Time to brush up those interviewing skills?

Searchlight’s Interviewing Skill training workshop provides the knowledge you or your staff need to carry out interviews effectively, consistently, and professionally.

After all, if you recruit the wrong person it could cost your firm a great deal of money and time. Time invested in taking our course could pay significant dividends further down the line.

The workshops is suitable for anyone who’s responsible for recruiting and selecting staff, and will benefit experienced managers who want to refresh their skills or those who simply wish to master these skills quickly.

By the end of the workshop delegates will be able to:

  • Describe the importance of setting clear core competencies
  • Identify standards of performance for these competencies
  • Describe the legal issues relating to recruitment and selection
  • Specify the preparation required for a selection interview
  • Describe the key communication skills required for an effective interviewer
  • Explain the importance of clear record keeping
  • Conduct a selection interview following an agreed structure
  • Describe the follow up procedures

They will also have covered all of the following areas:

  • The objective of the selection interview and the costs of getting it wrong
  • Agreeing core competencies and recruitment criteria
  • Identifying performance standards
  • Legal issues in recruitment and selection
  • Short-listing for interview
  • Interview planning and question preparation
  • Interviewing skills
  • Questioning techniques
  • Listening and note taking
  • Establishing rapport
  • Body language
  • Skills practice
  • The selection decision
  • Personal action plan for further development of skills.

Click here for further details.



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Making the most of your time

If I could turn back time,” US songbird Cher was apt to propose hypothetically, whilst randomly bestraddling naval gun turrets back in the day…

She would then proceed to reflect on how her second-time-around time might better have been employed – reflections with which we need  not concern ourselves here, for the simple reason that nobody – not even the signs-of-age defying Cher – can, in fact, reverse the temporal flow.

On which basis, rather than indulging in retrospexus, tuneful or otherwise, we should probably focus on how to use our time well, first time round.

Better managing our time is something almost all of us would like to do. Workshops on time management are always among the most in-demand training courses for insurance people.

How many of those attending time management workshops are doing so on their own initiative and how many as a none-too-subtle hint from their managers is another question! But complaints about the inadequate number of hours in the day are commonplace in this industry. So how can insurance people manage their time more effectively?

First, the bad news. Time itself cannot be managed. It flows by at just the same speed, whether we like it or not. All we can hope to do is manage is our own habits and behaviour, so that we feel like we have more time. Further complications arise from the fact that different people compromise their own productivity for different reasons.

Some get distracted by a compulsion to chat with anyone or anything they come in contact with. Emails and phone calls supply social communication distraction when real live people don’t. Some people exist in a state of near-permanent emergency, devoting all their energies to one task at a time, to the point of neglecting all others. Some suffer from a perfectionist streak that means that nothing ever feels quite finished. Some secretly believe they can only function in the panic-productivity of a looming deadline or ultimatum. Some simply take too much on.

This logically implies that different time management strategies work for different people. The first step to using your time productively is to recognise what’s holding you back. Managing time takes time – and adopting the wrong strategies simply wastes more time. A specialist trainer can quickly identify your time management weaknesses, but it’s easy enough to work out for yourself extactly where you’re losing time. Keep a daily time log and you’ll soon see where all those lost hours went. But be ruthlessly honest with yourself (even if not with your manager) or you won’t learn anything.

Setting goals and priorities is essential. Don’t take on or set yourself impossible workloads. Wherever possible, plan your workload in advance. Don’t just sit there and react. Factor in – not just whether you’ve done something – but how well you’ve done it. Don’t simply tick off items on a list: consider outcomes. Focus on the satisfaction of tasks well done, not on the incapacitating stress that flows from all the ones you’ve yet to deal with.

Make sure you function effectively as part of a team. Delegate wherever you can. Support your colleagues, but don’t pick up the slack when others fail to manage their time well. Give credit when it’s due and be sure you’re working with other team members not against them. If you have perfectionist tendencies, accept that others may not always do things exactly as you would, and that sometimes you just have to let go!

Don’t get bogged down in clutter. You don’t have to be anal-retentive to keep a clear desk or desktop! Piled up projects sap energy and enthusiasm. Filing things may not resolve them, but it keeps you organised and feeling productive. Each time you organise your work, focus on prioritising.

Some things are neither urgent nor important. Bin them. Some unimportant things may come billed as top priority. Exercise your judgement. Some things are clearly important but can certainly wait while more urgent things get done. Some things are both urgent and important. Action these first.

In a short article like this it’s hard to offer more than generalities and platitudes. If you’re serious about improving your productivity, there is a wide range of potentially helpful techniques and check-lists you can apply to help you get more done. Training resources are available both online and face to face.

Some people fight shy of being (dreaded word) ‘proactive’ about managing their time. They would rather fall back into ‘coping’ with a spoon-fed workload. But consider this: life is short. Looking back, few things cause more regret than wasted time and squandered opportunities. Finding the time to get more done – and get it done well – just feels good.

What more motivation do you need?


Image not intended to represent the artist Cher

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Time to look into online insurance learning?

One way to reduce the cost of insurance staff development is to include e-Learning as part of your training and competence plan. Comprehensive, flexible and measurable, online learning can be a highly cost effective way to deliver  specific higher level training to large numbers of staff in a short space of time.

Click on the links to find out more about Searchlight’s e-Learning services:

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The smarter way to outsource training functions

Insurance firms of all types and sizes are increasingly outsourcing all or some of their training  functions, including administration and coordination, training needs analysis and delivery.

Searchlight’s unique market position and unparalleled sector knowledge means that if you choose to outsource – or SmartSource as we call it – to us, we can operate seamlessly with your organisation.

We can not only able to deliver cost effective training, but we also have agreements with other well known specialist training providers – which means we can offer you a complete range of specialist training at discounted rates.

