Al Mennie Q&A Part 2: Al Mennie talks Mental Health and Recruitment

Al Mennie is a Big Wave Surfer, Paddleboarder, Ocean Explorer, Author, Adventurer and 3rd degree black belt. We recently caught up with Al Mennie to discuss mental health and recruitment advice. If you missed the first part to our Q&A, make sure to check it out here. We covered the importance of mental health, the power of nature and how to cope with stress in an ever-changing environment.

Al Mennie talks recruitment tips and advice

Q: Many of our network are entering employment for the first time since completing their education. What advice would you give to those suffering from a lack of confidence for interviews?

A: Confidence is built through experience and education. It is normal to feel uneasy about doing something new, especially if we hinge our happiness and financial security upon it. However, we can control it to a degree if we have studied and worked hard to be the best we can be, before taking the next step. Giving your all can bring a reassurance that you have prepared as best as you can and increases confidence.

We all know people who didn’t work very hard in university, but still got a degree. The difference is, the depth of their knowledge and confidence is probably somewhat lesser than those who really studied the details and can confidently answer questions and solve problems with it.

Q: If you could offer one tip to those suffering from work-related stress, what would that be?

A: Sit down with a pen and paper and write. Get it out on paper, establish what is important to your life and make a structured plan for removing elements of your life that you don’t want and for adding elements that you do. This may be a process that takes a few months or many years depending on the person, their situation, commitments and desires. But, we go nowhere without knowing where we want to go, what baggage we want to carry and what we want to leave behind.

Read the full mental health and recruitment Q&A by clicking HERE. Al discusses entering the workforce for the first time, how to reduce stress and managing a healthy work-life balance.

A huge thank you to Al Mennie for talking to us here at Premiere People.

Al Mennie Talks Mental Health in the Current Climate

Meet Al Mennie.

Al Mennie is a Mental Health Advocate, Big Wave Surfer, Paddleboarder, Ocean Explorer, Author and all-around adventurer. He lives life on the edge on the rugged Causeway Coast.

Al Mennie is the epitome of an athlete pushing the boundaries both physically and mentally. Al was one of the originals that began launching boats and jet-skis in Ireland in pursuit of giant waves and the first person to push the barriers of what is possible in our ocean.

In addition to being a professional and inspirational athlete, Al has significantly supported adults and children with fear, anxieties and confidence challenges through his impressive books which have been published worldwide.

Premiere People recently caught up with Al Mennie to discuss all things mental health and recruitment, particularly in the current climate.

What brought you to become such an advocate for mental health?

To be honest, it was something completely unplanned. I didn’t realise that I knew so much about it for a long time. It first became apparent to me that I knew a great deal about fear and anxiety specifically when a paramedic pointed out that through pursuing big waves, often in cold, unknown and isolated locations, I manage all sorts of anxiety and potential scenarios in preparing for the peak of the storm, as well as during the act of riding the waves generated.

This made me very aware that I have indirectly developed coping mechanisms which allow me to push forward through personal barriers and overcome limiting feelings and emotions that are often considered beyond one’s control. I later realised that the knowledge I have gained through my experiences at sea has helped me in lots of walks of life. My coping mechanisms improved in such scenarios as a simple fear of the dentist, dealing with face to face confrontations and as extreme as losing my father and handling the loss and stress that brought.


Read the full Q&A by clicking HERE. Al talks all about managing mental health, advice for those suffering and how mental health has been impacted due to the pandemic.

A huge thank you to Al Mennie for taking the time to talk to us.


Job Hunt with the Influence of Social Media

Social media job sites have completely revolutionised a ‘job search’ leaving job seekers who are not technologically minded at a great disadvantage, as consequently the impact of social media has completely changed the way in which people now find employment.

We can all appreciate that the impact of social media has taken conventional networking to a new up-to-the minute technological level.  For instance a graduate could attend an interview and whether his perception of the firm is good or bad, can immediately sway the brand of that company’s reputation within minutes all because of the power of social media.  Opinions and reactions to comments etc. can all spread rapidly irrespective of a physical presence.

In today’s competitive market networking is about connecting with the right people, identifying with key players in building up contacts and receiving valuable information, because it will be the resourceful and self-motivated individual who actively participates in social media that will find their perfect or dream job.

More than half of the UK’s companies are using the influence of social media to screen potential employees.

However, bear in mind which sites recruiters target and format your profile efficiently, using paragraphs, subheadings and bullet points make your profile easily readable.

Online first impressions matter: Maximise your potential and attach a photograph – you must dedicate time to catch an employer’s attention.

