Competency Based Interview Techniques

You made it to the interview stage- Congratulations!

But now comes the all-important interview preparation. As well as making sure that you have done your research on the company interviewing you, it is important that you also ensure you are prepared to answer competencies-based questions.

So, what are competencies………? Competencies are the skills, experiences, behaviours and knowledge you’ll bring into the role. They will have been acquired from previous job roles.

Competencies-based interviews are the most widely used interview techniques where hiring managers will use open ended questions to ask you about previous genuine scenarios where you have demonstrated the use of your competencies.

Below are a few examples of the most asked questions:

  1. Communication skills
  2. Delivering at pace
  3. Making effective decisions
  4. Collaborating and partnering
  5. Leading and communicating
  6. Building capability for all
  7. Strategic thinking
  8. Teamwork
  9. Changing and improving
  10. Organisational skills
  11. Working under pressure
  12. Attention to detail
  13. Handling a difficult decision or situation
  14. Adaptability
  15. Delivering value for money
  16. Resilience
  17. Integrity
  18. Taking control of a situation
  19. Problem solving
  20. Stakeholder management

One of the most widely used competencies-based interview technique used is STAR.

Situation: Describe the background or context.

Task: Describe the task or challenge you were faced with.

Action: Explain the action you took, and how and why you did it.

Result: Describe how it ended, what you accomplished and what you learned from the situation. Relate the skill or ability you’re illustrating back to the vacancy you’re applying for and explain why it’s useful.

The use of the STAR technique will provide employers with evidence of your competencies and strengths. When practising your STAR interview answers, don’t spend too long describing the situation or task – trim any details that are unnecessary. The action you took is the most important part of your answer and should show how effective you were by giving good examples.

Practice with a friend or family member but don’t overdo it as answers that are too well rehearsed can sound robotic.

Good luck!

If you are reading this blog article and you are at the beginning of your job-hunting journey, you may want to read out CV writing blog article.

You may also want to check a selection of our current vacancies by following this link.

And finally…. if you have a any questions or would like to speak to one of our consultants, email us or connect with us on LinkedIn.

A Florida construction firm is seeing fast adoption of its intuitively-made building blocks that work like real-life LEGO bricks.

Renco USA released

A Florida construction firm is seeing fast adoption of its intuitively-made building blocks that work like real-life LEGO bricks.

The interlocking blocks made of a mineral composite and reinforced with glass fiber can be quickly and quietly assembled into walls, floors, and even roofs, with a special adhesive and a rubber mallet being the only tools workers need to get the job done.

By using a process similar to injection molding, Renco USA can take the material and turn it into a variety of shapes, from the standard LEGO bricks to roofbeams and joists. No heavy cutting, welding, or masonry is needed on the job site, and contractors installing plumbing, ventilation, or electrical work can treat the finished block walls like normal concrete.

In Palm Springs, a $21 million, 96-unit housing complex near West Palm Beach is being built by just 11 workers using the blocks and adhesive. Without any cranes or lifts, and no bench saws or metal cutting equipment, the neighbors heard only the muted thud of the rubber mallets.

According to industry reporters, ongoing labor shortages and volatile markets in both steel and concrete are making America’s go-to building strategy for over 100 years more and more difficult to budget for.

Renco’s building system combines standard materials from other industries, like methyl methacrylate glue used in heavy vehicle manufacturing, and recycled glass fiber to reinforce the stability of supply chains and make costs lower and more predictable.

MORE NEWS LIKE THIS: These Lego-Like Bricks Make Building a Raised Garden Bed a Snap

“We worked on this [system] for more than 10 years,” Renco co-founder Tom Murphy, Jr. told Engineering News Record. “We had to keep changing it to make it better and easier to work with. As we did that, making a building with it got faster and easier, and… the building got stronger each time.”

Importantly for Florida weather is that early adoption tests show the blocks are incredibly durable and exhibit properties typically associated with the longest-lasting building materials.

Renco USA released

They’re rated to withstand wind speeds of 275 mph, and because of a naturally-occurring resin used in the injection molding of the blocks, they wick moisture away rather than absorbing it. They’re even insect repellent. A test saw a section of blocks put into a terrarium with a queen termite and 99 males. A month later the block stood alone amid the dead insects.

5 top tips for Civil Engineering CV writing

Man typing on laptop

CV or Curriculum Vitae writing can be perceived as a daunting task; it is however your first opportunity to be noticed and impress a potential recruiter and/or employer.

‘Research conducted in the US (Ladders eye-racking study, 2018) and in Canada (Workopolis recruiter database study, 2014) suggest that recruiters spend an average of 6-8 seconds reviewing CV’s.’  

