Whether you have been working in the same company for several years, or if you’ve been working within a wide array of industries in a variety of roles, at some point, we have all experienced the ‘Job Interview.’ We each have our own experiences with job interviews, some good, and some, unfortunately, less so. Interviews can be a very daunting concept, with the mounting pressure that the next step of your professional career hangs on the balance of your performance within the next 30–60 minutes. However, like many challenges in life, this process can be made significantly less stressful and much more successful with the right amount of preparation.
Therefore, we have compiled a list of some of the most popular questions that an employer will ask you during an interview, and crucially, what the employer is hoping to learn about you from the answer you give. Familiarise yourself with how you should approach each question and the traps you could fall into. Think of ways you can apply the given examples to your own experience and you’re sure to leave your next interview feeling full of confidence.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and what has led you to applying for this role?
What may on the surface seem a relatively innocuous question, it is actually one of, if not the most important question of the interview. This is most likely the first time you and your potential employer will be sat face to face, and they are going to want to see how you hold yourself, convey information and how you act when meeting new people. Answers given may also provide openings to further conversation, though try not to waffle. My advice would be to give a brief overview of your education and relevant experience, the moment, or ‘thing’ that attracted you to this particular industry and a ‘golden skill’ that has allowed you to become successful in your working life. Wrap this answer up with your career goal and its close link to the role that you are being interviewed for and you will have provided a very strong introduction to your interviewers.
Can you describe your Strengths and Weaknesses?
This question can prove to be somewhat of a ‘gotcha’ moment in the interview if you are not prepared, as the interviewer will not only be interested in your direct response to this question, but the manner in which you address it:
The key thing to keep in mind when answering this question is to not come across as boastful or arrogant. Of course, you are going to want to sell yourself as the perfect candidate for the job, however there is a fine line between providing relevant skills vs listing your long and attributed list of accolades. Employers will be looking for skills relevant to the role, so study the job description and focus on three key qualities you possess that can be directly applied to the role. Make sure to give relevant examples too!
Despite what the word weakness implies, you’re going to want to avoid being too negative when providing this answer. The key when answering this question, is to let the employer know that you have recognised an area of personal weakness, and that you are taking steps to improve upon this so that it will no longer hinder your performance at work. It is important to give examples of the steps you have taken to improve, show your current progress, and emphasize that your progress has been acknowledged.
Example – I would say my greatest weakness, is the fact that I sometimes find it quite hard asking other people for help. I tend to try and figure things out for myself, instead of asking the people in my team for guidance, which would be a faster way of working. Having said that, I am seeking to improve on this, and have since become more mindful of situations where this may occur in the future.
Why do you want to work for us?
This is a great opportunity to convey your passion and interest in not just the role, but the company as a whole. Preparation for this question is key, as knowledge of a company’s history, practices and its various accolades that have incentivised you to apply for this position, shows an employer that you acknowledge the companies’ key practices, ethics and progression within the industry. Discuss how this particular role is best suited to your own particular set of skills, and that your values and goals are aligned with those of your employer.
What are your salary expectations?
This question is almost certain to come up at some point, and if you aren’t prepared, it can cause a moment of panic in an interview. You don’t want to price yourself out of the job by asking for a salary that is too high, neither do you want to undervalue yourself and end up getting paid a lesser amount than what you could, or should, be working for.
In order to avoid an uneasy atmosphere, prepare your response in advance. Research similar roles within the field and look out for consistencies in pay. The job you’re applying for may even have a listed salary attached to the description.
We here at Sigmar prepare a yearly salary guide that covers many different roles in a wide range of industries. Take a look at this year’s guide, it will give you a good starting point when considering the salary being offered to you.
This link will take you to our Sigmar Salary Guide: https://www.sigmarrecruitment.com/blog/2022/02/salary-guide-2022
How would you deal with potential conflict in the workplace?
This question is an open door to an employer for assessing your level of emotional intelligence. By demonstrating your capacity for empathy, and your understanding of different personality types, you will show that you are highly emotionally intelligent, and understanding that ‘teamwork makes the dream work.’ However, you will want to be mindful of not appearing overly negative when answering this question. Generally, negativity should be avoided during an interview, however, like our assessment of the question regarding personal weakness, there are ways to address negative issues in a constructive way. Key points in the right direction are to lead with empathy and compassion, focus on your own subjective experience without pointing out flaws in others, and replace ‘but’ with ‘and,’ which deescalates a conversation from an argument to a discussion.
