Careerwise

Fiona Jenkins is senior HR adviser at Thornford Park, a specialist provider of secure mental health services. She got her new job in January 2005 after seeing it advertised in the recruitment pages of Personnel Today.

Where were you working before and what were your duties?
I was senior HR adviser for Guild-ford and Waverley Primary Care Trust based in Farnham, Surrey.

My role involved providing an effective HR service to about 700 staff across split sites. This included advising on change management, performance management, disciplinary and grievance issues, employee relations, and advising on the NHS Agenda for Change updates.

What were your reasons for applying for the job?
I was moving to Newbury in Berk-shire with my partner and I felt that it was just too far to commute, taking into account work-life balance.

What attracted you to the role?
It was still an HR role within the healthcare sector, but working for a private company rather than the NHS, which would be a new experience.

Also, the fact it was a new post meant it would develop. And it is set in beautiful surroundings only six miles from home.

Who interviewed you and what form did the interview take?
It was a 45-minute panel interview with the directors of both clinical and non-clinical services at the company.

Also present was the HR manager for parent company, Priory Group.

The interview covered a variety of HR topics, including how I would deal with certain situations.

What are your duties?
As this is a new post there is scope to develop the HR service and add value to the organisation through effective recruitment, staff management, change management, and equipping managers with the skills and knowledge to carry out their role effectively.

There is also the opportunity to look at greater staff involve-ment through various initiatives.

What are the biggest challenges?
Being a new post, it is getting staff to understand the need for the position. Also, I am challenging some inherited practices to make internal systems more effective and user-friendly. I will also be trying to get people to see that change can be a good thing.

What do you hope to achieve in your new role?
I hope to gain respect professionally and personally within the organisa-tion. I also want to make the HR service more effective and efficient, contributing towards the success of  the company. I also want the opportunity to develop personally.

Do you have any interview tips for other jobseekers?
Fully research the organisation, which shows a genuine interest in the role. Ensure you answer questions in full, giving real examples where appropriate – this is an opportunity to sell yourself!

Thornford Park is situated on the outskirts of Newbury and provides low and medium secure surround-ings for up to 116 patients held under the Mental Health Act. There are approximately 300 staff, includ-ing doctors, healthcare assistants, social workers, psychologists and non-clinical staff.


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