I work as a recruiter, meaning I assist my company in finding people that fit with our company culture, convey a passion for what we do and, most importantly, have the potential to take on the roles that we hire for.
With hundreds of applicants each week and a commitment to speak to each and every one of them, I have been exposed to both outstanding as well as disappointing job seekers.
Each day, I conduct phone interviews where I speak to a handful of impressive applicants; they answer the phone excited about the prospect of a new position and relay back to me information they researched about the company, asking for clariﬁcation along the way.
These are the great candidates: they come to an interview having taken the time to investigate exactly what they applied for and have actually envisioned themselves taking on such a role.
There is nothing a recruiter hates more than speaking with a dull applicant who seems as though they couldn’t care less about the opportunity.
Unfortunately, they are the minority. Most applicants have neglected to do so much as a quick Google search about the company; they answer the phone, neither thanking me for getting in touch with them nor displaying any interest or excitement about what I’m telling them.
It seems simple enough – research the opportunity, connect yourself to it and display enthusiasm about it – but a surprising number of people fail to follow these simple guidelines, severely lowering their likelihood of getting hired.
These are my top five tips for how students and recent grads can impress recruiters like me:
1. Be enthusiastic
If you are being contacted by the company you applied with, you should be quite grateful. I have applied to dozens of jobs over the past few years and never got so much as an email thanking me for my application for most of them.
If a company has taken the time to contact you and give you a chance, be excited! Whether the interview is for your dream job or just to make some money during your summer holidays, show some enthusiasm. There is nothing a recruiter hates more than speaking with a dull applicant who seems as though they couldn’t care less about the opportunity.
Companies are excited to bring eager individuals with high energy and fresh ideas onto their team, so show them that you are just as thrilled as they are to get started.
2. Know why you want this particular job
Take the time to research the company and position. Having some background knowledge will make your interview go much more smoothly. The more you know about a company’s history and objectives, the more likely you will be able to connect yourself and your experiences to the role you are applying for.
For example: Knowing that the position involves tight deadlines makes it an ideal time to mention relevant experiences, such as your role as a contributor to your university’s newspaper or the fact that you often held positions where time management was also a main factor.
Note: Never give your reason for applying as “I just need a job.” This shows that you have no real interest in the position or passion for what the company does, and instead just want to see money in the bank. Surprisingly, this is an extremely popular response and a real red flag for recruiters.
3. Make connections
To get an interview started, I often ask applicants to tell me a bit about their work experience. Oftentimes, they rhyme off their past few years of work without actually telling me the most important part of these experiences.
Take the time to point out specific responsibilities you had or skills you developed through the jobs you held. Saying you had a customer service job is far more impressive if you add in the fact that you were able to sharpen your communication skills and your ability to stay focused under pressure, or that you often assisted management with more advanced duties, such as ordering new merchandise.
4. Consider your surroundings
When taking part in a phone interview, make sure you are in a quiet space. Recruiters would much rather have you call them back at a later time if it saves them from trying to decipher what you say as you compete with background traffic or voices.
If you are at home when you receive the call, politely ask your interviewer to hold for a moment while you go to another room, away from the distraction of the television or loud family members.
5. Don’t babble
Take the time to think for a moment before you speak and prepare a concise answer to the question asked. Try your best not to ramble on; it makes you appear nervous and unable to think on your feet. Relax and make sure you pace yourself and your answers.
When it comes to interviews, especially ones conducted over the phone, it often comes down to not only what you say, but how you say it. If an applicant has a negative attitude, little excitement and a lack of interpersonal skills, their impressive resume begins to lack merit.
To sum up:
- Be polite and thankful for the opportunity.
- Be considerate enough to find a quiet space to listen carefully and collect your own thoughts.
- Most importantly, be excited and optimistic that this interview could open doors for career advancement or a chance to delve into a whole new industry!
Photo credit: US Embassy New Zealand