPD activities and assess your progress.

Show off your CPD.

When you’re looking for a new job, it’s important to highlight your CPD activities in your CV. This will show potential employers that you are committed to your career and that you are always looking for ways to improve yourself.

I love it when candidates tell me about any CPD they’ve done or are doing. It gives me extra ways to market you to our clients, and I’m often inspired to suggest jobs that work with your transferable skills. You can also mention your CPD activities in job interviews. This is a great way to show employers that you are knowledgeable and passionate about your field.

Don’t wait!

CPD is an essential part of any successful career. It can help you improve your skills and knowledge, increase your career opportunities, and earn a higher salary. If you’re not already engaging in CPD, I encourage you to start today. There are many different ways to engage in CPD, so you can find something that fits your needs and interests.

The important thing is to find activities that will help you improve your skills and knowledge and make you a more sought-after candidate to potential employers. CPD is an essential part of any successful career. By continuously learning and developing your skills, you can make yourself more marketable to potential employers and increase your earning potential.

If you’re thinking about starting a CPD journey, I highly recommend it. It’s one of the best investments you can make in your career.

If you’d like to talk to me about your CPD or career prospects, I’d love to help. Call for a quick chat or book an appointment with me for a more in-depth look at your options on 01747 825568.


Katherine Bending

About the author

I oversee the office and work from home jobs here at Octopus, including finance, sales, marketing, buying and admin roles.

The team are absolutely fantastic here at Octopus.  I love that the same level of care and support between our team is mirrored in our client and candidate interactions, which is what sets us apart as a brand.

How to Master the Art of Interviewing

Mastering the Art of Interviewing: Tips from a Mindset and Leadership Coach

Job interviews can be nerve-wracking experiences for both interviewees and interviewers (yep, even Hiring Managers admit to getting butterflies before an interview!). We get it; interviews can be a whirlwind of emotions. The pressure to make a positive impression, showcase your skills, and secure the job can be overwhelming. But we’ve got just the thing to help you ace your next interview – insights and tips from the fabulous Mindset and Leadership Coach, Chloe Bannister!

I had the pleasure of chatting to a great friend of Octopus Personnel, Mindset and Leadership Coach, Chloe Bannister, to explore her invaluable insights and tips to maximise your interview success. Chloe’s got the inside scoop, having spent years on the hiring side of the interview table. I caught up with Chloe to tap into her wealth of wisdom and practical advice that’s sure to take your interview game to the next level.

With the right guidance and preparation, anyone can master the art of interviewing. So, let’s delve in and read what Chloe has to say about mastering your next interview!

Understanding your value.

K: Confidence plays a crucial role in interviews. It can make a significant difference in how you present yourself, communicate your qualifications, and handle challenging questions. But how do we ditch those pre-interview jitters?

C: Well, first things first, I don’t think you’re ever going to overcome nervousness and anxiety completely. I think that it’s a sign of care – it shows that you want to make a good impression and are really interested in the job. So, the key is to work with them, not against them. I always go back to the phrase ‘proper prior planning prevents poor performance’! Catchy, right?

K: That’s certainly going to stick in my memory! So, how can we channel that nervous energy into something more productive?

C: It’s all about self-awareness. Understand what’s making you nervous, and you’ll be better equipped to tackle it. It might be a feeling of imposter syndrome or you’re not as good as other candidates. A self-awareness helps to focus on what is within your control, which is prior planning.

I think that if you really understand what is needed from you for the job, you can work out what you can actually offer to it. Understanding your own value and uniqueness is key.

This is what coaching can do. We help people to understand what their strengths are, what they might need to do a bit of work on, and where their little brain worms come from that are causing that anxiety and self-doubt – what we would call a limiting belief.

K: How can you tell when its more than a bit of interview nerves?

