Work

How to Prepare for a Job Interview

So you have applied for a job, if not several and have reached the next step in the recruitment process, having been offered an interview at the company you strive to work for. Congratulations! But remember you haven’t got the job yet, so effective preparation is key. The age old saying: ‘If you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail’ certainly comes into play.

When it comes to preparing for interviews, this is a task that takes time and can be a tedious process. However, it is essential to prepare to give yourself the best shot of getting the role, and to make your personality shine through, as well as making you stand out from the crowd. The following post shares some essential tips to effectively prepare for any future interviews, what to do during the interview and once the interview is over.

Prior To the Interview

Ensure You Work Around Your Other Commitments

  • It might not be the best of ideas to tell your current boss that you need time off to attend an interview, so ensure you book time off in advance. Do not call in sick as this can sever ties or lead to disciplinary action with your current company if they were to find out. When contacting your potential new employer, arrange a mutually convenient time, but give yourself enough time to prepare.

Practice Common Interview Questions.

  • Make use of online sources such as YouTube or perform a Google search to find common interview questions and good answers for them. Ensure you have plenty of examples at hand so you won’t be left stumped when you are asked any questions, in particular, difficult ones that are made to try to catch you off guard.
  • Do not use the same example more than once as this can backfire and show that you have not prepared effectively.

Research the Company and the Role Itself.

  • Perform some research on the company you are applying for, know their locations, departments, who their competitors are, as well as trying to find out their future plans, and recent news regarding the company that may have appeared in local newspapers etc. This will really pay off and shows you are keen, pro-active and highly interested in working for that particular company. The interviewer will know if you have done this so really do your research!
  • Get to know the job description like the back of your hand, and have examples that demonstrates your ability to perform the daily tasks required of the role, as well as the essential skills that are needed.
  • If the salary has not been stated, you will be asked your requirements, so try to do some research on the typical salary range for that particular role in the company, if not a similar role in another company. Use websites such as Glassdooror Indeed in order to find out this information.

On the Day

Dress To Impress.

  • Ensure you make an extra effort, and show that you take care in your appearance, this will really pay off as it shows you will represent their company professionally by conforming to their dress code. Don’t overdo it though, this is not the time to wear your favourite tuxedo!

Be On Time.

  • Ensure you plan in advance how you are getting to the interview, arrive in plenty of time, if you are early you can always go for a coffee somewhere and go over your notes.
  • Aim to arrive 10-15 minutes early to show you are a good timekeeper, and so the interview process runs smoothly and on time, they may have many other interviews to get through that day.

Show Enthusiasm.

  • Ensure positive body language, show your interest by maintaining eye contact and when answering questions, really let your personality shine through and make sure to smile!

Be Professional.

  • Don’t badmouth past or current employers, this will make you look bad. Also, back up any weaknesses you may have with a positive for example, you might come across as a shy character, but that is only because you like to assess the information you have been presented with and pay attention to detail.

Ask Questions.

  • An interview is not only the employer assessing your suitability for the role and getting to know you, but also you finding out everything you want to know and seeing if the role is ideal for you.
  • Prepare a list of questions so you don’t walk out of the interview having not found out something you wanted to know. By asking questions, you can find out any information you wanted to know that perhaps you weren’t aware of, and it is useful to be smart by asking questions relevant to the company. This will show further just how interested you are in working for them. Perhaps don’t ask about the benefits such as holiday entitlement just yet though, unless they tell you first.

After The Interview

Take Notes.

  • As soon as you walk out of the interview, quickly write down any questions that they asked before you forget, especially any difficult ones you might have struggled with. This can help you to prepare if you don’t get offered the job, and you will be able to utilise this information in any future interviews you may have and continually improve your interview technique. Also take note of any information you might want to remember such as holiday entitlement, working hours and salary.

Be Patient.

  • Some employers might get back to you straight away, others may take a while longer depending on how many interviews have taken place, and how many candidates they have to assess. Be patient and get on with your daily life and don’t be waiting around for an email or phone call, you will drive yourself crazy through anxiousness. Keep yourself busy to pass the time and take your mind off whether or not you have got the job. When you receive the call, if you have got the job, congratulations! your efforts have truly paid off and you can give yourself a pat on the back, embarking on the latest chapter of your life. If not, don’t get yourself down, as this will make you fall off track going forward in your job search. Keep applying for jobs, this one just wasn’t meant to be, you will find your ideal role eventually through perseverance and determination.

