Personality vs experience – the art of recruiting

Emily SevenoaksHaving graduated from college with a diploma in photography and her sights set on becoming the next big photographer, Emily Sevenoaks had no transferrable skills or experience when she started looking for paid work in the corporate sector. Here, Emily talks about landing on her feet in a job she loves, following an interview that assessed her personality rather than skill-set.

“I’ve been with Mitie Client Services since November 2013, and you wouldn’t believe how many people still ask me the question “I hear you’ve got yourself a job! How’s it going? What do you do?” It seems that everyone wants to know how the next Mario Testino landed a job in the corporate world!

After leaving college contemplating my future, I knew I had made my decision to join the grown-up world and get a job. I eventually signed on with a few agencies, did some tests and had a few interviews but they were either just unsuccessful or horrifyingly awful.

I then, by chance, found out about the role of ‘Customer Liaison Officer’ – I didn’t know it was a Mitie Client Services job at first, I only knew it was for the London-based offices of a corporate bank, and I was definitely intrigued by the role’s description. It sounded perfect for me, so I quickly got my application in and was successful in getting an interview…

As I sat in the interview room I was delightfully relieved that this wasn’t like the rest of the job interviews I’d had where it was a test of my knowledge, nor was it some kind of interrogation as to why I was going for the role when I had no experience. It was about me; it was about getting to know me as a person and I walked away feeling ecstatic. My second interview was the same, finding out about me, working out whether they thought I’d be right for the role and they believed I was. Both interviewers gave me the opportunity to actually grow as a person; they gave me the chance I needed.

Over six months on, I now know why it was about getting to know me. The role of Customer Liaison Officer is a role that requires the right personality. Along with my daily tasks of walking my allocated floors and maintaining a professional look about them, opening cabinets and reporting jobs, the minute I pick up the phone to speak to an unknown client, to deal with whatever request they are going to throw at me, I have to be ready to dazzle.

As I walk the floors, I have to be ready for anything, whether it is being flagged down to deal with something or perhaps a simple smile shot in the direction of a friendly face – without an outgoing personality it just wouldn’t work. You have to be approachable.

To the majority of clients in the building, we are the main point of contact, and though perhaps to some it may seem like a job anyone can do, you have to do it in a way that the clients will appreciate. You have to be able to stop in the corridor and talk to someone about anything from a missing headset to that ‘funny smell’ in the vending area, and you have to appreciate that the clients within your building need to receive an exceptional service to their smallest of needs.

I described the role recently as like having a multitude of relationships – for me, it’s over 2,500 people! Whether it’s ‘long distance’ – a client who you know is there but never really needs anything from you, except maybe a smile, or a ‘clingy needy partner’ – one who always wants to borrow your favourite jumper. You have to make sure they’re happy, and if they’re happy, the building is happy, and if the building is happy, well, so are you.

Going back to the questions “I hear you’ve got yourself a job! How’s it going? What do you do?’”…what’s the main thing I reply? ‘I absolutely love my job. It is perfectly suited to me and my personality; I can’t imagine being anywhere else’. 

The ability to say that you love your job, especially your first job; your first taste of the working world, is not something a lot of people are fortunate enough to be able to say and I take great pride in my ability to say that I really do love my job.

After my years at college studying photography on more of a ‘professional’ level, I learnt something quite important. As you look through the lens at your subject; be it a person, or an object, you want to do it justice, you want to make a lasting impression that will make the viewer think ‘Wow, I want to see more of their work’.

Although I’m not walking round the building showing off my photographs, I am walking around showing off me. I am making a lasting impression. I want people to think of me when they need help – I want them to say to their colleagues, “Wow, Emily Sevenoaks really helped me out today…,” and even if the end of that sentence is “…she showed me where the toilet is,” I’ll be happy knowing I made a difference.

Emily Sevenoaks is a welcome host supervisor for Mitie Client Services.

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