Of course, we have only covered a select few questions in this post, and no doubt you will have come across one or two more ‘repeat questions’ in different interviews. We will be exploring further interview questions in later posts, however, these 5 questions are certainly amongst the more popular questions interviewers will pose to you, so preparing you’re answers to these will certainly increase your chances of a successful interview.
Posted by Joe Lord on 18 July 2022
The Remote-Work Rebound: Hybrid workforce grows by two-thirds, remote workforce down by 54%
The Remote-Work Rebound: Hybrid workforce grows by two-thirds, remote workforce down by 54%
The Talent Leaders Pulse Report was commissioned by Sigmar Recruitment as part of Talent Summit 2023."The power dynamic between employer and employee is rebalancing after two years of hyper competition, with early signs of a shift back to office. The fallout of remote working has seen employees pitted against employers as we look to sustain flexible working practices and settle on desired places of work. We are witnessing the remote work rebound, with twice as many workers now working a hybrid model over full-time remote. The hybrid workers now make up 51% of the current workforce, while the remote workforce has reduced by 54% within the last 12 months. This reflects employers’ sentiment that 87% of employees do their best work in a hybrid model.”, says Talent Summit founder and Sigmar CCO, Robert Mac Giolla Phádraig.Talent Summit 2023 Employment Survey Highlights at a glance:Hybrid WorkHybrid workforce grows by two-thirds, remote workforce down by 54% as employees spend more days in office.2023: 51% working hybrid (30% in 2022), 25% full-time remote (44% in 2022) and 24% in-office (26% in 2022). Of the Hybrid workforce more time is spent in-office over the last 12 months: 81% work 2 days or more in 2023 compared to 74% in 2022.Tuesday (68%), Wednesday (78%) and Thursday (67%) are the most popular days to be in-office with Monday (18% ) and Friday (8%) being the least.Employers believe employees do their best work, working a hybrid model (87%), followed by in-office (11%) with full-time remote (7%) considered the least productive model.Headcount2023 set to see the largest reduction in headcount in the last 5 years with 18% of employers expecting a reduction this year. 62% expect an increase and 20% expect their headcount to remain the same.HR PrioritiesThe Top 5 priorities for HR for 2023 show competing priorities creating a confusing labour market: (1) retention (2) labour costs (3) recruitment (4) sustaining a dispersed culture (5) performance management.Pay63% of employees expected to receive a pay rise of 6% in 2023 (the lowest % pay rise in 6 years)READ THE FULL REPORTThe current labour market is a confusing one and 2023 looks set to be challenging with many contradictions at play which in turn is creating a tug-of-war of work on four main fronts:Workforce: Employers are looking to balance workforce reduction, employee retention and continuous recruitment needs at all once; Work practices: The need to offer individual flexibility to all employees is often at odds with the collective need for greater productivity;Workplace: Work is shifting back to the office with the hybrid workforce spending more days in office and as employers believe employees are least productive full-time remote;Labour Costs: The rise in the cost of living is driving employee salary expectations yet at the same time employers are tightening budgets with economic uncertainty on the horizon.Commenting on workplace, Mac Giolla Phádraig adds: “The workplace has been the topic of conversation since the pandemic and employers have polarised preferences. The intense competition for talent the last two years has seen employers who favoured in-office, soften their view as employees demanded greater flexibility in a hyper-competitive labour market. As that demand recedes, those employers find their voice once more, albeit veiled in language around performance and challenges around sustainable work practices. The flexibility offered to employees now seems to be rebounding to more days in office.” READ THE FULL REPORTABOUT THIS SURVEYThe Talent Summit Pulse Survey 2023 was commissioned by Sigmar Recruitment as part of Talent Summit 2023. This is the sixth year the study has been conducted, measuring the pulse of Talent Leaders on a range of Talent Topics. 244 talent leaders from across Ireland took part in the study, comprising of senior executives responsible for talent decision making within their respective organisations, ranging from CHROs, CEOs HR Directors to Heads of HR functions such as L&D, Recruitment, Organisational Development and Performance Management.Europe’s largest HR, work and employment conference, Talent Summit 2023 will take place in Dublin’s Convention Centre on Thursday, 9 March, 2023, welcoming 1500 guests.www.talentsummit.ie
Talent Summit 2023
Talent Summit 2023
