Women in Law

A Moment for Mindfulness

Chances are you will have read about mindfulness. Over the past few years the likes of Google, SmithKlineBeecham, Goldman Sachs and some City law firms have been blazing the corporate trail by offering in-house mindfulness training programmes. Along with its growth in popularity, research supports the practice as a way of reducing stress and anxiety amongst staff, while increasing wellbeing. And even better still say many CEOs, this can lead to an improvement in the bottom line. So not only does practising mindfulness appear to make people happier and healthier, it may even result in a proven competitive advantage.

But what is mindfulness? Its guiding principle – which can be applied anytime, anywhere to everyday life – is to be able to step out of the busyness of the mind and be present in the moment. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? However, in reality many of us have become used to functioning on autopilot, with our minds constantly distracted. How often have you walked into a room to accomplish a task only to forget instantly what it was you wanted to do?

We live and work in times of constant change and, whilst change is nothing new, the pace is accelerating. Mindfulness trains us to focus on the moment in a non-judgemental way, rather than allowing our attention to be hijacked by thoughts of the past and worries about the future. You may have already experienced mindful moments whilst out running, skiing, watching a child’s play or listening to music. These are times when you feel grounded and your thoughts fall away.

Those who find the idea a bit airy fairy cannot ignore the research which suggests it works. It is not only corporates who have fully embraced mindfulness as an antidote to the relentless pressure and information overload common in some workplaces. Thousands of mindfulness services are prescribed to NHS patients every year to help treat anxiety and depression: a good plan indeed, especially when reading recent World Health Organisation figures forecasting that by 2030, mental health issues will form the biggest burden on health care resources.

Children and young adults are not forgotten either. Last month I attended a presentation at my children’s school where mindfulness training is being introduced on the back of research which has shown that, when applied in schools, it can increase children’s self-esteem, concentration levels and performance in class.

However, mindfulness is not short of its critics either, who argue it as being just another fad, and not necessarily a panacea for the ills of modern life. Let’s be honest. Isn’t it worrying that so many of us are living lives we feel unable to cope with?

No doubt for many, there is a place for mindfulness. Perhaps it can support how we cope with a demanding lifestyle where we are tasked with juggling multiple commitments and conflicting priorities, by giving us the skills to focus on the present, be more resilient and have greater control over how we respond to situations, both at work and beyond.

As Master Oogway (of Kung Fu Panda fame) says:

Yesterday is history
Tomorrow is a mystery
But today is a gift
That is why it is called the Present

Family & Work

How to Secure Meetings and Interviews Over the Phone

You may be looking to refresh or expand your team and an efficient way of narrowing down a large pile of CVs is an initial call with the candidates. Or perhaps you are facing a telephone interview as part of changing jobs? The telephone interview remains a staple of many recruiters’ process. It’s therefore becoming more and more important for those seeking work or looking for a new team member to get to grips with this way of recruitment.

What makes a great telephone interview? You may actually find that the telephone interview can be more of a challenge, requiring extra preparation and focus, than a face to face situation. If done well, the interview will feel more like a constructive chat. But, for an interviewee, getting the balance between saying too little and giving away too much can be difficult. For example, it may be harder to identify a natural break or end to a conversation. And for the interviewer, not having the face to face contact nor the ability to read the person’s body language can make it harder to evaluate what the person is like.

For many years the face to face interview has been a mainstay of recruitment. However, in today’s world, with most companies operating globally, along with increasing pressures to recruit faster and more efficiently it is not always possible to meet in person. Like many things in life, these processes have moved on and we are now often asked to participate in all manner of recruitment activities such as video-linked calls, psychometric tests and group assessment centres, as well as multiple interviews and visits to the office.

Here are 5 tips on great telephone interviews for interviewees:

  1. Keep your preparation notes near you: One of the benefits of the phone interview is that your preparation can be right in front of you. You can have your CV, your questions and other notes ready to refer to so you don’t miss out any key information you want to highlight during the discussion. Perfect for those of us who have left an interview only to remember all of the things we should have said but also for those who recruit as they can make notes and pick up on questions they may otherwise miss.
  2. Watch your language: think about how you come across on the phone. It is difficult to read body language on the phone; so it is making a judgment from what you say, how you say it, and the tone of your voice.
  3. Don’t leave your research to last minute inspiration: as with any interview, prepare well in advance, do your research before – not as you are on the call!
  4. Keep it quiet: ensure that you made the necessary arrangements to take the call in a place where you are unlikely to be interrupted.
  5. Manners matter: Although you can’t shake hands at the end of the discussion, ensure you finish the call as politely and professionally as it started to give you the best chance of success at whatever stage you are in during the recruitment process.

So, a great telephone interview is much like a great face-to-face interview, but with some vital tweaks. Nail these and you will give yourself the best possible chance of moving to the next stage in the recruitment process whether you are a candidate or an employer.