 

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Travel

7 Top Tips for Booking Holidays

Booking a holiday can often be a stressful task. It can take time to find the perfect holiday for you, having spent hours upon hours of browsing the internet, visiting travel agents and looking at reviews. The following post shares seven essential tips in order to find the ideal holiday for you, and perhaps save yourself time, money and stress.

1. Plan Ahead

Whether you are travelling alone, as a couple or with family or friends it would be beneficial to decide on dates that are mutually convenient as possible to all those involved. Booking time off work is the first step, and they are often first-come-first-served so get your holiday forms handed into your manager as soon as possible!

Prior to booking, ensure your passport is up to date and not close to expiry. This is where a lot of people go wrong and can lead to a lot of stress realising your passport is due to expire a week before you jet off. So avoid the potential embarrassment at the airport, and in order to receive your passport quicker, I would suggest using the check and send service provided by the Post Office, it costs extra but is 100% worth the extra money, I promise!

Additionally, ensure you purchase the necessary things you will need for your holiday including clothes, luggage and most importantly travel insurance! This needs to be booked as soon as possible after booking as this covers you in the event you can’t make your holiday due to an injury for example. Many people leave it last minute but this is highly unadvisable. Also, if travelling in Europe, ensure you have an up to date EHIC card. This will enable you to get access to free healthcare should you need it, if the locals don’t pay for it you shouldn’t have to either. Many people make the mistake of assuming that this adequately covers them in the event of injury or sickness, however it is highly advisable to have travel insurance also.

2. Tailor your search to suit you

Consider your budget, and make sure you know how you are paying for the holiday and your budget. Have the money up front? Go for it. If not, many companies offer deposit schemes such as Jet2Holidays who offer a deposit of £60pp with the remainder of the balance payable in installments. OnTheBeach also offer a deposit system, with you not having to pay until 2 weeks before your holiday subject to Ts and Cs.

In terms of accommodation, consider your board basis (All inclusive, half board, self-catering etc) and choose the one which works best for you. If you prefer more freedom, then half board, self-catering or B&B may be your best option as this enables you to have more meals outside of your hotel, or cook for yourself. All inclusive means all your meals and drinks are included, but some often get fed up of eating in the same place, so choose wisely.

Also, consider the type of holiday you want to go on and the hotel’s suitability for your travelling party. Have kids? you might want to read up on the facilities available both at your hotel and the local area. Fancy somewhere more relaxed as a couple? go for adults only as these tend to be more suitable. Or perhaps you fancy a short break, in which case city breaks over a weekend might be a good option.

3. Visit the High Street

You can usually find the best deals on the internet, from the comfort of your own home. Don’t rule out visiting your high street travel agents though, you can sometimes find excellent deals that are not available online, particularly last minute deals. Keep your options open and don’t restrict your search to the internet only.

4. Utilise package holiday websites

Through using package holiday sites such as Thomson or Jet2Holidays, you can include all the aspects of a holiday in one booking. Particularly for those who are less experienced when it comes to booking holidays, this can save a lot of time and stress. Your hotel, flights, and transfers will be included, and you can choose flight times to you, and even upgrade to a private transfer for an additional cost if you just can’t bear the thought of going on a coach. For those who are able to drive, you even have the option to include car hire as an extra. There are restrictions including age, how long you have had your licence for so be sure to check up on the rules regarding your particular car hire provider.

5. Consider booking separately

Don’t just assume that package holidays are cheaper. A lot of the time they can be, but by searching around using separate sites can sometimes save you some of you hard earned cash. See my recommendations below for booking separately:

Accommodation:

Hotels.com, Booking.com or Trivago.

Car Hire

Skyscanner Car Hire

Flights

Skyscanner

6. Consider Flight and Transfer Times

Choose a flight time convenient for all those travelling, however choosing certain flights can often add to the cost. Compromises may need to be made in terms of flight times particularly if you are on a budget. Choosing a later flight time for departure may mean losing out on a day at the start of your holiday, but if you wish to save yourself some cash then this can be an option.

Additionally, take into consideration how long your transfer to your hotel will take. When booking your holiday many websites will display how long the transfer will take from the airport, so if you prefer to keep the transfer time to a minimum, take this into consideration when booking your hotel.

7. Check Reviews

If you have found a hotel you particularly like the look of, it will really help to view reviews before booking. This will give you more of an idea as to what the hotel is really like, and you can find several unbiased reviews published by people from all over the world sharing their experience staying at a particular accommodation provider. The most widely used review site is Tripadvisor.co.uk and I highly recommend using this site. Consider writing your own review upon returning from your holiday as this can really help other travellers.

