Executive director at Community Care Opticians, Michelle Peel, on the importance of personalising a cover letter to the role you are applying for and answering the key question of why. This article originally appeared in Optometry Today
How can prospective employees apply for a position at Community Care Opticians?
We also advertise roles with specialist recruitment agencies, such as Network Open. From time to time, we do some direct advertising in journals such as Optometry Today.
Fundamentally, we are happy to speak with anyone who might be interested in finding out more about Community Care Opticians.
What is the internal process after an application is made?
Once we have received a covering letter and CV, we organise an internal review with the management team. It is essential that prospective candidates make their covering letter personal by explaining what draws them to the role.
Once the interview process is over, we will provide all applicants with feedback. We also welcome their feedback on Community Care Opticians.
What is the interview process?
In order to ensure we attract the right candidates and make better hiring decisions, we use a three-step process. The first step is to have an informal phone interview. This saves time and makes sure for both parties that there is a strong match skill-wise before moving on to a face-to-face interview.
The second step is a face-to-face interview in a calm and comfortable location, so that the candidate can feel relaxed and hopefully create an environment for an open and honest interview. We have an interview structure in place, which includes both competence and scenario-based questions. We use this structure for all candidates so that we can judge applicants on a level playing field.
The third and final step is to invite the candidate to join the team in clinic in order to experience a day with Community Care Opticians. This process enables us to get a real feel as to whether the candidate would fit into our company, as well as giving the candidate the opportunity to experience what it would be like to be part of our team.
“To get this right, the key is to make the cover letter unique to the company and the role you are applying for”
What makes a CV standout?
Whilst qualifications are important, previous experience in working with individuals who are mentally or physically disabled, or at least a demonstration of empathy, is equally important.
Furthermore, making sure that a CV is clear, concise, and no more than two pages long is important. Plus, the opening statement needs to be tailored to the job you are applying for.
What are you looking for in a cover letter and why?
The covering letter is the opportunity for a candidate to stand out from the rest of the applicants. To get this right, the key is to make the cover letter unique to the company and the role you are applying for.
It is an opportunity to answer the ‘why’ you want to work at Community Care Opticians and we are looking for examples that demonstrate how the candidate would fit into the culture of our business.
How should a candidate best prepare for an interview?
Preparation is absolutely essential. My tips would be:
- Ensure you understand the culture of the business you are applying for
- Rehearse answers to common interview questions. You can find a number of example interview questions online
- Prepare a list of questions for the interviewer beyond what the benefits package is. This could be about how did the interviewer start working for the company, or where do they see the company developing in the next three years, for example.
What three interview tips would you give a candidate?
- Be yourself. Be honest and natural, do not pretend to be something you are not
- Research the company. Take opportunities to mention facts that show that you have done some research for your interview. This will reassure your interviewer that you care enough to learn more about the company
- Ask questions. Take a notebook. This gives you an opportunity to jot down notes and access a list of prepared questions.
What are your interview ‘pet peeves’?
I’m a perfectionist so I would always encourage candidates to respond with personalised answers that allow the interviewer to engage in more meaningful conversation. Therefore, unprepared candidates, as well as those who don’t listen are frustrating. The best interviews are based on two-way conversations, and the formula for a good conversation is quite simple: listen more than you speak.
Sum up your ideal candidate in three words…
Empathetic, honest, hardworking.
COMMUNITY CARE OPTICIANS
Number of practices in the UK: Nine branches across the UK
Number of employees: 40 employees, 15 of which are optometrists
Recruitment process: A covering letter and CV reviewed, followed by a face-to-face interview and 0.5 days shadowing in clinic.