The recruitment agency interview

If you apply for a vacancy and you don’t know who its with, you may soon find yourself in a recruitment agency interview. In their role as middleman the recruitment consultant is similar to a gatekeeper. If you want the prize of an interview for the position, first you have to go through them.

If the recruiter likes the look of your CV on paper they will likely give you a telephone interview immediately. If you are a strong candidate they do not want to run the risk of you being lost to another advertisement, or another agency (and losing a potential fee for placing you).

A recruitment agency interview is a little different because it really only works one way. You most likely will not have a great deal of information about the company you are applying to (as job advertisements are intentionally vague to prevent you from contacting the employer directly/other recruitment agents from offering their services). And that’s how its going to stay. The interview is really about the recruitment consultant deciding whether you are a worthwhile candidate. Until they are sure they wish to put you forward they will yield as little information about the role as possible.

Your focus then, should be on making sure they like the sound of you. Here are some tips to help you.

Be ready at any time

Recruiters work long days, and they are always looking for a good candidate. They really can call at any time, so be ready. If you’re at work I’d advise you have a plan that will enable you to take a call in private.

Look and sound like a living version of the ad

Remember, recruiters aren’t paid to have a specialist knowledge of your field. They get paid because they make sales. They are salespeople. DO NOT try and blind them with science when describing your skills and experience. Having worked in IT recruitment, I can tell you that there is a good chance they may not appreciate what you are telling them.

Talk in terms of the requirements of the advertisement. That way they are in no doubt as to whether you fit the description.

Tell them you have other opportunities

The more people want you, the more people will want you. I know it sounds like a dating cliché but if you have other opportunities it is likely the consultant will think you are a strong candidate.

Be careful about how you word it. Never say you have made lots of job applications; you look desperate. Instead, tell them a consultant contacted you yesterday for a similar position ,and has put you forward for their role (just never tell them who your opportunities are with; if they ask, say you have been asked not to disclose. Also never admit to being at a more advanced stage with another application; if they fear you will soon be off the market, they may choose not to risk putting you forward to their client).

Follow the guidelines of the telephone interview to prepare

Since most recruitment agency interviews take place over the phone, you need to be ready.

To learn more about the telephone interview - click here


One final word, if they ask for references, state you would rather supply them when required by the employer……otherwise they may well be called in the very near future by your consultant.

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