Monthly Archives: October 2015

TalkTalk says around 20,000 bank details accessed in cyber attack

Alexander Tredwell – Leaders in Specialist Professional Recruitment

A cyber attack on British telecoms company TalkTalk accessed the bank details of more than 20,000 customers, the company said on Friday, describing it as a much lower figure than originally feared.

TalkTalk shocked customers last week when the broadband, TV, mobile and fixed-line service provider said it had been hacked, potentially putting the private details of its 4 million customers into the hands of criminals.

The company has since said the attack was smaller than originally expected. It said less than 21,000 unique bank account numbers and sort codes had been accessed. Less than 28,000 obscured bank details were accessed while less than 1.2 million customer email addresses, names and phone numbers were accessed.

TalkTalk said credit and debit card details could not be used for financial transactions. “Today we can confirm that the scale of attack was much smaller than we originally suspected, but this does not take away from how seriously we take what has happened and our investigation is still on going,” Chief Executive Dido Harding said. “On behalf of everyone at TalkTalk, I would like to apologise to all our customers.” Two teenagers have been arrested in connection with the attack.


UK mortgage approvals fall for first time since May

Alexander Tredwell – Leaders in Specialist Professional Recruitment

British mortgage approvals declined in September for the first time in four months, but mortgage lending and consumer credit grew at the fastest rate in years, Bank of England data showed on Thursday. Mortgage approvals for house purchases numbered 68,874 in September, down from a recent of 70,664 in August.

Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast 72,450 mortgage approvals were made last month. Reflecting strong past mortgage approvals and buoyant consumer morale, overall lending grew at the fastest rate since December 2008, powered by robust growth in both mortgage lending and consumer credit. Mortgage lending rose 3.595 billion pounds on the month, the biggest net increase since April 2008, and amounting to annual growth of 2.2 percent — the biggest rise since January 2009. Consumer credit also beat expectations on the month and chalked up annual growth of 8.2 percent, the fastest increase since February 2006.

British economic growth slowed more than expected in the three months to September, and economists are unsure about the extent to which strong consumer demand will offset a weakening global outlook. A survey from mortgage lender Nationwide on Thursday showed house price growth rose 0.6 percent on the month, slightly more than expected. Most housing market data has pointed to renewed momentum in house prices, after a hiatus in the latter part of 2014 due to tighter mortgage regulation. Last month the BoE’s Financial Policy Committee said it expected house price inflation to pick up in the coming months and would be closely monitoring Britain’s so-called buy-to-let market, dominated by small landlords.


AUTHOR:  Andy Bruce and David Milliken

Data roaming charges will be abolished

Alexander Tredwell – Leaders in Specialist Professional Recruitment

Extra costs of using a mobile phone in countries across the EU are to be scrapped, MEPs have agreed, after years of negotiations. The ban on data roaming charges from 15 June 2017 has received a final green light in the European Parliament. Roaming charges are added by mobile operators for calls, texts and internet browsing when phone users are abroad. An interim cap on charges will take effect from 30 April next year, prior to the full ban across the EU.

That means telecoms operators will be able to add a surcharge of no more than:

  • €0.05 (3.5p) extra per minute for calls
  • €0.02 extra per SMS sent
  • €0.05 extra per megabyte of data used

The cap would make roaming within the EU 75% cheaper during the interim period, the European Commission has said. Some 665 MEPs voted in favour of the deal. The aim of the ban, in part, is to prevent consumers being caught out by huge bills when downloading films or other data during their European holidays. There have been a number of cases when mobile users have been landed with bills for hundreds of euros or pounds. From 15 June 2017, users within the EU will be charged the same as they would in their home country.

Critics of the ban suggest the loss of revenue for mobile phone companies could push up prices in general, including prices for non-travellers. There have been lengthy negotiations between EU officials and the mobile phone operators over the plans, which are also tied into proposals affecting how internet traffic is managed. Yet there has been some opposition to the move in the European Parliament, partly for political reasons after the UK government used the proposals as evidence for supporting EU membership. This was the final vote on the matter, as the majority of member states have already provisionally agreed to the plan.

