Big Bury Expo Winners!


In our last blog we congratulated the winners of our business card draw at the Big Bury Expo at the end of last month. Well this week it was great to get out and meet the winners of our prize drawer. We wanted to say a big ‘thank you’ for meeting us at the Expo and seeing how a square peg rolls!

Thank you to Josh’s Grandad from the Super Josh charity  for popping in to pick up his box of Chocolates and to meet the Square Peg Team. Read more about the charity here

Thanks to Neil Cope from People Matters for taking the time to meet with us and get his prize bottle of Champagne.      

And thanks to Martin Stembridge at Martin Stembridge Photography for letting us pop by to drop off his bottle of Prosecco and grab a quick piccy (not as good as his though!)

Congratulations again and thanks for taking part in our survey and business card prize draw.

Big Bury Expo!

Square Peg’s first Big Bury Expo was a huge success!

We made lots of new contacts, met some new and “old” faces and felt very welcome from the start. We even met the mayor!

Organised by a great team, the event which was held on 29th September is designed to get great local businesses together for an evening of networking. We really enjoyed the experience and would like to thank the organisers and people we met, we look forward to working with you all in the future. If you would like to have an informal chat with any of the Square Peg team regarding your recruitment needs please give us a call on 01706 523 079. Read a little bit more about us and the team here.

Thanks to everyone that came to talk to us and congratulations to our prize draw winners!

Neil Cope: People Matters (HRC) Ltd won a Bottle of Champagne.

SuperJosh Charity won a Box of Chocolates.

Martin Stembridge: Weddings & Portraits won a Bottle of Prosecco.

We would also like to thank Amanda Barron for tweeting about us, Debbi and Phil Fallone at Best of Bury for hosting another great Expo, Martin Stembridge for taking the event photographs and the Major of Bury for our great “love Square Peg” picture! 

We hope to see you all soon!

He made it through the wilderness!

In our last blog we told you about our new recruit James taking on a challenge for Capital’s Survive the Wild in aid of Global’s Make Some Noise. Well… he took on the wild and he made it! Here is his diary….

Day 1: 

Meet the team, full brief by Dangerous Dan (The event organiser) and off out the gate….

1st was a mountain climb to summit of base camp then a walk towards our next challenge – 40 meter abseil, cave walking and finally a cliff jump (fully submerged) into freezing water followed by more cave walking waist deep in more water that hasn’t seen daylight or any form of heat for god knows how long. I was blue, couldn’t feel my toes and stank of stagnant water by the time we reached the end.

Night time.

Given a bag of potatoes, carrots, onions, tomatoes, pasta, apples, bread, some nuts, jar of jam coffee, tea bags, sugar and UHT milk to last 3 meals for 6 people.

Day 2:

Slept for about 2 hours and woken up by someone Dan “pan bashing”….

Assigned a mountaineering  guide called Paul (Owner of Mountain Magic Org) Fantastic guy, helped everyone all the way to the top of Mount Wetherlam.

Walked around 16km finished by a very steep walk down to the bottom where we were met by further instructors who took us through our final challenge.

3 waterfall jumps… icy cold flowing water. 1st jump, a step and drop between funnel shaped rocks (arms in, legs straight), 2nd a jump in and over rocks into white waters and 3rd a rock slide then sheer drop into colder water.

Walk back to camp, debrief and then a drive home back to reality.

Feet, Legs and arse are on fire, blisters on my right foot but overall a brilliant weekend and all for an amazing cause. 

You can still sponsor me here

Will James ‘survive the wild’?

For those that read our previous blog you will know I am the new recruit at Square Peg. And as the rest of the team have been busy doing some physical challenges for charity I thought I would try my hand (and legs too) at raising some money!

I am asking for your help, please help raise awareness and some money for Globals Make Some Noise charity with Capital’s Survive The Wild Challenge. This is the final week! “crunch time” and I only have 5 days left to hit my target of £250.

