Are you ready for in-person Right to Work checks?

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, all employers had to conduct Right to Work checks. These were usually done in person and required the employer to have sight of original documents.

By the point of the first lockdown in March 2020, it was impossible for in-person checks to take place, so the government allowed Right to Work checks to take place digitally. This has meant that employees have used video calls, scanned documents and sometimes checks via mobile apps.

Originally, in-person checks were due to start again in May 2021, but the government has extended this to June 21st – the start date of the final step in the roadmap to lockdown easing.

What does this mean for you?

As an employer, the return to in-person checking means that you must now check the applicant’s original documents. For employees, you must be in possession of all the relevant documents needed to confirm that you have the right to work in the UK. You must give these documents to your employer – they will be returned to you – so that they can carry out the appropriate checks.

What are the checks?

Employers have a responsibility to check that:

  • The documents are genuine, original and unchanged and belong to the applicant
  • The dates for the individual’s right to work in the UK have not expired
  • Photos are the same across all documents and you are sure they look like the candidate
  • Dates and places of birth are the same across all documents
  • The candidate has permission to do the type of job they have applied for, including any limit on the number of hours they can work
  • For students, you should ask for evidence of their study and holiday times
  • If documents give different names, you should ask for supporting documents, such as a marriage certificate or divorce decree to prove a change of name

Make sure you know what’s needed

There’s a clear guide on the government’s website – the Right to work checks: an employer’s guide. This sets out what’s required in terms of checks for applicants from a range of different areas, including EU, non-EU, EEA and non-EEA applicants. It’s worth checking the guide so that you know exactly what you need to do depending on the candidate.

If you need any support on reintroducing in-person Right to Work checks to your organisation, contact us today.


Onboarding: How are you changing?

If there’s one thing we know about working during a pandemic, it’s how tricky it is to bring new people into the business when we are working remotely.

In pre-COVID times, of course, we would have had a well-thought-out induction process. This would give a new starter not just the legal information they needed, but a chance to meet their team properly, sit in on meetings and discussions and get to know the business and how it works. There would be tours or walkabouts, a desk to get set up, and much more.

Today’s new starter is likely to have a laptop and phone couriered to their door, a Zoom meeting and not much more.

But that will need to change, because our ways of working are changing. Anecdotal evidence suggests that whilst businesses are starting to return to the office, they are also looking at hybrid working, where people use a mixture of office and remote working.

Businesses should also note that ‘remote’ does not equate to ‘home’. Many people want to reduce their commuting hours so would rather work closer to home for a few days each week. For some, that might mean a home office, but others may use co-working facilities, so it’s important to know what sort of facilities your people are working from, so that you can support them accordingly.

Why change your onboarding process?

A good onboarding process can be the difference between your new employee integrating really well into your business, and deciding to leave pretty quickly. You need to make them feel welcome, be clear about their role and responsibilities, and help them to communicate with their line manager and team members. But that’s just the start. Onboarding doesn’t finish after two hours of induction – in order to onboard well, you need to make sure your new starters are supported on an ongoing and regular basis.

Here are some of our key thoughts about updating your onboarding process for today’s workplace:

  • Assign a buddy – we’ve seen this work really well in client businesses. A buddy can be on the new starter’s team, or part of a general ‘buddy’ group. Their job is to check in regularly, answer common questions, help to integrate the new starter into the business and give them somewhere to turn to with questions.
  • Give line managers clear guidance – whilst initial onboarding is often carried out by the HR team, the ongoing work needs to be done by the new starter’s line manager. So that line manager needs to be engaged with the process, understand its purpose and importance and commit to keeping in touch and making sure the new starter can get to work productively and comfortably.
  • Use technology to your advantage – you can use aids like DocuSign to allow new starters to sign contracts, staff handbooks and other paperwork remotely, and you can also use technology to help integrate people into the business. If everyone is still working remotely, why not hold an informal half hour lunch meeting, where people can have a chat over food? Or introduce a coffee break to allow people to have those all-important ‘water cooler’ conversations? Technology allows you to introduce informality into the work day without disrupting positivity.
  • Bring new starters into the office – if they are comfortable doing so, arrange for new people to spend a day or half a day in the office. They will get a feel for your workspace – and for the journey – and can get used to the way things work without the office being full of people. If you’re bringing people back into the office on a rota basis, make sure your new starter is in at the same time as members of their team, so that they can meet face-to-face.

