Types of interviews – Be prepared for all of them!

Friday, August 16th, 2019

The workplace is changing fast and the stuffy old ways of interviewing can often go by the wayside.

So don’t be surprised if the interview process is a bit different from the norm.


Telephone interview

These are really common nowadays as so many companies recruit remotely. But it can also just be the first stage of a longer interview process, especially if the interviewer is some distance away.

Much of our communication is done visually through body language, but in this case, you’ll be relying solely on your voice.

So be expressive. Alter your tone and pace to make it interesting and here’s our top tip – practice in private first and record your answers on your phone, then play them back.

At first, you might be surprised how awkward you sound, but practice makes perfect.


One-to-one interview

This is the standard and you should be well prepared, both in terms of your punctuality, dress code and your answers. Try and make sure to have a great conversation rather than a robotic questions and answers session.


Group interview

The pressure is off here a little as you’ll be working in a group. But remember, the main objective of the interview team is to see how well you’ll fit into the company team.

So, muck in and make sure you interact with all the other interviewees as well as the existing employees. Try a mix of toeing the line and taking the lead.

A nice tip here though is to ask a specific question to one of the team. This will help them remember you.


Panel interview

The pressure is on here and this can seem pretty daunting but this is actually a great way of speeding up the interview process as the key people can all be in the room at the same time and make a quick decision.

The key here is to make eye contact with everyone and remember their names.

When it comes to answering the questions, it’s courtesy to aim the greater part of your answer at the person who asked the question, but also include the others in proportion. Do this by making eye contact during your answer with those who didn’t ask the question.

Also, try not to fidget, three people can pick up more of your body language than one, so once again, prepare in the mirror and stop any of those quirky twitches to a minimum.


Competency-based interviews

These are more likely to occur in technical interviews, but they can also creep into mainstream jobs such as secretarial positions. It’s not uncommon to be asked to demonstrate your Microsoft abilities such as creating a spreadsheet or a presentation, sometimes against the clock.


Portfolio interviews

A portfolio interview is a meeting where you will be expected to demonstrate examples of your existing work and talents. For example; you might be a graphic designer with a portfolio of creative work you’ve done for existing clients.

Of course, you’ll want to present your work in the best possible light, so as well as having some examples on your laptop or iPad, have some printed out on high-quality materials and leave these with the interviewers.


We can help you prepare

If you get stuck, give our team a call on 0161 929 6665 and we’ll arrange an interview where our skilled advisors will draw the best out of you.


CV do’s and don’ts – our top CV writing secrets

Friday, July 12th, 2019

A strong CV can not only make the difference when it comes to getting a job, it can be a deciding factor in whether or not you even get an interview.

When you send off your application, your CV has just a few seconds to stand out from the crowd before probably being lost among a sea of other applicants.

Here are some CV do’s and don’ts, CV hacks and instant wins that together add up to give you our top CV writing secrets.


CV do’s and don’ts

Do give your CV a logical structure, with separate sections for basic contact details, education, career history and outside interests. Our CV Builder can help you make sure you’ve covered everything you need to mention.

Don’t go into too much detail. Make sure the important points are mentioned but remember you can provide more background in your interview – and don’t go over one or two sides of A4 unless you’re sure it’s appropriate to do so.

Do tweak your CV for each role you apply for – but don’t spend more time than you need to on each new version!

Do put your most relevant info up top so interviewers can find it easily. Don’t neglect the basics like your name and contact details though, as you want recruiters to be able to contact you easily.


CV hacks

These three CV hacks can help you to say what you want to say, without cluttering the page:

  1. Use a narrow/oval font. The letters are narrower than in a typeface based on circular characters and you’ll fit more words on a line.
  2. White space makes text more readable. It’s better to make your text slightly smaller if it means you can miss a line between sections or use 1.5x line spacing.
  3. Stick to a single font (or at most, a second font just for titles and subheadings). Any more than that starts to confuse the eye.

Remember, you want your key information to be easy to find and easy to read, so interviewers can cast their eye over your CV in just a few seconds and notice what you want them to notice.


