LSST students interview James Reed – Chairman and Chief Executive of Reed recruitment

Kunal Chan Mehta

By Kunal Chan Mehta | Article Date: 30 April 2018

Photo source: James Reed’s own, used with permission

The Chairman and Chief Executive of Britain’s biggest recruitment brand, James Reed, takes time out of his busy schedule and answers intense and thought-stimulating career-centric questions from LSST students. LSST students from our London, Luton and Birmingham campuses contemplated topical questions to help understand today’s job market and obtain bespoke interview advice from the country’s most influential recruitment leader.

After more than a decade at the BBC, Saatchi & Saatchi and others, James Reed, at the age of 30, joined the company his father, Alec, had founded. Just four years later, James became Chief Executive of Reed. Since then, has branched out to become the UK’s number one job site, offering vacancies from over 25,000 recruiters a year, including private and public sector employers, leading recruitment agencies and consultants.

LSST student interviewers: Renata Carvalho, SU President, Humeera Bashir, Public Health and Social Care student, London Campus; Sadiqul Choudhury, Business Management student, Luton campus; Amy Jenkins, HND Business (Management), Birmingham campus; Malina Badea, Information Technology (Top-up) student, Birmingham campus:

James Reed standing proud as the man who was the first to introduce online recruitment,
Photo source: James Reed’s own, used with permission

1. Who set up Reed?
REED was founded in 1960 by my father Alec Reed, who built the company with just £75 and a single shop in his hometown of Hounslow. REED is now a global company, with over 3,000 employees working across 140 locations worldwide. The three main divisions of the company are Reed Specialist Recruitment, Reed Online and Reed in Partnership., founded in 1995, was the first recruitment website of its kind, and is now the UK’s number one job site.

2. What are your views on the UK labour market?
Despite a rocky start to 2018 with redundancies from the likes of Carillion, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, I remain optimistic for the year ahead. The UK jobs market continues to grow, with 6% more vacancies posted on than this period last year. We’ve advertised over 200,000 new jobs so far this year. 2018 is a good time for those seeking a new position.

3. What are your top interview tips?
Before you go for any job interview, ask yourself: ‘why do I think this job is right for me?’ The interview process is as much about finding the right job for you as it is about the company finding the right person for the job. Our mission is ‘to help the world Love Mondays’, because we truly believe that people should love the job they are doing.

Don’t underestimate the importance of preparation. Before your interview, research the company, the sector and the role on offer. Look at the job description and think about how you fit each requirement. I often say a job is a problem to be solved. The onus is on you to prove that you are the solution to that problem, so you must be prepared to evidence your skills, your commitment and your mindset.

And an essential ingredient to remember is to always be authentic. No-one else can do you better than you, so make sure you present the best version of yourself at interview.

4. What do most people get wrong in an interview?
Over half of jobseekers we surveyed said they left job interviews feeling like they were underprepared when they went in. That’s a surprising amount, considering preparation is a fundamental step to succeeding in interviews.

Being prepared doesn’t just mean that you’ve picked out an outfit to wear and have copies of your CV at hand. It means that you’ve done your research and prepared answers to the most likely questions you could be asked on the day. My book Why You? 101 Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear Again is a useful tool for picking out the classic and curveball questions you might want to anticipate.

5. Can you tell me a little more about your two publications?
As Chairman of REED, I have been able to crowdsource the content for my books from our extensive network of jobseekers, recruitment consultants and hiring clients, to find out what actually works when it comes to interviews.

You can’t predict the exact questions your interviewer will ask, but you can prepare for the most likely ones. In Why You? I explain how to answer the common questions, how to tackle unexpected and creative questions, and how to adopt a winning mindset that will help you to succeed on the day. The book is a #1 bestseller on Amazon, and we published a second edition in 2017 with 10 extra questions purely focused on tech interviews. You can buy the book here.

My other book, Put Your Mindset to Work, is about how you can develop a winning 3G mindest. Co-authored with Dr. Paul G. Stoltz, we discovered that getting the right job is about more than having the right skills. 97% of employers said it’s actually about having the right mindset. In this book, we explain how to develop the ‘3G mindset’, jumpstart your job hunt and set yourself apart from the crowd. You can buy this book here.

6. What features of your website can help LSST students improve their CV write-up and interview skills?
With over 280,000 live jobs on we’re well-placed for helping you find the right job. But we know that sometimes, before you start your job hunt, you might need a bit of help to get “application-ready”. This is why also offers a free career advice service.

Career Advice includes over 1000 articles, with advice ranging from next steps after graduation, to finding a career in a specific sector. We also recognise that often one of the hardest things for school leavers and graduates is writing your CV from scratch, so our CV experts have put together some CV templates and top tips to help you get on your way.

We also have a number of free courses available on the site, which could be a great way of showing potential employers that your commitment to professional and personal development goes beyond the classroom and towards improving in your own time.

7. If you could have any other job, what would it be?
I would have liked to have been a detective if I had to do something totally unrelated to the recruitment business. Why? Because it involves problem solving and working with people and I really enjoy that.

Perhaps this is related after all, as I found John Bird of The Big Issue said, “To understand how best to help people, you have to do a bit of detective work.”

I find what we do at REED incredibly rewarding. Recruitment is a vocation, it is life changing, you’re helping people to progress like you would as a teacher or a doctor. Plus, for me, this business is an extension of family. The values of the business are those of a family: we are fair, open and honest, we take ownership and we work together. I can’t quite separate the two (family and business), and I like to think that my colleagues feel this as well, which is why we have so many people who’ve stayed with us for so long. I enjoy what I do, so I’m going to stick with it!

Note from LSST’s Founder and CEO:

LSST is fixated on first-class student experiences. I congratulate and commend LSST’s students, from all campuses, for putting together such remarkable and monumental questions to one of the UK’s most respected CEOs – Mr James Reed. It was a strong effort that clearly enhanced your higher education experience and the knowledge you have gathered will help LSST students for years to come.

I thank Kunal Chan Mehta in LSST’s press office for setting up this wonderful opportunity and urge students to email or meet him should they wish to partake in future such interviews – he looks forward to hearing from you I am sure.

Mr Syed Zaidi, Founder and CEO, LSST

Please email the author of this article for any questions or comments or if you would like to take part in future interviews with industry leaders.

Follow James: @James_A_Reed
Visit Reed online:

8 thoughts on “LSST students interview James Reed – Chairman and Chief Executive of Reed recruitment”

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