UK economic growth slows to 0.5% in third quarter

Alexander Tredwell – Leaders in Specialist Professional Recruitment

The UK economy’s growth slowed in the third quarter of the year, weighed down by the performance of the construction and manufacturing sectors. Gross domestic product grew by 0.5% between July and September, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said, down from 0.7% in the second quarter. The rate was also lower than the 0.6% growth predicted by many analysts. Part of the slowdown was due to the biggest fall in construction output in three years, a drop of 2.2%. The service sector, the biggest part of the economy, grew by 0.7%. However, output in the manufacturing sector declined by 0.3%.

“The slowdown is being led by the manufacturing sector, which is seeing a renewed recession as output has now fallen for three consecutive quarters, suffering a 0.3% decline in the three months to September,” said Chris Williamson, chief economist at research firm Markit.

“Manufacturing output has so far fallen 0.9% this year. Producers are struggling as weak demand in many overseas markets, notably China and other emerging nations, is being exacerbated by the appreciation of sterling.”

We’re not immune to the Chinese-led worldwide deceleration. And all the signs are that growth in the fourth quarter of the year will soften again. This doesn’t mean a painful recession is about to rear up and bite us. Annual growth for 2015 is heading for a healthy, if slightly below trend, 2.3%. But it does mean the ride into 2016 may get slower and bumpier.

‘Steady recovery’

The drop in construction output could have been influenced by particularly wet weather in August, the ONS said. “Overall, the picture of a steady recovery in the UK economy continues and we would now expect GDP growth of around 2.4% for the year as a whole,” said John Hawksworth, chief economist at accountants PwC. According to a poll by news agency Reuters on Monday, economists have pushed back their average forecast of when the Bank of England will start to raise interest rates to the second quarter of 2016 from the first quarter. This is the first estimate of economic growth for the July-to-September period and makes use of only half the data which will be used for the final estimate. Chancellor George Osborne said there were more “tough decisions” to come and that his Autumn Statement, due on 25 November, would include “long-term investments for the future”. Sterling fell to $1.5309 after the data, before rebounding to $1.5325, which is 0.2% lower than on Monday. “The market has pushed the first rate hike way out into the future, so I don’t think today’s GDP figures are going to have much impact in terms of that timing,” said Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi currency economist Lee Hardman.


Starbucks and Fiat Chrysler tax deals ‘illegal’

Alexander Tredwell – Leaders in Specialist Professional Recruitment

Starbucks and Fiat Chrysler have been told they must pay back between €20m (£15m) and €30m in taxes after European tax deals were ruled illegal.

Tax deals that Starbucks had with the Netherlands and Fiat’s financing firm had with Luxembourg were state aid, European competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said. “All companies, big or small, multinational or not, should pay their fair share of tax,” Ms Vestager said. Further investigations are continuing.

“Tax rulings that artificially reduce a company’s tax burden are not in line with EU state aid rules. They are illegal. I hope that, with today’s decisions, this message will be heard by member state governments and companies alike,” Ms Vestager said. The Luxembourg Ministry of Finance said the Commission had “used unprecedented criteria in establishing the alleged state aid”.

“Luxembourg disagrees with the conclusions reached by the European Commission in the Fiat Finance and Trade case and reserves all its rights,” it said.


Amazon Sues to Stop Fake Product Reviews

Alexander Tredwell – Leaders in Specialist Professional Recruitment

Amazon is taking legal action against more than 1,000 people it says have posted fake reviews on its website. The US online retail giant has filed a lawsuit in Seattle, Washington. It says its brand reputation is being damaged by “false, misleading and inauthentic” reviews paid for by sellers seeking to improve the appeal of their products. It comes after Amazon sued a number of websites in April for selling fake reviews.

Amazon says the 1,114 defendants, termed “John Does” as the company does not yet know their real names, offer a false review service for as little as $5 (£3.24) on the website, with most promising five-star reviews for a seller’s products.

