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10 Proven Ways to Speed Up Your Hiring Process

Hiring the right people for a job role that you need filling can sometimes feel like it can take up time, effort, and money from your business. Although you need to hire the right people for the roles you might have looking at ways to speed up the hiring process can prove worthwhile especially in a talent short market like the one we exist in today.

Here are 10 proven ways to speed up the hiring process. 

Think about the candidate experience 

The candidate’s experience is important. If you make a candidate feel comfortable, given them all of the relevant information they need and have asked the appropriate questions, then a candidate will be more inclined to work for you and give you a speedy response. 

Find a recruitment specialist that can help

If you have struggled to pre-qualify candidates in the past or failed to have appropriate candidates available for an interview, then a great way to speed up the hiring process is to find a recruitment specialist. They can take all of the hard work away and supply you with a list of candidates ready for the interview stages. 

Automation tools speed up the process 

Manually working through CVs and information can be time-consuming, so automation tools are very useful to help sift through the information giving you the results and the relevant statistics. 

Use social media to reach a wider audience 

Sometimes it isn’t about the hiring process and more about finding the right candidates. Advertising on social media is not only a fast and instant way to communicate new job roles, but it will also help you to reach a wider audience. 

Qualify the CVs so you interview the best candidates 

The CV is often the first point of contact for a candidate, so make sure you take the time to qualify the CVs that you receive. This will help you to only spend time and interview the best possible candidates for the role you are advertising. 

Be open to doing different interview options 

If you are hoping to speed up the process, then it may be time to be open to different interview options. Many more people are now familiar with telephone interviews as well as conducting interviews over video platforms like Google Meetings and Zoom. Face-to-face interviews are great, but if time is of the essence then this could work out well. You could also be open to different interview times so you can speak to people sooner. 

Could you hire internally?

There is no denying that in order to quickly fill a job role, you may find that you could hire internally. There is less paperwork and you are already aware of the potential candidate. 

Employee referral programmes are worthwhile 

An employee referral programme is always a great incentive, and if someone feels they know someone who is right for the role, incentivising means they are likely to put them forward for it. 

Pre-screening candidates

If you want to save time on interview stages, then pre-screening tests can work well. You can test on skills and knowledge ahead of the interview stages and only interview people who manage to interview candidates that pass those tests. 

Have a structure in place 

Finally, having a structure in place will help you to ensure that you have a quick timeline in place. It also helps to keep people aware of when they will find out about the next stages. 

Using a recruiter can speed up the process, to discuss your hiring needs, please call on 01628 817124


10 Ways To Build A Better Relationship With A Recruitment Consultant.

Have you had a bad experience with a recruitment agency? You’re not alone. However there are some very easy ways to build and maintain a successful relationship with a recruitment consultant.

Initial Contact:

When you first call up to either introduce yourself generally or with a specific role in mind make sure you have a great CV ready to email over.

Be Positive: 

Recruiters can do a lot more with a candidate who communicates well, is clear about what they want, and most importantly has a positive attitude and lots of enthusiasm.

Be Accessible:

Make sure your consultant has your email, at least one phone number and you could also connect on social platforms like LinkedIn.

Maintaining Contact: 

In order to avoid the frustration caused by missed calls the best thing to do is to arrange a mutually convenient specific time to talk when both of you will be free. Discuss what contact methods work best for you.


Ensure you have all your important documents; new employers will always need to see your passport, National Insurance card and a proof of address. Also prepare the contact details of some willing referees.

Create Trust:

Build trust in your relationship by being upfront about other opportunities you may have in order to manage expectancies. Be honest.

Be Clear: 

Make it very clear about where you want to work and what you want to do. Be clear about your career history so your recruiter has all the information they need to help you.


Make sure to update your consultant with any changes to your circumstances.


Remember it’s the recruiters’ job to fill a position with the best and most suitable candidate available- That can’t always be you!

Choose Carefully: 

Recruitment consultants all offer varied services for candidates; they can vary in contact expectancies, client range and career markets. Make sure you pick an agency that is compatible with you.

Remember it’s a partnership- both you and the consultant need to work together proactively in order to reach the ultimate goal of securing you a new job. The measure of a good relationship is remembrance and re-occurrence over time; At Signet Resources we have had candidates contact us who we helped over a decade ago!

Here are a few words from our consultants….

‘It’s all about the partnership- It’s a two way thing’

‘The best candidate relationships I have developed start with Honesty right from the beginning with expectancies set from both sides.’

‘Keep open and direct lines of communication in order to develop honest and collaborative partnerships with each individual candidate.’

20 Things to Never Say at Interview

When it comes to a job interview we all want to ensure that we make the very best impression. After all, the reason for the interview is that we want the job. However, we can all be guilty of saying the wrong thing. But don’t worry, we have collated 25 things you should never say at an interview.

“I didn’t get on with my last boss”

There is no need to discuss past working relationships in a negative way. In fact, if you have nothing positive to say then it’s best not to discuss it. 

“I know I don’t have much experience, but…”

Don’t shine a light on the experience you don’t have. 

“It is on my CV”

It might be on your CV but you don’t need to ask your interviewer to refer back to it. Answer the questions as they come to you. 

“I think outside of the box”

This is a very overused comment. 

“Um, I don’t know”

Even if you don’t know, don’t say it. Always answer the question, or ask they to elaborate so you can think of an answer.

“How many holidays am I entitled to?”

As much as this is an important aspect it is a question to avoid asking at the interview stage. 

“Perfectionism is my weakness”

Some people think that perfectionism is a good thing. But stating you are a perfectionist could set you up for a fall. 

“I don’t have any questions”

It doesn’t bode well to not have any questions, so before your interview think about some of the ones you could ask. Even if you feel everything was covered. 

“How soon do you promote employees?”

An employer needs to see that you can do a job first. Don’t run before you can walk. This is important but rephrase to "what does a career path look like here?"

