Recruiters & Job Search (The Interview)

A recruiter is considering and assessing many variables during an interview. Some of them are quite explicit and relate to the selection criteria, while others are more about personal and organisational fit.

While each interviewer will have their own style, this is how I did it:

Part 1: Review your resume

I take you on a journey of your career in chronological order – sometimes starting at the very beginning. I will explore a little about what those jobs entailed and your reason for leaving and moving on.

While I may note your achievements, I won’t delve into them at this stage. But I will be looking for gaps in your employment history – come prepared for a considered explanation of these gaps!

By the time we’ve reviewed your resume, I would’ve decided if the job is a suitable fit or not. If you’re a good candidate, I’ll share more information about the role and the organisation. Where your background isn’t suitable, I may end the interview there, but keep you in mind for other opportunities.

If the meeting was more of a general discussion, we might explore options based on other assignments I’m working on at the time.

Explain the gaps

These days, it’s common for people to take career breaks for family reasons; time off between contract assignments or following redundancy. Whatever your situation, It’s important to give an upbeat explanation which leaves the recruiter feeling that you were constructive during that time.

Part 2: Are you a match for the role?

During the second part of the interview, I ask questions about specific situations when you’ve undertaken something and how you’ve done it. I may ask you to elaborate on situations – if these achievements are included in your resume, that’s a bonus and makes my job easier.

In addition to a range of open and closed questions, be prepared to explain more about the challenge, the action you took and the eventual outcome. (ie Behavioural event interviewing questions CAR or STAR responses)

If your resume isn’t clear, I will dig around for more details to qualify the depth of your expertise in this area. More often than not, I want to learn more about HOW you get work done, and will be looking for quantitative and qualitative measures related to the projects you’ve delivered.

A good recruiter will see potential but you have to be at least 70% of the way there. Sometimes exact fit means no growth and boredom.

One of the most important considerations is finding a suitable match in terms of the scope and size of the role in question, and cultural fit. If there is a reasonable fit, I will go back and look for evidence from your body of work which relates to the selection criteria.

By the end of the interview I want to be comfortable that you’re a convincing candidate for the position, and if you can perform the role in question for the organisation. I will put together a short-list knowing that each candidate is qualified, ready and wants to take the job.


Don’t get cute about salary

Despite all the advice to the contrary, a recruiter needs to know if your remuneration expectations can be met. If they don’t know this in detail, the recruiter can’t consider you as a viable candidate.

At this point they are working for you – to get you over the line and make a match made in heaven. If you withhold vital details, things may not progress well. It will make you and the recruiter look unprofessional.

Typically the recruiter will present your credentials along with remuneration expectations to the client organisation. This means base salary, bonus, share options and other intangible benefits will be well understood, and form the basis of any job offer.

In these situations, the recruiter will be negotiating the terms of your engagement on your behalf. They need to know what it will take to get you on board. While the organisation is still the client, the recruiter’s role is to make a mutually beneficial placement.

Post interview action

Before you leave an interview, ask the recruiter about the recruitment time-frame and next steps. This information will help you to manage your expectations about the process, and move on to explore other opportunities.

If the recruiter has asked for referee details, this is the time to contact and brief your referees about the position, so they are prepared should the recruiter call.

Email referee contact details to the recruiter and reiterate your interest in the job. Follow them up at the appropriate time, keep them informed of any changes to your circumstances, and sit tight.

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