Onboarding obviously varies from one company to another. The thing to remember is that you can’t just shoehorn your existing process into a new form. You need to think it through and plan it carefully so that it works within the new way your business is working.

We’re guiding and advising clients on improving their onboarding process to help them motivate and retain productive, engaged staff. Talk to us if you’d like help or advice for doing this in your own business.



Q&A: Need help choosing a Kickstart Scheme gateway partner?

The Government’s Kickstart Scheme is underway, and is helping to create thousands of six-month job placements for under the age of 24 and on Universal Credit. The aim of the scheme is to help this age group into permanent employment once they have completed their placements.

Q: Who can take advantage of the scheme?

A: Any business or organisation can take on a young person under the Kickstart Scheme. You can be in the private, public or voluntary sector. When you take on someone under the Scheme, you’ll get a payment of £1,500 – per placement – to help you support the process. The Government says that: “Funding available for each job will cover the relevant National Minimum Wage rate for 25 hours a week, plus the associated National Insurance contributions, and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions.”

Q: How does it work?

A: You can apply to the government direct if you want to take part in the scheme. Until recently, only companies who could offer more than 30 placements could do this, but the rules have recently changed to allow any employer to apply. You may choose to use a Gateway Partner, however. This is someone who can manage the process for you.

Q: What’s the benefit of using a Gateway Partner?

A Gateway Partner already has experience and expertise in using the scheme. In our case, we are able to support clients with a development plan for the placement including help and support with their CV and interview skills, and joining our online development sessions in a range of topics around personal development skills (prioritising, effective communication, presentation, etc).  We work closely with the organisation during the placement and if there is not a role at the end, we would support the individual in gaining employment and give them some 1-1 advice and support.

Q: How do I work with Objective HR as a Gateway Partner?

A: We can apply to the government on your behalf. We ‘batch’ applications into groups of 30 or more and submit them directly to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

We’ll give you all the help and advice you need to decide how many placements you can offer, and to complete your initial application. We can also help you to set up a plan for onboarding, training and developing your placement person so that both you and they get the most from the scheme.

We have been approved by the DWP to offer this service, and we can keep on applying for placements as long as the demand is there. We can’t guarantee that you will be approved – there are other checks that the government carries out to make sure you meet the criteria – but we can make sure that you can apply and that your application is as good as possible.

Q: How does the selection process work?

A: Once the placements are agreed and the job spec is complete, we send the details to the DWP and they source and send CVs directly to you. You would then follow your own recruitment process to choose a suitable placement – you will not be forced to take anyone. We can support the interview process if needed, and if your sector is regulated, we can also offer referencing, credit and DBS checks if that is a normal part of the selection process in your sector.

Q: Do I have to be a client to work with Objective HR?

A: Absolutely not – we work with a wide range of organisations to manage Kickstart Scheme applications. There’s no obligation on you to work with us at all in any other way.

Q: Do I have to pay you to be my Gateway Partner?

A: No. We do not charge for the placement service – the government pay us a small fee per placement.  If you wanted to take advantage of our in-depth training, we’d be happy to discuss this with you as a separate project.

Q: Why should I choose Objective HR over other Gateway Providers?

A: You might want to work with a trade body or your local authority to apply for a placement. We are HR specialists with lots of experience in placing and developing people. We understand how the process works and we’re used to working closely with employers and communicating well, so that you know exactly what’s happening at every step of the process.

Q: Can you support the development of our placement trainee?

A: Yes, we can. We are specialists in development and training and we can help you put a clear process and programme together that helps your placement person to get real value from your business, and for you to feel they are delivering value to you too.

Q: Can we apply more than once for a placement?

A: Yes, you can. You can create as many positions as you like, as long as it’s a genuine role, not previously advertised and will not replace any existing employee now or in the future. Once any placement trainee’s six month period has finished, you can apply for someone else to take the placement.

Q: Can we offer our placement trainee a permanent position once the initial period is over?

A: Yes, you can. You’re under no obligation to offer them a permanent job, but if you and they feel that there is a good fit, and you have the budget and role available to offer a permanent job, you can.

