NHS in general
Like many people around the country, this week I received notification of the NHS Summary Care Record initiative. This will see medical information on anyone registered with an NHS GP practice entered onto an online system which will be accessible by NHS staff in any location. It sounds like a good idea in theory, and the ... benefits sound impressive:
- If you need treatment, NHS staff will be able to access details on any medication you are taking and whether you have any allergies, to medication or other substances. They will only be able to access your record with your explicit consent.
- You will have access to your own record and will be able to access online appointment services to make your own hospital appointments (I like the sound of this very much). You will also be able to set controls to limit access to some of the information on your record, in a similar way to Facebook settings.
- Initially, the records will only hold information on current medication and allergies, along with personal details such as name, address, age and NHS number. You will able to include any other information you wish, such as past or current illnesses and conditions. This will save you from having to rehash your entire medical history should you be anywhere but your own GP's surgery.
Well that is just common sense, surely? One of the most frequent criticisms of the NHS is that the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing. Centralising information will result in a better service overall.
Inevitably, though, there are also counterarguments.
- It won't be secure. They will do all that they can to make it secure, but it won't be. However good the security is, there is no way to make any system completely inviolable and even if there were, it would still be open to abuse and errors from those with access to it. How long do you suppose it will be before someone copies a load of records onto a disk and then leaves the disk on a train?
- The data entry will of course be a manual process, and this is only ever as good as the person sitting at the keyboard. A relative of mine was recently given a letter to take to her hospital consultant which stated that she'd had a hysterectomy in the past two years, which was news to her (you'd think she'd have noticed something like that). This does not exactly instil confidence, and since you will have access to your own record, the onus will be on you to ensure that it is correct. According to the SCR website*, updates will be subject to quality control checks, but the volume of data makes this unlikely to be a practical solution. Let's assume that on average, each person visits a doctor or other health professional four times a year. With a population of sixty million, even if only twenty percent of those visits result in a record being updated, that is just over 13,000 updates PER DAY. It's not feasible to expect that any but a small majority of these are going to be checked by anyone else, so it's going to be up to you.
- It's going to be VERY expensive - up to £12.7 billion at last count. No, that's not a typo.
- Logistically, it will be a nightmare for NHS staff who will need to ask for your consent - presumably in writing - every time they need to view your SCR.
- The words 'It will initially cover three areas' are highly suspicious, as this can only mean that at some future time it will be decided (on our behalf) that the SCR should contain more details, whether we like it or not.
So you're probably sitting there thinking 'well, it sounds like it could be a good idea. I'll have a think about whether I want my medical history floating around in cyberspace, and then I might sign up'. Here's the catch:
You are already signed up.
Let's repeat that for the benefit of those not paying attention at the back:
YOU ARE ALREADY SIGNED UP.
You are assumed to have consented unless you opt out. If you don't do this, you can't change your mind and opt out later as once your record is created, it can never be completely removed; it can be overwritten with a blank record, but the underlying data will still be there.
In order to opt out, you will need to download a form from the website, pick one up from your GP or send off for one using the form provided (this takes 2-3 weeks). Of course, they could simply include the opt-out form - which could have space on it for all family members - with the letter; one suspects that they are aware of the reservations that many people have and are making the opt-out system as difficult as possible. My PCT is part of the second wave of the roll-out and has given a deadline of June 10th 2010; unless I notify my GP by then, my record will be created, even though this may not be until September 2011.
Of course, I'm not under any illusion that my medical history is going to be of interest to anyone but me. If the system is hacked into, or unscrupulous NHS staff are sneakily looking up records without permission, they're hardly going to be interested in a rather ordinary thirtysomething mother of two. It's just that I have this image in my head of the whole thing being a kind of bloated medical Wikipedia with 60 million pages; you won't know who has access to your record, anyone who can access it can update it, and if you want to make sure everything on there is correct, it's up to you to check it. I have enough on my plate without having to look in every couple of weeks to make sure that my record doesn't have someone else's blood test results on it because the person who entered the data was a bit hungover (you KNOW this is going to happen).
So I'm going to be opting out. The system may sound like a good idea, but it's not going to be anywhere near perfect, and if that's the case - what's the point?
Read the complete review
NHS in general
I unfortunately have no option but to be part of the medical system of the NHS, as I currently have to many outgoings to be able to afford for private healthcare but the moment I am able to I shall be getting rid of the nhs care, or lack of care that I and my family receive. I have had many experiences of the services and ... care that the nhs provide and overall my opinion of the care they give is shocking. However there has been on one particular occassion when my mother suffered a brain tumour where the nhs care in a particular hospital was simply exquisite.