CV instant wins

Some tweaks can have a big impact on your CV in literally just a few seconds – these are our CV instant wins:

  • Change the font to something modern, elegant and easy to read on-screen and in print. Remember the tip from above about font widths.
  • A border usually isn’t necessary but a horizontal line can help to mark the divide between different sections. Larger titles help to draw the eye too.
  • If you’re just a few words over a single page but can’t find anything to remove, very slightly reduce your character spacing, line spacing or margins to make it fit!

Don’t take it to extremes – it’s all about finding balance and making the page look good overall – but with these top CV writing secrets and the help of our CV Builder, you can be sure of making the right first impression.

How to get a job with no work experience

Friday, July 5th, 2019

It’s not easy to get a job with no work experience, but we all have to start somewhere and many employers recognise that fact.

However, that doesn’t mean you can just walk in and expect to be offered a job. You’ll still need to make it through the recruitment and interview process.

So what can you do to help your CV look less empty when you apply for a job without work experience? Here are our top tips.


1. Focus on other areas

This is the most obvious solution – if you don’t have relevant work experience, don’t try to make it look like you do.

You can prioritise other parts of your CV, such as relevant education or qualifications, or even any outside interests, hobbies and pastimes that give you knowledge of the role you’re applying for.

Don’t be afraid to put your career history at the bottom of your CV instead of at the top, if it’s not as relevant as some of those other areas. Look to our CV Builder if you need help deciding which sections to include and in what order.


2. Transferable skills

A lot of work experience comes in the form of transferable skills, sometimes called ‘soft skills’.

These are things like teamwork, flexible thinking, adaptability and capability in a crisis, and they’re the kinds of characteristics that all employers value, so don’t neglect them.

Again, give careful thought to the order of the information on your CV – if you have relevant transferable skills, give them priority, even if they were learned as part of a job in a completely different industry or sector.


3. Give more detail

If you don’t have many individual examples of past experience to list, give some extra background detail about each one to fill the space.

Consider your wording carefully – it shouldn’t just be filler – and keep it to brief bullet points to put your point across in as punchy a way as possible.

Remember, you’re aiming to give the interviewer an at-a-glance guide to the things you want to discuss in your interview, so keep it relevant to the role but bring in your best attributes from across the board at the same time.


4. Mention past wins

If you’ve seen major success in a role that was completely different to the one you’re now trying to get, it’s still worth mentioning.

At the end of the day, success is success and employers will often value a good business head or a commitment to delivering on a project, even if your only examples of this are ‘irrelevant’ on the surface.

Make sure you highlight how this relates to your current application – and if possible, quantify your success in terms of how much it was worth to your employer or the return on investment you achieved, as money always talks too.


5. Make a statement

If you have nothing else you can use to fill your CV, consider making a short personal statement. This is traditionally not particularly common in the UK but it’s on the increase.

A brief statement can allow you to make clear that you have passion and enthusiasm for the role you’re applying for, and that you will be quick to learn on the job.

Just make sure to be specific in what you say – vague promises to work hard don’t mean much compared with, for instance, giving a specific example of when you have thrived out of your comfort zone in the past as proof that you can and will adapt quickly. Our links, tips and tricks can help provide some more insight and prepare you for the next step – the interview!

How to tailor your CV properly

Friday, June 28th, 2019

We all know that to make the best impression on the interviewer, you should tailor your CV properly for each role you apply for – but how do you go about doing this?

If you’re applying for a very clearly defined role, then your CV might not need changing much each time, although you should make sure to update it regularly anyway.

But if you’re applying for a number of different roles within your chosen industry, and especially when applying for jobs where you’re slightly less experienced, tailoring your CV can help to present you as the right candidate for the job.


1. Start with an up-to-date CV

It doesn’t hurt to have a generic CV to use as a starting point, and choose the most relevant experience and qualifications from there. Take a look at our CV builder to get started.

You might want to make this ‘master’ CV longer, listing all of your qualifications, transferable skills, career experience and so on.

Don’t send this monster master to recruiters, but instead adopt a ‘delete as appropriate’ approach to trim it down to the requisite one or two sides of A4 for each application.


