Elaine Hayes, Leader Development and Talent Management Consultant, Zurich
What are your top tips for doing well in an interview?
This is your opportunity to show how great you are and the potential you have, so go in there believing in yourself. That will come across really well. It sounds really obvious, but a lot of people don't prepare well. Find out about the industry you're looking to get a job in, about the organisation you want to work for, and if you know people who work there, ask them about their experience. You may be nervous and jittery going into the interview and the interviewer will take that into account. Things like smiling, having good body language and sitting up straight will make you feel more confident and signal to the employer that you're confident, relaxed and able for the situation.
What should you avoid doing in an interview?
The worst thing I've seen in interviews is people using the same scenario for every question when the interviewer is looking for examples of how they would display different behaviours. People tend to fall back on the same experiences they've had.
What do you look for in an apprentice CV?
When I'm recruiting for the apprenticeship programme I'm looking for different things in a CV than when I'm recruiting for a regular role in our organisation. What I'm looking for is whether or not they have the qualifications required to get into the programme and what's relevant to the role they're applying for. I don't necessarily want to see everything you've done for an organisation or in a role that you've been in. I really want to see things relevant to the role as described in the job spec. I like to see a little bit about the person themselves and what are their interests outside of work. I think it shows that they have a rounded perspective and are likely to bring something additional to the role that maybe we haven't thought about before. The main thing to keep in mind when putting your CV together is how easy it is for the employer to read. For any given role I could get 40-50 CVs on my desk; the difference between one I put aside and one I read in depth is probably going to be how easy it is for me to see what this person has done in their past career.
What should an interviewee ask in an interview?
The best question I've ever been asked by an interviewee was "What has the most high-performing person in this role done that's been different to somebody else in the same role?" That showed that that person was really keen to not just do the job, but do the job well and to make sure that they were a fit for it. It showed to me that they had ambition, that they wanted to go further and be the best they could possibly be.
Any advice for someone considering this industry?
The advice I would give to someone applying for an apprenticeship programme is to make sure you really want it. It's a tough gig but it's a great opportunity and a wonderful way to get into an exciting industry, but it is a lot of work. You are working full time and studying; that isn't an easy thing to do. You have to really want this and have the passion and engagement. The company and college will give you all the support we can but if you don't want it, it's a really hard slog.
How do people benefit from an apprenticeship?
There are lots of career paths within the insurance industry. I don't think people really have an awareness of that. It's a great way to get in and try out a number of different routes that might work for you. And it's a way to see a large organisation in action while you're studying at the same time, so you’re gaining your degree and getting really valuable business experience.