C: There’s always a baseline of nervousness that comes naturally from caring and wanting to do a good job. But if they morph into thoughts like ‘I’m never going to be good enough for the job’ that’s when we need to shift gears. Is this true or is it a limiting belief? In my sessions, I would explore that and understand what you’re going for, why you’re going for it, what you’re going to bring to it and working with you to turn that limiting mindset into positive beliefs. In my coaching sessions I don’t assess anyone’s strengths and weaknesses. Instead, I facilitate people to assess themselves. No one knows the answers better than you. My job is to help you focus to find those answers in a relaxed, non-biased space.

K: You also offer group sessions Chloe. How does that differ from your 1:1 sessions?

C: It works a little bit differently. It’s still client-led, but it’s a bit more open. There is a small group, maybe 5 people, and there’s a lot of camaraderie in listening to other people describe how they’re feeling. People start to go, “oh, its not just me who thinks that”. There is real value around having an open conversation, learning, and communicating with others in a safe space. Listening to others gives you perspective on what’s in your control and what’s not. People worry so much around things that are entirely out of their control within an interview situation, and coaching helps them gain the perspective of what they can focus on.

Chloe’s top tips for job interview success.

K: There’s not much you haven’t seen in your experience as a Hiring Manager. What’s your biggest tip for mastering an interview?

C: I think the biggest common mistake is that people don’t prep before they come to an interview. Research the job you’re going for and really think about what you bring to the table. What are your values? What do you want from the job? What kind of company culture are you looking for? What can’t you bring to the job? Think about these things before the interview and there will be very few unexpected questions. And you’ll help the nerves by focussing on what is in your control. So yeah, prior preparation is a massive one.

There are also just really simple things like turn up on time and show interest. So many people don’t have questions, but potentially you’re going to be working there a long time. The interview is a two-way conversation. Its not just whether I want you on my team. Its whether you want to be in my team – so what do you want to know about working there?

K: Are there any big no-no’s during an interview?

C: I think the main thing is to be respectful of previous employers. Explain why you left if you’re asked but don’t dwell on it. Focus on the job you’re applying for and what you want to know about it. Showing genuine interest is impressive and will win you some serious interview brownie points.

K: What’s the one question everyone should ask their interviewer?

C: I think it’s a really good idea to ask the person interviewing you what they like about working there. What is it that keeps them with the company? I think, personally for me, culture is so important, you want to feel comfortable and happy where you work, right? So don’t shy away from asking questions that matter to you.

The Power of Preparation.

Now that you’ve got the scoop from Chloe, it’s time to rock your next interview! Remember, preparation is your secret weapon in mastering the art of the interview. Researching the company, anticipating common interview questions, and thinking of some of your own for the interviewer are all integral to mastering the art of interviewing.

Don’t forget that interviews are a two-way process. Its just as important for you to find out whether you want to work for the company and your interviewer will appreciate your enthusiasm and interest. The right prep will give you confidence and help you focus on what is inside your control. Try not to worry about things that are outside your control and remember that nerves are a sign that you care. And we all get them!

A massive thank you to Chloe for sharing her incredible insights to master your job interview. If you’re interested in finding out more about Chloe’s 1 to 1 sessions and online group workshops, check out her brand new website Make sure you follow Chloe on LinkedIn for expert insights and advice, webinars, offers and more.

Happy interviewing. You’ve got this!


Want to read more interview tips, check out these handy Octopus blogs Nailing an Online Interview in 4 easy steps and Craft the perfect interview response or go to our Blog and search on Candidate Top Tips.

Katherine Bending

About the author

I oversee the office and work from home jobs here at Octopus, including finance, sales, marketing, buying and admin roles.

The team are absolutely fantastic here at Octopus.  I love that the same level of care and support between our team is mirrored in our client and candidate interactions, which is what sets us apart as a brand.

Job Market Insights – Summer 2023

Unlocking insights

We’ve got our tentacles on the pulse of the job market and we’re here to bring you the latest on the job market landscape.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) have just dropped their latest report on the current state of the job market, and we’re here to break it down for you. 

