Art of the Interview – What are recruiters looking for? by Angela Tavarez

I read an article yesterday regarding candidates showing how you fit the role you are interviewing for, and another today on how/why you should lie during an interview… I was interested in the first and flabbergasted at the second.

I’m hoping that those who read my first article post on LinkedIn will come away understanding a little bit more about what a recruiter or hiring manager is looking for in an interview, and how to be a bit more prepared for their next one.

I’ve been on both sides of this fence… I think it is important as a candidate to understand that there is the job that is posted and then the target group that is being looked for based on current needs within the company. Depending on the current needs of the company, the target background a company is recruiting for can change – meaning number of years experience, a specific skill set, type of leadership in their history, and best fit with a specific team, can all make a difference. The posting likely highlights the minimum requirements – if you don’t meet them, than your chances of popping to get an interview are slim to none – especially with companies with AAP programs. Understand that as an applicant and potential candidate interviewing for the role.

As a candidate (someone in interview process) it is important to note a few things in the application and interview process…

Research the job you applied for:

  • Understand as much as possible through your research what areas your skill sets would lend success to the role and company.
  • Also understand your potential weak areas and be able to articulate goals to overcome them.
  • Nothing turns off an interviewer more than someone that can’t remember the job they applied for. When you get a phone interview or personal interview scheduled from an application or referral go back and review the company and the job you applied for.

Be authentic – never lie!

  • Most hiring managers, recruiters, HR professionals can see through it, and if they are completing a good behavioral interview they will likely catch you in it at some point and you will most likely be dismissed on that alone from the process.
  • If your background and reference checks don’t match your resume and stated experience, you won’t get hired, and in some cases if you make it to hire, and are found out you can lose your job….

Show how you can benefit the organization, but when asked a direct question also please be honest, and specific:

  • If asked about a specific example, be specific. A better show for your skill set is how you accomplished a goal, an award, etc., not just that you did it.
  • Be able to articulate and tell a good success story from each of your roles, and don’t have them be all the same example.
  • These behavior examples are indicators of what you might be able to accomplish in similar circumstances in your potential new role.
  • If you don’t have experience that fits a certain question, be open about it, but show how you could grow in that area.

Complete the application:

  • Don’t skimp on the application and expect that people won’t look at it because you submitted your resume.
  • Make sure to review each and make sure there aren’t typos and missing information.
  • Be accurate in dates/titles and your resume should be consistent with your application.

Prepare for your interview:

  • Research the company, but in addition, think about possible questions you might be asked and how you would answer them.
  • Have a copy of your resume in front of you during an interview for reference.
  • Have some questions prepared, and if the subject comes up during other conversations don’t be afraid to interject one into a related discussion topic.
  • Show your enthusiasm and your passion for the role you want to play. This relates to being authentic. Why are you interested in the company, the role, the culture? How will you potentially fit?

Understand the interview process:

  • Most companies are simply unable to get back to all applicants. (I always do my best to get back to at least those that I have talked to by phone.)
  • If there is no response after your interview within 7 days don’t be afraid to reach out by email or phone regarding the interview/decision making process. If a decision hasn’t been made yet, don’t be afraid to ask how long it will likely take and set a standard of how often it is OK to check in and follow-up.

Once a decision is made:

  • If you don’t get asked to move forward in an interview process, understand the dynamic of the process/competition. In many companies there are hundreds of applications and many use a phone interview as way to make sure that someone they see as a possible fit on paper meets at least the minimum requirements and is able to show case a specific set of traits to benefit the team. Getting an interview in of itself is a good achievement.
  • Ask for feedback on what specifically you didn’t meet as a requirement. If you receive the feedback, do yourself a favor and don’t shoot the messenger – you don’t know when you might cross paths with this person again. Never argue or become sarcastic. If you really want to work for that company in the future, you can slam the door shut on yourself/opportunity, by becoming unprofessional with a representative of the company.
  • If you receive specific advice on what you can do to gain experience needed to work for a company you want to grow your career with, then go out and get it.
  • If you don’t receive the feedback it is OK. Simply the shear volume of people a company is dealing with in interview process can prevent the ability of a person in a recruiting or management role to possibly have the time to get back to each candidate to provide feedback every time. Either way move on knowing you gave it your best shot and look for the next opportunity.
  • It’s OK to be disappointed but don’t let it paralyze you. Just because this specific company wasn’t a fit, at that specific time, doesn’t mean you don’t have great experience and great value! Don’t demoralize yourself. Stay positive. You have something to offer. The right experience will find you.

Network! The #1 way people usually get noticed is through referrals. But don’t just look for what someone can do to help you: give back, help others, volunteer.

Ultimately- stay positive.

Create your brand, know what you want to accomplish, find your passion, or grow a passion as you grow a new skill set… Never stop growing or learning.

I’ve found the best interviews I’ve been on as a candidate were where my goals & values lined up with those of the company’s, and the feel of the interview was more conversational then feeling like inquisition.

As a member of the interviewing team – What are we looking for? A candidate that has great:

  • skill experience fit
  • team energy/values match
  • passion for their role
  • communication

Good luck on your next interview!