Being the brilliant interviewee!

  1. Prepare carefully. Research the company and the interviewers. Weave this knowledge subtly into the conversation. Try to interview at a time of day when you feel at your best and ensure that you have had a chance to take a rest from the day job beforehand. You must not seem rushed or exhausted
  2. Smile occasionally and appropriately (even if you are only on the phone) – it makes a huge difference
  3. ALWAYS talk about your previous employers positively. If they were crooks, you don’t have to call them that – understating the point and moving on is more powerful and expressive ‘I enjoyed the experience a great deal, however I felt that I had more to offer a business which prized integrity more highly’!
  4. If you are on a video conference, when speaking, look into the camera (make sure you know where it is!) and glance occasionally at your audience for your cues – it is much more engaging to attempt eye contact. Gesture and move normally, as long as you don’t move around in the frame excessively – animation is good. Think about your background (visually) and ensure there is no background noise. Remember mechanical noises particularly are amplified by AV equipment, so the washing machine quietly doing its spin cycle three rooms away may be deafening to your interviewer!
  5. Have your essentials documented simply and clearly – refer back to them when the opportunity arises
  6. Don’t shoe-horn points you want to make into parts of the conversation which are out of context, cover as a separate point, or AOB
  7. If you have something you are not proud of on your CV, find an opportunity to put it into a favourable context without highlighting it unduly. Don’t wait for the killer question!
  8. Everyone thinks they are body language experts – they are often wrong, so be positive and upbeat throughout and don’t second guess the outcome
  9. Don’t use ‘in house’ or cliquey language – it excludes others and makes you sound institutionalised
  10. Have a copy of your CV handy in case it is referred to and points need clarifying – if your CV has been reformatted by a recruitment business, make sure you have a copy of that as well, there may be mistakes
  11. Avoid using negative words. Practise talking about things you don’t like in a positive way
  12. Be clear on what are essentials or deal-breakers, but be open on the rest, you will be surprised what options evolve as a result
  13. Try to avoid referring to money face to face, but if an interviewer presses the point, be clear on your key (researched) figure or more broadly i.e. ‘I want to be valued on par with the market and other members of the senior management team’. Use you recruitment agency referrer as an intermediary if there is one
  14. In interviews, try to put your opposite number at ease, you will find out much more; show respect and be polite. Never interrupt or argue but be assertive – you are entitled to politely and gently but firmly make your point
  15. Take your time to think – interviewers appreciate you respecting the question rather than ‘shooting from the hip’. Make sure you have understood any points raised (ask if necessary), without doing so repeatedly, which can be seen as a clumsy way to play for time
  16. Make your point pleasantly and expressively – then STOP TALKING – silences are an easy trap to make you start waffling. If a silence is very long, ask if your interviewer would like you to elaborate or clarify any point you have made
  17. Use examples to illustrate your points and where permissible, figures
  18. Always respect confidentiality agreements and implied confidentiality. Gossips are useful but unpopular
  19. Understand the dress code, even for video conferences. If there isn’t one, err on the side of caution (more formal)
  20. It is critically important to RESERVE JUDGEMENT and properly evidence any opinions you develop

Super cycle or super-charged?

Cambridge House’s January conference in Vancouver in a new venue (the new and very large conference centre extension) – would it be parked in a small corner of the facility, embarrassingly tucked away? Not a bit of it. The conference was thronged with personal investors on the first day (Sunday) and hugely well attended throughout. Many reflected on the healthy cooling off of the gold price to a little over $1,200, but that has also since bounded upwards again, fuelled by depreciating major currencies and defensive buying of gold.

The bankers were out on force for Indaba, too, with brokers’ notes maligning new kids on the block who arrived with sharpened pencils and open cheque books come to take advantage of the popularity of commodity stocks. Partying in Cape Town was intensive too, with many taxing evening itineraries for most company executives. Toronto was no different, again record numbers to PDAC and the familiar jam-packed escalators into the bowels of the conference centre to partake of the feast.

