Interviewing 101: A Recruiter Demystifies the Process

image7So you’ve got an interview for a job you’re interested in… what do you do now? Well, my friend, you prepare!

Congratulations! Landing an interview is a big deal- you should be proud that your application caught the recruiter’s eye. Below is a list of common questions that will likely come up in any interview.

What do you know about the company you applied for?
Recruiters will ask this questions different ways. They might say “so why this company?” or “what interested you in us?” or “what do you know about us so far?”
Do your homework on the company and be prepared to show off your knowledge. Put together a brief “elevator pitch” to articulate what they do and why that interests you. Know their mission, products and general business model. To go above and beyond, research their competitors so you can speak to their positioning within their market space and competitive edge in their industry.

What is your understanding of the position you applied for?
Study up on the position description! Be able to say which responsibilities and duties interest you and how honing those skills will help you reach your ultimate career goals. Questions 1 and 2 might be meshed together with “what lead you to apply for this position?”

Can you walk me through your background and highlight any experience that is especially relevant to the job you applied for?
Be prepared to go through your resume in chronological order and give a brief over view of each position. Ideally, you can tie each job into a trajectory that culminates in the role you’re interviewing for. Some specific details you want to include:

What are you looking for in your next opportunity? This question has two parts:

  • Responsibilities. Discern what specifically you want your day-to-day to look like and responsibilities to be. What skills are you most interesting in building? Is there an aspect of your current role you want to specialize in or an expertise you want to develop?
  • Compensation/Total Rewards. What type of salary increase are you looking for? Most folks look for a 15-20% increase in order to make a move. Some folks are less concerned with a base salary and more interested in benefits, paid time off, company culture, work from home arrangements, flexible office hours, etc. What would an attractive total package look like to you? Do you want to retain certain benefits of your current role? Or are there requirements of your current role (formal dress, stringent hours, etc) that you want to move away from? Give it some thought prior to your interview.

What questions do you have? The points outlined above many have given you a pretty thorough understanding of the role. You may not have any questions, but if you do here is your chance to ask! A few to consider:

  • What is the biggest challenge your organization and my prospective department, specifically, are facing?
  • Currently, what are the organization’s top priorities?
  • How can I have an immediate impact on the company’s success?
  • Read up on big events in the organization’s market or any recent new features so you can ask how those events are impacting the business.
  • At the end of the interview, always ask the Recruiter:
    Do you have any concerns about recommending me to move forward in this process? Asking this question gives you an opportunity to re-visit anything you didn’t have an opportunity to discuss. If the recruiter says she is concerned about something that you don’t have any experience with- don’t argue, but if she says she has a concern that you feel you can address, go for it! Asking this question will help you close the deal and move one step closer to an offer.

    Go get ’em!

When/How to Follow Up After an Interview

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The most common question I get from friends, family & friend’s cousin’s dogwalker’s about interviewing goes something like this:

“I recently interviewed for a job that I am excited about. I sent a thank you note after the interview but haven’t heard anything since X date- what should I do?

Recruiters can be busy and even down-right disorganized. It is their responsibility to keep you posted on the status of your application- help ’em out by following up. If a Hiring Manager is working sans Recruiter, they have a whole job to do on top of filling the position you are interviewing for- follow up is even more prudent! When done properly (don’t act like a stalker!) following up will enhance, never hinder, your candidacy.

Reference the chart below to follow up after an Interview with the following types of notes.

Thank you Notes
Thank you notes should go something like this:

Thank you!
Hi, Recruiter. Thank you so much for your time today. I am even more excited after the prospect of joining DreamCompany after meeting the team and discussing the position in greater detail. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you need any additional information.

When should I expect to hear from you regarding next steps?

Thank you,
Joe Schmoe
555-555-5555

I do not recommend complicated thank you’s. The most compelling thank you notes I receive are sincere, brief and well-written (no typos, spell names correctly, etc). You should write one to every person you met with and CC the Recruiter on every note.

If you prefer an old-fashioned, hand written note then I caution you to consider the perils of snail mail. These days folks are most attentive to email. If you still want that personal touch, consider Paperless Post.

“Follow Up” Emails
Follow Up Emails should give the Recruiter or Hiring Manager a “ping.” You want to send them a note to stay on their radar.

Following Up
Hi, Recruiter. I hope all is well on your end. Following up on last week’s interview, are there any updates you can share?
I remain very interested in this position and would love to discuss next steps with you.

Thanks,
Joe Schmoe
555-555-5555

If you are working with a Recruiter and a Hiring Manager, consider emailing the Recruiter and CCing the Hiring Manager.

“Checking In” Emails
Checking In Emails should politely nudge a Recruiter to get back to you. You should CC the Hiring Manager and include facts, not assessments. For example, you might be tempted to write “I haven’t heard anything from you since December 1st and that has been THREE FREAKIN’ WEEKS!! HOW COULD YOU LEAVE ME HANGING LIKE THIS!!??” Instead, be a bit more subtle:

Checking In
Hi, Recruiter. I hope your week is going well. I haven’t heard anything from DreamCompany since X date, can you provide me with an update so I can make decisions about my job search, accordingly?

Thank you,
Joe Schmoe
555-555-5555

One Last Final Note
If you have sent 6 weeks of follow up emails and haven’t heard anything back (man, that stinks!) then send one last final email:

Checking In One Last Time
Hi, Recruiter. I haven’t heard anything from you since X date. I am sending you one final note to emphasize my interest in DreamCompany. If I don’t hear back from you in the next few days, I will assume DreamCompany is no longer interested in me for Y role. Please do keep my resume on file and let me know if there are any other openings that could be a good fit.

I am disappointed that I have not been able to reach you. I was very excited about this process and any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

I wish you all the best and hope that we can stay in touch,

Joe Schmoe
555-555-5555

In nuanced situations, use these General Guidelines:
1. Always ask “when should I expect to hear about next steps?” If you don’t hear back 1-2 days after that date, then reach out to see what’s up!
2. Be polite and courteous- don’t feel like you need to apologize for asking where you stand in the process.
3. When following up be polite and specific. Reference dates.
4. Keep your Recruiter posted regarding updates on your end. For example, if you are suddenly pending an offer from another company, call and/ or email your recruiter immediately to let them know!
4. Don’t be shy- follow up! Unless you have been told you will hear back per a different timeline, checking in once a week is reasonable.

Go get ’em!