Why Globals Make Some Noise? Because it’s a fantastic opportunity to raise money and help not just one but twelve small and brilliant charities across the UK, which help youngsters and their families living with illness, disability or lack of opportunity. 

This is a first for me, I haven’t ever done anything like this for charity before but we all have to start somewhere so I’m asking for your support to help me make a difference.  

So…please spread the word by sharing my page with your friends and family.

Thank you in advance for your generosity, it means more than you could ever imagine to those small charities that can’t shout loud enough.

So let’s all make some noise for those who don’t get heard.

James Soden – Senior Consultant

Hello James!

My first insight to the recruitment world was about 4 years ago and can honestly say I have never looked back. Within a few weeks I found myself studying in London to gain my Cert in Recruitment Practice, at that point I knew that this is what I wanted to do, not just as a job to earn money but as a career. I saw this as an opportunity to help people, give back and help change people’s lives for the better.

“In recruiting, there are no good or bad experiences – just learning experiences”

At the moment I’m ”The Newbie” of the Square Peg Associates team and what a fantastic team it is. I joined Suzanne and Square Peg Associates as a Senior Recruitment Consultant focussing on strategically expanding the businesses footprint to achieve organic and constant growth.  

In my spare time I like to socialise, read books, experiment in the kitchen cooking different foods and think I keep fit by attending a local gym.

I have a Claud Butler road bike and like to go for long rides – Unfortunately I have an unhealthy obsession with keeping my bike clean so tend to spend longer cleaning it than riding it….

I’m about to undertake a challenge called ‘Survive the Wild’ – more on that later! 

We are a resilient breed.

Everyday we see clients and candidates who just don’t understand how resourceful we are as people. In business the majority of us have focus, goals, aims and ambitions. Every now and again though life happens. These aims fall to the bottom of our list of priorities as we focus on other challenges that take place. It feels like we are fighting the battle every day.

We once worked with a client who had been going through their own set of challenges. A hugely successful business owner had been stopped in his tracks by life events. Family problems and becoming over run with issues in the business had compounded to bring a unique set of challenging circumstances.

Our discussions centred on the business challenges and we’d meet regularly to discuss goals. When it became apparent he was becoming over run with other concerns it was time to get down to basics. It became apparent that his personal horizons were changing on a daily basis and so it became hard to do anything with the longer term in mind. Instead we worked on setting some short term goals; goals designed to get him from one month to the next, one day to the next.

Two days before an upcoming meeting we received a phone call. “I’m really sorry but I think we should postpone, I don’t think I’ve done anything that we talked about last time and things have been very difficult this last month.”

“If you want to rearrange that’s fine but it might help just to have a catch up anyway. Forget the goals for now, let’s just meet for a coffee and go through what’s been happening in the business.”

So we met up and started talking. From the look on our client’s face I could immediately tell he was actually relieved to be away from everything else and having a chance to unload. It’s always our job to provide non-judgemental listening with and empathetic approach.

As we came towards the end of the conversation we discussed progress. “Do you realise that during the last month, without realising, you’ve hit all those goals that we discussed last month.” Holding the mirror up and repeating back what he’d told us. He was amazed.

We are a resilient breed. Programmed into many of us the ability to keep going when the chips are down. You’ll be amazed just what you can achieve even when you are struggling. It’s in our DNA, sometimes just some positive reinforcement is all we need to realise just how capable we are.

– Paul from Square Peg Associates Ltd

Then we were 4!



We’ve been celebrating four fantastic years with our wonderful clients and candidates and it’s caused me to reflect on my time so far since I launched the agency.

I’ve enjoyed every minute since I launched Square Peg, and when I started the agency back in 2012 it was my ambition to create a recruitment business, which adds value by really getting under the skin of its clients and customers.

I always tell new clients how I started in recruitment straight out of education, it’s all I know, and it’s my passion. While building up my experience over the years it always felt like understanding the client’s business and culture really well was something that was sometimes overlooked. I passionately believe that getting to know the culture of a client’s business, and taking time to really get to know our candidates means we get the right people in the right places, not square pegs in round holes!