“While small in number, these reviews can significantly undermine the trust that consumers and the vast majority of sellers and manufacturers place in Amazon, which in turn tarnishes Amazon’s brand,” the technology giant said in its complaint, which was filed on Friday.

Amazon said it had conducted an investigation, which included purchasing fake customer reviews on Fiverr from people who promised five-star ratings and offered to allow purchasers to write reviews.

It said it had observed fake review sellers attempting to avoid detection by using multiple accounts from unique IP addresses.Amazon said the lawsuit was not targeting Fiverr, which is not a defendant in the complaint. Fiverr said it was working with Amazon to resolve the issue. “Amazon is bringing this action to protect its customers from this misconduct, by stopping defendants and uprooting the ecosystem in which they participate,” the lawsuit says. Anyone, whether they are a customer or not, has the ability to review products sold on Amazon’s online store, but the rules of the site forbid paid-for or fictional reviews.


China invests £5.2bn in UK projects

Alexander Tredwell – Leaders in Specialist Professional Recruitment

Chinese investment group SinoFortone plans to invest more than £5bn in the UK. It will invest £2bn in Orthios Eco Parks to develop waste power and food stations, initially at Holyhead and Port Talbot in Wales.

The company also said it would invest in developing an amusement park in Ebbsfleet, Kent. The deals coincide with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Britain that starts on Monday. Development of the amusement park should begin in 2017 and should be completed by 2020, SinoFortone said. The two power plants in Wales will be developed over the next three years, after which the technology will be rolled out to China and developing countries. The modular plants take waste heat from power stations that will be used to warm water for king prawn farming. The UK currently imports king prawns. Other types of seafood, such as Dover Sole, will follow while the process can also be used to help grow vegetables. The system is also designed to capture carbon dioxide emissions. The 299 megawatt Holyhead plant in Anglesey will employ at least 500 people, as will the 349 megawatt Port Talbot plant in south Wales, Orthios chief Sean McCormick told the BBC. Thousands more people will be employed building the plants, he said. In exchange for the investment, Orthios will source between 50% and 60% of the materials and components needed to build the plants from China.

“We have spent five years researching and developing this model and the investment from China will help us roll it out across the planet,” said Mr. McCormick.

“China’s focus on green energy and its ability to take a long-term view SinoFortone Group is a private company that has received support from the Chinese state for this investment. This summer announced a £250m provisional agreement with The London Group to invest in tourist infrastructure in the UK.

“We were impressed with the Orthios professional team and how much research and development they have invested in their unique Combined Food and Power solution,” said Dr. Peter Zhang, SinoFortone chief executive.” Orthios have developed a modular, efficient and scalable deliverable solution for food and power production.

“With us and the Chinese state as their backers, we are confident we can maximize efficiencies and provide a production facility to deliver this solution around the world.”


AUTHOR: Richard Anderson and Vincent Ni

What are the most common interview questions

Alexander Tredwell – Leaders in Specialist Professional Recruitment

Interview Questions

Although there is no set format that every job interview will follow, there are some questions that you can almost guarantee will crop up. Here’s a list of the most common questions and a guide to the kind of answers your interviewer wants to hear:

  1. Tell me about yourself

This is usually the opening question and, as first impressions are key, one of the most important. Keep your answer to under five minutes, beginning with an overview of your highest qualification then running through the jobs you’ve held so far in your career. You can follow the same structure of your CV, giving examples of achievements and the skills you’ve picked up along the way. Don’t go into too much detail – your interviewer will probably take notes and ask for you to expand on any areas where they’d like more information. If you’re interviewing for your first job since leaving education, focus on the areas of your studies you most enjoyed and how that has led to you wanting this particular role.

  1. What are your strengths?

Pick the three biggest attributes that you think will get you the job and give examples of how you have used these strengths in a work situation. They could be tangible skills, such as proficiency in a particular computer language, or intangible skills such as good man-management. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at the job description. There is usually a section listing candidate requirements, which should give you an idea of what they are looking for.