To find out more about using Objective HR as your Gateway Partner, please contact us today.

An antidote to ‘the saddest day of the year’

Do the things that make you feel better.

This may be the trickiest post-Christmas period for many years. Usually, we talk about how difficult it can be to get back into the swing of things after the Christmas break, but there are always ways to overcome that initial slump. Some companies save their ‘Christmas’ parties until the New Year, and others use this time to re-evaluate goals and targets and to inject some positivity and action into their teams.

This year is different. This year, we’re recovering from the hammering that most businesses took in 2020. This year, we have gone pretty much straight from Christmas into a lockdown. The fact that many people predicted this would happen doesn’t make it any easier when it does. This year, the lockdown is accompanied by a scarier strain of the virus, bad weather and a fair amount of cynicism.

The importance of being optimistic

There’s a lot to be optimistic about, however. The roll out of vaccines means that we can start to look for the light at the end of the tunnel. We are seeing lots of posts from friends about how relieved they are that elderly parents and relatives are starting to be vaccinated. Even though it may take a while to roll out completely, it’s a huge scientific success story, and a real symbol of what can be done when countries collaborate and finance is made immediately available.

We know that, if you’re sitting at home, on your own or juggling home schooling or caring for a vulnerable person, you might not feel very optimistic. You’re likely to feel physically and emotionally tired. That means you’ll find it hard to concentrate; your sleep might be suffering; you might have mood swings and you might find it difficult to motivate yourself. And then you switch on the news or your social media and you see that you’re about to hit ‘the saddest day of the year’ – Blue Monday.

What is Blue Monday?

Blue Monday falls on the third Monday of January. It was conceived by Dr Cliff Arnall in 2005, after he created a formula that looked at criteria including bad weather, dark nights, lack of money or post-Christmas debt and the falling away of initial enthusiasm about new year resolutions.

But this is just a formula – it’s not an instruction. We encourage everyone to stay as mentally optimistic as they can, even in really tough times. If you’re an employer, perhaps Blue Monday is a good day to check in on all your teams, giving some details of your plans, asking how they are doing and helping to keep morale high.

If you’re working from home, or are a key worker and finding it hard to keep going, here are some simple techniques that might help:

  • Get some exercise – you can exercise locally under lockdown. Take a new route, take pictures of the nature around you – you can do this even in the heart of the city – and look around you rather than down at your feet. If you can’t do this, just 10 minutes dancing in the kitchen or doing some stretches will help to take you out of the room for a while and focus on something else.
  • Have a non-work conversation – this might seem tricky when we’re all locked down, but perhaps all you need to do is give someone a call. Someone you haven’t been in touch with for a while. Or someone that you promised to call and haven’t. Or just someone you speak to regularly who you know can give you a bit of a boost.
  • Give back – again, difficult if money is tight, but perhaps this can be the day that you donate to the food bank, give some money to a homeless charity or decide to support something that’s close to your heart. Perhaps sign up for a virtual charity challenge to help focus your mind?
  • Be kind to yourself – we’re conditioned to feel that we’re not doing enough. That we should always be working and if we’re not working, we should be cleaning or organising or planning. In fact, what you need is some time for yourself. Do whatever makes you happy: watch TV; read a book; have a bath; play with the kids; do some gaming. Just take a bit of time out.
  • Think ahead – this will end. It’s pretty miserable now for many of us, but it will end. So why not make a list of the things you’d love to do when you’re able? It might be a hug with your parents; it might be a day at the beach; it might be a night out with your friends, or a long-awaited holiday. Making your list will make you feel much better and it gives you a sense of purpose.

Blue Monday is just a day. It comes and goes like any other day. This year, we have additional troubles to bear, but by looking out for each other, taking some time out, getting some fresh air and not piling pressure on ourselves, we can ensure that we can build our resilience and come out the other side with a better understanding of what’s really important to us.

Motivating your staff for 2021

Photo by Lindsay Lenard on Unsplash

There’s not an HR manager in the country – possibly in the world – who hasn’t been extremely challenged by the events of this year.

Often responsible for managing the transition to working from home, ensuring ongoing health and wellbeing, organising changes to holidays and benefits, thinking about safe office spaces and considering how best to return to the office, HR professionals are now turning towards the coming year and planning how to maintain motivation during a further period of change.