My family have suffered greatly with ill health throughout their life, my mother as detailed and my father having type 1 diabetes, heart failure, kidney disorders and a brain complaint also whom is now wheelchair bound at home. I have experienced various one off incidents with the nhs before I gave birth with general health and visiting the doctors, but it wasnt until I dealt with them through my birth and the treatment to wards my father that my disgust of the nhs really becamse apparent.
I will not go into great detail regarding my personal matters however words can only fail me at the state of many areas of the nhs. My father was in hospital for 3 months after suffering a huge heart attack. The ward was shut every other week due to the norovirus and my father caught this awful bug whilst there, and he was treated with lack of dignity and respect. He is 70 years of age and cannot walk and was verbally abused by nursing staff, not attended to for hours on end, was not washed daily, and was fed wrong types of food when he was on a speical diet, which added ot his health problems.
After a 2 week closure of the ward from the bug when we were finally able to see my father he was so weak he couldnt lift his head, had not been taken out of bed at all, stank due to lack of cleanliness and his feet were black with dirt. He was angry, disorietated and petrified.
After his operation which was thankfully up in london he returned to another hospital which catered specifically for elderly patients, however most of the wards were specifically dedicated to dementia patients. This was an awful experience for my father, who was attacked twice within this ward due to lack of security and then was violently attacked which caused an investigation and hence emotional issues for my father afterwards.
The care I received throughout my pregnancy and birth were appauling, with lack of staff, change of appointments, dirty wards, lack of personal care and daily needs, rudeness and aggression, as well as nursing staff forgetting to do highly important procedures. This to went through an investigation but nothing has ever been dealt with as the hospital refuse to take responsibitly.
All in all I dont rate the nhs in any shape or form, there are a minority of medical staff who do care, are wonderful and are gracious and exquisite in all areas with their patients but when you find this try and keep it close as I find its not found in the majority of healthcare.
Read the complete review
Looking for a job
Earlier in 2009 I was made redundant from my job & started the process of looking for another. This was the first time in my working life I was without work. Things have changed considerably in the job market since the last time I looked for work & the stark realities of recruitment agencies have now been brought to ... my attention.
Since leaving school I have worked in the Motor industry, starting off as a humble apprentice mechanic (they call them technicians now) & over the years working my way up to an Aftersales manager at a number of busy dealerships. I looked for another challenge around the mid 1990s & got a job as a regional manager for two car companies, one foreign & one British, jobs that I really enjoyed.
All those previous job vacancies were filled during 'boom times' when unemployment was low & competition for work wasn't too bad. How things have changed, each job now has a large number of people applying making it even tougher.
HOW IT ONCE WAS
Previous jobs I had applied for rarely needed a CV, I remember going for an interview straight from the garage where I worked in tatty clothes, no CV, no smart suit & tie, no assessments or biometric tests, just me explaining about myself & what I was capable of doing. Right there & then I was offered the job. Fantastic, if only it was that simple now.
You are not going to get far these days without an up to date CV, you may get asked what is a CV for? Many would say it's to help you get a job. Its not, a CV will help a prospective employer get a first impression of you & may lead to he or she making further enquires & the possibility of an interview.
Your CV is like a market stall, you way you 'set it out' is so important. Imagine having a market stall with goods of little interest to attract buyers, they would all walk past & spend nothing. You want something that generates interest & has everybody browsing at your stall first before they look elsewhere. Your CV is in a similar situation. The average employer will only look at the first two pages of a CV for around 20-30 seconds that is all you get to capture their interest so the CV has to be good.
It's now 2009 & employers can pick & choose the best people they want. I now had to construct an up to date CV, there are no shortages of websites advising you on how to do this, my local job centre offers classes on the subject on a regular basis.
Keep it brief (two pages), keep it factual, give contact details, just go back ten years etc, there is loads of advice out there. However, my last CV from the mid 1990s was made up by a friend of the family who could work a computer in those days; she had much experience of building CVs at the time so I basically copied the format of her original one.
The problem was it was six pages long & my last job details would have been on page three; no employer would get that far so this CV went to the recycle bin. Start again & this time I made it two pages long with my personal details at the start, below that my key skills & then my last position giving brief but important details. This was followed by my previous job & a brief education list followed by brief hobbies & interests.
This style of CV came from a template I was given after I volunteered to attend a job search seminar locally. The seminar was set up for young people leaving school with out any qualifications & no job experience. The day I attended nine other delegates failed to turn up so I was given a 'one to one' session from a very experienced gentleman with many years experience in recruitment & HR.