  • Permanent placements fall at quickest rate since June 2020.
  • Upturn in candidate availability gathers pace.
  • Pay pressures ease only slightly amid rising cost of living.

Cloudy with a chance of sunshine

The REC has reported on a dampened job market but with some sunny spells brightening the outlook. Businesses are not yet confident enough in the economic outlook to commit to permanent hires. This has led to the steepest pace of decline in placements since June 2020.

  • While the demand for temporary workers remains strong, the availability of workers has shrunk in recent months as job hunters hold out for permanent roles.
  • Labour supply has risen substantially. The overall availability of staff has risen at a substantial pace amid the slowdown in recruitment and reports of redundancies. This means that there are now more people available for work than there are jobs available overall in the UK. But that doesn’t always make it easy to find the right fit.
  • Competition for skilled workers is still high, and employers are willing to pay more to attract and retain skilled workers. However, the pace of wage growth is slowing down as the economy cools.

What does this mean for businesses?

  • Businesses should be prepared for a slower pace of hiring in the coming months. It will take longer to find the right person for your vacancy. We can take the pressure off by searching and first interviewing candidates, so you only have to select from our recommended shortlist on your client portal.
  • Businesses may need to be more creative in their recruitment strategies, such as offering more flexible working arrangements. In a recent Hays poll on LinkedIn, flexible working came second only to pay for people searching for jobs. Think about what you offer your employees and remember to tell us so we can shout about it in our advertising.
  • Businesses should be prepared to compete for talent, as the number of available candidates is increasing. Strategies such as our video recruitment to attract candidates could be key in getting your job vacancy noticed by the right people.

If you’ve never used a recruitment agency before, read our blog to find out why you should pass the hiring torch to save yourself time, money, and a whole lot of stress!

What does this mean for job seekers?

  • Job seekers should be prepared for a more competitive job market. Those who adapt and are open to trying new things will be more successful. Consider temping to try out a new industry. Hospitality and construction are industries that are experiencing shortages, so now is an opportune time to find work in these areas.
  • Job seekers should be proactive in their job search and should be prepared to negotiate on salary. Start thinking about what could put your application ahead of the rest or have a chat with Anna or Katherine to see what you can do to supercharge your CV.
  • Job seekers should consider taking on temporary work while they look for a permanent role. So many of our temp jobs end up in permanent employment, it really is a great strategy when looking for work. Neil Carberry, REC Chief Executive, said ‘Temping keeps people in work when firms are uncertain about the future path of the economy – it is a huge UK success story.’

There is opportunity out there.

The UK job market is facing some challenges in the short term, but there are still opportunities for businesses and job seekers who are prepared to adapt. Neil Carberry, REC Chief Executive, commented in the report ‘Hiring overall is still at a good level, and some sectors remain under pressure from significant labour shortages, including hospitality and construction – so there is opportunity out there for job seekers.’

Finding the right people for the right jobs.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help make your recruitment outlook sunnier in the current job market.



Source: The REC Report on Jobs Market

Sandra Smart

About the author

I believe that recruitment is at the heart of a growing economy and that a different type of recruitment service, with honesty, efficiency and integrity at its heart, can benefit all. Octopus Personnel is the result of hard work, focus and commitment to that vision – to delivering consistently great results for our candidates and clients alike, as well as ensuring the agency is a vibrant, inclusive, inspirational place to work and develop rewarding careers.

Embracing “overqualified” candidates

Embracing overqualified candidates: Unlock the hidden potential in your team.

Today, I want to address a topic that often sparks debate among employers: overqualified candidates. It’s a phrase we frequently encounter during our team meetings, where we discuss potential candidates for your job vacancies. I often hear comments like, ‘I sent this person over for the role, they are a superb candidate but were rejected because they are overqualified.’

This got me thinking: ‘How can a candidate be overqualified?’

Why am I getting overqualified applicants?

