Interview with an Interviewer

Part 1 of maybe 3

I had coffee a few weeks ago with someone who works for a Fortune 500 company as a recruiter for people with primarily 0 – 5 years of experience.  You can probably guess this was intentional.  I wanted to see what challenges she faces when trying to attract the best possible talent in a short window of time, as most of her recruiting is reactive rather than proactive.

I’ve known her for a while now so we didn’t talk shop as much as planned, but here’s rough transcript of our conversation:

As it pertains to finding the right, qualified candidates, what is the single most challenging aspect of your job?
Separating the legitimate candidates from the people who throw resumes at any opportunity.  It truly is like finding a needle in a haystack, and most people don’t understand that.  We need a system that encourages applicants from all around the country, but also discourages the wrong candidates from applying.  In the last two years we’ve received hundreds of resumes for a single job opening.

How do you whittle down the candidate pool?
It’s hard.  The worst part is drawing the line between moving to the next round and not getting a call back–especially at the resume receipt stage.  Someone may have great leadership experience and a relevant internship but a poor academic record so we don’t open a dialogue.  Or they’re a great student from a well-respected program but had to work at the family business during the summer so they don’t have relevant experience.  Each of those candidates may have been the needle in the haystack we were looking for, but the lines we chose to draw precluded their candidacy.

What’s the worst thing a candidate can do in an interview?
Aside from all the typical answers like swearing, lying, no eye contact and all the others, there’s one that many people–interviewers and candidates alike–don’t get: Not be yourself.  I suppose there’s a better way of saying that, but the short of it is that we never hire anyone unless we feel like we know them.  We need to know their personality to see if they’re a fit for our culture, we need to know their honest career wants and goals, and we need to feel comfortable with the person.  So even if a candidate is otherwise stellar, but we don’t feel like we’re really connecting and understanding each other, we won’t hire them.  Period.

Part 2 coming soon. . .


One response to “Interview with an Interviewer

  1. Pingback: Don’t Just Read Body Language — Use It « Get a Leg Up

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