What might 2021 look like?

With the positive news that a vaccine is now rolling out across the UK, employers and HR professionals may be starting to think about how things might start to return to ‘normal’. This is a great goal – we have been back in our offices since June and it has made a huge difference to our business to be able to work together – and it needs to be carefully planned.

  • Getting the vaccine – there’s a priority list for people to receive the vaccine. Healthy people under 50, many of which might make up your workforce, are a long way down that priority list, so the first thing to consider is how safe it might be to return to work. Employers shouldn’t mandate that their staff have the vaccine, and so should still be thinking about providing a Covid-safe workspace for any employees who want to return to the office.
  • Supporting choice – it’s important to listen to your employees and how they feel. Although 2021 might see an improvement in the way we can interact together, not every employee will want to return to the office. Many might have benefitted from the change in work-life balance offered by home working and will want to retain that flexibility. As you move into 2021, think about how you can support the choices of all your employees.
  • Reward and recognition – a recent survey by Willis Towers Watson showed that more than 50% of respondents agreed that their pay, reward and recognition strategies are still assuming an office-based or geographical location employee group. This means that schemes are unlikely to be as relevant or as motivational as they may have been when you conceived them. So now’s the time to think about how you motivate, reward and recognised people who are working in different circumstances.
  • Maintaining connections – one of the most important roles for HR and internal communications professionals this year has been keeping people connected when they are working remotely. Maintaining team spirit, managing wellbeing and keeping a sense of purpose have all been critical to keeping people productive and your business on track. As we head into 2021, this should remain at the top of your list – it’s likely that at least a proportion of your staff will remain remote for many months, and so need certainty in the processes and policies that support and protect them.

2021 may still be a year of uncertainty but, unlike 2020, it is uncertainty that we can plan for to a certain extent. If you need any support or advice to help you manage pay, rewards or productivity during 2021, contact us for an initial chat today.

2020’s toll on workplace mental health

There’s no denying that this has been a tough year for all organisations and the people who work in them and with them.

Uncertainty over health, family and job security are all key triggers for poor mental health. This year, many of us have had to cope with all three of these issues in a climate of semi-isolation and ambiguity about when things might improve.

As employers, managers, team leaders and colleagues, we all have a responsibility to look after the mental health of those around us as well as paying attention to how we ourselves are feeling and thinking. Today’s ‘workplace’ may be a spare bedroom, a kitchen table or a socially-distanced office – it doesn’t matter where we are working, it matters how we are working.

Raising awareness of mental health issues

Supporting good mental health benefits your organisation, both in terms of productivity and profits. That means making it as important in your business as physical health. And in turn that means educating yourself, your leadership team and your staff about what ‘mental health’ means. It’s about understanding how an open and supportive culture can promote better mental health and an earlier intervention when things are difficult. And it’s about establishing an environment – whether office-based or virtual – where people feel confident about taking time for themselves, talking to their colleagues and managers, and encouraging positive behaviours.

Taking things seriously

Many employees who have experienced mental health problems have not had good outcomes when it comes to work. In fact, statistics from the Mental Health at Work community interest company suggest that around 9% of workers with mental health problems are dismissed, and that poor mental health costs an average of £1,652 per employee per year. If you’re a small business with 50 employees, that’s nearly £83,000 per year. In today’s competitive talent market, candidates are actively looking for employers who have a clear and supportive mental health policy.

What can you do?

As an employer, you have a duty of care under the Equality Act 2010. You should be promoting diversity and inclusion and that includes people who have diagnosed mental health conditions as well as those who may find themselves under mental health pressure while they are working with you. There are several things you can do to promote better mental health in your organisation:

  • Get some training – the better you understand mental health and its impact on the people who work for you and, by extension, your organisation, the better placed you will be to support your teams. Training should involve you and your leadership team, and be rolled out across your organisation to make sure that everyone is aware of the key issues and impacts.
  • Put a clear policy in place – your organisation should have a policy that covers mental health. This helps to give your staff a clear idea of what they can do and what they can expect if they have a mental health issue, and helps your business to promptly support and manage events as they arise.
  • Build an open culture – one of the biggest historical problems with mental health in the workplace is the lack of space to talk about it. In fact, it’s still an issue that’s often hidden away, with people feeling uncomfortable about talking about it, and worried that admitting to a problem may affect their promotion or job security opportunities. By operating an open culture, where managers are trained to listen to people and to help them make decisions that work both for the individual and the business, you are supporting your staff, improving your reputation and taking clear steps towards treating mental and physical health as equals.

