Colin Lloyd talks to Alexander Forbes head of sales Nigel Bartlett on how to get that ideal job

The interview is a crucial gateway for all of us. For those who are seeking a new role or entering insurance, the following interview will provide an insight into how the recruitment process works.

Colin Lloyd: How does the recruitment process work for you?

Nigel Bartlett: Part of my role is to know who's who in the marketplace. If we do not know someone personally we would use a consultancy to source suitable applicants.

We have a particular idea of the person we want before we hire them and we try to find someone as close to that ideal as possible. An important trait we look for is attitude because the skill sets can be taught. We are open-minded regarding candidates. Recently, we hired a graduate with no experience, but who demonstrated the right attitude.

What is the best way to approach someone in your position?
I do not have time to go through all the CVs I receive, which is why we benefit from recruitment consultancies who screen applications.

What is your advice on the CV?
For a sales role, I do not think a CV should be entirely based on financial performance. What we look for is the right attitude and the right fit for Alexander Forbes.

What puts you off a candidate?
The wrong attitude and no apparent fit with our business. In this market and sales environment, most good candidates tend to get approached. It is very rare for people with a proven track record to walk into a recruitment consultancy and say "market me". They have to market themselves.

Do you, in your mind, know how the interview will go and what questions you will ask?
One question we ask is "what makes a good sales person". If somebody answered with "the gift of the gab" they probably wouldn't get far with us. I am looking for the reply: "It's all about listening and identifying client needs and then matching our service offering with the client's requirements."

We tend to ask questions to find out an individual's level of motivation. We look for answers that outline how the person has achieved objectives on a daily basis.

How should people prepare for the interview?
Practice. The key is to research our organisation and be able to answer most of the questions we throw at you. If you can demonstrate a good understanding of our organisation that will make you stand out from other candidates. The most impressive answers come from those who are able to tell me about Alexander Forbes, as an organisation, and about any strategic observations. IT

' Nigel Bartlett is regional sales director at Alexander Forbes and Colin Lloyd is head of operations at Reed Insurance