In a candidate-driven market, that has persisted for quite some time now, job hunters have an abundance of opportunities to choose from. Recently, I came across a newsletter from ALP (Association of Labour Providers) authored by Gillian Haythornthwaite. It surprised me to learn that there is an average of two job vacancies for every unemployed person. Candidates have the upper hand in the current market. Good candidates have interviews for more than just your job vacancy. This statistic begs the question: Are employers missing an opportunity by dismissing overqualified applicants out of hand?

When it comes to considering overqualified candidates, there are two sides to the coin. You’ve probably come across this yourself – CVs showcasing an impressive array of qualifications and experiences that far exceed the requirements for the role you’re hiring for. Naturally, this raises questions. Will the candidate only stay for a short time? How motivated will they be? How will they feel being managed by staff with less experience? Will their salary and promotion expectations be too high?

It’s understandable that these concerns arise, but instead of immediately dismissing overqualified candidates, think about how you could benefit from their skills and experience.

How can I find out if they’re the right fit for my vacancy?

At Octopus Personnel, we frequently encounter candidates who apply for positions they are clearly “overqualified” for. During our registrations and catch-ups, I use my time with them to really find out what their motivations are. Here are some of the questions I’ve used to find out more, and you can use them too!

‘What has caught your eye about this role, when there are more senior roles out there that you could apply for?’

The answers I receive are often surprising and sometimes quite poignant. Life can take unexpected turns, and there are instances when people yearn to be part of a team that values them, to wake up in the morning and genuinely enjoy going to work. Their motivation isn’t solely driven by financial gain but rather by the desire to feel like they can make a difference, feel valued, and come home without a huge weight on their shoulders.

‘How would you feel about being managed by someone with less experience than you?’

By and large, the response is positive, and when it’s not, we’ll know whether they’re going to be a good fit for your team. It’s crucial to remember that in a candidate-driven market, individuals apply for roles because they genuinely want them, not because they couldn’t secure a higher-level position elsewhere.

‘Do you see this role as a stopgap?’

At the moment, people have a lot of options open to them. They don’t need to settle for less, so it’s more than likely your vacancy is really what they’re looking for long term. However, it’s worth noting that people do experience burnout and believe that a lower position is the solution. Should we dismiss a candidate based on a preconceived idea? There may be more to their story than meets the eye.

‘What are your long-term plans?’

Don’t be afraid of responses like: ‘I want to go to work, do a good job, and go home without the baggage and worry’. The days of staying in one job your entire career have long gone. Workers now switch jobs several times. The likelihood is, you’ll have to recruit again no matter how over or under qualified your new employee is. Why not get some extra skills within your team in the meantime?

Food for thought.

So, here’s some food for thought: If we send over a candidate who initially seems “way too qualified” for your requirements, I urge you to read the profile we have attached to their CV. We might even send you a video on why we think they’d be perfect! It will shed light on why we believe the candidate is an excellent match for your team and why you should, at the very least, meet with them. We’ve already asked the hard questions for you!

Consider the advantages: they can hit the ground running, require less training, and bring valuable skills and experiences to your team. Remember, statistically candidates have at least two jobs to choose from, and they’re interested in yours!

Embracing overqualified candidates may just be the key to unlocking hidden potential within your team. Don’t let preconceived notions or concerns hold you back from discovering exceptional talent. Give them a chance to prove themselves, and you might be overjoyed by the positive impact they can make.

Stay open-minded, stay curious, and never underestimate the potential of a candidate, even if they appear to be “overqualified.”

Not used a recruitment agency before? Read our blog to find out why you should use a recruitment agency to save time, money, and a whole lot of stress!


Sandra Smart

About the author

I believe that recruitment is at the heart of a growing economy and that a different type of recruitment service, with honesty, efficiency and integrity at its heart, can benefit all. Octopus Personnel is the result of hard work, focus and commitment to that vision – to delivering consistently great results for our candidates and clients alike, as well as ensuring the agency is a vibrant, inclusive, inspirational place to work and develop rewarding careers.