Display your skills for example if you write a blog connected to your field of employment, link this to your profile.  Current and up-to-date knowledge is fundamental in order to recognise industry trends and this should emphasise a candidate’s enthusiasm.

Today social media sites are crucial in order to gather and exchange online connections and to support and encourage others in pursuance of employment.  Do not always consider how networking can benefit you personally, but how you may help others because every contributor must bear responsibility for maintaining effectiveness and results for employers and talent alike.

Consider the following:

Facebook Many employers use Facebook to promote their brand and graduate programmes – it is a way of getting relevant up-to date information about a company – make use of it and if interviewed you will come across well informed as regards company knowledge.

LinkedIn This is a business-orientated social networking site and it has over 90 million members worldwide, it delivers an opportunity for anyone to network online with professionals from a variety of employment divisions.  It is imperative that your LinkedIn pages markets you to your full potential – this is your online cv, you want to stand out therefore list any outstanding achievements.

Viadeo This is a French based site comparable to LinkedIn – it has far fewer users but apparently is the number one site in Europe for business networking and is expanding world-wide.

YouTube  Youtube is presently the second largest search engine so take advantage to interact and receive advice from people who may have a similar work-background, shared interest in job opportunities or desired career paths etc.  Also for example you can get a first-hand insight into what a certain company may expect from their employees.  The ability to connect with people online should provide a realistic assessment of what areas of employment and companies are expanding.

Twitter Take the opportunity to follow companies, brands or people this can give you a clear understanding of current issues and you can use your own tweets to state your own interest in a job, company or curiosity in developing your career path.

Your Online Image

All the information that can be found about you on the internet is referred to as your 'online presence'. Increasingly this information comes from your profiles on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. It also includes photographs of you and anything that you have written or has been written about you. This may be on blogs, forum posts and wikis.

Don't assume your prospective employers won't Google your name, even if this is not an official part of the selection process. When they do, if the first result is a photo of you half-dressed and falling into a hedge on your birthday, that doesn't immediately convey a measured attitude to life and you're unlikely to get that dream job in risk management. Un-tag yourself in any potentially compromising photos on Facebook and use their 'View As' function to see how your profile looks to the public. Facebook is known for its frequent alteration of privacy settings, so make sure you check your profile often.

If you've applied for a job where you will be expected to communicate with clients or potential customers, it's quite likely that someone from the company will search for you on Twitter. If they scroll through your timeline and your tweets are all in capitals and are mainly sweary, emoticon-ridden rants at judges on The X Factor, they may no longer see you as the composed, well-educated person your CV conveys.

LinkedIn is arguably more difficult to make mistakes with as its purpose is to convert you into an ever-professional living CV. However, just because your photo is in focus and you're not posting offensive updates about previous employers, don't assume you're a LinkedIn success. If the employment history on your LinkedIn profile is different to that on the CV you've been emailing to recruiters or potential employers, it looks suspicious. Poor spelling and grammar, and few connections or endorsements can also create a negative impression.

Before you apply for that job, Google yourself and see what comes up.

Preparing Your Answers

Many questions can be anticipated in advance and it is wise to have some well constructed answers that you can tailor more closely on the day. It is advisable to at least have a number of key phrases available to use.

Some interviewers use very broad questioning techniques such as "Tell me about yourself?" This can present the most difficult challenge of the interview. You need to perceive whether the interviewer wants an exhaustive resume of your career to date, or just a brief overview. You may need to confirm which it is with a question back before you make an assumption. If you feel you need to go into more depth, don't hesitate to stop and ask if the interviewer would like you to expand on the point.

Before the interview, it is often beneficial for you and your consultant to jot down your answers to these questions. By having a fair idea of what you are going to be asked and by rehearsing your answers, you will have greater confidence during the interview.

Some frequently asked questions include:-

How you see yourself:

  • Tell me about yourself? Or how would you describe yourself?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Impress the interviewer by saying that you look upon weaknesses as challenges you seek to work on, not bad points!

For example:

  • Make a list of your own strengths and weaknesses in relation to this particular job.
  • Can you turn any of your weaknesses into strengths?
  • Make a list of the reasons why you want the job.
  • How do you behave in a crisis/when under pressure?
  • What motivates you?

How you see and interact with others:

  • What sorts of people do you like working with?
  • How have you handled a difficult colleague/boss in the past?
  • How well do you fit into a team.

Your current/previous role:

  • What was the most interesting/rewarding project you've ever worked on?
  • What was the most difficult aspect of your job?
  • How did you overcome the difficulty?
  • How do you handle criticism?
  • Why did you leave your last job? Why are you leaving your current job?
  • Why have you frequently changed jobs?  Why have you stayed so long with one employer?