I like to think of it as ‘making the pieces fit’ when we start working on a brief, really getting to know what a client requires for their business and working hard with candidates to prepare them thoroughly for a role is our priority. It’s really all about the people.

So from the team and myself I’d like to thank everyone that has been involved in our journey so far and I look forward to our next four years!



Let’s Celebrate!




Tell us: Your interview nightmares

Arriving late, dressing inappropriately, taking personal phone calls. Just a few of your gripes when it comes to interview etiquette. But we know there are worse examples out there. And we want to hear about them.

As we all know, succeeding and impressing at interview is a balancing act. Whilst you want a candidate to act in a professional and confident manner, it’s equally as important they remain humble, inquisitive and appreciative of the opportunity they’re being given. However, as we also know, this isn’t always the case.

To give prospective candidates the best chance of succeeding  when interviewing for jobs, we want to give them some pointers from recruiters in the front line about what they should do and, more importantly, what they shouldn’t. And to do this we’d like your help.

Please share your best and worst interview nightmares* in the comments section below.

Need inspiration? Here are some of our recent favourites:

The hat-trick
The jobseeker who turned up 30 minutes late for his interview ‘wearing a Hawaiian shirt and trainers, having been instructed that the dress code was “smart”’. Halfway through the interview, the interviewee’s phone rang – and he answered it. The hat-trick of interview gaffes was complete.

The chancer                                    
The jobseeker who, when unable to answer questions about his CV, revealed that she’d never actually read it ‘because her brother had written it for her’.

The intimidator                                                            
One senior manager recalls interviewing an older candidate who, when asked a particularly challenging question, leant over and interrupted with a brusque: ‘Come on, son, dig deep’.

The lover
And, perhaps the pick of the bunch, is the howler described by a recruiter from the South West, who told of the time an interview was interrupted as the candidate had a visitor. Having argued with her partner beforehand, the interviewee’s boyfriend decided that making up was more important than his partner completing her interview. Needless to say, the candidate didn’t progress any further.

*Personal information will be kept private and confidential.

by Lynn Cahillane

Five curveball questions you should ask at every interview


Let’s be honest, it’s always nice to keep candidates on their toes at an interview…  

The classic curveball question, also meant to be a good gauge of a candidate’s creativity and how well they will work under pressure, definitely falls firmly within this category.

And whilst there are arguably no right or wrong answers, you definitely want to be sure you’re asking the right questions.

To help inspire you, here are five curveball questions that you could ask at an interview, courtesy of James Reed’s bestselling book, ‘Why You: 101 Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear Again’:


If you were an animal, what would you be?

The archetypal interview curveball, you already be asking this question in one of its many other iterations.

However, whether it’s the type of animal they are, the superpower they’d choose, or even determining the correct colour packaging for a packet of salt & vinegar crisps (always blue, obviously), this question is essentially a test of a candidate’s creativity. In other words, it’s not what they answer, but how they answer that counts.

Any answer which brings in some necessary skills for the role, whilst also revealing a little bit more of their personality, is definitely a winner


Good answer: ‘I think I’d be a duck. They’re always calm on the surface, but hustling like crazy to get things done underneath’.

Bad answer: ‘Definitely a Tiger. Grrrr…’


Every CV has one lie in it. What’s yours?

Research shows that as many as one in five jobseekers admits to lying on their CV.

However, even the most confident of candidate’s is unlikely to bring up any blurring of the facts without some kind of prompting.

OK, so it’s still unlikely they’ll admit whether they’ve been ‘creative’ with your chronology, and answers here should always be in the negative. However, if they’re able to use a little humour to break the tension, and convincingly reassure you that everything you’ve written is above-board, you might be on to a winner.

You might even catch out the any serial offenders before they’ve gotten started. A plan with no draw-backs.