Does a 4-day week work?

The world’s largest 4-day week trial is complete, and they’ve just released their report.

61 UK companies participated in the trial by reducing their employees’ working hours for 6 months without any loss of pay. The report is now out with interesting results for the future of work. Ninety-two percent of participating companies have said they will continue with the new working pattern, at least for now.

What is a 4-day week?

The 4-day week trial was the brainchild of 4 Day Week Global in partnership with Autonomy, the 4 Day Week Campaign, and researchers at the University of Cambridge and Boston College. 61 companies participated in the 6-month UK pilot, with participating companies operating in a wide range of industries including professional and financial services, housing, online retail, food and beverage and hospitality, digital marketing and sustainable homecare.

Think tank, Autonomy and top academics from the University of Cambridge and Boston College have released a much-anticipated report on the trial.

Highlights from the report include:

  • 56 of the 61 participating companies have said they are continuing with the 4-day week for employees.
  • 18 of these companies have already committed to making this a permanent change, with the others continuing with the trial to monitor longer term results.
  • Most companies are satisfied that productivity has been maintained, despite employees working fewer hours.
  • 71% of employees reported lower levels of burnout.
  • There was a 65% reduction in sick days.
  • Companies’ revenue stayed broadly the same, rising by 1.4% on average.
  • There was a substantial decline (57%) in the likelihood that an employee would quit, dramatically improving job retention.

Source: 4dayweek pilot programme

Would a 4-day week work for my business?

 Offering a 4-day week to your staff can have several potential benefits for both your employees and your business.

  • Improved work-life balance: Employees have more time to focus on their personal lives or pursue other interests, which can lead to reduced stress levels and improved overall well-being.
  • Increased productivity: Workers have fewer outside distractions and can better focus on their work during their working hours, leading to a more productive time at work.
  • Enhanced employee retention and recruitment: Offering a 4-day week can send a powerful message that you value employees’ wellbeing and can be a huge tick on the pro list when recruiting for people who value work-life balance and flexibility.
  • Cost savings: Depending on your business model, a 4-day week could potentially lead to cost savings on things like office costs and other overhead expenses.
  • Positive impact on the environment: A 4-day week could also help reduce your company’s carbon footprint by reducing the number of commutes your employees need to make each week. Another big tick for you not only with potential employees but with your customers as well.

Ok, I’ll take a look, what should I do first?

Change is often a thorny field, particularly in the world of work. A 4-day week will not be feasible or appropriate for every business, and it may require some adjustments to workloads, schedules, and expectations.

For those who want to consider how it could work in their business, think about some initial changes you can make first.

  • Do you really need that meeting? – Who hasn’t been in an unproductive meeting at some point? Before setting a meeting, think about what you want to get out of it and create an agenda. Set a time limit and don’t forget to nominate someone to follow up on the action points.
  • Can your email be dealt with on a phone call or message? Reading through emails can take a large chunk of someone’s working day, particularly if its part of a lengthy email chain. A quick phone call can often get the answer you need immediately or consider using communication software such as Teams or Slack for instant messaging.
  • Encourage your staff to use focused time. Go on DND for a set amount of time to crack on with a project or answer communications without unnecessary distractions.
  • Review your job descriptions to focus on outcomes, not tasks. Give employees the freedom to achieve outcomes in the most efficient way rather than following a possibly outdated and time-consuming process.

​For businesses that can make it work, offering a 4-day week can be a powerful way to attract and retain top talent while also improving productivity, reducing costs, and promoting employee well-being. However, there are lessons that all businesses can learn from watching the trial with interest and continually reviewing its ways of working. We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for more results.

Erin Belmont

About the author

I look after the marketing for Octopus – from the social media and website you see online to the events we put on throughout the year.

