Career advice

Inside…Pirrie Optometrists

Director at Pirrie Optometrists, David Guttridge-Smith, discusses the benefits of a structured interview process and the advantages of asking for clarity if you do not understand a question


How can prospective employees apply for a position at Pirrie Optometrists?

Candidates can get in touch with us by email, by phone or in writing.

What is the internal process after an application is made?

When recruiting for a vacancy, we review all CVs and covering letters that we have received and decide which applicants have the required skills and experience to match our practice and the role offered.

We call a maximum of five applicants for interview, during which we ask each applicant the same questions. We score each applicant against the questions posed, while also considering other elements such as communication skills, personality, and openness to new ideas.

We will call the two best applicants back for a second interview. The second interview focuses on a general discussion on clinical knowledge to establish depth of experience and knowledge.

The best candidate, based on both interviews and their CV, will be offered the role. A discussion of terms of contract, such as salary, days to work and holiday entitlement, will follow. If the best candidate does not accept the position, we will offer it to the second person.

We will contact all candidates about the outcome, whether they are successful or not.

If you are not sure about a question you have been asked, ask for clarification


What is the interview process?

For the initial interview we create a set of questions that all applicants will be asked. The first interview is usually with two people and lasts around an hour. Each applicant is scored out of 10 for their answers to each question. If there are any worrying answers to any of the questions – especially clinical questions – the interview is brought to a quick conclusion.

Candidates are encouraged to expand their answers as much as possible but keep them relevant to the question asked. The questions asked are a mixture of clinical, ethical and personal.

What makes a CV standout?

A CV should not be too long, two pages max, and not in an essay format.

I am looking for a CV that shows what skills you have to offer as the main driver, while all qualifications should be listed, including grades achieved.

I would advise making sure your CV also gives us a good flavour of who you are as a person.

Try not to list just who you worked for, and when, especially if you have worked for lots and lots of companies because this is tedious to read and takes up half the CV. The last three or four employers is adequate; if they are relevant to the role for which you are applying, along with the actual post you undertook. We can always ask you for more information prior to or during the interview if needed.

Plus, make sure your contact details are easy to identify and stand out.

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

It must be concise because no one has time to read a life story. Also, make it punchy and to the point, but personable as you may be applying for a job, but you are also joining a team of people.

Make sure it sounds like you want the role – some letters I receive are obviously generic. When trying to personalise them to the prospective employer, I would suggest using phrases such as ‘I really want to work away from the city so your practice is…’ and ‘working for an independent practice really appeals to me because…’

It is actually reassuring for the interviewer to know that you are aware of your limitations


How should a candidate best prepare for an interview?

Find out a bit about the company – visit its website and look at its social media presence, for example. Pick out some interesting things about the company that you can entwine into your interview answers. Plus, have an open mind.

What three interview tips would you give a candidate?

  • Be honest
  • Be yourself – this is the person they will be working with ultimately
  • If you are not sure about a question you have been asked, ask for clarification. There is nothing worse than answering a question having got the wrong end of the stick.

What are your interview ‘pet peeves’?

Overly confident or arrogant people, being late, telling me how wonderful your current employer is, no eye contact given, negative body language and constantly referring to notes.

Also, it can be excruciating when someone is trying to answer a question that they have no idea how to answer. I would advise being honest and saying ‘Sorry I don’t know’ or ‘Can you explain what you mean please.’ It is actually reassuring for the interviewer to know that you are aware of your limitations.

Sum up your ideal candidate in three words…

Skilled, personable, genuine.

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