Head into 2021 with confidence

If you feel that your approach to mental health in the workplace needs some support, we can help. As we head into 2021, working lives are very different, with the pandemic having a range of mental health impacts on your people. Even if their own jobs are safe, they may be worried about the other income in their household, or they may be caring for vulnerable people. Or the pressure of current circumstances may exacerbate a condition that is usually well managed.

Talk to us about training, policies and culture change that helps not just to understand mental health issues, but will result in a business that actively promotes positive mental health for the good of your people and your long-term business success.



Why it’s a serious risk to ignore candidate screening and referencing

Pre-employment screening and referencing should be a key part of your recruitment process. Aside from the fact that you have a legal obligation to make certain checks, screening also ensures that the person you are employing is who they claim to be – with the qualifications, experience and background they claim to have.

As many businesses have discovered to their cost, failing to properly screen and reference candidates can lead to a range of issues – from theft and fraud to violent or unsafe behaviour. And for businesses employing someone who doesn’t have the right to work in the UK, there are both civil and legal consequences that could seriously damage your reputation.

Making screening part of your process

Our advice is to make sure that pre-employment reference and screening is a habitual part of your recruitment process. For many businesses, this process can be explained in a simple flowchart – you can work on this alongside your HR adviser or recruitment agency to make sure it covers all your requirements.

The screening and referencing part of the process may come in at different stages for different businesses. For most businesses, however, these checks take place pre-employment – once the candidate has been selected and the offer made. In these circumstances, the offer is usually ‘conditional’. This means that the business requires successful screening and referencing results, as well as satisfactory personal references, before the offer is made final.

What screening checks are necessary?

The range of checks that you want to include in your process are likely to be tailored to the type of business you run, but there are some that you are legally obliged to do. You have a legal duty to make sure that anyone you employ has the right to work in the UK. It’s important to note that, whatever the circumstances, you can be subject to both civil and criminal penalties if you are found to be employing someone who does not have that right. Civil fines can be up to £20,000. And as far as the criminal legislation is concerned, you can face unlimited fines and a prison term of up to five years if you are found to have knowingly employed someone who doesn’t have the right to work in the UK.

So, at the very least, you should ask prospective employees to supply their original right-to-work documents. You should then take ‘all reasonable steps’ to make sure that the document is genuine, and relates to the individual applying for the job. You also need to check that the document allows that person to work in the type of role they are applying for. Once you are satisfied, you need to copy the document and keep it in a secure format that cannot be altered.

Even for those who have an automatic right to work in the UK, you should check identity via passport or driving licence, and make sure that the candidate has the qualifications and work experience they claim. Sadly, it’s not unusual for people to lie on their CV – and this may be even more prevalent at a time where many people are applying for job roles.

Checks for specific sectors

Workers in some sectors need to go through particular screening and referencing checks to make sure that they meet regulatory requirements. These might include the medical, insurance, banking and financial services sectors, where the regulator requires specific checks on criminal background and industry-relevant qualifications or registrations.

If your business operates in a regulated sector, your business and reputation is at significant risk if you employ someone who doesn’t meet the relevant criteria. That’s why it’s important that you are up to date with the latest requirements and invest in reliable screening services that meet your regulator’s requirements.

Getting ahead of the game

It can be daunting to run screening and referencing checks yourself – particularly if you don’t have an in-house HR function. And yet you are still required to check out all the candidates you make job offers to.

So it makes sense to get ahead of the game by outsourcing the screening and referencing part of your process to a trusted partner. This can be a specialist consultancy like Objective HR, which has all the legislative insight and access to the latest screening tools.

All our checks are carried out to recognised standards, including BS7858, and we manage sector-specific checks such as FCA, SMCR, PCI-DSS, Airside and the Care Quality Commission. In addition, we can run identity, qualification, criminal, DBS and employment history checks, giving you a thorough and individual report on each candidate.

To find out more, take a look at our dedicated screening and referencing service, or contact us today.


