What your recruiter is assessing during your interview

Interviews don’t have to be nerve-racking when you have an idea about what your recruiter is assessing. Even though each job lists specific skills and qualifications, some winning personality traits remain in high demand. A person’s performance is hard to assess and first impressions often determine suitability.

Amiability tops most lists. This is the first impression that you make on the recruiter and the company. Your smile, demeanor, posture, tone, mannerisms – all contribute towards determining how positive and amiable you are. Maintain a pleasant attitude throughout the interview including any waiting and meal times. As an interview candidate, you are being observed constantly.

Confidence in your current skills and ability to learn new skills is also observed. Have a clear understanding of your strengths, not just for the sake of answering questions. Confidence shines – not the charismatic-personality-confidence necessarily and definitely stay away from demonstrating over confidence.

An area that recruiters usually enjoy assessing is how you think on your feet. That is usually the reason for all those random pop questions that hardly seem relevant to the job. Staying calm and keeping your answers simple can help you sail through them just fine.

Your communication skills can be your biggest asset during the interview. Be precise when answering questions and don’t hesitate to communicate how awesome you are. Concrete and concise communication is always valued over long-winding speeches.  This is an area that you can prepare for ahead of time. There are numerous interview questions available online and chances are that your recruiter will use at least a few of those during your interview. Have some solid answers ready.

Recruiters love examples. Briefly share real incidents that add value to your claims of suitability. Don’t make these examples up because it’s not hard to tell when someone is making up stories. Think ahead of the interview about a few incidents that highlight your experiences and performance and find relevant opportunities to share them with your recruiter.

Just remember that your recruiter was once a candidate and now, as a recruiter, they really are hoping that you fit the position.




It often takes more than just the ‘right’ skills

Looking for a new job? Get ready for lengthy applications and long waiting periods. The search gets even lengthier when you’re looking for a job after moving overseas.

Too many applicants have the same skills that you do, or maybe more. The keyword match on applicant tracking systems does not always screen the ‘right’ applicants. So if you find yourself with all the required skills and another lengthy application form and want to try an alternate strategy, consider marketing your skills a little differently.

Keep your resume updated and ready at all times. It will save you a significant amount of time when that ideal position becomes available. You might need to make those small changes to suit the new position but you can send it quicker than if you didn’t bother updating it for the past several years. Resumes do more than just help you land a job immediately – they are great for email networking even when you are not actively looking for a job.

Your LinkedIn profile can also be a useful tool for networking based on your target audience. Growing your professional network when you are not looking for a job frantically can prove immensely useful when you begin your active job search. Everyone knows someone who might get you connected to someone else who is hiring.

Marketing your skills requires great storytelling sometimes. People usually believe confident people. Probably owing to the fact that it’s easier to be confident about the truth. Don’t hesitate to share about your recent development pursuits and your accomplishments on social media and among friends. Definitely refrain from bragging about every single one of those so that people start ignoring them but remember to share when something significant happens. Currently social media is one of the most used marketing tools so use it to your advantage when looking for a career change.

Use every relevant opportunity to meet people from the industry. It might drain you especially if meeting new people is not your favorite activity but it will be worth the effort. Meaningful career progressions can be time and energy consuming and it’s important to remain confident and consistent.

The strategy that works for you and your field of work might be different or constantly changing so don’t give up if the first few attempts fail. Pursuing dreams is seldom meant to be easy.

Interviewing Tips – Effective Applicant Assessment

Interviews can be pointless. Especially if the interviewer is unsure about what they are looking for. Sometimes even if the interviewer knows what they are looking for, it’s not unusual to end an interview without knowing if the person is the right fit for a job.

During one recruiting project, I had teamed up with a colleague for a few rounds of interviews. This colleague of mine had a natural investigative inclination. The interviews were for an unconventional position but his style was simple – a professional yet friendly demeanor and the ability to get the applicant revealing a lot of truth. These interviews made some very hilarious memories but the assessments were spot on.

If you know the joy of being an interviewer, you know how important it is to differentiate between rehearsed answers that don’t quite reveal the truth and honest ones. There are also times when the applicant is so intimidated by the interviewer that they fail to impress even though they could make excellent hires.

