What is the difference between going for an interview with a recruiter as opposed to interviewing with your potential employer directly?
This seems to be a common question and one that we are happy to address.
Even though there are plenty of similarities between the two, it’s important to be aware of the key differences and tailor your interview approach accordingly.
So let’s get into it…
Don’t be early, don’t be late.
Obviously, we have to mention time management – always aim to be slightly early.
Nothing starts you off on the wrong foot more than being late, especially when you don’t apologise for it. If you are running late due to unforeseen circumstances, make sure to give your interviewer a call to advise them so that they can manage their time accordingly.
On the flip side, there is nothing worse than showing up extremely early for an interview. Keep in mind that your interviewer has a busy schedule and most likely has slotted the interview amongst other work. So, don’t be too keen!
Part 1: Recruiter Interviews
1. Dress for the job you want.
Recruiters will look at your presentation and ultimately make a judgement on how you will represent yourself (and them) to the hiring manager. If you look like you have just rolled out of bed or are coming straight in from a big night, it isn’t a great look on anyone. Pretty self-explanatory right? You’d be surprised how often this happens.
Many of the companies that we work with are corporate and professional, you need to dress for the job you want.
So, empower yourself with your outfit.
- Wear black, white or grey. These are conservative colours but can easily portray confidence and professionalism, especially if you’re interviewing for a job in a corporate environment
- Play it safe when it comes to jewellery, keep it to a minimum
- Don’t wear a really overbearing scent – some people do, especially when they are trying to mask cigarettes.
- Footwear tells a thousand stories. Your footwear generally reflects the rest of your wardrobe so take the time to polish your shoes or change out of your flip-flops before going in for the interview
2. Stick to the truth in your resume.
When it comes to your resume, don’t lie. Recruiters will question everything and the truth always comes out. Surprisingly (or perhaps not), some candidates pull a generic resume from the internet and are then unable to answer anything that they are asked about.
3. What are your long-term career goals? We’re interested.
When meeting with a recruiter, prepare as you would for an interview with a prospective new employer.
Have a plan for your progression and goals or a list of ideal companies and industries that you want to work in, especially as a junior.
Recruitment agencies work with companies from all industries and have strong relationships with their clients. So if company “X” is your dream company, but they’re not hiring at the moment, it can be useful to let your recruiter know. If an opportunity comes up, they can have a conversation on your behalf which could be a good way for you to get into that company.
4. While in the interview:
- Make sure you are well prepared. Be honest, humble and listen carefully to the questions asked so that you can answer them properly
- Don’t hide your mistakes and don’t speak negatively about previous employers. Everyone has pain-points but you should always phrase your answers diplomatically so that you don’t come across as unprofessional
- If you have holidays booked during your job search, let your recruiter know as they won’t be able to put you through for an interview if you are off sailing the south of Bali
5. Expect feedback.
At the end of your recruitment interview, you should always expect feedback. So, if your recruiter isn’t forthcoming with advice, don’t be afraid to ask!
Whether it’s suggesting amendments to your CV or providing advice on how to explain a situation if you left your previous employer on bad terms, they should have the answer.
An experienced and dedicated recruiter can also help you understand why you missed out on your dream role, if you’ve had five interviews but didn’t make the cut at the last stage each time.
If you are honest with them, they can help you succeed.
6. And finally… Keep in touch, it’s a two-way street.
When you first meet with a recruiter, keep in mind that they meet with a lot of people on a weekly basis.
If they haven’t spoken to you in the few days’ post-interview, give them a call. They haven’t forgotten about you but rather have most likely met another ten people that they are trying to manage.
It’s as much the case of, you need to keep in contact with recruiters as they do with you.
Generally, recruiters will contact you straight after a client interview to get your feedback and then reach out to the client for their perspective.
All in all – it’s a case of keeping in touch and being clear and concise.
Part 2: Client Interviews
With a client interview, all of the same rules apply but be sure to do your homework.
1. Do your research, know your interviewer.
Look at the interviewers’ history. If they are in your dream role, how did they get there? What was their career progression?
Research the organisation you are trying to get into. What is the company doing? Look at trade press for industry intel; the company might have just bought into another business or been bought out themselves.
2. Think before you speak.
Be excited about the role – have questions prepared and think before you answer everything.
If you left your last job because you didn’t get along with Maureen in payroll, don’t launch into a tirade about it.
3. Stick to the etiquette basics.
- Be sure to shake hands and have good eye contact with your interviewer.
- Body language – be conscious of it. If you are sitting slouched, with crossed arms, you aren’t going to come across as passionate and excited.
- Turn your phone off. There is nothing more distracting than your phone buzzing away in your pocket or your handbag in the middle of an interview.
- If you smoke, don’t smoke immediately before entering the office.
- Always be sure to thank the interviewer at the end and seek any feedback they can offer.
At the end of the day, an interview is an interview and should be treated as such. You should always keep your goals in mind and present yourself in a manner that will help you achieve them.
Despite common thoughts, first impressions CAN be changed, but if you put your best foot forward right off the bat you won’t have to change anything!