Good answer: ‘OK, so “active lifestyle” may have been a bit of a stretch. I do go and sit in the sauna in my gym from time-to-time, if that counts? On a serious note though, I don’t believe there are any lies on my CV. I believe integrity is very important and that starts with your CV’

Bad answer: ‘Pass’


Would you rather be liked or feared?

While this could also be considered a character question, the fact that it’s almost a deliberate trick question means it could be considered in the curveball bracket.

There’s only one way a candidate should consider answering a question like this: they just shouldn’t answer it. You may have presented them with a straight choice, but it’s the unspoken third option that could make all the difference.

Let’s face it, no-one really wants to be feared at work, but it’s equally important not to come across like a pushover. The best candidates will always acknowledge the original framing of the question, but explain why it would be impossible for them to choose from what’s on the table.


Good answer: ‘Well I certainly wouldn’t want to be feared. Personally I think fear is a terrible motivator, and could lead to some uncomfortable situations. Everyone wants to be liked, but it isn’t always possible. Sometimes you have to do unpopular things to get the job done. I’d much sooner be respected, but have my co-workers understand that I always do my best for the team as a whole.’

Bad answer: ‘I want people to be afraid of how much they like me.’


Where does your boss think you are now?

In other words, are you hiring the kind of employee who would openly lie to your face?

This question is a good measure of character, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Admitting that they were happy to lie to their current employer in any way, shape or form, is unlikely to be an endearing trait. Even ‘white lies’ have the potential to do more harm than good.

The most reliable candidates will either explain that they booked a day’s leave in advance, or managed to work it into their current schedule. Notable exceptions include temporary or freelance roles, and redundancies. If it’s clear that they have no long-term future at a company, only the most unreasonable of bosses would stand in their way.


Good answer: ‘I booked today as annual leave. I know colleagues who have lied about their whereabouts in the past, but it’s not something I’d be comfortable doing’

Bad answer: ‘I’m not sure really. I just kind of walked out…’


Sell me this pen…

Finally, the perennial interview ‘sales-pitch’ favourite.

However, the beauty of this question lies far beyond an assessment of a candidate’s sales skills. Instead, it’s all about needs identification.

It’s all about the questions you’re asked, if they can correctly identify any issues you have, and demonstrating how their product is the perfect way to solve the problem.

To make it extra difficult, we recommend only ever selecting particularly ugly pens.


Good answer: ‘Do you do a lot of writing in your spare time?’

Bad answer: ‘You know how you were saying earlier that you needed a pen…’



Interview between businessmen

Need more interview questions?

Running out of inspiration when it comes to your interview questions? Don’t panic. We’ve got plenty more…

Buy James Reed’s new book: Why You? 101 Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear Again


by Michael Cheary

Skills most important component of CV


Skills, work experience and personal attributes on a CV are more important to managers than qualifications, according to research by Conference Genie.

Skills came out on top, with nearly a third (30%) of respondents choosing this as the most important component of a CV. More than a quarter (26%) believe that work experience should be ranked highest. Sixteen per cent of managers said the personal statement was the most important aspect of a candidate’s CV.

The report, which investigated what employers are looking for in ‘superstar employees’, also found that the most highly valued trait is efficiency, with 21% of managers ranking this the highest. The least popular trait was resilience, chosen by only one in 20 (5%) managers.

REC director of policy and professional services Tom Hadley said that the survey highlights the pressure employers face when trying to source the right skills. “Our data is showing shortages across the economy, from professional service jobs like sales and marketing, to public sector roles in education and healthcare,” he said.

“The survey also fits with the ongoing feedback from our Good Recruitment Campaign – particularly the fact that employers are looking beyond qualifications and are more interested in specific skills and personal attributes. The challenge for businesses is how to identify these traits during the recruitment process, which is why we need to encourage dialogue within the business community around hiring practices.

“The priority here is to raise awareness among future generations of jobseekers; for example, by having more businesses engaging in careers events so that young people have the chance to hear directly from employers.”

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