“I Pulled together XYZ reports” or some industry-specific jargon

Only use industry-specific jargon if you are interviewing in the same industry. But it always works to explain a role in laymans terms.

“I’m the top salesperson in my company”

Use examples and answers, highlight what made you good, and why people bought from you.

“I’ll do whatever”

This can come across as desperate or that you are misinformed about the job role. 

“At my last company …” followed by negative comments 

Negative comments about previous jobs will not go down well. 

“So, what will I be doing around here?”

Shows that you are misinformed or haven’t been paying attention. 

Inappropriate language or slang words

Think about the way you say things. 

“I have a holiday booked in a few weeks”

Focus on getting the job. 

“I really hate my current job”

Negative language about previous jobs will give the wrong impression. 

“How much will I get paid?”

Money is important, but it shouldn’t be the deciding factor. 

“Sorry, I’m late”

This will not give an excellent first impression. 

“What sort of benefits will I get?”

It can show that you have your priorities all wrong. 

What else should you avoid?

7 Signs of a Great HR Leader.

Finding a great HR leader for a company or organisation can sometimes feel like you’re looking for a needle in a haystack. While certain people might have some qualifications, it’s a different ballgame to find someone easily that has all the qualifications that you’re needing and wanting. But keep in mind that there are great HR leaders out there that are perfect for your needs. When it comes to recruitment methods for filling your Human Resources position, you will want to look for these signs of a great HR leader.

7 Signs of a Great HR Leader

While there are other aspects that make up a great HR representative, here are some of the main ways to look for.

  • Strong Communication Skills

Since HR is going to be handling employee issues, being able to communicate effectively with everyone in the company is key. Having calm conversations while also taking the time to listen is very important in this leadership role.

  • Empathy and Sympathy

These shouldn’t be confused with feeling sorry for employees or playing favourites, but it is important for HR to have a chance to connect with employees during their times of need and potential issues.

  • Able to help Transition to Remote Management. 

During these times, being able to help employees pivot and work from home in a fast and efficient manner is key. From making certain that they have the equipment that they need to ensure that they’re staying productive, it’s all a process that HR has a hand in.

  • Motivated

If the HR representative is working from home as well, being motivated to help others stay motivated while working is a huge need as well.

  • Level-headed

Times are stressful right now and are proving themselves to be overly difficult in some situations. HR leaders are needed now, more than ever, to remain calm and have a way to help find solutions when there seems to be a never-ended list of problems or issues that arise.

  • Able to hold others accountable

With so many employees and members of management working from home, it’s imperative for HR to have a strong hold on making certain that everyone is accountable for their roles in the company. This can be as simple as having meetings online to check in or setting up performance plans to help people stay on task with their duties and jobs.

  • Change direction quickly

And just as we all know, things are changing on a daily basis. While this can be stressful for a lot of different reasons. HR managers in a leadership position have to be able to pivot as well. When it comes to recruitment purposes, potential furloughs and layoffs, or even helping people transition from the office life to home life, there are days when HR will be having to wear many different hats.

As you can see, this is just a small snippet of what makes up a great Human Resources leader. Combine those 7 characteristics and skills and you’ll find a strong HR candidate and management employee who can walk the walk while talking the talk.

Having a strong HR employee in place to help with your company is one of the best decisions that you can possibly make.

Are your leadership skills coping? We run regular events on leadership and development

The next one is on Different Leadership Styles: Tuesday, June 16th at 3pm. 

A Career In Recruitment?

I'll be honest.

When I first applied for a role in recruitment I didn't have a clue what the job would entail.  I saw an advert appealing for graduates who were outgoing and keen to earn money, sent in my CV and turned up for an interview a few days later.

My experience before that was working in care homes....

It was a surprise to all of us when I got the job!

What is recruitment?

Recruitment is a role that is ever-changing,  with fifteen years experience I have watched the industry and in turn the day job change drastically.

Back in the day, when I started, I had a desk with a phone and a pad.  Nowadays I come to work armed with a mobile, a laptop, iPad and the internet.  It makes the day job far easier.

Put simply, recruitment is the simple art of placing job seekers into new jobs....

Sort of...

Recruiters also need to establish relationships with companies, and gain an in-depth understanding of their business in order to match appropriate people to their needs.

Recruiters and resourcers also need to be able to understand a job seekers needs and motivations, as well as their skills and experience.

Psychology plays a key part in what we do, as does tenacity and a fair bit of drive.

The different roles...

There are lots of different roles you can assume in a recruitment company.  Recruitment Consultants are sales people, they go out and find clients and forge relationships.  It is not about smash and grab, it's a long-term partnership they are trying to build.

Resourcers look after candidates and network, search and look under every stone to find perfect aspirational matches for the roles they are working on.

Account Managers tend to have a portfolio of clients, and manage their needs as they arise and solve their recruitment crisis.

The other hats

Plus, at Signet we do much more.  Our team write blogs about their market sector, sharing information with clients and candidates.  We hold seminars to again pass on experience to our client base.  We have got involved with redundancy processes for our clients, ran assessment centres and much more.

We like ideas and innovation in this sector, creativity goes a long way in recruitment.


We want to bring fresh new blood into our business and speak to people who may not have previously considered Recruitment as a career.  All you need is a bit of ambition, a lot of drive and a decent amount of energy and we can train the rest....

Does it sound like you?

In that case, this is an invitation to join us on our next open morning, where we will explain to you about the industry, how it works and what is expected of someone entering into it.

If you like that part of the morning (and our excellent tea making skills), then we will invite you to join our assessment centre which will follow immediately.  If it is not for you then no worries, at least you will be better informed to make that decision.

Are You Going To Buy a Blue Mercedes If You Want a Red BMW?

I just want to give some context as to why a company decides to engage a recruitment business. It’s simple, they know they haven’t got the expertise in the sector to recruit the best talent. They haven’t got time, it is confidential or they have tried recruiting it themselves and haven’t found the right person. So they are looking to work with an expert recruitment partner who can deliver, they are paying a fee so they have the right to set the criteria and expect a certain level of service.