Founded at the height of the financial crisis, Talent Summit is now one of the biggest events of its kind in Europe. Sigmar CCO and Talent Summit Founder Robert Mac Giolla Phádraig talks about this year’s event, HR trends, and why the tech slump is an opportunity for indigenous firms. (Featured in The Currency)---The Currency is media partner of Talent Summit. It will be producing a series of podcasts with executive and thought leaders in human resources participating in the event. The Currency’s podcast stage is sponsored by Employee Financial Wellness a financial education and advice company supporting Talent Summit. For the full line up, tickets and more visit www.talentsummit.ie----Robert Mac Giolla Phádraig remembers founding Talent Summit back in 2011, when unemployment surged to more than 10 per cent and the country was on the brink of economic collapse.Mac Giolla Phádraig, who had co-led the management buyout of recruitment firm Sigmar just two years earlier, decided to launch National Employment Week as part of a not-for-profit effort. The aim was to connect employers who were still hiring with the tens of thousands of people who were losing their jobs amid Ireland’s economic implosion.“The idea was to set up a job activation initiative,” Mac Giolla Phádraig said. “Unemployment was peaking, and we just wanted to do something to help.”Twelve years later the event has transformed into Talent Summit, making March 9 this year an important date in the Human Resources calendar. Between 1,500 and 2,000 HR professionals attend the summit, making it one of the biggest events of its type in Europe. There are 35 speakers from around the world scheduled, ranging from Evelyn Doyle, the head of people and culture at Patagonia, to Eddie Wilson, the chief executive of Ryanair. A smaller basecamp event takes place the day before for 100 chief people officers from Ireland and overseas.During Covid-19 the event became virtual before returning to being in-person last year. HR had changed a lot during the pandemic.“People really wanted content,” Mac Giolla Phádraig said. “They were trying to figure out what was next for people strategies.”The other thing they wanted to do was convene and network. “They hadn’t been together for two years,” he said. “The conference is about the experience as much as the content. That’s why this year we’ve gone for a whole new look and feel that is flexible and open-plan for delegates.”The VHI will be operating a wellness experience, whileThe Currency, with the support ofEmployee Financial Wellness, is operating a podcast corner. Comedian Joanne McNally is closing the event at an evening reception.Mac Giolla Phádraig, the chief commercial officer with Sigmar, says that putting together the programme for this year’s Talent Summit gave him a unique insight into the challenges and needs of HR leaders.“I think it’s a very confusing labour market right now,” Mac Giolla Phádraig said. “The challenges have been largely talent-led the last two or three years. We’ve seen unprecedented levels of churn in the market with the fallout of remote working all of which is talent driven – it was all about the shortage of talent and how to retain it.“But this is now changing as the economy gets tougher. We’re seeing a lot of contradictions which is the theme of this year’s conference which is the tug of war of work.”He added: “Employers and employees can have opposite priorities. Before there was the swing of power from employer to employee but now it is moving back to the employer quite a bit.“At the same time, flexibility is going in the direction of employees and not necessarily for employers.”New opportunities and leadershipAccording to Mac Giolla Phádraig, the future of work could be thought about in a simple way: “You have a workplace, a workforce, and then work practice. Work practice is what enables and facilitates both workplace and workforce to collaborate and deliver the product or service.“The burning challenge right now is to make sense of how you can maybe be reducing your workforce, but still have pressure to recruit, while retention remains your number one priority, all under increasing cost pressures. That’s a very confusing message to manage, and a confusing strategy to execute.”Mac Giolla Phádraig said this was a big theme of the conference, not just for tech companies but also for other sectors that may be considering job cuts. The chief people officers of two of Ireland’s best tech unicorns, L. David Kingsley from Intercom, and Stephanie White, from Fenergo are both speaking at the event on how they see the HR market for tech.“We want to drill into, with them, where lies the opportunity in the current market?” Mac Giolla Phádraig said.He added that another theme of the conference was leadership development with Lise Render Nielsen from Lego and Leah Hollander from NASA among the speakers.“When you think about the talent supply chain,” he said. “You buy talent by recruiting it, you borrow it by taking on temporary or flexible people or bot it by automating processes.“Or you can build it. Building your own talent pipeline has been less focussed on in recent years and probably underinvested in, so we’re looking at what you can to increase that.”Mac Giolla Phádraig recalled the story of how President John F Kennedy visited NASA for the first time in 1962: “As he toured the facility the President met a janitor, and asked him: ‘What is it you do here?’ and he replied: ‘I’m helping put a man on the moon.’ That is being purpose driven. With the HR director of NASA we will be taking a deep dive into the driving force behind that level of purpose-driven followship and how it drives discretionary effort, the holy grail of performance.”Many technology companies, he said, had relied on a “seven-star kind of office experience” as a symbol of their culture, but now it is all about mission. “When tech companies lost that competitive advantage of the office experience they doubled down on a deep sense of purpose, their nobility in solving major problems and trying to create a kind of family feel by supporting their people’s wellbeing and so on,” Mac Giolla Phádraig said.“But we’ve had a bit of a wake up call and maybe people feel (because of redundancies) that employers aren’t family, performing well trumps wellbeing and many of their causes are a little less noble perhaps.”