I think interviews can reveal more about a person’s personality than their level of performance. Interviews basically test a person’s marketing ability. If a person is good at that, they will most likely be hired. But as an interviewer, this is your chance to gather information about this stranger who you might bring on board and invest a lot of resources in. I usually assess the following:

  1. Attitude: This can be very easy or very tricky to assess. I remember a few years ago, a team interviewed someone for a position that required unbelievable amount of diplomatic and persuasion skills. The person they were looking for needed to be consistently positive in their demeanor irrespective of the situation. So they interviewed a lot of people and finally one of them came across as someone pleasantly positive and polite. However, it was during a delayed background check process that the team found out that the applicant had serious anger management problems. In fact, the applicant was foolish enough to speak rudely with the recruiter because he was impatient to find out the result of the long hiring process. The person was obviously not hired and the interview team paid more attention to attitude related information during background checks. Sometimes it is not hard to assess a person’s attitude. They reveal it in the way they answer questions about a former difficult employer or experience or while admitting their response to past failures.
  2. Communication skills: You could also assess persuasion skills or negotiation skills under the same category. Don’t help them complete sentences, even if you “click” with them. If you are a good communicator or have clear questions written down, note how well they are able to interpret your questions. It is important that you note the kind of communication skills relevant for the position before the interview and prepare questions to assess that. Based on that information, check if their answers are adequate. Are they talking too much and are their answers consistent? How well are they able to articulate? What about their non-verbal communication? Are they interrupting your sentences? Are they able to market their skills without seeming too modest or self-centered? How graciously did they negotiate salary and benefits?
  3. Confidence under pressure: This should not be hard to assess. Interviews can be quite intimidating and would count for a high-pressure situation. Is the person calm or fidgety? Are they finding it hard to remember important details? Do they sound terrified and loud or too soft? Another important thing is to try to assess if a person appears over-confident. If they do, it could be an indication of either misplaced arrogance or insecurity.
  4. Presentation skills: Assess their attire, posture, style. Ask yourself if their style is relevant to their role.
  5. Interpersonal skills: An interview is a great time to introduce the applicant to their future team over coffee or a meal. This is a great opportunity to test interpersonal skills. Even if the person is an introvert, check if they can lead and participate in conversations. This is really important especially if this new person is expected to work with an already established team. If the position is mostly isolated, this skill might not be as critical. Other aspects I enjoy testing during these interactions are their sense of humour, reaction to sarcasm and their diplomatic skills.
  6. Knowledge of the company and position: At the end of one interview, I had an applicant ask me the name of our company. I have also had applicants refer to the company with improvised names.  Knowledge about the company and understanding of the job requirements can reveal a lot about how much they value the opportunity. It could also determine how well they will prepare for their roles in the future.

Different positions demand different strengths and if there are several interview rounds, it is important for each interviewer to be on the same page about those requirements. This will impact the assessment process. Interviews seldom reveal how well a person will perform their responsibilities but they certainly can provide a glimpse into their potential. That is what makes background checks so important. Contacting former employers and teams reveal so much truth and the process should not be taken lightly. We can explore more about that in the next few days.

Are there traits that you consider important? Make that assessment list before your next interview.

Making Job Descriptions Successful

Job Descriptions can be more than just a list of responsibilities. They can be used to advertise the vacant position as well as serve as the reference point to determine the right person for a job. That makes it an important document because it could impact your hiring decision. Over the last few years, I have written several job descriptions and reviewed many to learn trends and innovative ideas to attract the right talent. The format below works for all positions.

Title: This is one of the most important aspect of the job description. The name of the position could bring in the right person or turn them away. Keep the title short and clear so that it captures the essence of the position without extending more than a few words. Avoid super long titles that make the list of responsibilities unnecessary.

Overview:  Use this heading to outline the significance of the position and include information about how it fits in with the vision of the company. If growth opportunities can be highlighted, this is where it could be included. Avoid making the overview a general summary of the position which often goes overlooked.

Responsibilities: List all the important aspects but use your discretion to manage the length of the description. Often this is either a very long list or non-existent. Recently I came across a job description that had left the responsibilities section blank. A job description without a description is meaningless. However it should not be an overdose of information. Bullet points that communicate the expectations of the role are most effective. If the role has different aspects, use separate headings. This keeps the information clear and could help determine performance evaluation criteria.

Skills required: Differentiate between skills required and skills preferred. It’s wise to make this an adequate filter to encourage the right people and discourage the unsuitable ones.

Reports to: Mention the manager’s title. This information has a big impact on the quality of applicants that you attract.

Amount of travel: This information might be mentioned in the list of responsibilities but it is better to include it as a separate heading especially if travel is an important part of the job.