I made up the CV which he approved of & he asked me to keep a copy of my six page one after I attended an interview as it gave the prospective employer more detailed information on me.
I have one copy of the CV on my lap top as many will be requested via websites, but you have to be prepared to send hard copies to companies & I was advised to print them off on good quality paper. Some agencies advise using coloured paper. Apparently when the prospective employer gets deluged with CVs & files them away, a coloured version will always be reselected first. However I was told at the seminar to stick to plain white & nothing else!
The first recruitment company I spoke to advised me to make up an achievement list, they said take three or four items you have achieved over the years & list them down with some details.
I immediately thought of the green flag I won in the 100 yards sack race at school & my Tufty badge & certificate I earned when I was six for crossing the road safely. Surprisingly that wasn't what they were thinking!!
After I sat down for a while I did think of four major achievements I carried out as part of my job. I listed them as problem, solution & result. The finished document can be tagged onto a CV if sent in the post or listed on as a request in the main CV.
THE JOB ADVERTS
Oh those job adverts!! I applied for two jobs within two days with two different descriptions & salaries only to find out it was the same job! I applied for another job from an agency only to find the same job advertised with three other agencies & all with different salaries!
If you do get one that makes sense look for the abbreviations that agencies having the knack of inserting in their ads, the sort of thing I mean is like OTE, FMCG, DOE, CRM, OEM, KPI, CPD, SAP, ABDP, FM, IFM & DAS, confused? Well at the end of this review I have listed an S.W.A.M.L. (That is a Scottish Westie abbreviation master list) just to help you.
Quite cunning some of these job ads, they will state that the salary 'exceeds minimum wage', yeah but by how much? If it exceeds by 5p an hour their description is correct but it's still a poor wage.
Where are the best places for the best jobs? I found the local press disappointing, obviously it's the best for local jobs but vacancies left a lot to be desired. There was a greater choice via the Internet but it does mean finding as many job agencies as you can & save their home page on your Internet browser.
Many will email you daily with vacancies dependant on your requirements but many are duplicates of the same jobs.
This surprisingly was seldom asked for during my job searching period but it is important to fill these in carefully if presented with one. One of them was computer based & could be filled in on the computer, don't rely too much on your 'spall chacker' as quite often mistakes made are not picked up & you don't want to fire off an application form with badly spelt words.
One form had to be filled in by hand although it came off the computer; many companies still look at hand writing as an important aspect in the process of looking at candidates. My last company absolutely insisted on a hand written letter when applying for the job.
Fill in your applications forms carefully & don't put false details in as you will get caught out, make no mistake. I know one chap who inserted information about his last job in the Middle East in a high ranking position which never existed, three months after getting the job he was sacked when they found out it was all false.
PERMANENT, TEMPORARY OR CONTRACT?
You don't always get the benefits of permanent work when you choose temporary jobs but at least if you get lumbered with a bad employer it's only on a temporary basis. My partner used to do temp work & found it hard going, if your not a car owner, being sent to all corners of a busy city can be time consuming & expensive if your wage is quite low. You were also under a lot of pressure to learn new systems & peoples names & roles for what could be a job lasting a week.
Contract work has now got the benefits of permanent work as regards holidays but little else. Don't expect pension contributions, private health care & other benefits. Once the contract is finished that's it, many companies are now hiring contract workers as in many cases it is more cost effective for them in the long term. Apparently contract workers usually find replacement jobs quite quickly & can be often the ones who are hired first before permanent staff.
But according to a market analysis by Ochre House, full-time interim managers who have dominated the contract and temporary market in recent years are in danger of being ousted by a growing wave of redundant professionals.
They found that over 70% of organisations recruiting senior personnel on a fixed or short-term basis would prefer someone coming from a permanent role.
For me there are a large number of recruitment agencies that specialise in motor industry jobs. In the motor industry alone there are at least 120 different job descriptions such as:
Car designers, engineers, production line installers, assembly workers, test drivers, technicians, technical trainers, assessors, painters, panel beaters, delivery drivers, inspectors, warranty administrators, parts warehouse staff, finance managers, automotive accountants, logistic managers, sales managers, sales staff, marketing managers, consultants, valeters, workshop foreman, parts staff, auditors & so much more.
This was my first port of call & in particular the most well known agencies who have been in business for decades & specialise in motor industry recruitment. As I was about to find out, just like any other industry there is good & bad. Within a period of two weeks I contacted 28 separate agencies not all dedicated to the motor industry, some had a rich & diverse portfolio.