I have been in recruitment for over 30 years and I am disappointed to hear from candidates the poor experiences they have had with some of my profession but we are not all cut from the same cloth. I would like to think that we are good at communication and feedback however I’m sure at some point we will have not given the high level of service we aspire to. We are human after all.

Technology – A help or a hindrance?

One of the main challenges is technology!

Technology has in many ways enhanced the recruitment process, but it is also so sophisticated that if you don’t have the right number of keywords in your cv you can easily be overlooked.

I don’t agree with this, but it is a fact.

If you can imagine, most recruiters are working on multiple roles and often on tight delivery schedules. This is particularity high in low margin recruitment business’s and definitely when the role is contingency (no upfront fee). So, it could just be that your cv didn’t have the keywords they were looking for.

There is still very much a mentality with some organisations that work with multiple agencies that it’s the first agency to send the cv that gets an interview, this in itself creates poor practice.

I personally feel that a company should have an agreed standard that their suppliers have to work to. Fortunately for my business we tend to work mainly on exclusive roles. The reason I’m sharing this is that often the recruiter is under pressure to deliver so having the time to give a good candidate experience isn’t always possible.

Let me share an example, recently I managed an HR Director role I had 230 responses to the role. We don’t use automated technology, so I had to review all those cv’s!

Everyone who applies receives an email explaining that we will contact them within 3 days if we are taking their application further. Of those 230 cv’s, I then tele-screened 15 and shortlisted 5 for a competency-based interview.

Every single candidate that was in the process received feedback. It is just not acceptable for any agency not to do this it’s just poor practice. If this happens to you, I suggest you raise a complaint.

However, I still received calls from candidates that were included in the other 215 and especially in the last few months it’s really hard telling someone you can’t put them through the process. As I am, what I would call a “seasoned recruiter”, I was able to manage it, but less experienced recruiters would be uncomfortable dealing with a persistent candidate and then they do the classic avoid the call.

I think that some candidates find it hard to accept that they haven’t got the specific skills required but they feel they can do the job. Maybe look it like this you want to buy a Red BMW 3 series and you got to the garage and the salesmen says well I haven’t got a red BMW but I’ve got a blue Mercedes C class. We all know the Mercedes and BMW’s are good cars, but are you going to buy a blue Mercedes if you wanted a red BMW, probably not? This doesn’t meant that the blue Mercedes isn’t a good car it’s just not what I’m looking for.

Can you find flexibility?

If we have taken an instruction from a client we will know what they will flex on what is a must have. They are paying a fee for a service and therefore can set the criteria; however, a good consultant should ensure that they really drill down on what skills are required and challenge if appropriate. Back to the role I have just managed. The client was looking for a full time HR Director and has ended up with a higher skilled individual who is only working 4 days. This was because he couldn’t afford what he really wanted 5 days a week, so I made the suggestion to consider a 4-day week more senior candidate. It took some time to convince him but after seeing several candidates this was where we ended up. For me it was a hugely rewarding assignment, but you do not get these very often. However, a good consultant will always want’s the best outcome for the client and the candidate.

My advice is work with a few agencies, build a rapport. Of course, if your applying online then this means you could be working with multiple consultants. Add them to your LinkedIn contacts send them a message via linked in. Try reaching out by phone, a good consultant will take your call. However, be prepared that as much as you feel strongly you are a match they will have taken the brief and have a much deeper understanding of what the client is looking for and you may just not have enough of the skill set.

Nicky, M.D – Signet Resources

Employee Wellbeing, 3 Things You Should Never Do!

Never before have the lines between work and home been so blurred as in 2020/21. As people have been forced to shift into remote working, anxiety and stress have reached new levels. Staying home while trying to juggle work, childcare, schooling, along with unpredictable finances has taken its toll on working families. Mental health has become one of the biggest challenges for employees and employers to manage within the continuously evolving work dynamic. Over 75% of employees believe Employers should do more to help protect the mental health of their workforce. Organizations are realizing that they must address all aspects of employee health, including stress and anxiety, to avoid a decline in productivity and prevent work burnout.

From a positive perspective, the pandemic has brought to life conversations around mental health that weren’t necessarily in the spotlight before. So, what role should organizations play in employee wellbeing? We are going to take a light-hearted look at what employers should not to do. To highlight what the essentials of an employee wellbeing programme should actually look like.

Develop a world-class wellness programme and deliver it fully packaged for your lucky employees

Sounds ideal, doesn’t it? How could creating a H&W programme designed for your staff possibly go wrong? Well, the issue is that Health and Wellness is personal. In their seminal study entitled ‘Is Work Good For Your Health and Wellbeing’ Wadell & Burton (2006) consider wellbeing to be subjective. So that when applied to the workplace, it is the employees’ own views on their wellbeing that should prevail. All workplaces are different and so all effective wellbeing plans will be different for all workplaces. Its key that you include and listen to employees when you begin to build any H&W strategy for it to be useful for your employees.

Talk regularly to your employees about their H&W face to face 

Now of course it is good to talk regularly, but could there be another more appealing way to support employees H&W? In an AI at work study (2020) Oracle found that more than 68% of employees would prefer to talk to a robot about stress and anxiety at work than talk to their manager and 82% believe robots can better support their mental health than people. People have grown more confident that technology innovations can help them in exciting new ways. But it also reflects that there is still a stigma around discussing mental health at work. Embracing AI could be the way to ensure employees are supported through any challenges, without them feeling they will be judged.

Stick with the plan

Fail to plan, plan to fail right? Well wrong when it comes to employee H&W. Any programme you develop should be revisited on a regular basis, at least annually. This should take the form of agreed metrics on how employees view their H&W and crucially what they would like to see change. That way the programme can evolved and improve as the workplace evolved and employees needs evolve. A H&W programme supported and managed by employees is the gold standard to ensure that employees always have a voice.