  1. What are your weaknesses?

The dreaded question, which is best handled by picking something that you have made positive steps to redress. For example, if your IT ability is not at the level it could be, state it as a weakness but tell the interviewer about training courses or time spent outside work hours you have used to improve your skills. Your initiative could actually be perceived as a strength. On no accounts say “I don’t have any weaknesses”, your interviewer won’t believe you, or “I have a tendency to work too hard”, which is seen as avoiding the question.

  1. Why should we hire you? or What can you do for us that other candidates can’t?

What makes you special and where do your major strengths lie? You should be able to find out what they are looking for from the job description. “I have a unique combination of strong technical skills and the ability to build long-term customer relationships” is a good opening sentence, which can then lead onto a more specific example of something you have done so far in your career. State your biggest achievement and the benefit it made to the business, then finish with “Given the opportunity, I could bring this success to your company.”

  1. What are your goals? or Where do you see yourself in five years time?

It’s best to talk about both short-term and long-term goals. Talk about the kind of job you’d eventually like to do and the various steps you will need to get there, relating this in some way back to the position you’re interviewing for. Show the employer you have ambition, and that you have the determination to make the most of every job you have to get where you want to be.

  1. Why do you want to work here?

The interviewer is listening for an answer that indicates you’ve given this some thought. If you’ve prepared for the interview properly, you should have a good inside knowledge of the company’s values, mission statement, development plans and products. Use this information to describe how your goals and ambition matches their company ethos and how you would relish the opportunity to work for them. Never utter the phrase “I just need a job.”

  1. What are three positive things your last boss would say about you?

This is a great time to brag about yourself through someone else’s words. Try to include one thing that shows your ability to do the job, one thing that shows your commitment to the work, and one thing that shows you are a good person to have in a team. For example, “My boss has told me that I am the best designer he has ever had. He knows he can always rely on me, and he likes my sense of humour.”

  1. What salary are you seeking?

You can prepare for this by knowing the value of someone with your skills. Try not to give any specific numbers in the heat of the moment – it could put you in a poor position when negotiating later on. Your interviewer will understand if you don’t want to discuss this until you are offered the job. If they have provided a guideline salary with the job description, you could mention this and say it’s around the same area you’re looking for.

  1. If you were an animal, which one would you want to be?

Interviewers use this type of psychological question to see if you can think quickly. If you answer ‘a bunny’, you will make a soft, passive impression. If you answer ‘a lion’, you will be seen as aggressive. What type of personality will it take to get the job done?

You should always have some questions for your interviewer to demonstrate your interest in the position. Prepare a minimum of five questions, some which will give you more information about the job, and some which delve deeper into the culture and goals of the company.


Top 5 job interview tips

Alexander Tredwell – Leaders in Specialist Professional Recruitment

If you’re counting down the days till your next job interview, these helpful hints will help you get in the right mood so you can leave a lasting impression on the interviewers:

1. Do your research

Fail to plan, and you plan to fail. You are certain to be asked specific questions about the company, so make sure you’ve done your homework on things like their last year’s profits and latest product launches. Also, take a look at the latest developments in the industry so you can converse with confidence.

2. Practice your answers

Although there is no set format that every job interview will follow, there are some questions that you can almost guarantee will crop up. You should prepare answers to some of the most common interview questions about your personal strengths and weaknesses, as well as being able to explain why you would be the best person for the job.

3. Look the part

Appearances shouldn’t matter, but the plain fact is that you are often judged before you’ve even uttered a word. Make sure your shoes are polished, your clothes fit correctly and that your accessories are subtle. Dressing one level above the job you’re applying for shows a desire to succeed.

4. Stay calm

Good preparation is the key to staying in control. Plan your route, allowing extra time for any unexpected delays and get everything you need to take with you ready the night before. Remember to speak clearly, smile and remember that your interviewers are just normal people, and the may be nervous too!

5. Ask questions

You should always have some questions for your interviewer to demonstrate your interest in the position. Prepare a minimum of five questions, some which will give you more information about the job and some which delve deeper into the culture and goals of the company.