The good agencies would accept your basic details & CV on line & immediately confirm they had your details & make the effort to contact you on a daily basis with updates. Some would even call me to get additional information. These companies were very helpful when you first become unemployed as they give you some hope during a depressive time & also give sound advice.
However, many didn't even acknowledge receipt of your details & then I had the laborious task of phoning & emailing them to ensure they had my details. It was then you begin to realise you have little hope of employment if I was to put my faith in them.
They didn't reply to emails, you would phone & they would say they will get someone to call back, they never did. One company I registered with sent me an email to confirm receipt of my details but insisted that I phoned them back to complete the registration.
When I phoned them about an hour later they said they had no details yet (!?!) but would call back later in the afternoon, they never did. Two days later I phoned them & the person I spoke to made it pretty obvious he had better things to do than speak to me but carried through the process all the same.
Some recruitment companies send you an email every day with the latest jobs but there lies the next problem. They would send you a message stating "Good news, we have 12 new jobs for you", so you click on to their site, log in & discover that the 12 jobs are all exactly the same job but it has been listed by 12 separate recruitment agents using the main one as a 'Trojan horse' site.
Often I would log in to a recruitment site & filter down the vacancies to my needs, they would list over 1000 jobs but when you worked your way through them, they were duplicated so many times spread over so many pages. It was so frustrating!
One of the better agencies 'called me in' for an interview locally & tried to establish my key skills (not basic skills) to see if that would increase my chances of a decent job. They were basically doing what I had to do when looking for work & establish the various roles my previous job had & look for individual jobs linked to some of the roles.
The problem was they promised a lot & I left the meeting all charged up, that was the last I heard of the agency! I was informed by an ex agency worker that agencies have their priorities...............the employer. They want to get as many names on their books as possible; it's as simple as that.
It must be hard for them at present being deluged with unemployed people looking for work but I will name & shame the ones that messed me about.
Parsley Black: Still waiting for confirmation of my CV being registered despite repeated emails & calls since April!
Perfect Placement: Communicated a number of times with job offers but I had to chase them for follow ups, they would leave you hanging on for days before getting back to you.
Reed recruitment: Promised a lot but failed to deliver, poor communications.
PG Automotive: I would apply for jobs & the criteria asked for by the employer would be exactly what they required, but this agency refused to submit my application & despite asking why, they would never reply to me. I was later informed that many agencies are asked to submit a certain number of candidates; if they get deluged with too many they simply ignore the extra ones.
Michael Page Associates, they would email me asking for an updated CV as they had two jobs that would interest me, within minutes I sent them my CV & never heard from them again despite numerous email requests.
Steele Dixon: The best of them all, good communications with advice but lacked choice of jobs.
ASSESSMENT, PSYCHOMETRIC, APTITUDE TESTS OR GRAPHOLOGY?
Within a couple of weeks my first job offer came up through an agency in London offering me a workshop controller's job at a dealership close to home. This was a job I did 20 years ago & the wages weren't great but 'beggars can't be choosers' & I needed the work. The agency admired my CV but then stated it would also work against me. The more qualifications you have the more it puts off some prospective employers as they think you will use them as 'stop gap 'measure until something better comes along. How frustrating you spend a lifetime trying to better yourself & gain as many qualifications & experience as you can only to find you are over qualified for a job you once did!
However my name was put forward & looked forward to the phone call asking for an interview...............it never came.
Second job came up the next day with an unknown car maker, I emailed my CV & details & a week later got a phone call from the recruitment agency handling the application.
Would I be prepared to go the next stage & have an assessment carried out I was asked. I agreed to it & was booked for the week ahead 600 miles from home. They wouldn't be contributing to my travelling expenses but a swift call to the job centre confirmed they would.
It was only then I found out who my potential employer would be, along with the details & benefits of the job. There weren't many benefits as the job was on short term contract but it was all I needed during these harsh times, once the contract expired hopefully the UK would be out of this recession.
Knowing that I had to sit assessments I spent a couple of hours on the Internet getting as much information as possible. These assessments can be tests to determine the kind of character you are & how you work in an environment as a team or on your own. Given what I was reading this assessment would tell a future employer more about who I really am that I would know myself. All of sudden a dark cloud was hovering above me.
The day came when I arrived at the companies HQ outside London along with 9 other candidates. I then found out that over 60 people are being assessed for the two jobs available!!
