What I really wish I had before any big interview was an inside connection with a wealth of knowledge of the hiring company and the interviewer(s). Oh, wait! I do. It’s my recruiter, but why are you leaving me hanging?
You found me, followed up so many times I couldn’t ignore you, and then sold me on the role. Now, all I can think about it is how much I want the job. You’re scheduling my interview with the hiring manager, telling me where I need to be, and…
That’s it? Don’t leave me hanging. As a recruiter, you should be as, if not more, invested in the outcome of my interview. You did all this legwork to get this point, and you’re so close to the finish line. Don’t check out now. Interviews are stressful. They can bring even the most talented people to their knees. While you can’t interview in place of the candidate, you can and should help them prepare as much as possible.
Tell them what and what not to wear.
Have you ever stressed about what to wear for your interview? They are large consultancy, but everyone is wearing jeans on the Glassdoor page. Do you break out that suit you haven’t worn in three years or maybe you should dress a bit more casual? With so many other things to prepare, candidates shouldn’t have to stress about what to wear. Take the guesswork out of it, and tell them what they need to make the best impression.
This advice extends beyond clothing. If there is something else about the candidate’s personal appearance, maybe excessive jewelry or unkempt facial hair, give them a heads up. Nothing is worse than finding your candidate aced their interview only to not get an offer because the hiring manager had an issue with their appearance.
Provide as much detail as possible about the hiring manager.
While I was in the middle of my last job search, I had what I thought was the best interview of my life. At first, I couldn’t put my finger on it. I had done my standard interview prep, but that wasn’t it. So, what was it?
It all came back to my recruiter. Prior to the interview, he gave me some background on the hiring manager. Information I couldn’t find on his LinkedIn profile. He told me about his demeanor, what qualities he valued most in candidates, and about his passion for data-driven decisions. We then spent the rest of the call reframing my past accomplishments to better resonate with the hiring manager. I used that information and walked into my interview feeling prepared and confident. Three days later I had an offer sitting in my inbox and the client chose not to interview anyone else. I was happy, the company was happy, and most importantly the recruiter was happy.
Long story short: You have insider knowledge. Don’t keep it to yourself. It’s your job to make sure that the candidate and interviewer make a strong connection.
Define the company’s pain.
At this point, you have likely communicated the reason for this hire with the candidate. Before the interview, make sure you emphasize it once again. Make sure the candidate fully understands the hiring company’s pain and is prepared to frame their answers as potential solutions to the problem.
This is going beyond having them list the necessary skills that you could easily find on their resume. Help them structure their interview answers in a way that demonstrates they have used those skills to solve similar problems in the past.
Tell them what to expect.
It’s not enough to give candidates the time and location of the interview, if you want them to do well. Instead, give them as much detail as possible on what to expect during the interview. Do you know what types of questions will be asked? Will there be strategy, cultural, and technical skills based questions? Do you have any sample questions that you could share with the candidate? Do you know if the company is looking for them to answer questions within a certain framework? Provide as much information and as much detail as possible on what to expect. The candidate will feel better prepared and more at ease during the actual interview.
Teach them how to prepare.
By now, most candidates know that they should do their homework before going into any interview. They should research the company, check out their Glassdoor page, and anything else that may be relevant to the role. However, there is so much information out there. It can be overwhelming to know where to look and what is important. Instead, simplify this process for them and give them some starting points that they can dive into more deeply.
One of my favorite examples is this email a Google recruiter sent a candidate prior to the interview. In his email, the recruiter touches on most of the points listed above but then takes it further by providing links to specific resources that candidate should use to prepare.
Call them before the interview. Excitement is contagious.
This one is totally optional, but in my opinion, it is what sets great recruiters apart from good recruiters. Great recruiters call the candidate right before the interview to get a pulse on how the candidate is feeling. They are there to answer any unanswered questions, put the candidate at ease, and build up their confidence.
Everybody could benefit from having a good hype man. As a recruiter, you could be the ultimate one. You already believe in the candidate or else you wouldn’t have submitted them for the role. Now, you want them to exude confidence and enthusiasm during the interview. Set the tone before the interview even takes place so that it carries over into the actual interview.
Recruiting is as much about selling to the candidate as much as it is selling to the client. The interview is the first time these two parties come together. If either has a negative experience, it not only affects their perception of each other but also of your abilities as a recruiter.
Both the candidate and the client could be potential long-term assets to you, if you play your cards rights. These small but important steps to build a more positive candidate experience will play dividends. Not only will you hit your short-term goal of making a placement, but if you can knock it out of the park on the first try, clients will back to you with future opportunities and candidates will view you as an asset for subsequent job searches.