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Recruitment

Looking for a new job? From tips on writing the perfect CV to expert comment and latestrecruitment news, each week our experts offer guidance to help you move up the career ladder in the mortgage market.

Preparation is the key to a succesful interview

Mark Witcomb is senior consultant at Venatus Business Intelligence
You have been invited for an interview, so what do you do now? Begin by congratulating yourself but also realise that the hard work starts here. Concentration on the preparatory stages is key.

When you receive the invitation be it verbally or by letter, you must create the right impression when accepting. When an agency is representing you, it will more often than not be a verbal invitation from your consultant. Your acceptance of the interview is your chance to show enthusiasm and prove your commitment to the interview process.

Where you have applied directly, the invitation could be either verbal or in the form of a letter. The verbal acceptance should relay excitement to the client. A written invitation will need a well-presented letter of acceptance, followed by a telephone conversation indicating you will be attending and that the letter is in the post to them.

Time management is important to helping to ensure that the interview runs smoothly. Make sure you make time for the interview. To create a more focussed approach, it is advisable to book a day’s holiday. If you just intend to escape for a few hours out of your day, you leave yourself open to problems cropping up such as your boss arriving unannounced. Booking yourself a holiday prevents you from discovering on the day of the interview that the couple of hours you have committed yourself to meet with the client are totally impossible to make. It also gives you more focussed time to prepare.

An indication of the interview process is required to enable proper preparation. Future articles will explain the following points in more detail. Your consultant will be able to fully brief you on what to expect, or if you have applied directly to the client, you should request full information about what to expect. The following information is essential to prepare yourself:

• Who the interviewer is and their job title

• How long the interview might last

• Which style of interview you are to expect

• What you will be required to take with you

• Competition – how many other applicants they are seeing

• How many interview stages there will be

• What it is from your skill set the client is interested in
Conducting your research will require time if you want to prepare yourself as best as you can. It is essential you set aside some time a few days previous to your arranged interview to enable yourself to prepare and understand the culture of the client. In addition, this allows you to ask your consultant to find out anything you are unsure of in the run-up to your interview.

Write a list of everything you need to find out to ensure you feel prepared and confident. A positive approach, backed up by mental and physical preparation, will make sure you have the greatest possible chance of a successful interview.

The impact of regulation on the Scottish market

Colin Lloyd is head of operations at Reed Insurance
The past 12 months have been dominated by FSA regulation and qualification criteria, and rightly so. The impact regulation has had on the mortgage industry has been substantial and, in some cases, has incurred both positive and negative effects. But, there has been little discussion of what impact M-Day has had in Scotland. The market there is run on the same principles as it is in England, but regulation and qualification criteria have had a slightly different impact.

Universally, the growth of the mortgage market and mortgage regulation has developed a new breed of candidate. Noticeably in Scotland, these candidates are people with no real mortgage experience to speak of but, vitally, are fully CeMAP qualified. This poses two dilemmas for organisations on the hunt for new recruits. Firstly, those who mirror the description given fail to meet criteria for most organisations as most demand experience relating to their role. Secondly, however, many organisations are impressed by the actions of individuals who have studied and qualified of their own accord. It is common for these candidates to be noticed and employed. In a market that is becoming more competitive, initiative, knowledge and the right qualifications make candidates look attractive to prospective employers.

There is a degree of confusion as to which qualification attained is valued most. In short there is no real advantage of one qualification over the other. Some organisations prefer candidates to be MAQ qualified while others would not consider them. The trick for recruiters and candidates is to be aware of this trend and target organisations who prefer qualifications relevant to the person applying for the role. The Financial Services Skills Council, which has taken full responsibility for qualifications, says both CeMAP and MAQ are recognised under the FSA. This suggests there to be no room for discrepancies, even though this is not the case.

Delving further into the Scottish market and looking specifically at the past 10 years of growth in call centres, Scotland placed more candidates suitable for the role. A clear argument is the soft Scottish accent compared with their English counterparts. But telephone manner is only half of the story. In 2004 mortgage administration vacancies in Reed Mortgages’ Glasgow office increased by 47% on 2003 figures. Organisations moved positions north of the border mainly because of the wealth of experienced mortgage staff in the area. According to Scottish Enterprise, Scotland’s financial services sector employs more than 100,000 people directly, with a similar number in support industries, and in the past five years financial services in Scotland has grown by 42% while the Scottish economy has grown by only 10%.

This is significant growth for the mortgage market. Aside from becoming a key financial district, Scotland is appealing to organisations and candidates in search of good clients. It seems an excellent time to pack the suitcase and head north.

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