What you want from your role:

  • What do you see as the next step in your career?
  • What are your long term aims/where do you see yourself in the next five to ten years?
  • What are the most important factors you require in a job?

Research and fitting in:

  • What do you know about the company?
  • Why do you wish to work for the client?
  • What makes you think you will fit in?

Personal Development:

  • What training have you done in the last year?
  • How do you keep up to date with changes in technology?

Outside Work:

  • What are your hobbies and interests?

Recommended Questions to Ask

These questions are merely suggestions but it is important to limit any enquiries to your role and the company.  Bear in mind that the interviewer’s main objective is to successfully fit you into their organisation.

  • What responsibilities will be expected of me?
  • How has this position become vacant?
  • What type of person are you looking for?
  • Will there be any training?

What challenges does the interviewer see in the role?
It is important for the interviewee to get the person or panel interviewing them to talk about any possible challenges which may arise in the role.  If you say the word challenge and avoid the word ‘problem’ then this shows that you are positive and will face situations optimistically.

Consider the following when discussing the company:

  • Who are your major competitors?
  • How are you ranked against your competitors?
  • Ask your interviewer how long they have been with the company;
  • Which particular range of products are successful at the moment and why?
  • Are there any plans for expansion within the company?
  • What are the major benefits for a client entering into a contract with you?

It is one the most fundamental parts of the interview when the interviewee is asked questions, if you have none, or perhaps only one or two questions, then this can show a lack of interest in the company and job role.

Preparation will result in the correct balance, it is not only your answers that are important but to place focus on key questions.

How to Close an Interview

If you really want the job, or if indeed you need to secure a second interview, the close of an interview can be crucial.  Think of the role of the interviewer, they are a liaison officer who aids an organisation in finding qualified applicants and selecting the wrong person will ultimately reflect upon their poor judgement.

Keep in mind the following:

Restate your interest and dedication to the job, remind the interviewer of your skills, credentials and relevant experience, which will positively contribute to the company.  However, be careful not to be over-enthusiastic.  Do not for example say “when do I start” this is being over presumptuous.

A person’s personality and style of communication are key factors to consider when arriving at a decision.

  • Enquire as to what is the next step, if for example, do they have several candidates to interview, or there is a second interview, some sort of time frame indication.
  • Perhaps ask if you are allowed to contact the interviewer – a direct telephone number or a business card providing contact details.
  • As whether any samples of your work are required, if you feel this could increase your chance.
  • Make sure you have addressed the interviewers concerns as you want to be certain all issues have been dealt with.  If for example, the interviewer has a negative view on a matter, state how you will overcome this, suppose you cannot drive – could there be a concern regarding travel?  Clearly explain that this will not be a problem.
  • Your main objective is for the interview to end on a positive note, remember to maintain eye contact and smile, as this will maintain a confident disposition.
  • You need to leave the interviewer with a lasting impression that you are the right person for the job.
  • Thank the interviewer for their time. 
  • Remember to send a thank you note for the interview because manners go a long way and if it is close between two people, this could just tip the decision in your favour!

Premiere People Business Update: Q1 2021

Premiere People has got off to a fantastic start in 2021, setting the standard for what is forecasted to be an extremely successful year.

We are proud to have further secured our growing private sector client base by retaining the Mid & East Antrim Borough Council, and the Northern Ireland Healthcare Trusts for a further 12 months, whilst also securing a 5-year renewal with the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS), making this our third partnership term. 

Inclusion and Diversity

As part of the Buy Social project, in partnership with NICS, we are further investing in inclusive and diverse hiring by engaging with audiences who might find barriers to employment. This includes individuals with disabilities, those struggling in long term unemployed and students who have recently left higher education. We are committed to offering sustainable opportunities, and workplace transition support to give these job seekers the confidence and resilience needed to thrive.

We have also collaborated with Inspire to embed their Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) amongst internal employees. The EAP offers members access to a 24-hour freephone helpline, a confidential counselling service and specialist wellbeing resources to support mental health and wellbeing.

Technology and Innovation

In line with our growth plans for 2021, we are undergoing a brand refresh to further enhance our market position. Part of this will be the launch of a brand new website which will offer a greater user experience, convert more applicants, boost engagement, and acts as a hub for both candidates and clients. The website will also integrate with our new candidate tracking and MI system, Epsilon, to provide better hiring process management.

To further enhance our communication strategy we have introduced Clientshare and Odro to improve stakeholder engagement in an ever augmenting virtual world.