In summary now more than ever a strong H&W programme is essential and indeed expected from your staff. If you ensure that people are included in the design and running of the plan and be open to change and new ideas about how you deliver a H&W programme then you won’t go far wrong.

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We run monthly events designed to help businesses support their teams and business wellbeing that are completely free to attend.

Employing A Positive Frame Of Mind.

Do you ever walk into the office, thinking – today is going to be awful, I simply don’t have enough time to achieve what I want to achieve?

I expect most of us at some point have thought along those lines.

Have you ever stopped to consider the impact of how those morning thoughts will impact your day? If you believe from the start of the day that you are going to fail, how will the day ever be a positive experience?

The Power of Positive thought…

A few years ago I decided to run a marathon. I was not a runner, it was a habit I started after having twins when I was trying, like most new mothers, to shift some baby weight.

I could run about four miles without dying when I signed up for the London Marathon.

If you are questioning where I am going with this, let me explain….

When I signed up to run a marathon, with no previous long distance running experience behind me, I didn’t start my training saying I was never going to be able to run 26.2 miles nonstop.

In fact I did just the opposite. I declared loudly and proudly to anyone who could hear me that I was going to train to run a marathon in 16 weeks. I said it so often I believed it myself. I rearranged life to be able to suit the demanding training schedule, and after a gruelling four month training plan I ran my first marathon.

(If you wondered, it took 4 hours and 16 minutes…)

The Point?

Would I have achieved my goal if I had started my training thinking it was impossible to achieve that level of fitness in 16 weeks?

Probably not….

So why apply negative thoughts to your working day?

True, if you simply smile and declare everything is going to be ok when clearly the demands of the day are impossible to fit into a normal working day, then the outcome may be the same. However, if you apply the theory of positivism and employ delegating and ditching skills, the result may be far happier.

Are you a victim?

Are you the person in the office who is always running out of time? the person who has too much to do? or the person who cannot believe it is lunch time already?

Do you start the day thinking you will be chained to the desk long after 8 pm; do you start the day depressed by all you have to do?

Then it is time to change your language…

Changing your words can make a great impact. Changing your goals to then meet these expectations creates a more realistic challenge for the day ahead. If you start each day with too much on your plate, perhaps it is time to seek out your manager to discuss how your workload can be delegated.

However, saying you have too much work, is very different to asking for guidance on how to delegate some responsibility because you really want to achieve your most important tasks.

The power of using positive language will win every time.

Start the day with a clear to do list, a positive frame of mind, and tell yourself you will succeed.

Don’t be the victim running out of time, starting each day dreading the next.

Good luck….

Five Reasons High-Value Employees Leave & What You Can Do To Stop Them.

‘’A company is only as good as the people it keeps’’. Mary Kay Ash.

In the 21st century, it is accepted wisdom that employees are a company’s most valuable asset. So, it follows that high value employees are the lifeblood of any company. When a high value employee leaves a role, it can create a domino effect of other employees leaving. It also has a huge impact on their teams and is costly to solve in both time and money terms. It takes on average 50 days and £4000 to replace an average employee, so retention of the best members of staff is a much easier strategy. If you can understand what drives Rockstar employees to leave, you can create a plan to prevent it.

People often say people leave bad managers not companies but that is not always the case. If you want your best employees to stay, take a closer look at the following five factors that could impact their decision to quit and what you can do to prevent it:

  1. They are not being developed. This is the No 1 reason high value employees leave. Training and development are important for all employees but even more so for self-starters who have an innate need to progress and excel. Let them know they are high potential and anticipate roles they can grow into and work with them on their career trajectory. Invest in their training and development and then give them opportunities and responsibilities to grow.
  2. They are overloaded. High performers are often the ones who proactively take on extra work. They can also be the ones who are the most trusted and so are given extra work. This can lead to burnout and ultimately to resignations. Talk regularly with them about their workload and priorities to understand if they are overwhelmed. It’s also crucial to set a good example of work life balance, from the top down.
  3. They are not being paid enough. This can be a huge challenge especially if you are not able to increase their pay but there are ways around this. Talk to them about what matters to them, can you offer other benefits such as flexibility, extra holiday or even give a new job title. A discussion on pay can be a starting point to talk about the total benefits package you can offer.
  4. They are not being listened to and given autonomy. In this scenario its key you understand their goals. Learn what is important to them and make sure that their work reflects their key interests and skills. Employees who feel heard and empowered go on to do their best work for their employers. Listening to high value employees is a win-win situation.
  5. They do not feel appreciated. It’s hardwired into all human beings to want to feel recognised and appreciated. Even the highest flyer likes to feel valued, some privately some more publicly. It's key to work out which your employee prefers and recognise their good work. Praising effort costs nothing but yet it is worth so much.

With all these challenges its key that you regularly communicate with your employees. Take the time to understand what matters to them and ensure that where you can you meet their needs.

In summary, if you do all this then you are probably stuffed but there is lots you can do to not get in this position in the first place, work on one thing at a time.

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Great Questions To Ask When Hiring a Marketing Team.

Marketing is a vitally important aspect of any business, and now more than ever, it can play a big role when it comes to brand awareness, attracting talent to your company, and working on current advertising and marketing strategies. So when hiring your marketing team, you want to ensure that you attract the right people, but also that you end up hiring the right people. The questions you ask can be the ideal opportunity to get a broader perspective on the person applying, and whether they would be a good fit. Here are some great questions to ask when hiring your marketing team. 

What improvements would you make to the company website? 

This will highlight whether the candidate has taken the time to do some research on the business and what your current digital offering is like. It gives them a chance to share some critical ideas and creative thinking, as well as perhaps insight into current brand awareness and positive changes that could be made. 

What do you think sets our brand apart from competitors? What could we do differently?

With a question like this, you are simply looking for key points that they might raise. It is all about attention to detail. Great marketers are visionaries, so they should always have some sort of answer for this. 

Have there been any marketing strategies that you feel have had success in attracting new talent to a business or that encapsulate brand awareness? 