The following 5 tips of what to include will help ensure your CV is among the 20% of CVs that make it past the first screening.

  1. First things first, your name and surname followed by your email address and your telephone number. You can do away with ‘CV or Curriculum Vitae’ as a title, your full address (your current permanent location will suffice- such as West London or East Sussex) and a photograph (this distracts from the information contained in your CV). A brief but concise personal profile.
  2. Whilst your employment history and the education sections of your CV will demonstrate your technical skills; your personal profile is an opportunity for you to market your understanding of the role and show that you are motivated and passionate about applying your skills to your new role. Potential employers need to feel confident you will produce good results.
  3. In chronological order, include your work history and experience, this can be past employment or past contracts. Include the names of your previous employers, if they are not well known, also give a short description of what they do.

Other important information to include in this section may be:

  • Your financial projects on time and within budget (if applicable) and budgetary responsibilities on each major project.
  • Design, construction and purchasing responsibilities.
  • The detailed planning of all stages of construction, including workers, equipment and materials.
  • The construction phase, including site inspections and checking materials, measurements and workmanship.
  • Contact with buyers, planners, surveyors, supervisors / managers, other subcontractors and the clients or agencies.
  • New techniques, procedures, practices and processes that you have introduced or developed.
  • How you have reduced costs / saved money on the project.
  • How you have improved efficiency / productivity on the project.
  • Any other achievements that have benefited the project.

This will not only give you a chance to tell your next employer about your achievements in your past roles but provides evidence of your skills and achievements.

4. Education and training- in this section include your educational history i.e., degree, masters etc.… if it is relevant to the role you are applying to add any extra training you have, licenses or industry accreditation, these are important as they establish you as a recognised professional in your industry and will show your future employee that you are keeping up to date with the industry’s standards.

5. Stick to the two-page rule and ensure your tailor your CV for each role you are applying to. Check for any typos and grammatical errors, its always a good idea to get another set of eyes to read over your CV and be prepared to constantly review and edit.

Once your CV is ready, please get in touch with one of our experienced consultants will assist you in securing your next career move.

Alternatively, you can also connect with us via our LinkedIn Page.

Demand for Construction Workers at all Time High

All sectors are feeling the pinch in this candidate-led market, with unemployment at record lows as employers scramble to find enough workers to fill their vacant roles.

But nowhere is this more true than in the construction industry, which, according to the latest report by the Construction Skills Network, could struggle to meet expected growth if an additional quarter of a million workers aren’t employed by 2026.

In this article, we discuss the key findings of the report and reveal its suggestions for how recruiters can increase their teams.

As the shock of the pandemic has begun to lessen, the construction sector has had one of the largest bounce backs of all industries. New orders had recovered to their pre-pandemic level by Q2 2021, and annual construction output went on to increase by a record 12.7% in 2021.

And the trend continues, the ONS recently reported that the construction workforce grew by 1.2% in Q1 this year, rising from 2.16m in 2021 Q4 to 2.18m.

But these numbers aren’t going to be enough to support the growth in the sector, with a Construction Skills Network (CSN) report showing that the industry will need an additional 266,000 by 2026.

Back in January, the Construction Products Association (CPA) forecast that industry output would grow by 4.3% in 2022, and the trend will continue. There will be 2.78 million workers employed in the construction industry by 2026 if projected growth is met.

What is driving the growth in the construction industry?

Despite a variety of factors causing supply chain issues, there seems to be no end to the surging demand for private housing, as major housebuilders report that their output will continue to grow over the next few years.

In addition, the government’s drive to achieve Net Zero, along with technological advancements in eco-friendly building techniques, is pushing a growth in sustainable projects.

There is also no slowing down in the infrastructure sector, with civil engineering projects at a high.

Repair and maintenance contracts will also be needed to support the growing built environment. 

Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) chief executive Tim Balcon said: “Construction is vital in supporting the backbone of the UK economy. These future growth projections are encouraging after the stalling effects of the pandemic. However, this is set against a current backdrop of higher energy costs, material shortages, and associated price inflation that is currently hitting companies across the sector.”

What skills are short and where?

The report states that the largest increases in annual demand will be for carpenters, joiners, and construction managers as well as technical roles such as electronics technicians and estimators, and non-site support staff.

The South-West sees the biggest need for additional staff, with 41,950 new workers required to meet demands, while Greater London and the Southeast will need 26,000 and 23,000, respectively.

Suggestions of how to grow teams

The report admits that recruitment is a challenge. Construction vacancies are at a 20-year high and coupled with the competition for talent from other industries, this will mean that employers will need to rethink their recruitment strategies.