We were all ushered into a training room complete with security tags & name badges & got right to work. Assessment number one would last two minutes & you had to complete it on your own.
You had to pretend you on a sinking ship in the Southern Pacific Ocean & that you have a life boat big enough for four people, however there are five of you.
They list 15 items you can take with you & you need to list them in priority. Some are pretty obvious such as food, water, shark repellent & some are pretty useless such as a mosquito net (there are no mosquitoes in the South Pacific Ocean), transistor radio, shaving mirror etc.
Once you have listed them, you then join up & form a team of five people & spend the next few minutes making up the list again between yourselves. Here is where opinions differ & you end up with a completely different priority list.
Whilst you discuss the list, you are being carefully monitored; do you defend your list & try to get the others to reason with you? Do you listen to them & agree? You don't know what they are looking for as regards your personality.
What they are actually looking for is each individual's persuasiveness, enthusiasm, active listening, participation, quality of expression, analytical thoughts, determination, originality of ideas & sensitivity.
However after the tests were completed & they marked them, they come to the conclusion that if we all had to survive a sinking ship on the basis of our lists................we would have all drowned!!
Assessment test two was another group effort, you had to construct a basic business plan together selling T-Shirts at Brighton beach, price the goods, work out how much you would sell over the summer, how much profit you would make & how you would market it. This would be done form basic information they supplied.
Once completed the presentation via a flip chart was then conveyed to the five strong management & recruitment team. Once they found a weak spot in your plans they would carefully 'tear it apart' & discredit your efforts, despite the fact they only gave you the minimum information & 15 minutes to complete the task. Blimey, I doubt if Richard Branson or Alan Sugar would have achieved this!!
Once finished you felt that you had just gone two rounds with Mike Tyson, after this, the Apprentice with Alan Sugar felt like a picnic!! We were informed that the lucky ones would get an interview in two weeks along with a psychometric test. Whoopee, the joy in everyone's face with the thought of a gruelling psychometric test was a sight to behold.
In a way I was hoping this would be the last I would hear of this job & it was, I didn't get the chance to go any further. At one point I questioned the assessment as regards the role of the job, was this assessment set up to impress the employer for the benefit of the recruitment agency & to justify the fees they charge?
Some other likely assessment tests can include the 'in tray exercise' where you are given a set time to sort out a selection of emails & prioritise them into groups such as immediate action, deferring action, delegation, etc.
This assessment would determine your analytical abilities, sensitivity, lucidity, common sense & your ability to work under pressure.
Another example of an assessment is a situation where a MD has been intentionally removed from the guest list of an important event & he is deeply offended. You have a set time to draft a letter of reply which tests your judgement, conciseness, tact, honesty, imagination & powers of expression.
There is a website set up for candidates to upload their assessments to allow others to see & compare & to also prepare them for what they might experience.
These are used when a prospective employer is looking to see if you will 'fit in' with a particular organisation. The questions asked are used to identify you reactions to situations where there are no right or wrong answers. In this situation you are tempted to fake your answers but you are always advised to be honest, remember you don't what they are looking for.
These are designed to assess a wide range of abilities & usually include numeracy, literacy & diagrammatical reasoning or critical thinking. They can show up if you are either good or excellent, or for that matter bad or truly awful!!
You normally get a set number of questions & a ridiculous short time to complete them, in these cases you are advised to complete as many as possible rather than skim through the lot & make more mistakes. Tests like these don't have negative marking such as points deducted for wrong answers.
What are they? These tests identify particular skills, typically words & figures but also diagrammatic reasoning that measures spatial awareness, logic & basic aptitude. It's the sheer unfamiliarity that leads many candidates to under perform so it's really advised to carry out on-line dummy runs before hand. Experts advise doing regular puzzles such as Sudoku help in these situations! Oh yeah?
Here is some small samples of a psychometric test taken form a book called Ultimate psychometric tests by Mike Bryon, it looks quite easy but just imagine you have about 50 of these & a limited time to complete them.
1: Find four letter words using the end & beginning of two of these three words. Windfall mask incapable
Island miscellaneous thwart
2: Swop two words to make this sentence read sensibly.
Book publishing is big business, the industry is worth £4 billion and more than 12000 books are published in the UK a year and each third of which are exported.
3: Suggest an answer that is the opposite of the example.
Example Unfaltering. Choose either, Courageous, Irresolute, Inflexible or Adamant.
4: What word is the past particle?
The broken marriage was a great disappointment to all.