You want to see what ticks with the candidate. Where their creative thinking lies and what sort of scale that they place success on. It will also highlight their knowledge of marketing strategies and different options. 

What would you say or do to convince your HR team that a recruitment marketing strategy is right for the business? 

There is no “I” in team and marketing, albeit, can start with solo ideas and creative thinking, but it ends up being very much a team effort. You will want to look out for the ways this candidate will work with different departments in the business and how they may approach potential blocks. 

How would you approach pitching a new marketing strategy for the business?

This will give you a chance for the candidate to show innovativeness in how they would approach a pitch. After all, not every marketing strategy is taken from idea to implementation. You will want to see how they would present themselves, what they would do, and what skills they have when it comes to pitching. 

Can you explain a time when you have had success with a marketing strategy? 

With this question, you will be looking out for key details. You will want to know what the marketing strategy was, the reason behind it, the key measures of success and the results they had. This will also give you a chance to have a direct example of the creative thinking and skills they have within the field. 

Hopefully, this has provided you with some inspiration for some of the great questions to ask when hiring your marketing team. 

Guide to Competency Interviews

As competency based interviews are becoming an ever more frequent part of candidate selection, here is a brief guide to what such interviews involve, along with some advice on how best to approach them:

Guide to competency based interviews

Competency interviews are based on the idea that past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour. Accordingly, the interviewer’s goal is to get specific examples of when and how you have demonstrated particular behaviours and interview questions are carefully designed to probe specific skills, competencies and characteristics.

Whilst each interview may vary in terms of the questions asked / competencies reviewed, there are general themes that are usually covered. It is well worthwhile preparing for this type of interview by, for example, being familiar with some of the possible questions and how you would answer them.

What is a competency based interview?

Competency based interviews enable us to understand a candidate's past behaviour and use this on the basis that this is the best predictor of future behaviour. Competency based interviews are designed to assess a candidate against a standard set of competencies required for the role. Competencies are the attributes of an individual that are important for effective performance in a role and are usually a mixture of skills, ability, motivation and knowledge.

The competencies assessed in an interview differ from role to role depending on what behaviours are required in the role.

Some common competencies you may have come across are:

  • Working with Others / Teamwork
  • Planning and Organising
  • Analysis and Problem Solving
  • Leading and Decision-Making
  • Communicating

How are competency based interviews conducted?

A competency based interview is a timed, structured interview made up of specific questions relating to each competency area that is to be assessed. The interviewer will be asking you for specific examples of your past behaviour which demonstrate evidence against each competency and all candidates applying for the same role will be asked the same questions. Questions often begin with "Tell me about a time when…" or "Give me an example of…"For each question, the interviewer will ask you a question and then follow this up with a series of probing questions to gather all of the information they need for each competency area.

Here is an example of a typical question for the competency 'Working with Others'.

[Opening question]

"Tell me about a situation where it was important that you worked as part of a team."


"What was the situation?

Why was it important?

What part did you play in the team?

What difficulties / conflicts did you encounter? How did you approach these?

How successful were you in meeting your team objectives?

What feedback did you receive?

What have you learned from this experience? How have you applied this learning since?"

How to prepare for a competency based interview

Now that you have some insight into what a competency based interview is and how it will be conducted, you can begin to prepare and practise for one.

Unfortunately, we cannot tell you exactly which behaviours or competencies we are assessing at the interview. However you should be able to think of situations you have been in that demonstrate to us that you have the qualities we are looking for.

Below are some hints and tips which you may find useful:

It is important that you get to know what is required of the role you have applied for. Spend some time 'dissecting' the job advert and any further information available on the website. Look for keywords and phrases such as 'team-player', 'strong analytical skills', 'ability to deliver to tight deadlines', 'excellent communication skills' and so on. From these keywords you can gain an indication of the type of competencies and behaviours that may be assessed in the recruitment process.

Apply your common sense - if you have applied for a customer-facing role, then it is most likely that you will be asked to describe situations where you have interacted with a customer and delivered good customer service. Similarly, if you have applied for a technical role, you will most likely be assessed on your ability to analyse and solve problems.

Think back over your past experiences and situations you have been involved in that might demonstrate to an interviewer the behaviours they are looking for. The examples might be from work, college, sports, volunteer roles or other groups or teams you may have been a part of. Try to think of your most recent experiences so you can remember lots of detail about what you did in that situation (i.e. try to use examples that are no older than 2 years).

A useful technique to use when preparing for and answering competency based questions is the 'STAR' technique. This acronym acts as a reminder to you as to how to structure your response.

  • Situation – what was the context / situation?
  • Task – what was required of you in terms of aims / objectives / challenges?
  • Action – what did you do (as opposed to your colleagues / team-mates / supervisor)?
  • Result – what happened / what was the outcome of your actions?

You will be asked to provide specific examples with lots of detail. When using this format it is useful to give the interviewer a little bit of the Situation and Task but the bulk of your example should consist of your Action – what you did and said in this situation. It is always a good idea to also think about challenges and problems that you faced and how you overcame them as well as what you learned from your experiences.

By following this format, you will give the interviewer a good understanding of your experience and behaviour.

You might find it useful to have a go at being interviewed with the help of a friend or family member. Don't try to rehearse or memorise your answers, simply familiarise yourself with your previous experiences in a structured way to help you remember what you did in these situations.

Tips for the Interview

  • Be yourself - act naturally, the interviewer wants to get to know you.
  • Try to relax and ask for water if you need it.
  • Don't be afraid to take time to collect your thoughts and think of your best example to fit the question before speaking.
  • It's OK to ask questions – remember it's a two-way conversation.
  • It's also OK to ask the interviewer to repeat a question, or clarify your understanding of what you are being asked.
  • If you are unsure about whether your example is what the interviewer was looking for, at the end of your response check with the interviewer that you have answered their question.
  • Your interviewer will be busy taking notes during the interview and may not be able to maintain eye contact with you; don't let that distract you or put you off. It's their job to get everything down so they have an accurate record of what you have said in the interview – it does not mean you are giving bad examples.
  • And remember, if your interview is to be conducted by telephone, it's just as important as a face-to-face interview, so follow the same preparation guidelines.