I love being in the middle of things, soaking up the lively dynamic atmosphere. The team at Octopus really care about our job searchers and clients and do everything they can to understand everyone’s needs and make intelligent and productive job matches. Their drive and fun loving spirit inspire me every day!


How do I write a CV?

We’re often asked, “how do I write a CV?” when people register with us. We know that when you haven’t written a CV before, the prospect can seem a little daunting. There’s lots of templates and advice available online. However, the sheer amount can sometimes be off-putting – which one should you choose and whose advice should you listen to?

There is no right or wrong answer to that. Your CV is your first introduction to an employer, so it needs to give them an idea of what value you can bring to the company, and ideally a little flavour of your personality. We’ve seen quite a few CVs in our time (to state the obvious), so we thought we’d offer our take on the subject.

What is a CV and why does it matter?

A Curriculum Vitae (or CV as we commonly say) is a short written document of your work history, qualifications, and education. Your CV is used by employers to screen job applicants and assess whether they might be right for the job. The information you put in your CV will help employers to shortlist people for interview and will often be referred to by your interviewer throughout your interview.

What should I include in my CV?

While there is a lot of variation in structure and presentation, there are some things that are expected within a CV.

  • Your personal details (name and how to contact you) – your gender and date of birth is not necessary here.
  • Work experience (with the most recent experience first) – Try and give a brief description of what you do in the job, any responsibilities you have and any training you did.
  • Education and qualifications (most recent first)
  • References (on request)

There are some other sections that you can add when writing your CV to make you stand out.

  • Personal profile or statement – this is a few lines about who you are and what you are looking for or can offer a company. This section can help grab the reader’s attention and give them context to your work history. Focus on your key skills and give the employer a reason to shortlist you. To really impress, adapt this section to the job you’re applying for.
  • Hobbies and interests – add these only if you think they might be relevant to the job or company culture or interesting to the employer. Socialising isn’t a hobby!

CV checklist

  • Keep it brief and relevant
  • Check spelling and grammar – use Editor on Word or similar
  • Choose a professional font – make sure it’s easy to read
  • Be logical in your layout and use headings and bullet points.

Bronya’s top tips

Remember this is a professional document.

  • Don’t use funny or potentially off-putting email addresses – the safest option is an email address with just your name (and numbers if needed). You can easily create a free email address from Google, Outlook, or others.
  • Consider your social presence online – don’t use a profile photo that might put an employer off and check your privacy settings.
  • Be honest – don’t get caught out in interview with something that isn’t real on your CV. If you’re open and honest you are more likely to find a job that’s right for you.
  • If you’re on LinkedIn, make sure your work history matches your CV.
  • Keep it short and sweet – 2 pages is ideal. If you’re running out of space, give priority to your newest experience and qualifications.
  • Tackle any gaps in your work history head on and supply brief reasons for them, expanding in a cover letter if it is necessary. Put a positive spin on any gaps, drawing attention to any useful skills or experience.
  • Think about the language you are using – this isn’t the same as writing a social profile aimed at your friends. Remember you are writing to a hiring manager and stick to professional language.
  • If you’re just entering the world of work, don’t worry. Enthusiasm and a willingness to learn will go a long way and you can make the most of your extracurricular activities and hobbies to show transferable skills. Show that you know what you’re aiming at and how you plan to contribute to the company.
  • Register with a recruitment agency – when we meet with you, we will find everything we need to increase your chances with an employer, so your CV won’t be your only tool in your job search toolbox.

Find a CV template that you like online and get writing – almost all employers, recruitment agencies, and job sites will ask you for one.

How Octopus can help.

If you would like support writing your CV for the first time, we can help you. Once you’re registered with us, we can set up a CV writing appointment with Anna or Katherine and they will guide you through the process and even print copies for you. Call us on 01747 825568 to make a CV appointment.

If you’ve never registered with an agency before, you can read our blog How to register with a recruitment agency or give us a call on 01747 825568.

