Tag Archives: interview

Lauras work placement experience

26 Nov

Over the past 8 weeks we have had our work placement Laura with us in the office. On her last day we caught up with her for a quick chat to see how she found it…

 

Tell us a little about yourself

I have recently finished studying Forensic Science at Exeter College. I am currently taking a year out from Education to gain experience and work before (hopefully) going to University next September. When I’m not studying or working I enjoy geocaching and attend a local archery club.

If you want to know what Geocaching is check out the link – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geocaching

Why did you decide to do a work placement?

I decided to do a work placement so that I could gain experience in a work environment to aid me in future job applications and with University. It’s a great chance to upgrade and improve on existing abilities which I wanted to do with my ICT and administrative skills.

What attracted you to Opportunity Plus?

I’m a very compassionate person so I liked the idea of working with other people and helping them into work or develop ideas into self-employment. I was also attracted to the fact it wasn’t a large overwhelming company and had a small close team.

Is there anything you have enjoyed about the placement?

Opportunity Day is a group session run for job seekers and I was invited to attend one to assist with the activities. It was definitely out of my comfort zone but actually when I was there I really enjoyed myself. It was great to be in a helpful environment and be helping others out. I also enjoyed organising the files in to an order as I like things to be organised!

What have you least enjoyed?

As the office is based centrally in town it can be a bit of a nightmare to drive there and park but as the Job Centre paid for my travel I can’t really complain. So over all it’s all been enjoyable!

What have your main tasks been?

I’ve had a variety of tasks during my time at Opportunity Plus. Often I was required to do job searches for customers and find appropriate positions for their needs. I would also research topics and collect data. I even found myself washing masks that had been used for a face painting activity, and buying items to practice furniture restoration. I wrote quiz questions and created a CV for an employability task. I was also given time to job search for myself and support with applications and interviews.

Is there anything else you would like to say?

I really enjoyed my work experience here and everyone was really nice!

She will be joining us in the future as a volunteer and as I am writing this Laura is at an interview for her ideal job – Good Luck Laura! 

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Video Interviewing – a first hand experience

21 Aug

Technology has come on in leaps and bounds in the last few years and we are constantly surrounded by new gadgets – it’s hard to keep up! In this futuristic environment companies are also looking for new tech-aided ways of conducting their recruitment process. I’ve had first-hand experience of this digital trend.

Hearing that you’ve been selected for next stage of recruitment is always great news but hearing the words ‘video interview’ after this can throw you back. I will admit I was slightly concerned; it wasn’t something I’d had to do before. I’d used skype though and surely it would be the same right? Well actually, no.

I’m sure every company that uses this type of interview has an individual format, but with my experience there was never actually any interaction with another human. In fact I was sent a link to the interview itself and asked to complete it within 3 days. On the day I received the email it was the afternoon and I was busy with other tasks and in my pyjamas so I decided to make use of the generous time allowance. However on the second day I received a phone call to say it had to be completed within the next hour in order to be considered for the next step – no pressure!

Due to the lack of notice I had very little preparation which didn’t help my already uneasy nerves. The format was fairly straight forward: A video of a question, followed by an allocated time to answer, with 30 seconds preparation time beforehand. You were also allowed to take a practice question where you could play your answer back or retry it; this luxury was not permitted when it came to the real interview questions.

Answering the questions in video format made the whole thing slightly awkward. My mum was in the other room as I didn’t awkwardhave time to find somewhere go, which wasn’t the best scenario. The embarrassment of her overhearing me talk to my computer made my voice quieter than usual and caused some distraction when answering questions. Fortunately I managed to keep going and complete the interview. I felt like I was taken off guard by some questions but having the 30 second preparation time meant I could calm myself down and process what I was going to say. I did at one point get distracted by my mum walking into the room which I’m sure did not look good at all – overall it was not my strongest interview.

