After working as a Recruiter for a number years, I’ve seen a lot of great interviews but also some very bad ones.
It’s usually small, easily-avoidable things that people do to hurt their chances of getting past the interview, and sometimes it has nothing to do with their job-related skills.
To avoid costing yourself a job offer, here are four things I recommend doing before any interview with a recruiter.
1. Know what type of recruiter you’re talking to
There are two types of recruiters – those who work directly for the company, and those who work for an agency that helps multiple companies hire.
Why does it matter? The first type of recruiter (in-house) is going to pass along everything you say to the hiring manager and give their recommendation on whether or not to interview you.
Whereas agency recruiters typically only get paid by the company if you end up getting hired, so they’ll do more to coach you and might even help you explain yourself more favorably in upcoming interviews with a hiring manager (if you’ve been laid off, have gaps in employment, or a non-traditional background).
To find out what type of recruiter you’re dealing with, search their name on LinkedIn or Google and see if they’re employed by the company you’re interviewing with, or a separate agency.
2. Write down questions to ask them
Next, you’ll want to write down some questions. If it’s a phone interview, you can keep a list of questions in front of you.
If it’s an in-person interview, you can still write questions down. Just make sure to ask if it’s okay to bring your notepad into the room. The recruiter will almost always say “yes”.
Here are a few great questions you can ask:
- Why is the position open right now?
- What have the people who previously held this position gone on to do?
- What’s a problem the company is facing that I could help solve in this role?
If you’re talking to a recruiter from an agency, you’ll also want to find out about their background. Some agency recruiters are great, but some are pretty bad (or extremely new and inexperienced).
So ask about their track record in this industry, their relationship with the hiring manager, and their knowledge of the group you’re interviewing with. If you’re not comfortable with their answers, consider finding a new recruiter.
3. Have a clear idea of what you’re looking for in your next job
Every recruiter is going to ask you why you’re job hunting, and what you’re looking for.
The worst thing you can do here is to seem like you don’t have a clear idea what you want, or you simply don’t care (or that you’re so desperate you’ll take any job).
So be prepared to tell them what you’re targeting in your job search, what your priorities are, and what types of companies you’re considering.
These questions might seem like ice-breakers or small-talk, but they’re not. Your answer is often used by recruiters to decide if you should get the next interview or not.
4. Be ready to go into detail about your previous work
When the recruiter asks about previous work you’ve done, it’s going to give you a huge advantage if you’re able to name specific statistics. This is a powerful strategy in every interview.
So prepare a few examples of specific accomplishments, projects, and challenges you’ve worked on. The more specific you get, the more convincing it is. If you’re a recent graduate, do this for school projects or internships instead.
This will also give you some great talking points if they ask, “tell me about yourself?” or, “can you walk me through your CV?”
If you follow the steps above you’ll be more relaxed and better prepared to talk to recruiters. You’ll stand out and impress them, and multiply your odds of making it to the next round in the process.
If a recruiter likes you, they’re going to tell the hiring manager they NEED to talk to you, and they’re going to follow up to get it scheduled quickly. You want to find good recruiter and get them on your side, and this is how.