2. Structure it well

A good overall structure provides you with a framework within which you can change individual details to prioritise the most relevant information about you.

Our CV Builder is a great way to make sure you’ve covered all the important areas, from education and work experience, to transferable skills and relevant hobbies.

Just login to start building your CV today, and we’ll also make sure you don’t miss any of the basics like name, address, telephone number and email address so the employer can actually contact you.


3. Change the order

You can change the order not only of information in each section, but of the entire sections themselves.

So for example, if you think your transferable skills are particularly strong for one application, you might move them higher up the running order.

Alternatively, you might have directly relevant work experience to list first instead – or if you’re straight out of education, it could be your qualifications that take top billing.


4. Trim the dead weight

It can be tempting to list absolutely everything you can think of in an attempt to impress the interviewer, but an unwieldy CV is rarely welcomed by recruiters or employers.

At first glance amid a stack of competitors’ CVs, you have barely a matter of seconds to make your application memorable, so keep it simple and make good use of formatting to give prominence to your absolute best features.


5. Don’t panic

If you’re applying for a number of jobs, don’t spend weeks tweaking your CV – instead, learn to prioritise what you know are your best features and quickly put the most relevant ones up top.

Again, our CV Builder can help you to keep track of your core talents, career progression and all those elusive dates and full names of past qualifications.

That way, you don’t have to write entire sections of your CV from scratch each time, but instead you can quickly and easily build a new version of your master CV that shows only what you want to say.

Five of the best questions to ask in an interview

Friday, June 21st, 2019

Of all the common interview questions, there’s one that you’re likely to be asked no matter what job you’re applying for – and that’s “Any questions?”

You know it’s coming up at the end of your interview and it’s your last chance to leave the room with a good impression, so make it count.

Here are five of the best questions to ask in an interview, to show insight and enthusiasm, without coming across as if you think you’re the interviewer.


1. How does the role develop in the first year?

Show a long-term approach and a willingness to adapt to the changing nature of your role at one month, six months and a year.

It’s inevitable that your job will change in some ways as you complete your initial training, and it’s good to show enthusiasm for this part of the process.

This is also a good open-ended question so the interviewer will have to give you a full and engaged answer, and not a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’.


2. What is the company culture like?

If it’s not already obvious from the company’s public persona or your time spent there during your interview day, this is another good, open and engaged question to ask.

You’ll also gain valuable insight into the kind of atmosphere you’ll be working in – which might even affect your own decision whether to take the job or not!


3. What is your own experience of working for the company?

Pay some personal attention to your interviewer and build some last-minute rapport by asking them about their own thoughts on the company they work for.

It’s best not to push this one – not all interviewers will feel comfortable having the tables turned on them – but it shows again that you are interested in the long-term company culture and potentially rising through the ranks to conduct interviews yourself in the future.


4. What are the company’s opportunities/challenges right now?

Gauge the current outlook for the company – are they working to overcome significant hurdles right now, or is everything looking rosy?

By asking this, you can also show a willingness to hit the ground running and join in your new team’s efforts to reach a common goal.

You might even have past experience of overcoming similar challenges in other jobs – and this could help to make you seem even more indispensable if your potential new employer is finding it hard to make progress.


5. Do you have everything you need from me?

You have an opportunity to tie up loose ends before you walk out, so it’s worth double checking that the interviewers are satisfied that they have everything they need.

For example, if you were asked to provide a CV, cover letter and references, make sure all of these were received and offer to follow up on providing further references if needed.

Depending on the role, you might also offer to provide proof of professional qualifications, as well as any other useful certificates – such as First Aid or Fire Safety – that you don’t think were mentioned enough in the interview.


Take a look at some other useful tricks, hints and tips to make sure you are prepared for anything, it never hurt to be too prepared!

Alzheimer’s Society Cupcake Day 2019

Friday, June 7th, 2019

This week we are supporting the Alzheimer’s Society and we hope that you will join us to raise money for this fantastic charity.  Here at Alexander Hancock, we know the reality of supporting a loved one with this terrible disease and also the toll that it takes on the family and friends who are supporting a loved one through this difficult time, therefore we know the importance of raising vital funds in order to support this amazing charity in raising awareness, research into the disease and also provide help and support to the people who are living with the disease.