Our guide to better interviews

Improve your interview skills

Whatever side of the desk you’re on, you can probably up your game for your next interview. For employers, it’s important to take the time to find the right candidate, so that you spend your recruitment budget wisely and build a strong team. For candidates, the right approach to interview can significantly enhance your chances of getting an offer – even if you don’t meet all the criteria on paper.

With years of expertise in finding candidates and interviewing on behalf of clients, we’ve been able to compile a list of advice and tips that can help anyone involved in an interview to work towards the best outcome. Of course, we can’t guarantee that you’ll get the job, or make the best hire, but we can absolutely share some tips that will help to point you in the right direction.

These tips apply just as much to the new way of interviewing – via Zoom or Teams or other online platforms – as they do for traditional face-to-face interviews. Body language, tone of voice and interaction remain just as important. So you can apply this advice straight away, no matter who you’re interviewing, how or when.

For interviewers

Be aware of bias – unconscious bias is all about the decisions you take and opinions you form without even realising it. Understanding your own potential biases and working hard to overcome them is no easy task, but it’s vital for conducting a better interview. We’d take exception to being told we are biased about some things, but the fact remains that we often are. According to Psychology Today, some of these biases include:

  • The perceived physical attractiveness of the candidate
  • The perceived things you may feel you have in common with the candidate
  • The stereotypes you may hold about gender, age, nationality, ethnicity, qualifications and religion
  • The assumptions you may make based on dress, voice and non-verbal signals

In order to overcome bias, and remembering that the way that candidates behave in interview is highly influenced by stress and nerves, you need to have a clear structure for the interview that is consistent across all the candidates you see. This means you will have a standardised basis for looking back at the interviews to make a decision. In theory, it should also mean that you can hand your notes to someone who wasn’t in the interview and they should be able to see who is the best candidate.

Our top tips

  1. Really prepare for the interview. Know exactly what you are looking for in the right candidate, in terms of qualifications, experience, attitude and willingness to develop. Read the candidate’s CV thoroughly, along with any other material they have been asked to submit. Look for particular areas that may need further investigation or that you think are particularly relevant to the role.
  2. Set a standard list of questions. You need to be able to compare candidates after the interview process and this will be easier if you ask them the same things. You can go off-topic to explore answers, but you should to your list to make sure you are gathering all the most relevant information. Finally, keep your questions open, so that you give the candidate a chance to explain or expand, rather than just giving ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers.
  3. Listen to your candidate. The most common problem with interviewers is a failure to listen. Instead, you’re focused on getting through the questions on your list and, in your mind, you’ve already decided what ‘golden’ responses you are looking for. We can pretty much guarantee that if you don’t listen and concentrate on the answers your candidates give, you’ll end up hiring the wrong person. As a leader, you should be able to listen to an answer and see how it reveals something that might be useful or flags up a warning sign.
  4. Set expectations – tell the candidate at the start how long you expect the interview to last and what you will be covering. If you are introducing other elements into the interview, such as the opportunity to meet other members of the team, a presentation, a test or a group challenge, you should let them know. Obviously, for some interviews, you will have spoken to the candidate ahead of time if there’s anything you expect them to prepare in advance.
  5. Stay on the right side of the law – there are questions that you are not allowed to ask in interviews because they are discriminatory. Stick to the attributes, qualifications and experience for the role.


For candidates

At a time when redundancies are being announced on an almost daily basis and there are hundreds of applicants for a single job role, it’s a real achievement to get to the interview stage of the process. And that’s often when the nerves kick in. At the moment, most interviews are happening via video call, which might mean that you can do them from the comfort of your own home, but also means that you’re at the mercy of the technology and that there are some new things to think about.

You may have already gone through a phone or video interview with a recruitment consultant – we speak to all of the candidates we shortlist to make sure that they are a good fit for the role and for the company. So that means you should have picked up quite a lot of background about both the company and the job you’ve applied for.