Travel

Trip to York: My Experience

After thoroughly enjoying our trip away to Newcastle together (minus the bad weather of course, courtesy of Storm Doris) me and my girlfriend decided to book another trip away during the Easter holidays. We opted to stay for an additional night as opposed to the one night we spent in Newcastle in order to enjoy the many wonders of the historic city of York, and feel less rushed to see all the sights. 

After conducting research I came across the wonderful Staycity York Aparthotel. It is situated around a 20 minute walk from York train station, right next door to York Barbican. There are several options to get there should this be too much of a walk for some however. There is a taxi rank handily placed outside the train station, or you could take a bus, or cycle if this suits you. 

We took the option to walk as the weather was on our side, and at first it seemed a long walk but this was perhaps due to us having our luggage with us, and since it had been a while since either of us had visited the city we had to get our bearings about us, once we had done this walking around exploring was rather pleasant. York itself is a very historic city, and there were plenty of tourist attractions to visit suitable for all ages, including York Castle Museum, York City Walls and Rowntree Park, all of which we visited and thoroughly enjoyed. We had hoped to go on a ghost walk also, having been recommended this, but the one we wished to take part in unfortunately was due to take place the day after we had left. 

Upon arrival we were greeted and checked in by a polite and professional woman on reception. She checked some details and since we chose to pay on arrival this was done promptly and we were provided with our room key and she even offered us a map of the city which came in very useful.

In addition to this she explained to us the quickest route into the city centre and so this was very much appreciated and she seemed very knowledgeable. In terms of overall customer service provided by the reception staff I cannot fault them in any way whatsoever, all enquiries were dealt with promptly and efficiently. 

We stayed in a studio apartment and all necessary amenities were provided. Small kitchenette with sink, hob, microwave, dishwasher with one tablet provided, kettle etc were provided along with cutlery, plates, bowls, all the necessary equipment. The bathroom was a good size with a decent shower with plenty of hot water. There are no windows to open however A/C is provided so not so much an issue. 

Good quality of sleep is easily achievable through a large, comfortable bed and there are blackout curtains. There are signs around the corridors of the hotel which state between the hours of 10pm and 7am there are restrictions on noise, luckily we had no issue with any noise from neighbouring rooms at any time so I cannot comment on the staff’s procedure of dealing with any excessive noise, although I have no doubt if we had any issues the staff would be able to deal with this promptly and professionally.

There is a Co-op conveniently located next door to the hotel and so no need to bring much in terms of food/drink prior to arrival, and there are plenty of restaurants within easy reach of the hotel. On our first night we visited local Italian restaurant Totos and enjoyed a lovely two course meal here, highly recommended.

Overall I would definitely recommend the Staycity Aparthotel. Couldn’t fault the room, the staff and location as the walk into the centre really isn’t that far once you have got your bearings. Easily accessible to all the big attractions, particularly the city walls and York Castle Museum/ Clifford’s Tower. Upon checking out the staff allowed us to store our luggage, much appreciated seeing as we checked out at 11am and our train wasn’t until 6pm. Perfect place to stay if visiting York and offers excellent rates particularly during the week. 

Working in Retail

Five Ways to Work Successfully in the Retail Industry

It doesn’t take a genius to recognise that one of the key aspects to running a successful business in the retail industry is to provide a high level of customer service, and to maintain this in order to ensure customer satisfaction and retention. This blog post shares five important aspects to ensure excellent customer service is provided, and that staff morale remains as high as possible.

1. Team work

Working effectively as part of a team allows for tasks to be completed in an efficient manner, as each of you can use each other’s strengths. Daily tasks such as facing up and general cleaning and tidying need to be performed to ensure the store remains in a presentable condition at all times. Working hard as part of a team boosts morale, and ensures everyone plays their part in completing all required tasks.

2. Going the extra mile

Going the extra mile means that you go one step further in providing a high level of service to customers. This is a sure fire way to ensure your customers remain happy with the service you have provided them with. They will appreciate the level of effort you have gone to by being polite, courteous and patient, whilst seeing to their every need efficiently, effectively and professionally.

3. Using initiative

Using initiative is something that will not usually go unnoticed by members of the management team. It shows you are willing to go above and beyond the tasks that are typically required in your role, and sometimes these acts will be rewarded and will often save time and money in the long run. Using initiative shows you are proactive, which is an important attribute for any staff member to have when working in retail. Those who use initiative are likely to be shown appreciation, and often complete tasks without being asked to do so by management.

