It’s still a tough job market out there, and you’ll need to be on top of your game throughout the job search process to get hired. While your experience is important, it’s just one piece of the puzzle. Recruiters are evaluating everything to determine if you’re going to be a fit for their team, and every single action and communication – whether verbal, nonverbal, or written – can be the difference between getting a job or being passed over for another candidate.
You’ll likely never hear these directly from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, because most recruiters are reluctant to, and even discouraged from, giving feedback. Unfortunately, candidates are then left wondering where they went wrong. With that in mind, I’m sharing a list of the most common things recruiters want from candidates that you won’t find in the job description.
20 Things Recruiters Want From Candidates:
1. Timing is everything
Timing is everything when looking for a job, and the early bird gets the worm. The first contact from a recruiter is a test of your interest, as well as your communication skills – so always respond quickly! [Further Reading: 10 Ways You Are Absolutely Bombing Your Job Search]
2. We don’t like it when people aren’t on time
It doesn’t matter what the reason is – if you’re late, it’s a bad first impression. Check weather, check traffic, and leave yourself double the amount of time you’ll actually need to get to your interview on time.
3. Pushy behavior doesn’t go over well
Don’t call and email every day to follow up. The recruiter will contact you when they have news. If you feel a burning desire to follow up anyway, use the opportunity to ask questions relevant to the position – not just to “check in”.
4. We pay attention to your verbal communication skills
We listen closely during interviews. Chances are good that people whose speech is cluttered with “like” and “uhm” or those who are too casual in their speech and use slang or profanity won’t get the job. Practice your answers and compose yourself before answering to sound as professional as possible.
5. We want you to showcase your business communication skills
No matter how casual the recruiter seems to be via email, always stay professional. Don’t start an email with “Hey” or use abbreviations or slang when providing written content to employers.
6. Your handshake might very well be your first impression
Too hard, too soft, too sweaty – it’s most likely a recruiter’s first interaction with you, and if its awful, they’ll remember.
7. We pay attention to how you’re dressed
Go for clean, neat, and simple. Avoid flashy, provocative, or messy outfits, or that’s all the recruiter will remember.
8. Bad personal hygiene is, well, bad
Whether it’s messy hair, BO, or even a minor case of halitosis, the interview team will remember that above your stellar background. Take a few minutes to prep, pop a mint, and (lightly) spray some perfume to be interview ready.
9. We expect you to do your research
Make sure at least two of your questions to the interviewer cite information about the company or the position you are interviewing for. There’s no excuse for not spending just a few minutes on the employer’s website before an interview.
10. Your eye contact might need work
Not looking a recruiter in the eye makes them think you’re hiding something or aren’t interested in what they’re saying, but staring too long will make them uncomfortable.
11. We opt for candidates who demonstrate passion for the role
Recruiters want to know that you want their job, not just a job. Tie something specific about the role to your personal interests and goals.
12. Focusing too much on money is a red flag
Employers expect some small negotiations over salary, but shopping out their offer or making an unreasonable salary request shows that you’re in it for the money, not for the job.
13. We want you to ask questions – good questions!
Make your questions count. Find out what the daily schedule looks like, what the reporting structure is, or why the job is open – questions like these will show recruiters that you’re interested in finding out if this is the right job for you.
14. Honesty is everything
Whether you already know you’re accepting another offer, you embellished your experience, or you have some heinous misdemeanor crime that you’re trying to hide, the recruiter will find out eventually – and they won’t be happy that you lied about it.
15. We don’t respond well to cockiness
Confidence is important in an interview, but there’s a fine line between knowing you can do the job and thinking that you know more than the interviewer. Accept that they know the job better than you do, and make your interview about finding out how you can contribute to the team, not just telling them that you’re the best.
16. You should always send a thank you letter
Write a clear, concise thank you note to each of your interviewers, and cite something different from each of your conversations. Send the note 1-2 days after your interview. [Further Reading: How To Write A Thank You Letter]
17. We see right through your buzzwords
You can only throw so many buzzwords into a conversation before the team starts to think you’re just quoting a textbook. You need to show them that you’re up to speed on the latest innovative ideas and how you’ve used them – the buzzwords themselves won’t convey that you know what you’re doing.
18. Stumbling through your experience raises red flags
You should know your resume like the back of your hand. Stumbling on questions about your experience makes the interviewer think you might have embellished your actual experience.
19. We want to know about your impact at past organizations
Recruiters want to know why your daily tasks mattered – did they create revenue? Did you contribute to the implementation of a marketing plan? Think bigger than just your cubicle when answering questions about your experience.
20. We keep an eye out for consistency
Every single communication and action is being scrutinized during the interview process, and every person you speak with during the interview process will have some sort of say in the final decision. Make sure your communications, and your actions, are consistent throughout the entire interview process, and the interviewers will be confident that you’ll succeed in the role.
These are some of the most common things my colleagues and I hear hiring managers groan about after interviewing candidates. If you remember that hiring managers are evaluating the full picture – not just what’s on your resume – you’ll be prepared to nail your next interview!