3 most important interview tips from a corporate recruiter

Last month marked 2 years that I have been in the Staffing/Recruiting industry – and in such a short amount of time I have learned A LOT. I’ve seen my fair share of interviews gone horribly wrong, and I’ve also witnessed the art of finessing an interview so well that the candidate received a job offer even though they weren’t the most qualified for the job. By popular demand, I’ve decided to share a few of the things that have stood out to me in my time as a recruiter that are guaranteed to help you stand out on your next interview.

Relax & Be Yourself

This may seem like a cliche – but it’s important to understand the bigger picture behind why this is important. Sometimes when candidates are on the job search, they can get carried away by a “dream” job title, company prestige, or desperation (we’ve all been there) and they can lose sight of something very important: company culture. I would argue that company culture makes up 50% of the reason anyone enjoys their job. For some people this percentage is even higher. For example, I interviewed for a magazine job right out of college that I hyped myself up SO much for. I was so confident that I was perfect for the job and perfect for the company. Looking back on the interview, the magazine was catered to older women who hosted tea parties, and the Editor’s personality honestly did not mesh well with mine. If I had kept the bigger picture of company culture fit in mind, I probably wouldn’t have been as upset as I was when I got the email that they were going in another direction. It didn’t mean I wasn’t qualified, it simply means I wasn’t the right fit for that particular position within the company. There are so many things that go into hiring that have nothing to do with your resume, experience or education. In reality, hiring someone to join an existing team of unique personalities is a delicate balancing act. Sometimes, even the most qualified candidates simply won’t mesh well with the team at hand – I’ve seen it happen – and that isn’t anything personal it’s just reality. This is why it’s so important to be yourself in the interviewing process. On the other hand, on some occasions, showing your personality (obviously while maintaining professionalism) can actually work in your favor and make up for any skills or experience you lack. If you’re a 10/10 culture fit, hiring managers may give you the benefit of the doubt and see you as a good long-term investment for the team, which makes putting in the effort to training you more appealing to them. On your next interview, try to lighten up when the opportunity presents itself and let some of your personality and humor shine through during conversation. It just might make all the difference – and if you aren’t a culture fit, you’re honestly saving yourself from 40 hours of misery per week. A win-win either way.

Prepare Answers to The Hard Questions

If you’ve ever been asked “What is your greatest weakness” in an interview and not been prepared to answer that question, you know the feeling of sheer panic that consumes your soul in that moment. It’s terrifying. Don’t let yourself get into that situation – let me help you prepare. I’ve had the pleasure of working with hiring managers of all different styles. You have the hard-asses, the chill interviewers, and then you have your average, pleasant interviewers. A quick google search will yield all of your typical interviewing questions: strengths/weaknesses, why do you want THIS job, tell me about a time you made a mistake, tell me about a time you learned something, etc. It is smart to spend a considerable amount of time sitting with these questions and really formulating answers that are true, which make them easy for you to remember and deliver, but also that give a really GOOD impression to the hiring manager. This takes more time than you’d think. I would advise definitely having the hard ones down – that way, the worst that could happen is that you feel over prepared. (This is actually the best thing that could happen). In an interview once, I was asked the strengths/weaknesses question among other hard hitting questions, and I felt pretty good about my answers. Then, he hit me with “tell me about a time when you did something you regretted”. DANG. Cue spotlight, crickets. The good news is that I honestly felt so relieved that I had already breezed through what I had considered the “hard” questions I had prepared so much for, that I had the confidence and composure to think on my feet and handle this curveball. If you are actively interviewing, you should have a solid and efficient answer to all of the “common interview questions” that you can easily and confidently deliver. This will also give you the confidence you need to let your personality shine through during the interview.

Research the Company & Ask Questions

This one is a no-brainer – if you’ve been invited to discuss employment with a company, the least amount of effort expected is that you are somewhat familiar with said company. This doesn’t mean you have to be an expert, but you should be in the ballpark of what they do, stand for, etc. One of the most impressive things you can do as a prospective employee is to mention something about the company that you researched and ask something about that topic. For example: If you interview with a manufacturing company, you could say that you saw some examples of their products on the website and you are curious who their top 3 customers are. Suddenly, the hiring managers eyebrows are raising and their gears are turning as they happily explain that to you and you have successfully demonstrated that you are interested and invested in what the company is doing. Another great way to show the hiring manager that you’ve put a lot of thought into the company and the opportunity is to ask them “Can you describe what a successful candidate for this role is like?” This shows that you are being thoughtful and truly considering yourself in the role, and it gives you a chance to hear the expectations the manager would have of you directly coming from them.

In a nutshell, interviewing is a complex process. Usually there are several different factors involved in a hiring managers’ decision and not getting a job offer should never be taken personally. If you have any stories you want to share with me or questions about interviewing – I’m here! Job hunting is not an easy thing for anyone and I want to be a resource where I can! Happy interviewing, job seekers ❤ be easy on yourselves.

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Hi I’m Kayla! I’m a 20 something who has recently graduated and is currently “adulting” (or pretending to know what I’m doing) from the city of Birmingham, AL. When I’m not working you can find me at brunch, on a yoga mat, avoiding small talk or in front of a craft beer.

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