4. Working under pressure

There will be times where things just don’t go to plan. It is not necessarily enjoyable but it can happen often in a retail based environment. It is important to anticipate such issues and when they arise, act upon them accordingly and as quickly as possible. On occasion, there will be customers who will become irate for a number of reasons, including being refused the sale of age restricted products, or perhaps being refused a refund due to lack of proof of purchase. In situations such as this, as easy as it can be to lose your temper, it is crucial to try not to escalate the situation and remain calm and collected. Try to diffuse the situation yourself and if this fails, then call your manager who will be able to assist you.

5. Positive, Can-do Attitude

Working in retail, it is important to remain positive when completing required tasks. Sometimes things can happen unexpectedly that can make you fall off track or feel unmotivated, such as when your store is short staffed. If the store is down on staff members it can be rather stressful for those who are working on that day, especially if the store is particularly busy. Daily tasks will be expected to have been completed but it is not always possible to do so. So in situations such as this, offering support to colleagues will go a long way, and your fellow team members and management will appreciate your efforts.

Football

Romelu Lukaku linked to £75m Manchester United move

Manchester United were yesterday linked with a sensational move for Everton striker Romelu Lukaku. A reported fee of £75m was reported to have been accepted by the Merseyside club, although there is no deal yet in place.

In a remarkable turn of events, Lukaku had looked set to return to former club Chelsea, with the Londoners reportedly looking to re-sign the striker as a replacement for Diego Costa, who has recently been linked with moves to China, as well as his former club Athletico Madrid, despite the Spanish club’s transfer ban.

Lukaku, who plies his trade internationally with Belgium, has been at Goodison Park since 2013. The Toffees then signed him permanently from Chelsea in a £28m deal ahead of the 2014-15 league campaign having undergone a successful loan period with them in the 2013-14 season.

The towering Belgian was sold by then Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, who was seen as surplus to requirements by the Stamford Bridge club. With the former West Bromwich Albion loanee having gone from strength to strength since his move to Merseyside, Lukaku looks set to link up with his former boss at Old Trafford, with club legend Wayne Rooney looking set to move in the opposite direction.

The former Everton forward has been consistently linked with a move away from United having seen first-team opportunities limited under Mourinho, despite being club captain. Since his move to the Red Devils in 2004 the striker has scored a remarkable 253 goals in all competitions, overtaking Bobby Charlton’s long-standing record of 249.

In spite of reaching a record goalscoring milestone, Rooney has faced a heavy amount of criticism in recent times, perhaps rather harshly, with many fans calling for him to leave the club. The United striker looks increasingly likely to call time on his career at the Theatre of Dreams at the ripe age of 31, seeking first-team football elsewhere. Linked with several moves including in China and the USA, the United forward has stated his desire to once again play for the team where he began to make a name for himself, catching the eye of Sir Alex Ferguson.

Sky Sports reported earlier today that Rooney is willing to take a pay-cut in order to join his former club, with the forward’s current wage demands in the region of £300,000 per week. Everton are said to be the only club Rooney is willing to join if he were to stay in the Premier League, and he has been said to form part of any deal to bring Lukaku in the opposite direction.

The Red Devils look set to continue their summer spending after the acquisition of Swedish defender Victor Lindelof from Benfica. Jose Mourinho presented a list of targets to the club’s Chief Executive Ed Woodward at the end of last season and one of his biggest priorities is bolstering his attacking options. United suffered a frustrating number of home draws which saw them obtain a sixth place finish in the league, although the season ended with a League Cup and Europa League win for the Portuguese boss, achieving his goal of gaining entry to Europe’s elite cup competition the UEFA Champion’s League in the 2017-18 season.

United have been in the market for a new striker after releasing Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the end of the 16-17 season having been ruled out with a long-term injury. The Old Trafford club took the decision to not renew his contract despite a remarkable season, scoring 17 goals in 28 appearances.

Many thought the striker, who turned 35 in October, would struggle with the demands of the Premier League, but he certainly proved his doubters wrong, despite cruelly ending his season early. The former PSG attacker sustained serious ligament damage whilst playing the Europa League against Anderlecht on the 20th April, and was forced to remain on the sidelines for the rest of the campaign.

United were said to be close to sealing the signature of Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata, who had often played second fiddle to Karim Benzema throughout last season since returning to the Bernabeu from Juventus. The current European champions are standing their ground in their valuation of the striker, however, United are said to be unwilling to meet the Spanish club’s demands having seen more than one offer declined. United seem to have changed tactics and go for a striker who is a proven goalscorer in the Premier League, and that could prove to be a wise decision.

With nothing yet set in stone, it remains to be seen whether Lukaku will don the currently vacant number 9 shirt at Old Trafford come next season. The powerful forward certainly has big boots to fill with the recent departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, however, has all the right attributes to be a success at Old Trafford should a move materialise.