Comments abounded of the lack of skills available, the momentary shortage of engineering skills and the perennial scarcity of geologists which is already increased in intensity. But let me reassure you, dear reader, that there are always the right people for the right job and it is not always necessary to pillage the competition to achieve such feats……. and yes, you do need the right partner to find them, so look no further!

Frothy or on the start of the next super-cycle? Time will tell……..

LOTS of London conferences – a summary

The silly season has started again with back to back conferences in London to celebrate uncharacteristically cold English weather for this time of year. The Canadians may laugh but averaging -5°C is cold!

The Investing in Africa conference by MineAfrica clashed with Australia Day but was nonetheless extremely well attended despite the travel disruptions caused by the weather. The outlook was considered to be excellent, with some superb prospects in some emerging provinces, with Eritrea represented strongly with speakers of ministerial rank at the conference.

The assembly was honest about the challenges, with continuing difficulty for foreign investors in Zimbabwe and South Africa featuring less than usual because of commercial and political challenges – however, the delegates at Australia Day probably said the same of the recently blunted federal super-tax from Canberra.

There were some illuminating presentations not only from some excellent resource companies, but markedly from TMX, who highlighted their bullishness and their marked competitive successes over the last year or so; the UK Bribery Act and its equivalents threw up some interesting and heated discussions, with interesting country corruption ratings scales aired.

Mines & Money was the busiest for several years, with Canadian and Australian companies leading the charge with some great stories and distinctly bullish sentiment – their UK based colleagues were carried on a tide of optimism. The level of development and renewed exploration is already highlighting intense shortages of expertise – exploration geologists are particularly in demand with experienced mine developers closely following on the shopping lists. Watch this space for soaring salaries, particularly in the mining hotspots and compensation to offer the most sympathetic non-financial incentives! Overall some great business done, even better sentiment and collectively optimistic for 2011 – but ready for a holiday after 2010!

The third London conference of the week was Canada Day, which again was affected by the weather but reiterated the bullishness of the Canadian companies and the positive support given by the TSX investors for endeavours all over the world. Some juniors have demonstrated massive resilience and magical timing, pulling great prospects out of the bag to catch the market upturn.

Best wishes to one and all for a safe journey home, a restful Christmas and a fantastic 2011 – and to all those that brought that breath of great sentiment from abroad into London this week… you hum it, we’ll sing it.

Talent mapping – an overview

Talent mapping is thought of as being one in the same (in the context of a single role) as the candidate identification and initial contact stages of an executive search (head hunting) assignment.

Your talent map is the identification of a group of individuals for one or more specific (normally key) roles in the business; there are always multiple options for each role and therefore it is important to identify  a large quantity of good quality candidates as well as the means to quickly communicate with them once the need arises if there is no immediate need.

It firstly requires a business to understand how to measure and define (generically and role specifically) what a good prospective employee is.  It then seeks to understand where the best talent is working.  It establishes which businesses tend to have the best individuals and what working conditions and remuneration attract them to those businesses and keep them there.

In some cases the individuals who are identified as prospective employees by this process are kept in contact with on a speculative long-term basis, in other cases the person exists as a referral from a third party or from desk research which the company does not act upon by contacting the individual.

This means that the business has a talent pipeline and therefore the basis to build their succession plan whatever its future demands, whether through significant growth or organisational change.

Talent mapping has the following peripheral benefits:

  • Organisations that talent map are proactively managing their reputation as employers in the market – this improves reputation and provides excellent responsive feedback
  • It seeks to understand what the industry’s top quartile is and its relationship to the business’s measurement of what is the best (they may not be the same)
  • It is a great snapshot of competitor and market activityIt benchmarks compensation and benefits packages
  • It encourages all employees to keep a ‘watching brief’ for future employeesIt makes sure that the company is clear on its message regarding prospective employees and because that message is being used and therefore being tested constantly, it remains under open review by the company
  • The company and its employees are proactive in communicating that messageIt is able to act decisively and quickly when a need arises

Before you consider a talent mapping exercise consider:

  • It is indeed a specialist task to undertake talent mapping and many companies do outsource to search companies.  However, it should not be underestimated that talent mapping is a desk research and initial contact exercise and much of the hard work is undertaken after the talent mapping is done, i.e. the proactive contact of all likely candidates to attract them together on a timely basis to a series of interviews with the business.
  • This is proactive reputation management – a poor message or one that is portrayed inconsistently by executives using it can have very damaging effects
  • The logistics, administrative backup and tone of communications must match the overall message

Women in Mining at Mines and Money

The representation of women in mining and exploration is among the lowest in primary industry categories, yet as forecasts point to a re-emergence of skill shortages within the next decade, attracting and retaining women is one of the keys to sustainable growth in the mineral sector. The UK network of Women in Mining (WIM) aims to support this evolution by promoting the employment, retention and professional development of women in the mining sector.

Founded in 2006, the network has grown to more than five hundred members today, representing a variety of mining-related businesses and professions. Membership is free and open to all women in the mining industry wherever they work, though the majority of members are based in the United Kingdom or continental Europe. Women in Mining publishes a monthly newsletter and organises networking drinks and speaker seminars on mining or career-related topics. It also coordinates with women’s organisations and universities to promote mining as a career choice and participates in industry events to promote the important and positive role of women within the mineral sector. The organisation is currently sponsored by Anglo American plc and seeking additional sponsorship to achieve its objectives and continue to grow.

Women in Mining will have a stand at Mines and Money London 2010, where it will launch its new website and take this opportunity to connect with industry participants and celebrate its recent achievements by hosting a Champagne Reception.  For more information or to become a member, please visit the website.

Fabulous Finex!

Finex 2010 was a financing mining exploration conference held at the Royal Geological Society in London. It was organised under the chairmanship of Dr. Bob Foster of Stratex, who set the tone early with an upbeat and good humoured introduction which was replicated throughout the two day conference.

The great and the good were all there with academics, eminent brokers, economists and financiers presenting a collectively rounded programme which occupied all topics eloquently, objectively and completely. The rules disallowed blatant promoting (there were a range of sponsors and a small fee for entry), which further enhanced the speaking standard.

There were many cautionary tales and success stories from commodities to jurisdictions – Bob and his team deserve the highest praise for putting together a great conference. By the way, the mining schools were on hand with undergraduate exploration geologists looking for summer placements, feel free to respond to this with a comment if you are interested or get in touch with the schools direct.

Check out the “who’s who” of speakers:

  • Dr Adrian Boyce – Manager, NERC Isotope Community Support Facility, Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
  • Bill Scotting – Exec VP, Head of Strategy, ArcelorMittal
  • Dr Bob Foster – CEO, Stratex International plc
  • Cedric Chehab – Head of Commodities Research & Strategy, Business Monitor International
  • Charles Gibson – Sector Head, Mining Research, Edison Investment Research Ltd
  • Charles Kernot – Director, Metals & Mining, Evolution Securities Ltd
  • Dr Charlie Moon – Programme Leader, MSc Mining Geology, Camborne School of Mines
  • Chris Watling – CEO & Chief Markets Strategist, Longview Economics
  • Dr Chris Hinde – Editorial Director, Mining Journal, Aspermont UK
  • Christopher Hall – Mining Consultant, Grant Thornton
  • Claire Dorrian – Senior Manager, Product Management, AIM
  • Dr Clive Hallett – Principal, CRT Minerals; Project Manager, MIRO (Minerals Industry Research Organization)g
  • Dr Duncan Large – Consulting Geologist
  • Fergus Anckorn – Technical Director, AMEC Earth and Environmental (UK) Ltd
  • Gabriel Didham – MD, Objective Capital Research Ltd
  • Graham Brown – Group Head, Geoscience & Exploration, Anglo American
  • Dr Hazel Pritchard – Director, Exploration & Resources BSc, Cardiff University
  • Hugo de Salis – Principal, St Brides Media & Finance Ltd
  • Prof. John Ludden – Director, British Geological Survey
  • John Meyer – Head of Resources, Fairfax ISL plc
  • Prof. Laurence Robb – Univ. Oxford; Director, Savannah Gold Ltd
  • Liv Carroll – Senior Business Analyst, Gemcom Software International Inc.
  • Michael Lynch-Bell – Partner, Global Mining & Metals, Ernst & Young
  • Prof. Neil Phillips – Univ. Melbourne; Phillipsgold Pty Ltd (SIR JULIUS WERNHER MEMORIAL LECTURE)
  • Nigel Jackson – Chairman, CBI Minerals Group
  • Paul Dewison– Research Manager, Bloomsbury Mineral Economics
  • Phillip Crowson – Hon. Prof., Univ. Dundee; former Director, London Metal Exchange
  • Richard Chase – Managing Director, Ambrian Partners
  • Roger Goodwin – President & Group Finance Director, Griffin Mining Ltd
  • Dr Sacha Backes – Investment Officer, Oil, Gas, Mining, & Chemicals, International Finance Corporation
  • Dr Stephen Henley – Deputy Chairman, PERC (Pan-European Reserves & Resources Reporting Committee); MD, Resources Computing International Ltd
  • Tanya Costello – Associate Director, Control Risks
  • Dr Tim Williams – Director, Global Mining and Metals, Ernst & Young

