Facing the Interview Fear Head On!

Interviews are often a big fear factor when jobhunting, and even more so for people who might have been out of work for some time or for whom it’s been a while since they have interviewed. The experience of one of our participants is a great example of how determination and support can help you to face this fear.

Our participant had always found interviews nerve-wracking. She was often successful in obtaining interviews due to her strong applications and previous work history, but her nerves hampered her performance. Of course, on top of this recent months has seen Covid-19 producing additional interview anxieties as they move away from being face to face.

Our participant was still being invited to interviews but found many were conducted “virtually” over Skype or Zoom. Her anxiety over her unfamiliarity with this medium meant she would just turn down the interview rather than risk coming across as incompetent.

We worked with her to increase her knowledge of using different software including how to download and install the various programs as well as how the different features worked. She could then practice with her husband until she felt familiar enough to have the confidence not to turn down any more interviews.

Our Skills Officers helped her to improve her general interview skills which increased her confidence allowing her to demonstrate her abilities that had previously been confined to her application forms.

Her next interview turned out to be face to face and the work she did with HeadsUp helped her secure the job! On reflection she feels that it was her anxiety linked to anticipating interviews that caused her problems but she now knows that she can overcome this and is completely able to come across really well in interviews of all kinds.

HeadsUp was able to provide a flexible service tailored specifically to the needs of the individual and resulted in yet another participant achieving their goals.

Revisiting a creative side …

One of our participants is a great example of how the right support given at the right pace can really help someone to revisit previous periods of life, remember and even rekindle passions, skills and hobbies that make you feel happy and fulfilled.

Our participant had been unemployed for many years due to physical ill health and had on-going problems which left him very low and lacking in motivation at the point he joined HeadsUp. Between 1:1 support from his own Peer Support Worker and time working with the teams Development and Skills Officer on restoring his IT skills his confidence has grown and his PSW was even able to source funding for a new phone for him to use for job hunting. He was so encouraged by his own development that he has been able to pursue self-employment creating miniature gardens/object d’art and artwork which he has started to market and has already had some sales success.

Our participant reflected that; ‘Thanks to the support of Heads Up I have returned to an unfinished project from some years ago, making miniature gardens to sell. I’ve regained my confidence and started painting again, decorating objects d’art, creating landscapes and restoring an old rocking horse’

His next steps are to continue developing his artisan business and is getting ready to capture the Christmas market at boot sales and collaboration with local businesses.

What a great outcome for our participant, and just shows that with time, patience, lots of effort and the right support, anything can happen!

It’s not all gloom/There are still employers hiring!

Essential retailers are striving to meet considerable demand and need new staff for this. For those who are willing and able this can be a good time for people with limited employment history or relevant experience to get into the workforce.

One such person is a participant I met in February at a Wellbeing Event held in Basildon Job Centre. Lots of different service providers were present on the day, as were many customers of the Job Centre. To cope with the anxiety all this induced the young woman was accompanied by her sister who encouraged her to join the waiting list for HeadsUp after I described the support we could offer her.

When she rose to the top of the waiting list, just a fortnight later, I called her and as she would tell me later when I exited her from the project, she was so glad she picked up as she rarely felt able to answer phone calls at the time. The following week I enrolled her and after that there was time for just one more appointment prior to the first lockdown, at which I re-wrote her CV. She had a limited work history, just an apprenticeship in a different sector to what she now wanted which had lasted just a few weeks before falling through and before that volunteering in a charity shop, but we drew out the qualities she had shown in these roles.

The young woman declined the offer of support throughout lockdown, preferring to engage when we could see each other face-to-face again and when we could finally meet she hit the ground running, taking up my suggestion of volunteering in another charity shop to get something recent on her CV and to gain another reference. We did interview practice ahead of making a slew of applications together.

Prior to the second lockdown, I heard that B&M were accepting an application form handed into store and I filled it out on her behalf as she has dyslexia. It required references from two former employers so we put down the charity shops and I helped her plan what to ask as she called them up to check it was okay and ask who she should put down as a contact. She handed the form into the shop immediately after the appointment and was called back just 3 hours later asking her to come in for an induction, which she called me up immediately to pass on the good news. She was not supposed to start until the day after the induction, but custom was so busy they put her onto the shop floor the same day still wearing her civvies!

She felt much more confident than when she started on the project and was very grateful, bringing me a big tub of chocolates by way of thanks!

From a HeadsUp Peer Support Worker