Dementia can affect people at any age.  It is more common in people over 65 however there are currently around 42,000 people in the UK under 65 currently living with Dementia.  It is not a normal part of ageing.  A person may have problems with memory, language or concentration.  It may also lead to mood changes, emotions and behaviours.  Dementia is progressive, which means the symptoms gradually get worse over time.  Dementia can affect many different areas of your life and the people around you which is why it is so important to help support this charity and the wonderful work they do in order to help prevent, cure and support the people who are suffering today.


We are supporting the Alzheimer’s Society Cupcake Day by holding a Cupcake week.  All week, we will have a host of treats available for you.  All we ask in return is for a donation.  All donations are extremely welcome and we will be incredibly grateful for your support.  £50 could enable the charity be there for five people, for five hours of in depth support from our Helpline team at a time of crisis.  £150 could pay for two people with dementia to attend Singing for the Brain® sessions for one year, where they and their carers can come together for an hour each week to sing and dance to music.  £610 would pay for a Doctoral Training Centre to run for one day, helping up to eight PhD researchers to carry out ground breaking study in dementia research.  Help us to help them.


Thank you for taking the time to help us support the Alzheimer’s Society.




In memory of Norman Rawlinson


Paint Altrincham Pink 2019

Thursday, February 28th, 2019

A great big thank you to everyone who has supported us so far in helping to Paint Altrincham Pink this week.  Here is why we are taking part.




As Max Bygraves would have said, and for those too young to remember him.. Go Google!

“I want to tell you a story..”

It is 1990, the time when dinosaurs still walked the planet ie mobile phones were bricks, Sky was something blue above us, the Web was something spiders spun and it was also when my mum aged 47 went to the doctor with a small lump in her breast. The doctors and surgeons at The Christie Hospital were all amazing, told her it was breast cancer but so small that there was nothing to worry about, removed it and she underwent a fairly horrific course of chemotherapy. But as a family we were fairly chilled, calling her the ‘Cancer Bunny’.. after all, the doctors told us there was nothing to worry about, so we didn’t..  lymph nodes had only just been discovered as being an indicator of the cancer spreading but removal of them was not considered…fast forward 2 years and she was yellow, struggling to breathe and feeling basically shit.. The GP told her she was a hypochondriac and that she was fine.. she died 6 weeks later; secondary liver cancer which had not been picked up.

I was 26. 26 years of age and burying my mother, the light of my life, my absolute role model whom I looked up to for all of my life.

A short time after that, exploration into genes and cancer came to the fore and a small charity called Genesis (now Prevent Breast Cancer) was set up funding the research into whether or not genes could indicate a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer. My sisters and I were asked to take part in a research study as to whether or not we had the genes that meant that we too would contract cancer at some point in our future. The results that came back said “ yes we had a gene but as yet they could not identify which gene it was or what it actually meant for us long term”..

Well what it meant was that both my sisters developed breast cancer, resulting in one having regular lumps removed and tested and the other having to have a double mastectomy and chemotherapy; she was 46 but thank God because of the amazing research and development in Cancer Research medicine she is fine; we pray a lot but she is fine.

Cancer is still the worst word in the world to hear.. you hear the word ‘cancer’ but what you really hear is ‘Death’ but thankfully, and particularly for us in Manchester, we have Prevent Breast Cancer and we have the Christie Hospital which is at the forefront of Cancer treatment in the whole world. We have available to us the possibility of having our daughters tested to see if they have a rogue gene, and if they do, preventative action can be taken.

This story is not unique. Pretty much every single one of us has been touched by Breast Cancer and that is why we are Painting Altrincham Pink, for all those who have suffered and lost the battle against this awful disease; for those who are still fighting, for those who have fought and won but most importantly of all for continuing the research to ensure our children do not have to even think about taking up that fight.

Thank you to all those who have popped in and bought a prize ticket from us, and to anyone else, knock on our door.. every donation is welcome and every ticket gets you a prize..