Businesses that SmartSource all or part of their training activities will be better able to:

  •  Reduce their fixed and variable costs
  •  Reallocate existing resources to core business activities
  •  Enjoy blue-chip training and coaching at discounted market rates
  •  Suffer zero impact from holidays and illness

So why not let Searchlight ensure your staff are competent to satisfy the regulatory requirements whilst embedding talent management as part of the fabric of your business?

Click here to find out more.

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How to do well in career-building exams

If you’re looking to build a professional career, the results you achieve in professional examinations really matter. And when it comes to exams, there’s no substitute for effective revision and sound exam technique. Fortunately these are eminently trainable skills.

Searchlight specialises in training for firms in the insurance industry, a highly regulated sector where professional qualifications are highly prized. The workshops and training materials we offer on exam skills are always popular.

There’s a tendency among many of those who begin studying for professional exams – especially if they are graduates – to underestimate the time and effort they will need to put into their studies.

The main professional exam setting body for the insurance industry is the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII). For each of the qualifications it sets, the CII suggests a minimum number of hours’ study. Those who treat these lightly and assume they can get away with less tend to come to grief.

For example we recently began working with a major bank, helping graduate recruits study for their CII diplomas and were positively alarmed at how underprepared some of them were. Professional exams are tough – and most people need all the help they can get.

Sometimes that help involves going back to basics. A lot of the skills are, or at least sound a lot like, common sense. But common sense is often the first casualty of exam stress.

The first step to avoiding exam paralysis and panic is to make sure every second you spend revising really counts. We teach a wide variety of tips and tricks for achieving this, but the basics include: planning your time, prioritising your learning objectives, understanding your own learning style, and allowing for that in the way you revise.

Mind maps work well for many people. Flash cards seem to be the key for others. Some prefer to record material onto digital audio and listen while they are exercising or relaxing. The key is to be organised and pragmatic. Work out quickly what is going to work for you, and stick to a schedule that sets out where, when, and how you’ll be revising so that you can be sure of absorbing all the knowledge you’ll need before you go into the exam.

When the fateful day arrives: the age-old adage about reading the question carefully still applies! Beyond that, you need to be sure you’ve equipped yourself with a thorough understanding of what examiners are asking for, in what format, and what style. There are ways of making it easier for examiners to give you the benefit of any doubt.

We always devote plenty of time to teaching students how to manage their time in examinations. Lovingly polished answers to two sections of an exam, followed by a disastrously rushed final third is not the way forward. But it happens all the time.

We talk candidates through the various skills required to make ‘intelligent guesses’ where their knowledge fails them, how to maximise comprehension and reasoning skills under exam conditions, and how to tackle specific question formats, from essays to multiple choice.

Many professional bodies nowadays require students to complete some combination of examination and course work. Appropriate training on how to undertake mixed assessment work can make a huge difference – and is increasingly something we work on with our clients. A day or half day with a skilled trainer going over the content of assessment modules can massively improve a candidates chances of passing first time.

Another valuable skill we focus on developing in those who turn to us for exam preparation training and advice is how to cope with pressure. Pressure can get to the best of us. But the better prepared you are, the less vulnerable you’ll be to its debilitating effects.


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Searchlight has a new owner

Searchlight Insurance Training has been acquired by Thistle Initiatives Limited.

Searchlight will continue to operate as a separate and distinct brand and continue to provide the same range of high-quality services via the existing highly experienced team.

Meanwhile Thistle will gains access to a broader portfolio of products and services.

Thistle chief executive James Dingwall said: “We have been looking to expand into the training and competence sector and we were delighted to find such an expert specialist team at Searchlight. We have been truly impressed with the team at Searchlight led by Ian and Diane and we look forward to a great future together”.

Searchlight managing director Ian Jerrum added: “This is excellent news for Searchlight, our trainers and consultants, and above all our customers. With the resources, expertise and scale of Thistle behind us, we look forward to delivering a better than ever service to all our well established and expanding customer community.”

From both companies’ perspective, the primary driver is to leverage the very significant competencies and best practices across both organisations in order to add even greater value to our clients, provide access to new markets, products and innovative services whilst delivering truly excellent compliance advice, consultancy and support.


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Brokers have until December 2019 to prepare for SMCR

The FCA this week announced that insurance brokers have until 9 December 2019 to prepare themeselves for the introduction of the Senior Managers & Certification Regime (SMCR aka SM&CR), almost exactly one year after the deadline previously set for insurers (10 December 2018).

Broking firms (or indeed insurers who still have work to do) can help get themselves up to speed with what SM&CR compliance requires  by attending Searchlight’s dedicated one-day workshop on Extending the Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SMCR) to General Insurance.

This provides a thorough guide to all of the following areas:

• Overview of SMCR and how it differs from SIMR and the Approved Persons regime
• Areas of a business impacted by SMCR and the roles which are affected
• Conduct Rules and the implications of the statutory duty of responsibility for senior managers and certified persons
• The changes to internal policy and procedures which are needed to accommodate SMCR
• Testing fitness and propriety of staff under the new regime
• Assessing employees’ ongoing competence under SMCR
• Identifying new, or changes to existing systems which will be needed to support the firm’s management of and compliance with SMCR
• Next steps and action planning

Delegates attending can expect to come away able to:

• review the key elements of SMCR for the insurance sector.
• explain FCA’s intended approach to implementing SMCR and its desire to maintain ‘proportionality’.
• understand the organisational implications of SMCR’s implementation.
• assist delegates in considering the impact of SMCR on their businesses.
• enable delegates to prepare for compliance with new SMCR requirements from 2018 onwards.

For further details or to book places, click here.

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