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.

In 2018 God said “No” to my career dreams, and I’m thankful

Somehow, here we are again, preparing our recipes for Thanksgiving dinner and ogling at Christmas lights being strung around trees and everything else (too early, bah humbug). This time of the year always has me wondering where the weeks went, where they’re heading and what I’ve learned. I’ve been a college graduate for about 11 months now, and my eventful first year of “adulting” is coming to an end soon. I moved into my first apartment, landed a (couple) job(s), and adopted a dog. I also met someone awesome and turned in my single-gal card after a long streak of guys who were emotionally unavailable and, you guessed it, not good for me. It’s been 11 months packed full of lessons and looking myself in the mirror and seeing Gods hands all over everything. I could take this in several directions, but I want to focus on the role God has played in my career since I’ve graduated.

I started interviewing for jobs in December 2017, a few weeks before graduation. The last three years of my college career I had decided that I would pursue a career in my lifelong passion: writing. Having landed an internship with a magazine a few summers before, continued developing my portfolio by freelancing for them, and having worked for the Alabama Press Association for a year and served as their journalism intern, I felt like I had good connections and a pretty OK resume. I interviewed for an entry level editorial position with a magazine (a dream first job for me) and was devastated when I got the email saying they would not be moving forward with my application.

This was God telling me no, I couldn’t have what I wanted. I didn’t like it.

I applied for countless other media positions without any feedback. The process was draining and disheartening. I changed my resume a thousand times, new formats, new descriptions, less descriptions… I began questioning everything: Should I have changed majors? Should I have done more in college? Did I ruin the interview? Should I go back to school? Somewhere in the middle of my frantic applying and worrying – I realized I hadn’t been praying or talking to God about anything I was doing. I started to pray for guidance, and peace of mind for whatever came my way.

Somewhere along the way, I applied for a position through a recruiting agency. A few days later, I got a call from a recruiter saying that I had an interview for a marketing assistant position with an insurance company. I was thrilled. The day after Christmas, my recruiter called to tell me they were offering me the position and they wanted me to start on January 4th. I felt like my prayers had been answered – this was my big opportunity.

The next 5 months were unfulfilling and trying. I found myself undertrained, underwhelmed, and unhappy with the work I was doing. My position was essentially a support role for two graphic designers and our workload was sparse – as needed. I wasn’t skilled in graphic design, so I could only assist with the very basic tasks, which included text input, creating some graphs in PowerPoint, spell checking, number checking, etc. I was starved creatively and productively. I felt trapped, because I wanted to do something else but I didn’t have a better option yet. In August, the decision was made for me. I received a call from my recruiter telling me that my assignment was ending the first week of June. There I was, beginning the job hunt all over again.

Right away, I began to pray: “God, please guide me, whatever path you lead me down, just place me somewhere where I can use my skills to make a difference.” I prayed this simple little prayer over and over again, until my heart opened up. I had to prepare for God to lead me. I had to accept wherever He placed me.

I interviewed for a staff writer position with a local newspaper. I felt really good about the interview, he seemed to like me, and he asked to read my samples and we talked about our mutual connections from the Alabama Press Association. I had become very familiar with newspapers during my time working there, and I was excited about the possibility of writing again. It seemed promising, but still, I kept my mind and heart open to all possibilities.

In an effort to explore all opportunities possible, I applied with another recruiting agency. Soon after, I was contacted by a different agency who found my resume and wanted to interview me for a Recruiter’s Assistant position. I was interested, but focused on other options.

I continued to pray. I had a new sense of calmness this time, and I was able to think more rationally and clearly. This time was different because I had decided to let God place me somewhere, instead of holding on so tightly to my dream of working in media. After working at the insurance company, I realized I would be happy in any position where I could reach people, and do something good. I would apply to as many opportunities as possible, open up my heart and mind, and let God decide where I should be.

After two weeks of waiting, I found out I didn’t get the newspaper job. I kept moving forward.

I went on about 3 different interviews from the second agency I applied with, and I didn’t feel like any of those were my “fit”. My recruiter called me after my third interview and asked how it went. “It went well,” I said, “but this wouldn’t be my first choice. I’m waiting to hear back from a few opportunities.” She asked what they were. “Oh! You’re interested in recruiting??,” she asked, after I told her about the assistant recruiter role. “Do you want to meet with me about recruiting for us?! We’re hiring.”

I met with her the next morning, and she offered me an Executive Recruiter position. I took it – and started the next week.

Since then, I have had the privilege of getting to know the other 8 women that recruit there, and they have welcomed me in graciously. I have grown professionally, as I am continuously building relationships with top-level Executives all over Alabama. I have met so many different kinds of people, and I have had the privilege of helping them in their career journeys. I would have never guessed I would get into recruiting, but God knew the impact this company and career would have on my life: professionally, socially, and personally. I am so glad He knows and sees far more than I ever could. This job has fulfilled me and made me a better person.

It is always hard when you work for something and dream for something and then you don’t get it. I spent almost my entire college career dreaming about working for a magazine. I wanted to move to Chicago, live in a tiny, dirty apartment in the city and write. I wanted to write to reach people, to entertain, to inspire, but more than that, I wanted to write because I love it. Writing has always been a me thing. And it makes perfect sense that God would tell me no and place me in a career where my job is to serve other people. I’ve been able to get people in front of employers who wouldn’t have looked twice at their resume, because I can say more than a piece of paper can about a person. I’ve served as a beacon of hope for people when they’ve gotten laid off after 15 years of loyalty and hard work and don’t know where to turn. I’ve served as a new perspective to employers who turn away candidates for one reason or another and then end up hiring that person. I’ve bridged gaps in communication when misunderstanding and human error gets in the way of opportunity. I’ve learned so much, and I’m excited to learn more. How incredibly humbling, that God said no to my dream, and placed me in a position to help other people find theirs.

I still love writing, obviously. I started my blog in hopes that it will serve as a platform that makes admitting “me too” comfortable and freeing. I would like to write more. I would like to reach people through my words and I will always need a creative outlet. But for now, I am thankful that God said no and planted me where He needed me, and where He knew I would grow.

Whether I stay in recruiting forever or find a career in media or elsewhere, I’ll leave that up to God. He seems to know better than I do, anyway.