5: Without a calculator, pen & paper
List the factors of 60
6: Again without a calculator, pen & paper
Find 12.5% of 3 hours & 40 minutes
7: No calculator or pen & paper
What is the percentage decrease between 220 & 215.6
8: Which barometric reading would you expect on a rainy day?
970mbar, 1010mbar or Cannot tell
9: Which is the least dense?
Ice, Water or Oil
10: How many colours in a rainbow
5, 6, 7 or 8
This is popular in Europe but thankfully not properly recognised in the UK. Graphology is the study & analysis of hand writing in relation to human psychology. It has been controversial for more than a century & although supporters point to evidence of thousands of positive testimonials as a reason to use it for personality evaluation, most studies have failed to show the validity claimed by its supporters.
NUMBER OF APPLICANTS
Make no mistake here, when you apply for a job you make think you are the right person for the job as you have all the right skills. It can come as a shock when you find out how many other people are also applying for the same job with ether the same skills or higher.
Most jobs in 2009 have at least 10 applications, many including one recently advertised van driver's job in North London attracted over 200 applications. I saw a trainee sales administrator in London posted one day on a recruitment website & within 24 hours it had 542 enquires!!!!!
It really is 'dog eat dog' out there, no matter how good you think you are there is someone else applying for the same job who may just be better skilled. It all adds to the pressure, that better skilled person may not put him or herself across so well as you or just maybe better presenting themselves to a would be employer.
If you survive an assessment / aptitude test, personality test or psychometric assessment you may just get a second chance of an interview.
Some companies will conduct a brief phone interview first to try & build up a picture of you & them ask you along to a proper interview.
One job I applied for required two phone interviews & one normal interview, there comes a time when you are starting to run out of things to speak about!
The problem with interviews is that you don't know what to expect. For my last job I endured a two hour interview with two people, one HR manager & my future department manager.
They would 'fire off' questions to you very quickly & see how you react quite often not giving you the chance to think about the answer in between. I was asked to give a detailed explanation on how a vehicle's automatic transmission works without diagrams or notes, whilst I am struggling to put a coherent description in place I am being interrupted by the HR manager asking where I last went on my holidays & then questioning why I went there. After the two hour interview I was physically & mentally drained & convinced I blew my chances of a job, however I got it in the end.
Interviews can be 'one to one' or front of two or more people; in one case I was interviewed by five people. Here are do's & don'ts about interviews from advice given by many employment agencies.
Do turn up smartly dressed even if the company has a 'casual dress' policy. Clean, well pressed suit, skirt (unless you're a man), smart shirt / blouse, tie etc. Don't overdo the jewellery, dressing up with like a rap star on a shopping expedition or wearing ear rings like bar maid Bet Lynch won't impress the interviewer. Gents, hide the medallions!
I turned up at a group interview with another candidate who was dressed very smartly in a two piece dark suit, however his sandy coloured desert boots, his sunglasses with 'bling' written all over them & a bright tie that needed a dimmer switch may have proved too much for some!
Do some research on the company you hope to work for, find out about their products, their goals, their market share etc. In fact find out a much as you can which thanks to the internet is much easier these days.
Do try & remain calm, I often get very nervous before hand but when you actually arrive at a reception area for the interview I usually find the nerves steady up.
Do try & look confident, not easy considering the job means so much to you that you are a bag of nerves in the first place. Try not to look too confident though.
Do shake hands but only if they offer first & look the person in the eye, eye contact is so important as is a firm handshake but don't crush their hands.
Do take notes & have some questions pre written, no one would mind if short notes are taken through at interview but try & avoid what looks like you are writing the entire volume of 'War & Peace'!
Do take spare copies of your CV with you just in case they haven't got any. Also ensure you know your CV back to front & all the dates & information is correct.
Don't arrive late, be early & twiddle your thumbs rather arrive late; it doesn't set a good example.
Don't ask question on subjects that have just been covered as it appears you haven't been listening.
Don't 'um' & 'er', Nothing is more off putting to an interviewer than answering a question with an 'um' or an 'er' in each sentence no matter how nervous you are. Practise answering questions in front of a mirror beforehand & cut out all the 'ums' & 'ers'.
Don't prattle on, they want significant information about your career history not your entire life story.
Don't ask about salary until the very end of the interview if at all, some companies will inform you however many won't until they assess your credentials.
Don't give them the impression you are desperate to work for them even if you are, if you have been made redundant they know you want work, don't keep reminding them.
QUESTIONS QUESTIONS QUESTIONS
You may get asked some awkward questions which if you are not prepared can be difficult to answer effectively. Listed below are a number of difficult questions I have taken from various agency websites. It is easy answering some of them when you have time to think about them, but just imagine being asked a number of these & having to give a meaningful answer right away. The secret is to be prepared.