“When decisions are made based on the profit and loss account a business can lose its soul somewhat. I think a lot is being played out right now and it will be interesting to see where we end up over the next 12 months.“The golden handcuffs of share options were one of the main challenges in headhunting tech talent for companies who are in growth mode. But as valuations plummeted last year, we saw them change to bronze handcuffs.”People power“Talent Summit has become of the largest HR conference series in Europe.”Employees, he said, were more prepared to move, and this offered more opportunities to Irish-owned companies and startups to hire good people. “It isn’t all bad news, as indigenous tech and earlier-stage companies can now get access to international talent based in Ireland,” he said.Inflation was putting pressure on employers to increase pay, but again there was tension as the jobs market was not as buoyant as it was. “It’s another tug of war,” Mac Giolla Phádraig said. “Some employers are saying ‘We can help and support you with your financial well-being, but our job isn’t to match inflation.’ It is up to the talent market to decide who wins or loses in these battles.”Traditionally, the route to becoming chief executive officer is often via becoming chief financial officer or chief operating officer first. Talent Summit however is talking to two of Ireland’s most respected CEOs – Eddie Wilson of Ryanair and Noel Keely of Musgrave – who both came from a HR background. “The answer to the financial crisis was very much the CFO,” Mac Giolla Phádraig said. “The Chief People Officer was the answer to the people crisis and really came to the fore during the pandemic, and they’re still there.”“We’re starting to see how the perception of that function and its impact has changed,” Mac Giolla Phádraig said. “There is a new trend of the CPO moving into the CEO role, so that’s why we have two former heads of HR who have made that journey talking about this.“A lot of the problems to be solved in business are to do with people. HR has a really big impact on organisations especially when they are undergoing transformation. That’s why chief people officers are becoming of ever greater importance as leaders in companies.”Wanting something moreIn September 2022, the founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard gave up his ownership of the company to a trust dedicated to fighting climate change. Head of People and Culture Evelyn Doyle is going to talk about the impact this has had on Patagonia.“She is going to talk about what it means to be a ‘for planet’ business – what challenges it has brought, and how they create a unique sense of purpose and belonging in their company. Not every company is going to go as far as Patagonia but I think it has ideas that a lot of HR leaders can adopt, and help them to think about impact in a greater way.”The Talent Summit also has a panel discussion on ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) with speakers Laura Matthews from Bank of America and Joe Creegan from Zurich. “We want to understand what ESG means to different people in the room?” Mac Giolla Phádraig said. “In any talent decision – hiring, retaining, leading – it is about winning hearts and minds.“We want to explore the conversation not just between the employee and the employer but also the customer and society. There is a lot of talk about this, and some of it is window dressing.”He added: “We want to talk about how to create real, material, impactful strategies. HR leaders really showed up for their teams during the pandemic, but now the call to action is what impact can they have on society and making the planet a better place.”Talent Summit aims to combine access to the best HR executives, as well as thought leadership.Dave Ulrich, an author of over 30 books and one of the most influential people in the world in HR, is delivering a keynote speech on “Unleashing human capability for stakeholder value.”“Dave is the godfather of modern HR,” Mac Giolla Phádraig said. “The current HR model is the one he developed and what he is going to talk about is remodelling it post the pandemic. He will be sharing his latest thinking on what we need to do to be more competitive and how HR can have greater impact on all stakeholders.”Ireland, Mac Giolla Phádraig said, had shown it could attract the best companies and talent but it couldn’t afford to be complacent. “We have been a great home for multijurisdictional companies for over 30 years,” he said.“We do have challenges like housing and the cost of living, but we also have an innate sense of storytelling that can build and lead teams. Talent Summit has become of the largest HR conference series in Europe, and we want to make HR better and give Ireland a voice as a great place to work and build a business from.”The Currency is media partner of Talent Summit. It will be producing a series of podcasts with executive and thought leaders in human resources participating in the event. The Currency’s podcast stage is sponsored by Employee Financial Wellness a financial education and advice company supporting Talent Summit. For the full line up, tickets and more visit www.talentsummit.ie
IT Market Overview 2023
IT Market Overview 2023
