It seems like a long time ago that I walked into my first round interview for a trainee Recruitment Consultant role at Investigo. It was my second ever trip to the City, in a suit that was too big with a grey cardigan under my suit jacket (what was I thinking?!).
During the interview I was desperately trying to remember a few key bits of advice given by my recruiter, family and a few friends who had recently moved into the recruitment world. Here’s what they said.
The best interview advice I have received
1. “The first handshake is crucial, so make it firm and look whoever it is in the eye”. This came from a few friends and I even remember hearing it in my school days. We used to joke about different types of handshakes - the Car Salesman (hand on top, leaning into the shake), the Brush Off (a quick grasp and then a release that feels like your hand is being shoved aside), and the dreaded Dead Fish (a handshake that feels like the person has no bones in their hand, often indicating a passive or reserved personality).
2. “Remember the key facts about Investigo and use them when you can”. This came from my recruiter who emphasised to me the importance of demonstrating my research in an interview.
3. “Maintain eye contact throughout - it shows you are focused and concentrating. It’s a key part of life”. Thanks Dad.
4. “Have some relevant questions on the business and the role”, another gem from my recruiter.
5. “Try to let your personality shine through, nobody likes a drone”. I have both my parents to thank for that one.
Well, I listened and I got the job but looking back on my interview four years later, I cringe! So let me help you to avoid the embarrassment I now live with.
Top tips for impressing Hiring Managers
1. If your recruitment consultant hasn’t provided you with a lot of background on the role, interviewer and business area, then ask! Knowledge is power. You should complement this with your own prep for the role because if you are sincerely interested in getting the job then you should want to be as well-prepared as possible.
2. If the interview is local, it is always best to meet your recruiter before and after the interview so they get a real sense of your personality, communication skills and professional experience and can provide you with interview feedback in person. If this is not possible you should at least have a detailed conversation with them over the phone.
3. Dress smart, even if it’s dress-down Friday. You only get one chance to make a first impression - wouldn’t you rather be too smart than underdressed?
4. Have some relevant questions to ask. As a recruiter, my pet hate is when I ask someone if they have any questions and the answer is no. There must be something? There is always something you can ask and some good examples are enquiring about the company culture, the nature of training and development and questions about the interviewer’s own experience at the company.
5. Let your personality shine through. A Hiring Manager probably has five or six candidates they are seeing for the role and they can probably all fulfil the requirements, so why should you be chosen? If you ask most interviewers they will tell you that personality is right up there with ability as the most important factor in a new hire.
6. Make your own decisions. Too many times I have had candidates interview for roles they were not 100% committed to, only to come out of the interview to tell me how they now really want the job. In most cases, they don’t get the offer because, in the words of Hiring Managers, “the candidate didn’t seem interested at interview”. If you have made the effort to get to the interview, give it 100%.
I would be interested to hear your tips on how to make a stellar first impression! If you have a LinkedIn profile please connect with me, or leave your comments below.
Ed works in Investigo’s Change Management division, specialising in placing Programme/Project Managers, Business Analysts, PMOs, Test Managers/Analysts and Copywriters in the retail banking and life & pensions industries. If you are seeking a similar role please contact Ed on firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 020 7065 7036.