Tell me/us about a time you delegated a project effectively.
Tell me/us about a time you prioritised the elements of a complicated project.
Tell me/us about a time when you made a bad decision.
Tell me/us about a time when you turned down a good job.
What are people's greatest misperceptions about you?
If I was to call your manager, what would he/she is the one thing you're relied on for the most?
If you had to do it all again what would be your career choice & why?
If I/we were to talk with people who know you best how would they describe you?
Are you the best person for the job?
Professionally what is your strongest point?
Professionally what is your weakest point?
Why do you want to work for us?
What can you do for us that someone else can't?
How long would it take you to make a meaningful contribution to our company?
Your CV suggests you are over qualified for this position, what is your opinion?
What three important trends do you see in our industry?
Why aren't you earning more at your age?
DISAPPOINTMENTS & REJECTIONS
It's very rarely that you get the first job you try for; you need to be prepared for rejection. I tired for a job with a closing date of a Friday in May, by then over 15 people had applied for the job. On the Monday morning I received an email stating that the vacancy had been filled & thank you for my enquiry! I later found out it was filled internally, but for two weeks you are hanging on with the hope of a possible job.
Next job I applied for I sent my covering letter & CV to the agency only to have it sent back two days later when I was informed that six ex employees of the company had applied for the job & they would get priority. Arghhhhh!!
It's bad enough losing out to a job after an interview but when you don't even get the chance of the interview it becomes demoralising.
It's easy to say but don't give up hope, you have to keep trying, if you can't find a job in your own field of work why not try something else. Training courses are available & if you are on job seekers allowance you'll get these courses free of charge.
A LONG PROCESS
Each time I applied for a job the whole process could take weeks, the job is advertised & after about 2-3 weeks you may then be asked to attend an interview, another week to ten days has passed until your interview & then after your interview you are left waiting for a result. It's now six weeks on & they inform you that your application isn't successful.
However, by then I had applied for another job & the whole process started again. As 'one door was closing', another was opening. The problem here is that three months on you have nothing to show for your efforts.
A different strategy was required, I starting applying for jobs with much smaller salaries & positions I wasn't 100% comfortable with. Some weeks I would apply for five to six separate jobs & still only get the minimum response from agencies.
We would like to think that when we attend an interview the company handling the interview would be as professional as possible....not so!
One job interview I attended the interviewer was 15 minutes late & he was more nervous than me! On another interview the interviewer was very laid back, so laid back that he was almost unconscious.
He didn't know the salary, he issued me with the wrong working hours, he forgot to ask me a number of important questions & he filled in the application incorrectly. It doesn't inspire confidence.
On another occasion I applied for a temporary job lasting two months, the advert stated that I had to apply for an application form either by email or post. I choose email & fired it off; you would think the person at the other end would just send you back a brief reply such as 'application form in the post'.
Not so, after eight days & three emails asking for a form & receiving nothing in return, I posted them a letter asking for an application form. When it eventually arrived they forgot to send the application form, they only sent a covering letter.
However, this time I had a phone number, so after repeated attempts I eventually spoke to someone at the company who agreed to send on the form without as much as an apology.
When the form eventually arrived 10 days prior to the job starting date it stated that I wouldn't be considered for the job until I could prove I wasn't trying to obtain work illegally. To do that they requested I posted them my passport (copies not accepted), utility bills & two passport sized photos with different images of my face. They also wanted my bank details before I even got an interview! I binned the letter; I didn't have the confidence in the company to look after my passport let alone complete the application process.
One employer clearly said to me that he would personally contact me within seven days to let me know either way if I had the job or not. He went on to inform me that his company is very professional & we wouldn't mess people about. Four months on I'm still waiting for that phone call!!
Another company gave me a 35 minute phone interview & expressed an interest in me stating that they would like to offer me a proper interview even giving me the choice of location. When I never heard anymore I contacted the agency who stated that I wasn't a strong enough candidate to be offered an interview!! A real confidence boosting experience that one!
In the end I got two jobs, one temporary & one starting early next year, the latter I got as a 'tip off' from an old colleague. It came as a relief in the end after months enduring appalling levels of service from job agencies.
