Mark Anderson reveals how to impress a recruiter during an interview
I confess that I’ve done a lot of eavesdropping on conversations (usually in coffee shops). One comment I often hear when someone is asked to reflect on a date is: “They were trying too hard.” One of the worst things you can do on a date is to portray an image of desperation. When you are desperate, you are often seeking to satisfy your own needs rather than those of another person. I’ve found that this is the also the case when you are job hunting, especially if the period of unemployment goes on for an uncomfortable length of time.
On a date, you will impress the person you are with if you show a genuine interest in what makes them tick. You simply do this by listening and asking lots of questions so you’re able to discern if there’s going to be a good fit. Recruiters often reject a candidate because they don’t know enough about the employer. Every employer wants to feel special and unique, not like any other employer that you might be applying for a job with. They don’t want to receive the exact same CV that you sent to another employer (they can tell!). They want the real you. They want to see that you have done your research on the company. That’s what makes them feel special. They also want to know how you can be of benefit to them, not the other way around.
So be prepared by choosing your favourite relevant questions from each section below.
Tell me (more) about your job role? How did you get into this field? What does a typical day look like? What do you like about the job? What do you dislike about the job? What projects are you working on right now? What’s your opinion on exciting development in the industry? What do the very best people in this role do that the average ones don’t? What’s required of this role that the company wouldn’t actually say out loud?
Looking ahead questions
What does the future hold for the industry/company? How have things changed and developed over the years?
Entry route questions
How do graduates normally get work in your company? How did other people you know get into the industry/ company? Are there any unconventional routes of entry? What qualifications/ skills/experiences are needed? What experience would you be looking for?
What job search advice would you give to someone in my position? What experience/skills does your company look for in new hires?
What do you suggest I do next if I’m interested in working at your company or in this industry? If you were me, what would you do to break into this industry/company? How should I stay on top of industry news? Are there any publications/events/professional associations I should be aware of? If I have additional questions can I get in contact with you again? Can I connect with you on LinkedIn?
Of course, these are merely suggested questions from which you may create your own, depending on where the discussion leads. Take a leaf from a good chat show host. He or she will have their prepared questions, but these are simply a foundation from which to develop a conversation. Unlike a chat show, there will be questions that ‘the guest’ will ask you, but you need to be clear about what you want to know by the end of the conversation.
Your so-called informational interview opportunity may have arisen as a result of an initial contact through social media or perhaps via a friend of a friend. If so, I’d suggest a conversation of around 10 minutes. If you’re lucky, you’ll get more time especially if they love their job. But, these are busy people, and you won’t be their priority of the day. At a graduate fair you will probably not get the chance to have a 10-minute conversation, so choose your questions carefully. On a side note, I always suggest targeting your chosen employers during the final hour of a graduate show when it’s less busy and chaotic.
If it’s clear that the employer is currently looking for a graduate, you can tweak some of your questions. Informational interviewing can be a ‘slow burn’ approach to job seeking so the earlier you start, the better. Target five ideal employers via social media or personal contacts and take it from there. And even if they don’t say ‘yes’, using this approach will leave a positive impression. If they don’t want you, perhaps they might suggest an employer who does!
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