The report suggests that there just aren’t enough fully skilled workers in the pool to cover demand, so attracting young people, and training them from the ground up, will be a key strategy. But this means that the industry needs to work on its image to be able to attract talent, with only 2% of people in a recent survey considering construction as their preferred industry of work. 

Employers are encouraged to attract workers from non-traditional routes, such as adult re-skillers as well as develop domestic talent through Further Education (FE).

Balcon also reminded of the need for increased diversity in this traditionally male-dominated environment, “Training routes into the industry will be a focus for us and we have to attract and retain those that are under-represented – in particular women and those from ethnic minorities. It will be a major task, but the industry needs to evolve and reach its untapped potential for the national economy and our competitiveness on a global scale,” he said.

But employers must also ensure that they are working to retain their skilled workers, by providing competitive rewards packages and putting employee experience at the top of their priority list.

ONS Labour Market Overview

Hours Worked Increase

The Office of National Statistics release a monthly labour market overview, which estimates levels of employment, unemployment, economical activity, and other employment-related statistics for the UK. The latest UK Labour Market Overview shows, among other things, that the number of hours worked is on the increase. 

At a time when latest figures state that UK inflation has hit a 40 year high of 9%, the fact that the number of hours worked has increased might suggest desperation from UK workers. 

But could it be explained by something else? Read on to find out.

The latest UK Labour Market Overview just dropped, and it reveals some interesting insights about the state of our current labour market. It comes just days after the State Opening of Parliament, during which the government declared its intention to “grow and strengthen the economy and ease the cost of living for families.” 

And the latest figures from the Labour Market Overview suggest that things have still not recovered from the pandemic, proving that the government’s priorities appear to be in the right place. 

What is the Labour Market Overview?

The Labour Market Overview is released monthly by the ONS and is based on figures from the previous 3 months. This means that this release works on information provided from January 2022 to March 2022.

Some of the data included in the report is gathered from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) which is run by field interviewers each month, and some data, such as average weekly earnings and vacancies, rely on data collected from surveys of employers.

While the report is designed to provide only estimated predictions about the current state of the labour market, it does give useful information about what is going on.

Labour hours grow

One of the key measures in the report is the number of total actual weekly hours worked. 

This increased by 14.8 million hours to 1.04 billion hours in January to March 2022, compared with the previous quarter. This might suggest that, due to the surging cost of living, people are taking on additional work to make ends meet in the forms of overtime or even additional part time roles.

But this is still 10.7 million hours below the pre-pandemic rates. So, this could be a bounce back as people return to work after the pandemic, especially with things still unlikely to have fully settled since the end of the furlough scheme in September.

Falling Unemployment Levels

Unemployment also fell to its lowest level in 47 years, and for the first time since records began, there are officially fewer unemployed people than job vacancies. This reflects recruiters experience of the candidate led market, where demand for candidates is outstripping supply.

But again, this could be down to the pandemic. What has been dubbed “The Great Resignation” continues, as people rethink their priorities in the wake covid, with a reported 500k or more people completely disengaging from the labour market since the pandemic began. 

Bonuses Show Pay Growth, but that’s not the full story

After taking inflation into account, pay including bonuses rose 1.4% from January to March. But excluding bonuses pay fell by 1.2%, showing just how much the average employee is being squeezed. 

Bonus payments are at their highest levels since 2013, as employers look for ways to help workers navigate the higher living costs, but without committing to wage deals which beat inflation. Ultimately, the increase in bonuses is being driven by the lack of candidates, as employers frantically scrabble to attract and hold on to workers knowing that they might find them difficult to replace in this scarce market.

The next release of the Labour Market Overview is due mid-June, which will be based on figures from February-April. It will be interesting to see the impact of issues such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict, growth in worldwide travel as restrictions ease and the end of free covid testing (which could put further strain on an already stressed labour force). 

Elizabeth line will open on Tuesday 24 May

Transport for London has today finally confirmed the Elizabeth line will open on Tuesday 24 May, subject to final safety approvals.

But work is set continue at the delayed Bond Street station, which will not open with the other stations on the day.

TfL said work was progressing at Bond Street and the team were working hard to open the station to customers later this year.

The Elizabeth line was originally planned to open in December 2018 but the project faced numerous setbacks, which saw the cost rise from around £15bn to £19bn.

The new line is set to be crucial to London’s recovery from the pandemic, helping avoid a car-led recovery by providing new journey options, supporting regeneration across the capital, and adding an estimated £42bn to the UK economy.

