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Meet Gemma: A working mum at Hastings Direct

I chose to join Hastings Direct eight years ago because I knew how well they supported and looked after their colleagues, including their awareness of Colleague wellbeing. I’m currently an Academy Team Leader and seeing people develop, especially when they move on to new positions, is what I love most about my role.

Returning to work after being on maternity leave was extremely nerve racking especially because I had continuous employment for six years. So having a year out was completely out of the ordinary for me. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a really supportive manager, who not only kept me up to date whilst I was off and included me in team off-sites but made returning to work feel like I’d never been away.

My nerves of returning to work were also put at ease by moving from full time to part time hours. Since returning to work, I still have a great work life balance. The flexibility in my part time hours was exactly what I needed to support my family but still fulfil my role. My hours give me the right amount of time to spend with my daughter and be a Mum as well as focus on my career. My shifts also give me the flexibility to set myself and my daughter up for our day ahead, but without being rushed or short for time meaning I arrive happy and ready to start my day.

If you like what you have heard and would be interested in finding our more, please visit Hastings Direct Careers.

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Time to shine

Interview Tips and support with flexible working

Thanks to your hard work – and the tips in our previous blog – you’ve made it to your interview. You’ve got the right time and place, are dressed appropriately and have thoroughly researched the company and the role.
Now the real work begins – but don’t panic, we’re here to guide you though the interview process, including some inspired ideas for that question everyone hates…

Mind your (body) language
First impressions count, so make sure you smile and appear confident. Yes, you’re nervous, but take a few deep breaths, sit up straight and enjoy selling yourself.
As well as smiling, eye contact is important, as it shows confidence – but not so much that you make the interviewer sweat. Nodding along to key points is a good trick too, as it makes you look engaged and interested.

Feel the fear – and do it anyway!
Unless you’re a robot, you’re bound to feel nervous before and during an interview, but, believe it or not, this can work in your favour – yes, really.
Think about it – if you’re nervous, it means you care, and that’s what your prospective employer is looking for. Being arrogant or, worse, complacent can put interviewers off – didn’t your parents always tell you that nobody likes a show-off?
But if your nerves are threatening to take over, there are plenty of calming exercises you can do to take the edge off – but, whatever you do, don’t be tempted by a drink (or eight) to give you some Dutch courage.

Question time
Most interviews follow the same structure and use similar questions. With this in mind, you can prepare some answers for the questions you can guarantee will come up. If anything does throw you, take your time to consider your answer, and don’t be afraid to (politely) say if you don’t understand the question.
Obviously, your answers will depend on all sorts of variables, but there are certain things all employers want to hear. Hint: It’s not about your childhood hobbies or that you’re looking for a new job after running over your last boss’s prize poodle.
After you’ve clearly demonstrated your skills and your sparkling personality, you might think you’re home and dry – but then they hit you with the big one…

Do you have any questions for us?
No matter that we all know we’ll reach this point, it can still throw even the most confident interviewee – worryingly, no is still the most common answer.
If you don’t have any questions, you risk coming across as passive or incurious – and neither of these are a good look! Equally, it’s not a good idea to ask about pay or benefits, as this can make you seem more interested in what the organisation can do for you, rather than what you can do for them
Ideally your answer will touch upon something you’ve found out in the interview, or discovered during your research, for example asking about the issues the company currently faces. You want to look engaged and enthusiastic, and also make it clear you’ve done your research.

Final moments
You’ve done your best and hopefully wowed your interviewer, so leave on a high – a big smile, thanks to your interviewer for their time and handshakes all round mean you’ll leave a positive impression.
For extra Brownie points, it’s good practice to email your interviewer within 24 hours, to express your thanks for the opportunity. This shows both basic good manners and also reiterates how important the job is to you – both of which will stand you in good stead.

Hopefully, armed with these tips, you’ve impressed with your ability and charm, and so all you can do now is wait for the phone to ring – fingers crossed!