IT Jobs Market 2023According to a report released by Eurostat, employment in Ireland in NACE category J62 (Computer programming, consultancy, and related activities) reached almost 120,000 at the start of 2022, increasing from 80,000 as recent as the end of 2019. The market is now moving from what was an unsustainable level of demand for technology talent to a more sustainable level- ensuring the market remains highly competitive. Whilst there has been news of layoffs in SaaS Technology companies, traditional industries such as Finance, Banking, Fintech as well as Life Sciences/Biopharma continue to hire at rapid rates, ensuring the market is still holding strong. Employers across multiple sectors (particularly Fintech) are still hiring highly skilled tech talent and are now more open to candidates relocating from Mainland Europe. Onboarding and Aftercare remain highly important as candidates are still prone to receiving multiple offers due to high levels of competition. Download our 2023 IT Salary Guide for IrelandAreas of DemandSoftware engineering remains the most highly sought-after skillset, with a particular focus on DevOps, Java, Python, .Net, React and Angular Js. With the continued rollout of digital transformation projects across Irish businesses, QA also remains in high demand. This move towards automated processes has allowed employees within heavily manual positions to upskill in areas such as SDET and RPA. Within an uncertain marketplace, businesses continue to be data driven; choosing to lean on their analytics teams where possible. Data Engineering appears to be the role highest in demand within this vertical, closely followed by data science. With the continuation of a hybrid working model, infrastructure remains as important as always. Most Irish based companies are choosing to move towards a serverless environment, which means there is a high demand for Site Reliability Engineers, Systems engineers, Cloud Engineers as well as technical support specialists at all levels. Ireland has a rich talent pool for executive level talent within IT, ranging from Software Engineering Managers to CTOs. With the continued pattern of new market entrants on the FDI side, these positions remain in high demand. Competitive PackagesTo ensure competitive advantage, employers must offer base salaries, benefits, and perks in line with the market expectations or else risk losing strong candidates from recruitment process. In terms of monetary benefits, healthcare remains the most highly sought from candidates post-covid times followed closely by pensions. This could be linked to a heavier focus on financial security for the future. An interesting development of late, is the increasing number of companies using sign on bonuses to secure new hires- We expect to see this continue throughout 2023 as companies fight to retain current employees and attract new hires. To maintain a competitive advantage, employers also need to be mindful of employee experience.Individualized experience proposals given to candidates or employees may be beneficial for employers to remain competitive in:CollaborationEquity in cultural experiences for remote/in-office workersEmployee well-being How employers handle these elements will ultimately determine how successful employers will be in the battle for talent. Demand for Remote WorkHybrid working policies are now the most popular model offered to permanent employees, with 85% of our clients offering 3 days in office/2 days remote working. With the balance in the tug of war for talent shifting more in favour to the employer, companies are now addressing WFH policies on a more individual basis rather than a blanket policy. Flexibility for fully remote work appears to be offered however to candidates in the most demanded areas, with the caveat that they are based in the Republic of Ireland and will travel to the office on an ad-hoc basis when required. This may reverse as job security heightens as a priority in a tough economic climate. ContractorsBusinesses are continuing to look to Contractors to fill gaps in their teams in tandem with permanent positions; a trend we foresee continuing throughout 2023. An interesting development in the market is that it is no longer just large organisations leaning on contractors. SMEs are also now tapping into the contractor talent pool as a way of supplementing their workforce- especially now that permanent salaries appear to be on par with contractor daily rates due to market inflation. We particularly foresee an increase in demand of contract roles across Cloud, Data and Development.Outsourced IT functions also appear to be on the rise for more commercially focused IT positions (Business Analytics, Project managers) as well as infrastructure support. Increased RatesAs a result of the increase in demand, due to several variables ranging from talent availability, higher levels of competition, perceived instability of the IT market portrayed in the media as well as a somewhat limited talent pool, contract rates have been on the rise and will continue to increase in 2023.It is now common practice for a contractor to ask and receive rate increases when their contracts are up for renewal. Recruitment and retention therefore remain high priorities for companies using contractors. Remote WorkWith organisations now comfortable with remote work arrangements, the market has opened up to all areas of Ireland. A noticeable trend has arisen for IT Contractors based in the regions who are now being able to work for large multi-national organisations in their own cities whilst receiving the same rates of those based in the capital.This has therefore resulted in daily rates within regional areas of Ireland to be on par with those of in the major cities.All-in-all, we are optimistic about the IT Contracts job market in 2023 with plentiful opportunities across infrastructure, development and data in particular. IT Salary Guide 2023Download our 2023 IT Salary Guide for Ireland