Our top tips

  1. Check your technology. If you’re interviewing online, try to use a tablet or laptop rather than your phone. Make sure you have checked that you have strong enough wifi, and if you don’t perhaps arrange to go to a friend or relative’s house where you can use stronger wifi. If you’re doing this, make sure it’s within the regulations and that you socially distance.
  2. Make an effort. Just because you’re interviewing online, you can’t assume that everything’s more relaxed. You still need to project a professional image, and that includes making sure you have a neutral background and good lighting so that there’s nothing to distract the interviewer from what you’re saying.
  3. Be prepared. Make sure you’ve checked out the company as thoroughly as you can. Look at the website, read their news pages, check out their product or service development. Follow them on social media and find out what’s important to them. Get used to their tone. You can look your interviewer up on LinkedIn now – there’s no excuse for being unprepared. By the same token, make sure you’re really confident about the role and what the company is looking for.
  4. Have your CV and any other documents ready to share. The beauty of an online interview is that you can share your screen to talk your interviewer through elements of your CV, or to showcase other work that you’ve done. If you’ve been asked to prepare a presentation, make sure it’s open on your screen and ready to go when it’s needed.
  5. Be engaged – look directly at the camera, if you’re interviewing online, or make regular eye-contact with your interviewer if it’s a face-to-face meeting. Be enthusiastic – but not over-the-top and engage positively with the questions. This is your chance to show how you can add to the business. We know that not everyone is outgoing, but if you are quieter or more introverted, you can still demonstrate passion and enthusiasm for the things that matter to you.
  6. Have some questions. This is standard interview advice, and that’s because it’s really important. Move away from basic questions about holiday or pay, and find at least three interesting questions to ask. These might be about learning and development programmes, or their attitude to sustainability, or their diversity programme. Ask questions that will help you to find out if this is a company you really want to work for.
  7. Make sure you know the next steps. You’ll want to know how soon you’ll find out about the decision and what feedback you might get. Be as relaxed as possible at the end of the interview – don’t bolt out of the door or leave the video meeting too quickly.

Whatever the role and whatever the circumstances, the interview is a critical part of the recruitment process for both sides. Approaching it with structure, preparedness and confidence can help everyone get the most from an interview, and can help both the interviewer and the interviewee learn valuable lessons for next time.

Find out more about our recruitment support here or contact us to see how we can help.

Are your children returning to school next week?

Children in England are heading back to school.

It’s been a strange – and challenging – few months for parents. You’ve not just had to manage home-schooling alongside working your everyday job at home; you’ve also had to deal with the ups and downs of children not being able to see their friends, not being able to go to their regular clubs and struggling with exam changes and the well-documented issues with results.

It’s also been a challenge for your children, who may have missed the structure and routine of school and may feel that they are going back in September disadvantaged by so much time off. And when they do go back, the school routine and layout will be different, so there’s lots to get used to.

Is this the new normal?

The state of things as we knew them at the start of the year is clearly not going to return for some time. You may still be furloughed, or you may be working at home. Redundancy and job insecurity are widespread and reports suggest that many people in the UK feel less well-off financially than they did in January.

School closures have meant that is has been difficult for parents to juggle work and child-care, especially where one or both parents – whether living together or not – are still working full-time away from the home as key workers, or as businesses start to return to the office.

So, getting the children back to school might be a relief all round, but you will need to have some contingency plans in place, in case of local lockdowns and school re-closures, in case your own business changes the way it works, or in case someone in your household tests positive for the virus and you have to isolate for a period of time. Things you might want to think about include:

  • Dedicated space to work at home: can you provide a dedicated space for your children to work if they need to stay at home? Even if it has to be shared, this will help them to have some space to do any work set for them.
  • Childcare options: if schools close as part of a local lockdown, what are your childcare options? Can you speak to your employer about flexible working or going back to work from home if you need to? Can your children’s other parent do the same?
  • Playing by the rules: lockdown easing means that we are coming into contact with many more people. So it’s important to observe rules for wearing face masks, hand sanitising, social distancing and gatherings to help reduce the risk of infection. You should also make sure that you know what rules the schools are implementing so that you can keep you and your family as safe as possible.

Now is a great time to speak to your employer about how you might manage a range of potential circumstances as we go into autumn and winter. And if you’re an employer, make sure you have spoken individually to all of your employees, and have a risk assessment and clear plan in place to help keep your business running whilst also taking your employees’ caring responsibilities into account.

For help and advice with returning to work, managing changes to employee contracts or drawing up new policies to deal with the current situation, contact us today.