What was your earliest dream job?
An architect. I always loved art and design.
What was your first job in recruitment and how did you come into it?
By accident, working for the Venn Group. There weren’t a lot of jobs in the market in 2008 – it was pretty much the only job that was offered to me.
What do you love most about your current role?
It’s very similar to recruitment, which is a service industry. You are constantly servicing your constituents. I don’t know what’s going to come up on a day-to-day basis. I just love the variety – it’s brilliant.
What would you consider to be the most brilliant moment of your career?
Being elected as the MP for Bath was the most special in May 2015.
Do you prefer a staycation or a holiday abroad?
Staycation. I normally go to my mother and father-in-law’s holiday cottage in the Isle of Wight. It’s most relaxing.
Where did you like to interview a candidate or be interviewed?
One of the worst things a consultant can do is sit behind their desk all day. I would go to coffee shops or bars to build up relationships [with clients] and build the competitive edge to win that business.
What’s your biggest challenge at the moment and how has a career in recruitment helped you rise to that challenge?
The biggest challenge is defending some of the government’s more challenging policies – put it that way. One of the best things you learn in recruitment is about sales. Sales is so applicable to politics. Ultimately, you are trying to sell a message to the public. I would advise anybody who wants to get into politics to have a recruitment or sales background because it’s so easy to end up selling to people or communicating to people as a result of that job.
Laugh or cry – what did your most memorable candidate make you want to do and why?
One of the most important roles I ever recruited for was a health economist – a really rare role. The candidate wanted to come into the health department, work out where the key efficiencies savings were, and produce a huge workstream that enabled patients in this particular borough to have a much more streamlined access to services. I created the brief in order for her to fill that particular job.
What’s the best or worst interview question you have ever heard?
The worst was one of the most discriminatory questions I’ve ever heard related to someone’s race, which I was astonished by and challenged within the NHS.
Ben Howlett, Conservative MP for Bath and former recruiter