Context for a great recruiting process

The company must recognise that the recruitment process is a partnership with the head-hunter and opening a shop window to the company; therefore:

1. Be clear internally on what attributes are essential – but be open minded as to the rest, you will be surprised what options may present themselves as a result

2. The company should consider its reputation for professionalism (whether that be current or aspirational) which it will be communicating by its choices and actions in structuring the process, therefore:

· Carefully consider its choice of recruitment partner (and be prepared to be assessed by them for ‘fit’); with this in mind, be informed by them as to what your ‘needs’ might be, as distinct from your stated ‘wants

· Strongly consider awarding exclusivity to a single recruitment partner for senior roles to ensure there is no unseemly behaviour in a rush for results. No everyone in the sector is an angel

· It is critical that trust is established from the start and maintained with all parties. Information should be shared with clarity but with consideration to legal and moral confidentiality

· Carefully consider what steps are appropriate and necessary for a full and incisive process including interviewers, interview stages and manner of assessment. Remember economy of effort – there is no merit in prolonging for the sake of it, if you feel inclined to do so, it may be that you need to examine weak points in the process

· Ensure that there are no conflicts of interest i.e. incumbents or managers who may favour a choice incompatible with the company’s goals

· Interviewers should be trained – your recruitment partner will normally provide this service gratis

· Conduct interviews brilliantly

· All measurements, tests, techniques and interviewers should be appropriate to the level of candidate to be interviewed and the role to be interviewed for

· Be clear in writing what interview expenses will be covered by the company and ensure that this is circulated to each candidate

3. There should be a clearly identified client lead (they must be empowered and motivated to make decisions) to deal with the head-hunter, preferably the recruiting manager

4. The company should consider clarity and openness to be key reputation management issues. It should therefore:

· Clearly definite process timescales; make best efforts to keep to them; let all process stakeholders know as soon as it is clear that it is not possible to keep to them. Clearly define the process, filtering tools, measurements and feedback; let people know what they are committing to

· Have some clearly stated skills and behavioural attributes which you are seeking and share them with your candidates so they know what you are looking for and can provide appropriate evidence – guessing and surprises are for children’s birthday parties

· Be scrupulously and conspicuously fair

5. It is always useful to have an administrator, like a PA, as an administrative liaison for interview slots etc, with access to all the client interviewers’ diaries – and the mandate to commit the time!

6. Unsuccessful candidates should have feedback given to them verbally by an individual of appropriate seniority and involvement to discuss in detail – that may be a commercial manager or recruitment partner

7. Always thank a candidate for investing their time

8. Don’t relax when an offer has been made; consider and cover off: buy-backs from current employers; alternative offers a candidate has received; remember to induct properly and consistently with the recruitment process, ensuring that your senior new starter has appropriate communications, IT, office equipment and briefing without having to ask

9. There should always be follow ups as part of the recruitment process to at least six months after the start date by the company and its recruitment partner to resolve teething issues