Good luck with your interview.


How to Connect With Your Remote Working Employees

Remote working solutions are becoming more common place in the workplace.  It is a HR benefit, that can be used as an enticement for potential employees or a reward for existing staff members.

But if your staff are not in the office, how can you ensure they are engaged with the business, bought into the brand and that, as a employer,  you are getting full return on your investment?

Remote working offers your staff freedom and autonomy and to a certain degree, they are self managing.  Connecting and engaging with them can only lead to a more positive outcome.

How to connect and engage with your remote working employees

Set Clear Objectives

Just because your employee works remotely, doesn't mean they should suffer from lack of attention.  Remote workers need objectives, feedback and direction.  The working world is now set up to engage your team perfectly.  Video conferencing can allow you face to face contact; Skype business can have your employee in the corner of your screen all day if that works for you both.  Just because your team member doesn't share an office with you, they don't need to be excluded from team meetings and planning sessions.  Hivedesk is also a great tool to help you follow their progress against objectives.

Ensure that your remote workers have 1-2-1 time and access to you as a manager.  Set work objectives and monitor, give feedback and train.

This will keep your team connected and engaged.

Recognise Skill & Achievement

It is always easier to see poor performance than a job well done in all your team.  But recognising outstanding work and effort needs to be commented on and this is as important for your remote workers as it is your office team.

Some businesses have company recognition schemes where you can nominate great work.  As a business leader you need to drive this forward.  By recognising the achievements of your remote team you will also reinforce a positive image to non remote workers.  If your on site team can see a great job being done by the remote team it will unify the team, rather than having two separate teams who are unsure what the other one does.

Be Social

Wherever possible try and get some face to face time with your remote workers, it is important.  As are social events; dependent on location you may need to make extra provisions to get your remote team to the event, but again, it will strengthen the team bond and create a full company culture.

Encourage Independence and Self Sufficency

Micro managing remote workers can be a recipe for disaster.  The autonomy that remote working offers means your remote team should already have a high level of self motivation and an ability to manage themselves to a degree.  Appreciate there may be some flexibility in their working, but look at results rather than minute by minute performance.

Engaged teams are successful, so ensure that out of sight doesn't mean out of mind.  Keeping your remote team connected to the business is vital and doesn't happen through a barrage of emails.  Keep conversations flowing on the phone and through conferencing and technology, help them achieve their goals and recognise when they do.

Then you will reap the benefits of having a committed and engaged external team.

How to Get a Pay Rise & What to Do If You Don’t Get It

We would all like to be paid a little more, and if you find that you haven’t had a pay change for a while, then you may be wondering how to get a pay rise. So here are some of the things that you could do as well as what to do if you don’t get it. 

Ask, but have evidence to back up your case

One of the most obvious ways to get that pay rise you deserve is to simply ask for it. However, I can appreciate that this is easier said than done. So don’t make it an embarrassing situation and have evidence to back up your plea. If you have worked longer hours, shown initiative, took on added responsibility, or done anything at all that is worth shouting about then use this as the evidence to back up your request. Don’t give them something to say no to. The truth is, a business will always try and pay the least out, but at the same time, it needs decent people to run the business and move it forward. If you have the evidence and they can accommodate, then why shouldn't they reward you? 

Having self-confidence can make a big difference

We all need a touch of confidence to get where we want to be in life and sometimes that means we have to be our biggest fans. Confidence is something that is learned and you need to be assured that you deserve what you are asking for. There is a fine line between being confident in your ability and being overly confident and giving a bad impression. Be sure of yourself, but only with actual evidence to back up your claims. 

Gain qualifications and knowledge ahead of aksing 

Another thing you could do would be to gain any necessary qualifications and knowledge ahead of asking for your pay rise. It could be that extra certification means you qualify for more money from your employer. 

What if you don’t get a pay rise?

So if you have asked and things haven’t materialised what should you do next? Here are a couple of things to consider. 

Ask for feedback and take on board what they say

One of the first things you should do would be to ask for some feedback as to why you haven’t received the pay rise. It could be that you can take on board their reasons and make some active changes. It might be obtaining qualifications or showing initiative and taking on responsibility ahead of a pay rise to prove your value. 

Move on to pastures new

Finally, if you don’t get what you want from your current employer that doesn't mean to say others won’t be able to pay you more for doing the same job. Many companies pay for good people, and so it could be worth it to look around and see what is out there. However, if your motivation is purely financial, we would always advise having that conversation internally first!

Check out our latest opportunities on

How To Manage Difficult People (With Confidence).

If management was easy then wouldn’t everyone do it?

The fact is, at times managing people can be tough and lonely, depending on the business size you are in. Not everyone is a breeze to be managed and/or led, and one of the skills you need to master when moving into management is how to confidently manage tough people – with confidence.

With the right skill and strategies you can find a way to deal with those people who seem to want to undermine you or act out in the workplace.

Like everything, it is just knowing how to deal with it.

Top Tips on how to manage difficult people.

Don’t take it personally.

This is a true case of it’s not me, it’s you. Most difficult people do not adopt this behaviour for the workplace, it is commonplace in most aspects of their lives.

Don’t join in the game

Or as your mother would say, don’t stoop to their level. People don’t learn by having a taste of their own medicine, acting in the same way is more likely to just wind them tighter.

Don’t try to placate them

Typically this will just increase the thirst…

In this type of situation, you need to pull on your confidence reserves, difficult people can be akin to bullies, which can be so hard to work with.

However, your control factor is indeed, your own reaction. To use a popular phrase, “if you fight fire with fire, you will only get burned.” If you can control your own emotional response, you are better equipped to plan a reaction and develop a strategy to deal with the problem.

