Oddball Interviews: What’s The Strangest Thing You’ve Been Asked?

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With a new year upon us, and businesses looking to recruit new staff to deal with growing demand, website Glassdoor has compiled a list of the top 20 oddball questions that interviewees have been asked while on an interview. While we are sure each of you has your own ‘oddball’ questions, some of these are quite hilarious.

  • “How lucky are you and why?”  Asked at Airbnb.
  • “If you were a pizza deliveryman how would you benefit from scissors?” Asked at Apple.
  • “If you were a box of cereal, what would you be and why?” Asked at Bed Bath & Beyond.
  • “Do you believe in Big Foot?” Asked at Norwegian Cruise Line.
  • “Why is a tennis ball fuzzy?” Asked at Xerox.
  • “What is your least favorite thing about humanity?” Asked at ZocDoc.
  • “How honest are you?” Asked at Allied Telesis.
  • “How many square feet of pizza is eaten in the US each year?” Asked at Goldman Sachs.
  • “You’re a new addition to the crayon box, what color would you be and why?” Asked at Urban Outfitters.
  • “If there was a movie produced about your life, who would play you, and why?” Asked at SinglePlatform.
  • “What’s the colour of money???….” Asked at American Heart Association.
  • “What was the last gift you gave someone?” Asked at Gallup.
  • “What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?” Asked at Applebee’s.
  • “How many snow shovels sold in the US last year?” Asked at TASER.
  • “Describe to me the process and benefits of wearing a seatbelt.” Asked at Active Network.
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Big Question – Top Tips For Business People

Ed Gooderham answers this week’s Big Question in the South Wales Argus:

“Business people are always looking for advice so we’ve been asking local businesses and organisations what tips they would give…”

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Business Lending – What’s Available To You?

Ed Gooderham, director at Green & Co, will be delivering a speech at the Torfaen Business Fish & Chips Night, informing you on how to get your financial information in order before applying for business lending.

To book your place, click here.

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The Great Jaffa Cake Debate

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To mark the news that Turkish food giant Yildiz has swallowed up the maker of Mcvitie’s, United Biscuits, we look back at the unusual VAT tribunal case of 1991 and the curious case of the Jaffa Cake.

Customs and Excise had accepted since the start of VAT that Jaffa cakes were zero-rated as cakes, but always had uncertainties about whether this was actually correct. Following a review, the department reversed its view and Jaffa cakes were then ruled to be biscuits and therefore standard-rated. United Biscuits then appealed against this decision.

The Tribunal listed the factors it considered in coming to a decision as follows:

Firstly, the name was barely taken into consideration at all throughout the case. Customs and Excise argued that Jaffa cakes were in size more like biscuits than cakes, and were also sold in packets more similar to biscuits than cakes. Also, they were generally found for sales with biscuits rather than cakes, and were eaten with the finger whereas a cake is more often expected to be eaten with a fork.

However, United Biscuits argued that the batter used to prepare the Jaffa cakes was the same as a traditional sponge cake – a thinner batter as opposed to the thick dough used for biscuits. Also, when left to go stale, Jaffa cakes go hard like a cake rather than soft as biscuits do. Jaffa cakes couldn’t be snapped as biscuits are, but instead were soft with the texture of a sponge. And the sponge part of the Jaffa cake made up the majority of the product in terms of the bulk and texture when eaten.

All things considered, after both sides produced valid arguments, the tribunal thought they had enough characteristics of cakes to be accepted as such, and they were therefore zero-rated.  This conclusion may have been helped by the presentation of a 12 inch Jaffa Cake to prove its cakey properties! But it remains a moral victory of chocoholics over the tax man.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

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Last-Minute Tax Return Tips

Leanne Flanagan, tax senior at Green & Co provides some last-minute tax return advice in an article by Moneywise:

“With under a month to go to get your accounts in order, we solve queries about your tax liability if you’re self-employed…”

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3 Pointers For Passing Your PAYE Inspection

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PAYE compliance visits can be a tricky business and should your business be selected, HMRC will delve into not only the payroll records but also the expenses and reimbursement procedures, benefits in kind, employment status and shareholder-director dividends.  Should they discover errors they can go back up to four years in order to track them.

The initial interview with the payroll administrator will seek to identify any weaknesses in procedures. It is vital at this stage to understand what HMRC are trying to uncover, so that you can provide answers that prove adequacy of procedures. Here are three tips that, if adhered to, can help appease the inspector:

  1. Director’s Tax Returns: If the company pays for the completion of the director’s tax returns then this should go onto the P11D as a benefit in kind, upon which tax and NIC will be payable. It is therefore advisable to enquire whether your accountant’s invoices can show the tax return preparation fee as a nominal amount (potentially a loss leader for the main company work). The nominal amount should then be declared on the P11D.
  1. Self-Employed Status: As businesses can save on PAYE and NIC costs through hiring a self employed person, HMRC will ensure that certain criteria are met in order satisfy themselves that a worker is indeed self employed rather than an employee. It is therefore vital that the conditions under which that person works meet the self-employment criteria, and in addition to this, contracts should be in place between not just employer and employee, but also contractor and sub-contractor.
  1. Dividends: You cannot pay a dividend from the company unless there are sufficient profits to do so. Company law prohibits this and therefore the inspector will check to ensure that this has been observed. Maintaining a spreadsheet which shows the distributable profits and the dividends paid is a good way of indicating that the company is abiding by this rule.

These pointers will not guarantee success in a PAYE inspection, however they are certainly key areas of preparation. And remember, fail to prepare – prepare to fail. 

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

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Prize Draw Winner – December 2014

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The winner of the feedback prize draw for December 2014 is Cruz Engineering Tredegar Limited. A box of chocolates is on its way to them.

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