None the less I did get invited to the next stage of the application which was slightly shocking after my awkward performance. Even So with this here are my top tips on how to deal with a video interview:

  • Be prepared. Being prepared is really important for any kind of interview. Prior to the interview you should spend some time researching the company, what they do and their customer base. You should also think about what they might ask you and think of examples you could use in your answers.
  • Appearance still matters. If I was going to a face to face interview I would make sure that I had showered and was appropriately dressed with an ironed shirt and subtle make-up. Well that shouldn’t change for a video interview. You’re still giving a first impression and it’s important to look presentable and hireable! It will also increase your confidence if you know you’re looking your best – good all round.
  • Give yourself time and space. If you receive an invitation for a video interview you will usually be told a figure of how long it typically takes. Make sure you allocate more than enough time to complete the interview without having to rush through questions or stress about being late for something else. As I discovered it’s also best to be as separate from anyone else as possible and if you can be in a remote room alone then that’s best. If you are unable to do this make sure there is no or minimum background noise so you can concentrate and be heard.
  • Watch your position and background. You’ll be given an outline in which to position yourself so ensure you’re actually in this and can be seen. It’s best if you can find a simple background without any distractions and certainly don’t have anything personal floating around behind you! When you’re speaking try and look at the camera as if you’re speaking to a person, I avoided looking at myself by using their hiding the image of myself in the corner which worked well.
  • Don’t leave it to the last minute. I was promoted by the employer to hurry up and get it done, but the quicker you can submit it the keener you’ll look so my advice would be to get it completed as soon as you can.
  • Be yourself. Just because you’re talking to a robot doesn’t mean you have to become one. Show a bit of your personality just as you would in an interview and be friendly and concise with your answers.

If you are about to complete a video interview for the first time then good luck! Hopefully following these guidelines will help you out and you won’t end up looking like a bit of a fool like me. Take your time and relax!

If you want help with interviews or getting into work in general then please contact Opportunity Plus on 0800 043 2440 or email us on info@opsw.co.uk.

What are employers really asking?

15 May

We’ve all had those moments in interviews where we are asked a question but we just can’t figure out what it means. Often interviewers will ask questions in a cryptic way, when what they’re really asking is something much simpler.

We’ve put together a quiz to see if you can work out what is meant by some of the most common interview questions!

Take our quiz below- 

Did you make it on to the leader board?  Keep an eye out for our tips and advice on answering these questions coming soon!

Interview: Moo Music

17 May

Logo with Background

Moo Music is a pre school music opportunity now available nationally. Opportunity Plus spoke to ideas man Ant Parker and franchisee Ali Hider to find out about their experiences of self-employment and setting up a business.

How did Moo Music get started?

Ant: We decided to create Moo Music as a business opportunity when my wife Jess and I were bringing up our two daughters, Hannah and Eve. We noticed a distinct lack of good quality and wholesome children’s music. Being musicians ourselves we eventually had enough of the poor quality and cheaply recorded children’s songs and commissioned a professional children’s songwriter to write and record a series of songs.

The brief was that they had to be positive, uplifting, fun and educational. They also had to be recorded properly with real instruments, lots of vocal harmonies and most importantly… adults had to enjoy the listening experience as well as the children! It didn’t take long to realise that these songs needed sharing and that other parents in the area were crying out for something similar.

Having said that the aim of Moo Music is not only to give 0 to 5 year olds some fantastic experiences with music but to give young mums the opportunity to start and run a flexible business when their own children start school.

Ali: Ant is my brother and he had the idea a long time ago. He created Moo Music over time but then needed someone to actually put the sessions and ideas into practice, so that’s where I came in. I have always worked with children in various settings from private homes to nurseries/schools and I have a huge passion for music so this suited me perfectly!

Ant Jess Hannah Eve Web Res

What is your role within the business?

Ant: I do the general admin for the business – accounts – sales – licensing – marketing – business help – franchisee motivation – stock ordering etc. Jess does the packing up and sending of stock and also helps with the ‘help and support’ for the franchisees.