Make it funny

Humour can help, most volatile situations can be diffused with a joke or a witty comment. Be careful not to cross the line into sarcasm as this will only exacerbate the situation. But if you can make people laugh and ease the tension, go for it.

Stand up.

Literally – body language can be a powerful tool in managing tough people. If you sense a situation is going wrong in the workplace, assert your authority as line manager and handle the issue assertively rather than emotionally. Ending the situation quickly without being drawn into a long battle is a highly effective tool.

Allow time to calm down

Ideally as manager you don’t want to show your emotion, no matter how you feel. But often walking away and letting all parties calm down before addressing the behaviour works wonders. Then initiating a private conversation and explaining what was inappropriate in the workplace can be done when all parties are relaxed and more open to discussion as opposed to confrontation.

Communication is key

Think about your language, what reaction are you looking for, and what will those words evoke? If you can placate a difficult individual and earn their respect you may find yourself managing a high flyer instead.

For further reading look at the following articles:

How To Prep For a Digital Marketing Interview.

Digital marketing is something that many businesses are placing focus on. Social media, search engine optimisation, google results from search engines, and having a larger digital presence are all key factors to help a business thrive in today’s modern world. But, that means that many businesses are needing to hire marketing managers that have experience in digital marketing. Aside from the usual interview and marketing questions, you might expect when going for a digital marketing role there will be some specific questions asked relevant to digital marketing. So with that in mind, here are questions to prepare to answer in your digital marketing interview. 

What would be your definition of digital marketing?

This is such a simple question to be asked, but it will be risky for you as a candidate to provide an insightful answer. It isn’t because you don’t know the answer, but you run the risk of explaining every detail of digital marketing to highlight your knowledge. Keep your answer short and concise while acknowledging that digital marketing is vast and very unique to each business. Cover the basics such as SEO, social media, content creation and branding. 

What do you see as the benefits of digital marketing versus offline marketing?

Make sure you acknowledge that both areas have gravitas in the business world, but remember that digital marketing is the role you are going for. Discuss reaching a broader audience online, that it can be cost-effective and offer greater flexibility when it comes to marketing strategies. You could also give an example relevant to the business. 

Specific questions relevant to the business

Be mindful that you may be asked specific questions regarding digital marketing that are relevant to the business. This is where research is paramount and no stone should be unturned. Here are a couple of examples of what they might ask:

  • How will you increase our Facebook likes? 
  • Should our business be on Instagram?
  • Is it relevant to have a presence on new social media platforms such as TikTok?
  • How could you increase SEO for our business?

How would you deal with freedom of speech online?

There is no denying that we are all aware that while digital marketing gives any business the opportunity to share their products and services to a wider audience, it also leaves you wide open for criticism and complaints. It is easier than ever for a disgruntled customer to leave a comment on a social media post, or share a review online. An interviewer might ask you how you might handle this and what damage control you may implement. 

How would you set up and track the success of a digital marketing campaign?

With this question, they are looking for examples of your skillset and your knowledge. They want to know how you will track progress from pitch to marketing campaign implementation. Make sure you can provide examples. Perhaps even referring back to successful campaigns you have had in the past. 

What limitations are there for digital marketing for our business?

You can discuss things such as current audience and engagement levels, competition and trying to do it all. It could be that digital marketing for this business means focusing more on specific outlets, rather than spreading themselves thinly. Research is critical here. 

Hopefully, highlighting these questions will help you in your digital interview. 

How To Resign Professionally.

When you feel it is time to resign from your job, you want to ensure that you maintain a professional image. Parting ways with your current employer on good terms is always going to be the best possible scenario. However, when it comes to the actual resignation bit, it can be quite daunting. This article will show you how to resign professionally to put your mind at ease. 

Before you resign

Before you actually take the plunge and resign there are a couple of crucial things you need to have. This would be your job offer letter and a start date. Resigning and giving notice often means that a leaving date gets set in stone, so you will want to make sure you have that information and a job to go to. Also be aware of your resignation period, as this may affect your start date with your new employer. In the event you are resigning without a job to go to, try and put some plans into place for financial stability so you can work out your next move. All of these things will give you confidence during a resignation meeting. 

Writing your resignation letter and giving adequate notice

Your line manager is usually the person you would discuss your resignation with first. They will require a letter of resignation. Your line manager may also need to forward this to your HR department. Within the letter always remain professional and positive. You will also want to highlight your notice period and your intended leave date within it. Check your contract to understand what minimum notice period you will need to give if you are unsure. 

Job Handover

Whilst you are working your notice, you might be required to train a new member of staff to take over your role, or prepare some handover documents to help with the transition period. Always remain professional and polite. Maintaining good relationships with previous employers will always be worthwhile in the future. 

What to do after you resign?

There are some things you might need to do straight away whereas others might be completed nearer the time of you leaving. Work up until your last day, you always want to part on good terms!

Participate in Exit Interview

Most jobs will require an exit interview as part of the leaving process. They are normally held by your line manager or a member of Human Resources. You’ll be asked a range of questions to see why you are leaving and there will be an opportunity to provide feedback. 

Keeping in touch

Try to keep in touch with as many of your colleagues as you can as they can become a great source of networking contacts that may prove valuable in your next role or venture. It is always good to maintain working relationships. 

How to Write the Perfect Resignation Letter...

The time has come, and you have decided to move on from your current role. It has been a chaotic few years, but with the job market currently in a boom, this is a great time to look for a new role and to start planning to leave your existing one.

Hopefully you want to leave on a strong professional note, where your colleagues will be happy to recommend you and leave the door open for future ventures.

Handing in your notice can be a different experience for everyone, for some it will be emotional, others a relief, and for some - simply part of the process.

The key thing is to do it well, and ensure your written communication leaves a strong, positive, lasting impression.

Stages of resigning

Before even writing your letter, I would argue that the best thing to do is to have a conversation with your hiring manager outlining your intentions. No one wants to walk into the office and see the envelope on their desk, plus verbal communication is always preferred, even in tricky situations. The letter should be written once your line manager is aware and ready to receive it.

