Director of operations at Leightons Opticians, Rebecca Sharp, on good interview preparation, and why bad-mouthing the old boss is a no-no
29 May 2017
How can prospective employees apply for a position at Leightons Opticians?
We place all of our vacancies on our website, leightons.co.uk, as well as on our company LinkedIn page. We have a dedicated Recruitment line that anyone can call to register their interest as well. We regularly partner with optical journals and websites to share our jobs. Plus, on occasion, you’ll find our roles advertised through a number of optical recruitment agencies.
We welcome direct contact and conversations with anyone wanting to learn more about Leightons – this could be someone contacting us about an advertised position, or just because they are thinking of making a move in the future.
"CVs can feel generic and fact-filled. A cover letter needs to be more personal and connect the person to the role they are applying for"
What is the interview process?
We believe that creating a relaxed and comfortable meeting means that candidates actually enjoy the interview, and this makes for a much more open and productive meeting.
Interviews will normally involve one of our area managers or directors, along with our HR manager. It’s important that we really get a good understanding of their experience, but also that they have the opportunity to share their goals and ambitions with us. It’s not just about what Leightons has to offer, it’s also about us understanding what candidates are looking for – they could be about to make one of the most important decisions of their career to change employer. We understand that this can be stressful too.
The next stage is to invite the candidate for an experience day so that they can work alongside the team they are looking to join. This is carried out with a member of our professional services team. By the end of the day the candidate should really know what it’s like to be part of the Leightons team.
What makes a CV standout?
A clear and concise personal summary at the start makes me want to read on, and I like to see examples of an individual’s key achievements during their time in previous roles, not just a list of responsibilities. A five-page CV stands out for all the wrong reasons.
What are you looking for in a cover letter and why?
CVs can feel generic and fact-filled, a cover letter needs to be more personal and connect the person to the role they are applying for – tell us what you can bring and make it relevant to the company’s vision and ethos.
"A clear and concise personal summary at the start makes me want to read on, and I like to see examples of an individual's key achievements during their time in previous roles, not just a list of responsibilities"
What is the internal process after an application is made?
We like to contact candidates as quickly as possible to arrange to meet. Depending on the candidate’s requirements, we will either arrange for an informal ‘meet and greet’ session with one of our area managers, or move straight to an interview. Depending on the role and location, we will either meet at our Clarendon House offices in Farnham or at one of our branches.
How should a candidate best prepare for an interview?
Do your research, find out what you can about the company that you are interviewing with and its people. Visit a store and don’t be afraid to telephone before the interview if you want to know something – it shows you are interested.
Prepare questions that are not just about the benefits package; think about where the company aims to be in three years time and ask the interviewer what they value about the company they work for.
Number of practices in the UK & Ireland: 34
Number of employees: 240 (of which 48 are optometrists)
Recruitment process: Application, interview and experience day.
What three interview tips would you give a candidate?
- Build a rapport and make a connection – you want to be memorable
- Do your homework and make sure you prepare – you need to show that you are interested
- Ask questions. Some questions may be covered in the interview, so use the opportunity to really find out what you want to know about the company and its people.
What are your interview ‘pet peeves’?
I am still amazed when I meet people who haven’t done any research on the company or the place that they are applying to work at. As for criticising your former employer, just don’t do it.
Sum up your ideal candidate in three words
Well I needed to ‘hyphenate’ to answer this one. Customer-centric, team-orientated and passionate.