How to Ace a Phone Interview with a Recruiter

Hey, everybody. Don Georgevich here with Job Interview Tools. Today, I want to talk to you about interviewing with a recruiter. But more importantly, how to turn that initial recruiting interview into an in-person interview so that you can advance in the interview process.

Now, there’s two types of recruiters; you have internal recruiters and you have external recruiters. Internal recruiters are people who work for the company. So, like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Facebook; all those big companies have their own internal recruiting staff.

And then you have external recruiters. External recruiters are third-party recruiters usually hired by smaller companies to go out and find candidates that meet a specific job description.

Now, both internal and external recruiters are going to do the same thing. They have a job description and their job is to go out and find people that match this job description. It’s as simple as that. That’s how they get paid.

Now, their point is they need to go out and find people who match this job description so that they can turn those people over to human resources or a hiring manager for further interviews.

So, their whole job is pre-qualification. They’re looking for very specific things about you and your competencies and your skills and your experience and whether you are a good match and whether you’re worth their time to move on in the process. Simple as that.

Now, real quick; I want to cover the difference between a headhunter and a recruiter. A headhunter is someone who essentially act like a poacher. They call up people who are already working at certain companies and they try to steal them away. A recruiter is someone who is going out and they are looking for a particular individual. They’re searching the job boards for people and they’re trying to fill a specific job description. But the headhunter is someone who’s actually trying to just steal people away. There’s a slight difference there. There’s some definitely some overlap, but I just want you to understand that difference.

Now, when you can’t call from a recruiter; you might even want to ask them if, “Are you a third-party recruiter or are you an internal recruiter?” This will let you know who you’re dealing with and that information may or may not be valuable to you.

Now, your initial recruiting interview is probably going to last about 20 minutes; it’s just totally pre-qualification. And what they want to do is they want to drill down into your situation to see if you are a good enough match.

And some of the questions that they’re going to ask you, I’m going to teach you how to answer and I’ll tell you what they’re looking for because that’s really important.

One of the things they’re going to ask you is, “Tell me about your situation.” Which means they’re going to want to know about what you’re doing right now; what kind of work are you doing? Are you happy doing that work? They’re going to ask you what your timeframe is. How soon do you want to get out of where you’re at? They’re also going to ask you what type of compensation are you seeking? And they’re also going to dig into, you know, what do you like about this place and what don’t you like and why do you want to leave? And the big question; what are you looking for?

You see, if you’re just looking for a lateral move, just to get out of where you’re at, they’re probably not going to be interested in you. A recruiter is going to be looking for somebody who wants to advance their career. They’re going to be looking for people who want to make a jump in salary.

So, if you’re just, you know, let’s say you’re making $100 thousand and this position that they’re looking for maybe only pays 105 thousand; that’s not a very big difference in salary. So, they’re probably not even going to want to consider you; unless you’re looking for a much larger job.

So, let’s say you’re making $80 thousand a year and this position pays 100 thousand; that’s the type of jump they’re looking for. They’re looking for people who want more; where this position represents a huge advancement for them, not a tiny advancement.

They’re not going to be interested you if it’s a tiny advancement because it’s more of a lateral move for you, which means in their eyes, if they hire you and you move in there, yeah, you’d be happy for six months or a year and then you’re out; because it’s not a big enough jump. It’s not a big enough jump in salary. It’s not a big enough jump in responsibility.

So, when you have a call with the recruiter, try to get an idea of where they’re at in salary. And like I said, if they’re at 100 thousand and you’re at 100 thousand/ 105, probably not going to be interested in you because that’s a lateral move.

But if this position pays 120 thousand and you’re only at 100 thousand; that represents a large advancement for you. Those are the kind of people that they’re going to want.

So, be cautious around the salary question, but I do urge you to bring up salary during the initial call. Because I mean, think about it this way; if you’re already at $100 thousand and this job only pays 80 thousand or 70 thousand, you want to know that right away. You don’t want to find that out in two or three interviews down the road that the job pays significantly less than you’re willing to accept.

So, you want to gracefully bring up the question, “What is the salary range?” or a better way to ask that question is to say, “Has a salary range been determined for this position?” And they’ll either say, “Yes” or “No.” And usually they’ll say, “Yes, and the range is this.”

And then they’ll probably follow up with, “What are you looking for?” And that’s where you’ll give them your range. But try to make your range represent a large advancement.

Now, they’ll also want to know the kind of stuff that you’re doing and they’ll want to know what you don’t like doing. And the reason they want to know what you don’t like doing is because if this job… Well, let’s say for example, you say you don’t like travel and this job represents 50 percent travel. Well, they’re not even going to want to consider you for the position because this job is largely something that you don’t want to be doing. So, they want to move on and they don’t even want to entertain you anymore. And likewise, you don’t want to work with them if they’re doing things that you don’t want to be doing either.

Now, one of the biggest questions they’re going to ask you is, “What are you looking for?” They want to know what you want to be doing and they want to make sure that what you want to be doing is largely what this job is. You see, they want people who are excited and enthusiastic about the type of work they’re doing. And those are the people that they want to hire.