TfL Image - Elizabeth line Paddington station platform

Andy Byford, Transport for London’s Commissioner, said: “I am delighted that we can now announce a date for the opening of the Elizabeth line in May.

“We are using these final few weeks to continue to build up reliability on the railway and get the Elizabeth line ready to welcome customers. The opening day is set to be a truly historic moment for the capital and the UK, and we look forward to showcasing a simply stunning addition to our network.”

Direct services from Reading, Heathrow and Shenfield are expected to connect with the central section in autumn 2022, with full end to end services commencing no later than May 2023.

The opening of the Elizabeth line has always been planned to take place in stages to ensure the new section stations, signalling and infrastructure can run safely and reliably before it fully links in with services out to the east and west.

VolkerFiztpatrick wins three new Birmingham railway stations

VolkerFiztpatrick wins three new Birmingham railway stations

VolkerFitzpatrick has been appointed by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) to build three railway stations on the Camp Hill line in south Birmingham.

The £61m scheme will reintroduce passenger train services to Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell for the first time in 80 years.

Design work has started and work on site will begin from November with the stations expected to be completed next autumn.

Malcolm Holmes, director of rail with TfWM, said: “This is a major milestone towards seeing passenger trains restored on the Camp Hill line, with the contractor in place and construction crews gearing up to get on site.

“This means, that after several years of planning and development, we are now entering the final phase and it will not be too long before these stations are complete and open to the travelling public.”

Mike Evans, operations director for VolkerFitzpatrick, said: “Our team are excited to be part of these ambitious plans to create an improved transport network, that will support the region’s ambition to be net zero carbon by 2041.”


Report on Jobs February Round Up

The Report on Jobs is unique in providing the most comprehensive guide to the UK labour market, drawing on original survey data provided by recruitment consultancies and employers to provide the first indication each month of labour market trends.

The main findings for February are:

Softer, but still rapid increase in hiring activity

UK recruitment consultancies recorded a further robust increase in hiring activity during February amid reports of rising workloads at clients and greater confidence in the outlook. That said, permanent placement growth eased to an 11-month low and temp billings also expanded at a softer pace, with recruiters frequently stating that candidate shortages had limited their ability to fill roles.

Candidate supply falls at quickest rate for three months

The total availability of candidates fell at the sharpest rate since last November in February, driven by steeper falls in both permanent and temp staff supply. Lower candidate numbers were generally attributed to ongoing tight labour market conditions and robust demand for staff. There were also reports that the pool of candidates was limited due to lingering pandemic-related uncertainty and fewer foreign applicants.

Vacancy growth accelerates for first time since last July

Overall vacancies expanded at the quickest rate for three months in February. This marked the first acceleration of growth since last July, and was driven by sharper rises in demand for both permanent and temporary staff.

Pay pressures sharpen in February

Recruiters continued to see intense competition for workers in February, leading to further steep increases in rates of starting pay for both permanent and short-term staff. Notably, permanent starters’ salaries rose at the second-sharpest pace since data collection began in October 1997.

Fresh Concept HS2 Euston station design revealed

HS2 has revealed fresh concept designs for the Euston terminus based on a less complex, more efficient, 10-platform station that can now be built in a single stage.

Arched station roof swapped for easier to build geometric design

Arched station roof swapped for easier to build geometric design

Mace Dragados JV, HS2’s station construction partner, has worked with the design consortium of Arup, WSP and Grimshaw Architects to refine and value engineer the design to reduce costs.

Original concept HS2 Euston station design.

The original arched station roof has been swapped for an easier-to-build geometric roof design that allows natural light to flood into the 300m long station concourse below.

Elements of the new roof design can be prefabricated off-site, and installed using modular construction techniques, reducing costs, carbon emissions and local disruption.

The HS2 station will be set across three levels, with 10 subsurface platforms that are 450m long.

The 300m long ground-level concourse will open out onto new public spaces at the north and south entrances.

The station hall – 20% larger than Trafalgar Square – will become the largest station concourse in the UK.

Retail and station facilities will be available on the ground and first floor, underneath the top-lit station roof.

Construction of the HS2 station will also support 3,000 jobs at peak and will offer hundreds of contract opportunities through the supply chain.

MDJV recently began a multi-year procurement of packages worth £500m for work on the HS2 station and the London Underground at Euston and Euston Square which will provide improved connections for passengers.

Taking account of the recommendations of the independent Oakervee review, the design integrates the HS2 station with the existing Network Rail station and emerging plans for over site development, led by Lendlease.

Lendlease, the Government’s appointed Master Development Partner at Euston, has started an 18-month long public consultation to seek the views of the local community about what would be of value to them in the development.