Typical Interview Questions

An interview is a nervous experience for anyone but bear in mind that research has proven that the most successful candidate for the job is not always the person whose experience, skills and intelligence is far above other candidates but it is the individual who possesses learning agility – a worker who can adjust rapidly, a ‘quick learner’ adapting to a new situation and working environment together with excellent communication skills.

Therefore, consider common interview questions listed below and when preparing your answers try and prove your point by showing an example. It is important to show commitment, flexibility, as well as loyalty and, of course, good manners.  Do not interrupt the interviewer, wait to be seated and at the close of the interview remember to smile and thank the interviewer.

Typical Interview Questions by the Interviewer and Suggested Answers

Tell me a bit about yourself?
This is your opportunity to create an immediate impression with a simple introduction of your background, include a quick summary of your academic qualifications, if attended university you could say “since graduating I have worked at …” highlight your dedication but make it brief. Do not sound to rehearsed but speak slowly and clearly.

Why have you applied for this job and why should the company employ you?
Study the job description highlight something from it by demonstrating what experience and skills you have and how the company would benefit from you, speak enthusiastically about previous jobs and apply past examples to this new role.  Demonstrate commitment and loyalty.

Are you a team player?
This is extremely important, bear in mind that you have to fit into the company’s culture, the capability of blending within a team is crucial.  Provide examples, a model answer would be to demonstrate a working example but also illustrate instances outside of work, such as sport, if involved in an organisation which supports a charity etc.  This is an opportunity to deliver a lateral response because this will show flexibility. Highlight occasions where you have lead a team as this confirms leadership skills.

What is your weakness?
Admit to a weakness do not attempt to disguise it or turn it around and say well perhaps others may consider that to be a strength – for example, if you feel, you are under experienced in a particular area state your enthusiasm to learn to better yourself in this specific subject.

Why do you want to leave your current job?
Be extremely careful not to criticise your current employer or colleagues this shows negativity, be positive about what you have learned and that you have been happy but now feel it is time for a further opportunity to develop and progress.

How do you think your current employer and colleagues would best describe you?
Be factual and professional – do not make any flippant remarks, for example you could say “I am punctual, hard working and always ready to help some one if for instance a computer becomes jammed or breaks.”

Where do you want to see yourself in 5 years time?
This is where you need to state you would be committed to the company – you have applied for this job because you consider this organisation to be a progressing business and you would welcome the opportunity to develop alongside this enterprising firm.

What kind of a salary do you have in mind?
If afraid of asking for too much or selling yourself short, perhaps you could turn it around and say “what would you normally pay someone for this role with my qualifications and experience?”

Have you got any questions?
It is essential that you have some questions relating to the company because this will show that you have adequately prepared for the interview, homework equivalents enthusiasm.

How would your strengths benefit the company?
It is not just saying what your strengths are try and prove them by fact, if you have won an award, for example,‘employee of the year’ alternatively express your ability to prioritise work, adapt in new situations and being confident at multi-tasking.

Can you work with minimum supervision?
Your response, if ‘yes’, will indicate that you can just get on with the job and cope with ease.

What are your hobbies?
The purpose of this question is to determine if you are a well-rounded individual because the employer wants to get a broader perspective of you and your life outside of work may tell the interviewer a little more about you.  However, try to balance a list of individual interests but also hobbies as being part of group activities.  Highlight any outstanding achievements.

Second Interview

It is very likely that you will be interviewed by another person, along with the first interviewer, and that you will be asked very similar questions to those in the initial interview. Repeat everything from the first interview that got you to the second.

Remember to share your eye contact with all interviewers, not just the one you feel comfortable with.  Also, answer the questions fully again, the other person has not heard your answer. Have another set of questions - refer back to the previous interview or a question from their company literature.

Reiterate your interest in the role and enthusiastically ask for the job again.

You will probably be asked more questions regarding your personal skills and specific interests at the second interview, be prepared for more challenging questions and try to back up your responses by examples and facts.  It is essential to remain composed, do not flutter and take your time it is important that you can effectively communicate your opinions.

The second interview is your opportunity to ask questions, which you were probably hesitant to ask at the first interview, for example issues regarding salary, bonuses and training schemes.

Although you have been selected for the second interview, and it is probably between two or three people, be careful to remain practical and do not be over presumptuous assuming that you are the successful candidate, there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance.  Competition for most jobs nowadays is high and it is crucial to at all times display good manners in a confident but unassuming manner.

Bear in mind that the second interview is your opportunity to showcase your intense interest for the job and this is demonstrated by everything you say during the interview, your sole objective is to convince the employer that you are the right candidate for the role.