Now, let’s say that you want to be doing program management all the time, but this job is mostly management and analytical. It’s not a good fit. So, they want to know what you want to be doing so that they can present you with a position where you can be doing things that you’d like to do. So, you’ll be happy. So, you’ll be productive. So, that you’ll be fulfilled in your work.

They don’t want you doing stuff that you don’t want to be doing. They don’t even want to waste their time with people who don’t want to be doing things that they’re doing. Make sense?

Now, some of the other questions they’re going to ask you is there they’re going to prepare you for down the road. They’re going to ask you, “Do you have references? You know, should we come to a point where we decide to make you an offer, do you have references to provide us, if we make it to that stage?” And hopefully, you’d say, “Yes, I do have some references.”

Now, they might even ask you, “Who are those references?” And don’t go into all kinds of detail, but just say, “Well, my past manager from when I worked at Amazon and I have a colleague or I have a customer who is one of my references. I have another manager from another company.” Whatever it is; just give them some generalizations of some of the people that you are going to be using for your references.

Now, it’s very important for you to have good questions to ask them. You should be asking them questions about the position like, “Is there travel?” and “Who will I be working with?” “Where will this position be at?” “What can I expect?” “Is this position going to allow me to grow in this certain way?”

You need to have engaging questions that show them that you are interested in this type of work, you’re interested in their culture, you’re interested in their mission or vision; where they’re going. You need to show them that you are excited about what they’re doing. That’s going to help you move across and move to the next level.

If you just sit back there and just answer their questions like this; “Yes.” “No.” “Yes, I think that’d be a very interesting job. I would like to have it.” They don’t want people like that. They want people who are full of excitement and enthusiasm about what they’re doing and can express themselves in that way. And if you can’t express yourself in that way. Well, you better learn how. And that’s what this whole video is about. It’s to tell you that you need to come alive.

And usually, when you do these recruiter interviews, they’re usually over the phone. So, when you’re on the phone talking, try to smile. Because when you smile, a smile can actually be heard through the phone; believe it or not.

Just like right now, if you were to turn off the video, for this video right now, you could probably tell that I’m smiling. You could just hear it in the way that I’m talking.

And when you talk to them on the phone, make sure you smile. Make sure you use voice inflection; bring it up and down and speak with enthusiasm and excitement. And that’s going to show them that you are genuinely interested in what they’re doing in this position. And it’s going to help you go further. That’s going to advance you to the next round.

Now, at the end of the interview, what you want to do is ask them, “What are the next steps?” if they don’t already tell you. If they don’t already tell you what we’re going to do next, ask them say, “So, what are the next steps? When can I expect to hear back from you?”

And also, get their contact information. Get their phone number, get their email address; whatever it is. Get their contact information and ask them say, “Hey, if I don’t hear from you in the next week or so, do you mind if I give you a call to follow up? Because I’m really interested in this position.” And of course, they’re going to say, “Yes.”

Now, sometimes, and the reason you want this information, sometimes they forget they had a conversation with you. They have 20 or 30 conversations every day. Your name just might fall through the cracks. You might be someone that they’re interested in, but for whatever reason, they forgot about you.

So, if you don’t hear back from them in a week or two, give them a call. Say, “Hey, it’s Don Georgevich here. We had a call last week about the programming position. I’m really interested in that. How are you guys moving out on that?” You always want to do those follow up calls. Nobody does follow up calls. Everybody just likes to do e-mail and text. But a call sends such a bigger, larger message that says, “Hey, I am really interested in doing this job. I want to do this job. I am reaching out to you on the phone to talk to you about doing this job.” It Just shows genuine enthusiasm. That’s how you go farther in the process.

So, that’s really about it on the recruiting call. Remember, the point of the recruiter call is to pre-qualify you to move on to another round of interviews. So, usually, in an initial recruiting call, they’re not going to go into all kinds of behavioral questions and stuff. They’re really just going to touch on what you’re doing now, what you’re looking for, what you like, what you don’t like.

That’s about it. They’re not going to go into all kinds of detail; unless it’s a different kind of interview, but usually, they’ll tell you that. But like I said at the beginning of this video, they’re going to schedule just a brief 20-minute call with you, just to touch base and see if there’s any kind of mutual interest. They’re not going to go into all these scenario questions and stuff like that. They’re going to stay real high-level and just look for mutual interest. That’s the whole point of the recruiting call.

And you need to prepare for that. You need to think about what’s important to you in this job, so that you can express that to them and they can see if there’s any interest there. And then if there is, they will advance you to another round of interviews. Usually, that’ll be an in-person interview or another phone interview or a Skype interview with a hiring manager so that they can dig a little bit deeper to see if you meet their qualifications.

So, that’s really the whole job of the recruiter; whether they’re internal or they’re an external recruiter. Their job is to go out and find people that match a specific job description, do a brief interview with them on the phone, ask them a few qualifying questions and then advance them to the next round or not advance them; discard them.

 

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About The Author

Don Georgevich

Author of 4 top selling interviewing books, speaker, and job interview strategy coach. The one person everyone calls on before a difficult job interview.

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