Why write a strong letter?

Your letter of resignation is a great way to leave a formal positive message on your employment record at your current employer.

As you will have already spoken with management about your decision to move on to pastures new you can get straight to the point and confirm your resignation in writing and suggest dates for when your notice should come to an end.



To confirm, as per our conversation, I am formally resigning from my role as.... My final day will be (4 weeks from the date is usual - but check your contract if unsure.)

Saying thankyou?

This part is not needed in a letter of resignation, but it can set the tone for your notice period and close the relationship on a positive note. I would advise that you thank your employer for the opportunity and identify key areas where you feel you have grown in the role and skills you have acquired as a result of being with the business. The person you are addressing will be writing your reference and compliments can go both ways.

Commitment to the end...

Finally, the worry of many an employer when an employee hands in their notice is that they may not be as dedicated during their notice period. Use this part of the letter to confirm that you will be focused up until the point of leaving, explain how you will complete outstanding work, and offer to help train on any areas that you may have expertise in.

You can just stick with a simple letter that gives dates, however, in my opinion, taking the time to add detail to your resignation ensures your notice period should be smooth and ensures you remain professional. Plus this letter will stay on file and if you ever decide to reapply for a role it will be there, showing your commitment levels for anyone looking to check out your history.

Not quite found the role to make writing your resignation letter a reality? Have a look at our current opportunities on our website.


Interview With A Hiring Manager - Andrew Bishop, 1e.

Thanks very much to Andrew Bishop, Legal/Contracts Manager from London based, global software company, 1e, who has taken time out of his day to have a chat about what he looks for when hiring, what impresses, and what is a turn off.

Firstly, can you tell us a little about what you do within 1e?

My principal role is Legal/Contracts Manager however I also run the day to day HR function and various other bits and pieces.

How did you get into HR and Legal administration?

I was looking into legal & administration operational roles and kind of landed in it.

What advice would you give to someone looking to do a similar role?

Be prepared to be the master of all trades and the first point of call on nearly anything. Ambiguity must be something you are not only comfortable with, but something you revel in.

Is a 4 Day Week Feasible For Your business?

Our lifestyles have significantly changed over the past decade. We have gone from being a society expecting people to work all of the hours to get ahead in their careers, to realising that well-being and mental health can significantly impact performance. So what does this mean? While traditionally you would expect to work forty-plus hours each week to be successful, many employers have reported a positive impact on work rate when employees are given more flexible working arrangements. 

There has been a lot of talk about a four-day week. This is where you would consulate your working hours into four days and then enjoy three rest days rather than the traditional weekend off. But is a four-day week feasible for your business? Let’s look at it in more detail. 

The benefits of a four-day working week 

Let’s start with some of the positives of a four-day working week. There will be benefits that will impact both your employees and your business. Here are some of the considerations to think about as a business:

Less sick days

Sickness absence costs businesses a lot of money. A longer rest period will help to reduce potential stress and mental health absences. 

Reduce your carbon footprint 

There is a lot of focus on businesses being more eco-friendly and a four-day week could help with that. 

Cut running costs of your business 

If you operate solely four days a week then this could significantly reduce your running costs the business. You gain an extra day where power will be reduced and other costs that you may incur during the business day. 

Happier employees mean a more productive workforce

If you have happier employees then you are likely to get more efficiency out of them during their working days, which is better for you as a business. 

Increased retention of staff

As your staff will feel valued, you are more likely to retain staff in positions rather than lose them to other businesses providing flexible working options. 

What about your employees?

There will also be some benefits for your employees. These include:

Better work and home life balance 

If they feel like they are getting more downtime then this can help them to improve their home and work-life balance. 

Help your employees financially 

A four-day week could also help your employees financially. There won’t be any increase in wage, but they may be able to reduce their childcare and transport costs. 

More productive and feeling valued 

If they feel valued as individuals then you an employee will be more productive in the hours they do work. 

Are there any downsides?

There are of course other considerations to make when it comes to a four-day working week. You need to think about whether your business could function with a four-day workforce. Or whether a shift pattern will need to be introduced to ensure a seven-day operation. Having the right support from leadership and the technology to support the move will also be important. 

Is a four-day week is feasible for your business?

Mental Well Being at Work 

As recruiters we are in the privileged position of seeing how other businesses operate daily. Which means we get a fantastic insight into how to retain staff and encourage wellbeing in the workplace.

Mental health and well being are current topics, and we work with some companies who have really worked hard and offer some amazing packages to their people. Increasing happiness in the workplace, which in turns drives productivity and retention.

Put simply, happy employees are less likely to leave, and an engaged work force is a motivated one.

For most of us, work is where we spend the majority of our time. It can form our friendship groups, dictate our income and cause us the most stress.

It can directly impact our mental health.

Because we all have mental health, as we do physical health.

To a degree, it is obvious when we are looking after ourselves physically – we can go to the gym, for walks, to the pool – exercising our body can be done in a variety of ways.

Mental health – that can be different, there isn’t a gym we can go to challenge and improve our mindset.

So how can we tackle it in the workplace – and as employers, do our best to give our teams the most support possible?

Looking for the signs of distress is hugely important, if a team member suddenly begins to act differently, appear tired or down, perhaps a conversation off site to understand the root cause could work. Giving a space and a time for someone to communicate with you could be all they need to start a conversation which could lead to helping them.

Then finding them the support they need.

Talking about mental health is a huge step in terms of making it more ‘normalised’ in the workplace. Being a leader who is approachable will be recognised by a team positively.

Next week at Signet we have an interactive workshop, ran by Emma Browning, looking at Mental Health and Wellbeing.

It will look at

1.Understanding what we mean by employee Mental health & wellbeing

2.The facts and data that back up why its important

3.Some best practice ideas and suggestions of what could be included in a Mental Health & wellbeing policy

4.MIND – Employer Gold, Silver Bronze Employer Status Program