ABBREVIATIONS OFTEN FOUND ON JOB ADS
AAD Automotive Aftermarket Division
ABAP Advance Business Application Programming
APQP Advanced Product Quality Planning
ARM Adjustable Rate Mortgage
ATA Advanced Technology Attachment
ATL Above The Line
B2B Business to Business
B2C Business to Customer
BIT Business Improvements Techniques
BMS Battery Management Systems
BMS Building Management Systems
BMS Broadcast Message Server
BTL Below The Line
CAD Computer Aided Design
CAE Certified Automotive Engineer
CAE Computer Aided Engineering
CAE Common Appliances Environment
CATIA Computer Aided Three-Dimensional Interactive Application
CBT Compulsory Basic Training
CFD Contract For Difference
CFO Chief Financial Officer
CIM Continuous Improvement Manager
CMA Certified Management Accountant
CMA Corporate Market Analysis
CMOS Complimentary Metal Oxide Semi-Conductor
CNC Computer Numerically Controlled
CPC Cost per Click
CPD Continuing Professional Development
CRM Customer Relationship Management
CSCS Construction Skills Certification Scheme
DAT Direct Access Training
DBA Database Administrator
DOE Depending on Experience
ECS Electronic Clearing Service
ECS Electronic Controlled Suspension
EDI Electronic Data Interchange
EDI Education Development Initiative
EEO/AA Equal Employment Opportunity / Affirmative Action
EHS Environmental Health & Safety
EIB European Investment Bank
EMC Electro Magnetic Compatibility
EMC Executive Management Committee
ERP Enterprise Resource Planning
ETS Educational Testing Services
ETS Engineering Technical Services
ETS Emissions Trading Scheme
F&DT Fatigue & Damage Tolerance
FAE Fuel Air Explosives
FD Finance Director
FM Facility Management
FMCG Fast Moving Consumer Goods
FMEA Failure Modes & Effects Analysis
FTSE Financial Times Stock Exchange
GDP Gross Domestic Product
GHG Greenhouse Gases
GMP Good Manufacturing Practices
GP Gross Profit
HEVS Hybrid Electric Vehicle Systems
HVAC Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning
IC Intelligence Community
IFA Institute of Financial Accounts
IFM International Facility Management
IMT Information Management Tool
IMT Industrial Market Trends
ITIL Information Technology Infrastructure Library
KPI Key Performance Indicators
LEP Local Employment Partnership
M&E Monitoring & Evaluation
MET Mean Effective Temperature
MI Management Information
MIS Management Information Systems
MMS Multimedia Messaging Service
NPD New Product Development
NPI National Provider Identifier
NPI Numbering Plan Indicator
NPI New Product Introduction
NPI Negative Polarity Item
NVQ National Vocational Qualification
OEE Overall Equipment Efficiency
OEM Original Equipment Manufacturer
OSS Operations Support System
OSS Open Source Software
OTE On Target Earnings
P&L Profit & Loss
P2P Peer to Peer (Software)
PBE Personal Banking Executive
PBE Peak Business Equipment
PBE Programming by Example
PBE Paint Body Equipment
PBE Production Budgetary Estimate
PBE Place Based Education
PCM Pre Calendar Month
PDE Process Development Engineer
PHP Hypertext Pre-Processor
PL Procedural Language
PLC Public Limited Company
PLC Programmable Logic Controller
PM Plant Maintenance
PP Production Planning
PPAP Production Part Approval Process
PPC Pay Per Click
PSCM Purchasing & Supply Chain Management
PTA Power Tools Accessories
PTFE Polymer Textile Fibre Engineering
QAI Quality Assurance International
QHI Quality Health Indicators
QHSE Quality Health Safety Environment
QHSEE Quality Healthy Safety Environmental Engineer
RF Radio Frequency
RNC Radio Network Interchange
ROI Return on Investment
RSS Really Simple Syndication
S&D Systems & Development
SAP Systems Applications Products
SAS Statistical Analysis System
SCADA Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition
SCM Supply Chain Management
SD Sales & Distribution
SD/MM Successful Direct Marketing Methods
SD/MM Service Delivery Maturity Model
SEO Search Engine Optimisation
SFM Search Feed Management
SHEQ Safety Health Environment & Quality
SHESQ Safety Health Environment Security & Quality
SLA Service Level Agreement
SME Small Medium Enterprise
SMM Social Media Marketing
SMS Short Message Service
SQL Structured Query Language
SRM Supplier Relationship Management
TAC Technical Allocations Centre
TDD Telecommunications Device for the Deaf
TDD Test Drive Development
VBA Visual Basic for Applications
VHC Very Highly Commended
VHC Vehicle Health Checks
VSEO / VSO Video Search (Engine) Optimisation
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