Bronya Tanner

About the author

I look after the office here at Octopus and will usually be the first person you speak to. I keep everyone organised and ready for the day ahead and love that we all work as a team to help find the right job matches.

At home I am a keen baker and have my own Insta food blog! I’ve already made the odd Showstopper for our Octopus events and my Signature bake would have to be a celebration cake.

Gillingham & Shaftesbury Show 2022

What a day, what a crowd, what a show!

After a few nervous days looking at the weather forecast and wondering if we were mad to have a beach theme in the English summer holidays, the sun smiled over the Gillingham and Shaftesbury Showground. We had a super time at the show, meeting wonderful people, raising money for charity, getting selfies with Ozzy the Octopus, and winning first prize in the General Trade category.

School in a Bag

This year we brought the beach to the Showground, providing a fun place for young and old to have fun in the sand and splash about with Legs the Octopus.

Once again, we were raising money for our fave charity School in a Bag with our raffle. We had some amazing prizes donated by local businesses and we were blown away by the generosity of visitors buying raffle tickets for this amazing charity, raising £370 on the day through raffle tickets alone and some very generous donations directly to School in a Bag.

Oh, I do love to be beside the seaside.

Ozzy the Octopus made a few special appearances throughout the day and proved popular for selfies. If you took a selfie with Ozzy, please tag us in with #gooctopus. We would love to see your photos.

Our new sand and sea feature proved hugely popular with the younger crowd at the show, with the little ones really getting into the spirit, making sandcastles, digging for treasure, and splashing about with our new friend Legs the Octopus. We were delighted to be awarded First Prize in the General Trade category for our stand – the reception we received at the Show from visitors made all the planning and setting up in the rain worth it.


Before the show ended, we drew the winners of our raffle and announced the winners of our Guess the Number competition.

Congratulations to Sarah and Lorean, who had the closest guesses. We were delighted that one of our winners Lorean returned to our stand and we could present her with her prize.

For those who were not able to return for our grand draw, we are contacting our winners and you can collect your prize from our office.


We’ll be back

We loved seeing all the local businesses and people showing such wonderful support for the local community. The Gillingham & Shaftesbury Show is a fantastic day for the local community, and we loved seeing the visitors and all the local businesses who support the show. We are looking forward to resting our legs for a while, but we will definitely be back next year.

Amazing prizes

A special thank you to our Octopus friends for their generous donations. We could not do it without you.

£100 John Lewis gift card from Partnership Security Partnership Security. CCTV, Fire and Intruder Alarms Shaftesbury

Weekend family ticket to Home Farm Fest from School in a Bag School in a Bag

£20 Visit Hillbrush gift card from Hillbrush Visit Hillbrush – Mere – Order online

Selection of plants from Ashridge Nurseries Hedging, Garden & Fruit Trees, Roses, Soft Fruit | Ashridge Nurseries (

Selection of collectable goodies from Dorset Tech #1 Web Design & SEO In Dorset. Computer Repair, App Development & iPhone Repair

Bracelet from Allum & Sidaway Allum & Sidaway – Award Winning Independent Family Jewellers (

Neal’s Yard gift set from Neal’s Yard Neal’s Yard Remedies UK | Natural & Organic Health & Beauty (

Wi-Fi keyboard and chocolates from Prodigy IT Solutions Prodigy IT Solutions

Bottle of Pimm’s from NH Case NH Case – NH Case

Dachshund soft toy from Money Management Matters Money Management Matters Shaftesbury

Bottled water for our free tote bags from Nectar Welcome to Nectar : Nectar Imports Ltd



Erin Belmont

About the author

I look after the marketing for Octopus – from the social media and website you see online to the events we put on throughout the year.

I love being in the middle of things, soaking up the lively dynamic atmosphere. The team at Octopus really care about our job searchers and clients and do everything they can to understand everyone’s needs and make intelligent and productive job matches. Their drive and fun loving spirit inspire me every day!