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Career advice

Inside…Observatory the Opticians

Dispensing optician and managing director of Observatory the Opticians, Jonathan Foreman, on a structured recruitment process and the importance of a trial day for both parties

10 Sep 2019 by Emily McCormick

How can prospective employees apply for a position at Observatory the Opticians?

We prefer to initially receive an email with a CV attached. Ideally the email will contain details of what a prospective candidate is looking for in a role, as well as the specifics such as location, hours and services.

Regardless of whether we are advertising a vacancy, we welcome CVs and would encourage people to get in touch. Unfortunately, in our profession, we don’t see this often enough. We tend to advertise only when we want to recruit and candidates tend to only share their CV when they are looking.

What is the internal process after an application is made?

After we receive a CV, we will call the potential applicant for an informal talk. There are a few key things that I am looking for in this process, during which I also explain the recruitment process in full because I think it’s important for both parties to be informed. There is nothing worse than someone coming in and saying this is not what they thought it would be. We would prefer to wait for the right candidate and our recruitment process is designed to help us find the right person.

If the call goes well, the next stage is to meet in person to talk again, during which time I will share an application form and questionnaire with them to fill out. This stage coincides with a trial day, for which we pay them. Over the last five years, we haven’t recruited anyone, clinical or front of house, who has not completed a trial day.

“For me, a cover letter should include what a candidate is looking for and what they have done to date that adds to their goal”


During the trial day, we encourage candidates to speak to all staff and ask questions about the practice to find out what things are like really like.

At each stage, the candidate will only progress to the next round if it is right for both us and them.

What is the interview process?

After a candidate has completed a trial day, and if both parties wish to progress, we hold a final slightly more formal interview to make sure that we are crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s. This means that there are loads of opportunities to ask and answer questions. This is really important to us from the get-go and we encourage people to ask questions.

This final interview would be with the practice manager and either myself or a lead optometrist.

“I like people to show variety”


How should a candidate best prepare for the trial day?

It’s about being honest. If they are nervous about it, they should tell us as we will understand. They should also tell us what they expect and ask lots of questions. We want to know what they want from the day too, it is meant to be a two-way street.


What makes a CV standout?

I like people to show variety. However, while a CV is handy to have, they are not the thing that I am really looking for. It’s the cover letter that I am particularly interested in.

What are you looking for in a cover letter and why?

For me, a cover letter should include what a candidate is looking for and what they have done to date that adds to their goal.

If they can avoid being too cliché and using phases such as ‘I will go the extra mile,’ but share an honest insight into their past journey, what they want from their future journey and why this job is appealing to them, that would be great.

What three interview tips would you give a candidate?

  • Be open
  • Be honest about what you are looking for and want from the job
  • Enjoy the process – you will learn something from the process if nothing else.

What are your interview ‘pet peeves’?

I can see through most things now and I don’t let things frustrate me.

Sum up your ideal candidate in a sentence:

The ideal candidate is passionate about optometry and wants to grow as a clinician.


Image credit: Shutterstock

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