Ali: I am primarily a franchisee of the business but I also act as an advisor and trainer for the new franchisees. This involves people coming to observe my sessions and question/answer forums. I also attend festivals and other events to promote Moo Music. We are hoping to do a Moo Music live event in the city with a live band! Very exciting…

How have you gone about marketing the business?

Ant: Moo Music has only been available nationally since January this year. Before that it was only available to friends and friends of friends etc.

Since launching nationally we use Google ‘Pay Per Click’ and all of our sales so far have come from this. I have also taken out a year’s advertising with www.femalefranchise.co.uk which has brought is a few leads but no sales yet. I do have a mail-out scheduled with them in June so that should see the best results.

I will also start Facebook Ads soon. The beauty of Google PPC and Facebook is that you can market to a very tight potential customer base and only pay pence if they click on the links. The Google PPC takes them to the following video www.letsmakemoomusic.co.uk and if they are interested enough to carry on and watch the second video we have their email address so can engage in a conversation.

Ali: I market the business in a variety of ways including ads in local magazines and newspapers. House to house leaflet dropping, Moo Music magnets all over my car! Leaflets in school/nursery book bags also notice boards, however I have to say that “word of mouth” is the most effective. I started with two children in a small hall and a year on I have 90 children over 9 sessions!

What are the benefits of being self-employed?

Ant: Flexibility and a sense of worth!

Ali: I can work the business around my family easily and other projects that I’m involved in, in the local community. It’s is extremely satisfying to see something grow so rapidly and successfully.

What personal qualities would you say are needed for self-employment?

Ant: Be strong minded and believe in yourself. Be nice to people. Remember that no one knows your business better than you do or will ever be as bothered about it as you.

Ali: I would say you need to be hard working, reliable, focused, patient, approachable and fun! I have also had to learn to be a bit more assertive which has been quite hard at times when I’m not naturally like that.

Ali Hider with a Class Web Res

What advice would you give to someone considering self-employment?

Ant: It definitely gives you flexibility but it will be hard work. It’s very hard to ‘switch off’ mentally even if you have a separate workspace. Most people will advise you not to… but you’ll find these people are the ones stuck in their day jobs earning money for someone else! If you have a dream… Go for it!

Ali: I would say get the right people around you to support you and who understand your vision. Find others who are in a similar position. Network!

What are your plans for the future of the business?

Ant: We’d like to get Moo Music spread as far around the UK as possible and are aiming for 100 separate areas. We have 10 so far.

Ali: I have 3 postcodes to work in and as the business continues to grow, I plan to take on freelance staff to run sessions for me so I can concentrate on expanding the business. However, as long as I am able to, I want to be running the sessions as that’s really where my heart is. Maybe I will need to employ an admin person too!

You can  find out more about Moo Music by visiting their website http://www.moo-music.co.uk and following them on Facebook and Twitter.

Social Media and Personal Branding

23 Mar

Social Media Stock

Many employers will search for you on the internet before they even interview you. Here are some top tips for making a good first impression through your online profiles.

–       Facebook Privacy settings

You probably don’t want employers looking at your embarrassing photos from last weekend or those status updates about what you ate for dinner last night. Make sure your privacy settings are set correctly by following this quick guide.

–       Websites, blogs and Twitter

Websites, blogs and Twitter are a great way to build your online presence. Your online profiles are an opportunity to make a good first impression and employers will often make assumptions about you based on your profile picture, choice of background and the things you post.

Don’t write anything that you wouldn’t want an employer to see and make sure to check through your old posts for anything which might harm your chances of getting a job.

–       Email addresses.

Make sure your email address sounds professional. Employers will often make assumptions about a person based on their choice of email so the safest bet is to stick to your real name or a combination of initials and surname. Professional sounding addresses will go largely unnoticed but a silly or complicated email will stick out like a sore thumb!

–       LinkedIn.

If you don’t already have one you might want to consider starting a LinkedIn page.  LinkedIn is a professional networking site which allows you to build an online CV which employers can look at.