About the company: Use this space to include a clear mission statement. Remember it’s usually more elaborate than your vision statement.

Application process: When using a job description to advertise for a position, mention the basic steps of the application process. This will prevent recruiters from being contacted multiple times about updates. It also helps the applicant stay informed about the length of the hiring process. Include information about how the applicant will be kept informed.

Try and fit all of the above in one page. Job descriptions can serve as the window to the culture of your company. Recruiters have a lot of freedom and responsibility in determining the effectiveness of this document. After all it could bring the right person on-board.

Grow A New Habit Called Recruiting

Recruiters will agree that sometimes finding the right hire can take a long time. Job sites work wonders but a lot of times they represent screening irrelevant applications for hours. Finding the right people will seem less daunting with a creative approach to recruiting techniques.

ACTIVE RECRUITING: In most companies recruitment happens throughout the year. It is important for recruiters to have a recruiting timeline for all positions. Identify what that timeline looks for your company. Timelines can be used as a motivator and help in fighting bottlenecks in the process. However, an unrealistic timeline can become the first step to failure. Consider your budget, the number of interview rounds, the approval levels and the applicant’s notice period when setting a timeline.

Relevant job description: Job descriptions serve as advertisements for open positions. Include a brief description of your company, highlight the job title clearly, include the main list of responsibilities and outline required qualifications and qualities when drafting a job description. Ensure that the job description communicates the role as clearly and precisely as possible.

Advertise: Now that you have a suitable description, advertise it and remind your contacts about it all the time. It is important for you as a recruiter to understand that not everyone is as engaged in finding the right hire as you might be. Strategic reminders are essential for getting results. Add your hiring needs on your email signature. Consider creating a “We are hiring” board and keep your positions updated.

First advertise it within your company. Inform all your employees about the new opportunity, irrespective of their current positions. Most employees who enjoy working in your company will think of recommending other suitable contacts. Adding incentives for strong referrals can help fuel the effort.

Advertise on popular and relevant job sites mostly for start or mid level positions. However, for those managerial level higher positions, you might have to use other media. In fact, social media can be used for almost any position. Social media is an easy and productive board for advertising your hiring needs considering the diversity of individuals who use it. Join relevant groups on your social media sites, which will provide the required access to potential candidates. Ask your mutual connections for introductions and initial background checks. Background checks protect you from approaching and hiring the wrong candidates so use it without hesitation.

Keep in touch: When you meet someone who could be a great fit for your company, be intentional about staying in touch with them. This is especially recommended for future positions. Keeping in touch  will help you assess their suitability in addition to getting them interested in working for your company. Also, since recruiters often become ambassadors for their companies, it is highly recommended that you maintain professional boundaries in your engagements with them.

Network with well-connected people: This will lead to better connections and help increase your own network quickly. Professional networking sites, like LinkedIn, could help you find such people if you need to start from scratch. Apart from LinkedIn, tap into your local community. Clubs, religious institutions, alumni of various places, university faculties are good connections. Keep in mind that making such connections take time and the quicker you start, the before off you will be.

Select the right one: Employees reflect the culture of your company. It is advised that recruiters avoid selecting clones of their existing employees when they are looking for new talent. Despite the fact that people with similar attitudes and cultural backgrounds will most likely become friends quickly, it is a good idea to intentionally create a diverse workplace. Diversity in skill-set and personalities help companies remain balanced and continue growing.

Keep looking for other potential candidates till the position is filled. That way if an applicant fails to cross any level in the hiring process, you don’t find yourself having spent all your time on the wrong candidate.

PASSIVE RECRUITING: As a recruiter, learn to anticipate future recruiting needs. You can do this based on your company’s current rate of growth. Anticipating future recruiting needs can give you the ability to begin recruiting passively, which includes networking, finding potential hires and keeping in touch with them.

It is also good practice to continue identifying talents within your company and investing in them to build them for higher and more sensitive positions. This is especially recommended for specialized positions within your company.

Set a strong interview processes and plan the right number of interviews for each position. Include a thorough background check where you are able to contact former supervisors and teammates to gather more information on the applicant. No matter how long the process takes, keep the applicant informed and provide a realistic timeline for your responses. Revise and update your advertising techniques, interview questions and background questions at least once a year. Invest time in recruiting. Make it a habit. Some positions just take longer to fill. But with the right techniques, the right people are not impossible to find.