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7 Recruitment Secrets - The Job Interview Decoded

I have a confession to make. When I was younger and starting my career, I didn’t always take my job interviews seriously. Don’t get me wrong; I have drive and ambition, but I have a go with flow kind of personality. My life philosophy has always been; if it’s meant to be, it will happen. I didn’t understand how interviews worked, how recruitment decisions were made and I didn’t prepare enough. As a result, my results were hit and miss and for a while, I felt like I was always the bridesmaid, never the bride. The other day I was thinking about what I wanted to write about on my blog, and it hit me. What if I knew then, what I know now? Where would I be? Would I had gotten that great opportunity that I got passed over? Would it had been the job that led to even better opportunities? Hmmm. I’ll never know, but it gave me an excellent idea about how to help you now. Today, I’m going to share some recruitment secrets and decode the interview. I'm going to give you information I wish I'd had 20 years ago, and maybe it will give you the edge to get you that job you deserve!

Secret # 1: You’ve Beaten Out A Lot Of Competition

Did you know that only the top 2% of candidates get a job interview? That’s right, 98% of the people who applied for the job get eliminated in the initial screening process. If you get an interview, you should be stoked, don’t be nervous! Be confident in the fact that they see potential in you and walk into the interview knowing that you’ve done something right with your resume. If you want to bring it home, be sure that you prepare appropriately for the interview because 47% of recruiters think not knowing enough about their organization is one of the most common mistakes. If you’re not sure how to prepare yourself read my last post, it’s all about interview preparation and building confidence to make it a touchdown.

Secret #2: The Job Posting is your Crystal Ball

Have you ever had an interview and wished you knew what they’re going to ask you, so you went on the internet looking for the most common interview questions and started studying them? Don’t. You have the answers right in front of you. It’s the job posting. I’ll tell you a secret about how interview guides are developed; it’s a three-step process:

  1. The recruiter has a job description for the position they’re hiring for and determine the critical job factors essential for successful performance;

  2. The job description is used to create the job posting and;

  3. The job posting is used to develop the interview questions.

If you study the job posting, you can determine what kind of questions they’re going to ask you; it’s your crystal ball. Know it inside and out. One question that you bank on the recruiter asking is; “Tell me about yourself.” It’s the most common interview question, and it makes sense right? You should be able to give a brief summary of your career when asked. Don’t wing this one; you may think “Ya. I know where I’ve been.” But nothing is worse than being asked this question, and getting a serious bout of career verbal diarrhea. Practice. Practice. Practice. It should be clear, concise and most importantly it should sell you for the job.

Secret #3: You Better Know About Behavioral-Based Interviews

There are three goals for a recruiter in a job interview:

  1. To adequately assess you and make the best hiring decision;

  2. To tell you about the job and the work environment and;

  3. To create goodwill and foster good relations within the community as a whole as an employer of choice.

The number one goal is, of course, to assess your ability to do the job. The last thing a recruiter wants to do is make a hiring mistake. Their personal career success within the organization depends on making the right hiring decisions. With that said, behavioral interviewing is becoming more common because it supplies recruiters with a more objective set of facts to make employment decisions than other interviewing methods. Behavioral Interviewing is based on the idea that job candidates’ past behavior is the most likely predictor of future success and failure on the job. These questions are designed to draw out stories about real-life experiences that you’ve had. The recruiter will ask you to describe a particular experience so they can assess your ability to perform the critical functions of the job.

Below are some examples of behavioral-based questions.

  • “Describe a situation where you had a disagreement with a co-worker.”

  • “Give me an example of when you showed initiative and took the lead.”

  • “Tell me about a time when you missed an obvious solution to a problem.”

  • “Tell me about your proudest professional accomplishment.”

Do you see the pattern? These are questions that require you to dig deep and think, but you can do it because you studied the job posting right? Don’t be scared. In the next section, I’m going to give you the secret formula to answering a behavioral-based question.

Secret #4: There is a Formula for Answering Behavioral-Based Questions

The easiest way to wrap your head around answering behavioral-based interview questions is to use the STAR interview method. It's a simple framework that will help you keep your responses clear, concise and organized.

Situation: Open with a brief description of the situation and frame the context (who, what, where, when, how).

Task: Explain the task you completed highlighting any obstacles or constraints (e.g., deadlines, costs, and challenging people)

Action: Describe the specific actions that you took to complete the task. Make sure you highlight your positive traits (leadership, attention to detail, commitment, initiative, etc.)

Result: Close with the result of your efforts and be sure you quantify answers where you can

Do you see how preparing for your interview just got that much more important? Be prepared for these types of questions because the odds are they will come up in your interview. Use your crystal ball!

Secret #5: It’s More than What You Say

There is so much more to an interview than what's said. We give a lot of attention to how we want to answer questions, but not enough attention is given to our non-verbal mannerisms. I’ve met with a lot of candidates in my day that says all the right things, but I notice that something is off in their body language. A weak handshake tells me you're not that assertive, crossed arms show me your defensive nature, lack of eye contact tells me you may be lying, fidgeting tells me your very nervous and lacking a smile makes me think you’d rather be somewhere else. You get what I’m saying? Be sure that you remain aware of how you’re coming off. Non-verbal cues will give you away every time!

Secret #6: The Biggest Mistake Made in a Job Interview is Not Asking For the Job

Did you know that the largest mistake in a job interview is not asking for the job? Crazy right?! Don’t forget why you’re there. It’s to sell yourself as the best candidate and the way you do this is to make a direct request for the job. I know a lot of people don’t feel comfortable with this. It’s very assertive, but trust me, not a lot of people do it. It's a number one mistake for a reason. You will stand out from the rest of the candidate crowd if you end the interview with a direct request for hire.

Say something like this: “Thank you so much for your time, I learned so much about the company, and I’m excited about joining the team. I know that I’m the right candidate for this job. With my educational background and my experience with X Y and Z, I’m confident that I could be an influential member of this organization. I hope you hire me for this position; I look forward to hearing from you soon.”

Secret #7: Following Through is Important, but Follow Up is Rarely Done

22% of recruiters won’t consider hiring you because you failed to follow up on your interview. It shocks me that the percentage of candidates who followed up on their interview with me is well below 10%. Following up on your interview is not only the courteous thing to do, but it also shows that you follow through on your endeavors and that you’re serious about the job. It doesn’t take much to do. After your interview (no longer than 24 hours) send a quick email to the recruiter thanking them for their time and reiterate why you think you’re the best candidate for the job. Doing this keeps you at the top of mind of the recruiter, and it also helps you in building your professional network. Let’s be realistic, there’s a chance you won’t get this job – you can’t win all the time, but it doesn’t mean that there won’t be other opportunities with that organization in the future. If you're on LinkedIn, odds are your recruiter has a profile, find them and ask for a connection. You just might find that they’ll come looking for you about another job.

Word of Caution: Follow up is important but you should also respect their recruitment process. If you don’t hear from them in a week, don’t panic and start blasting off emails to the recruiter or randomly drop by the organization when they’re not expecting you. They haven’t forgotten about you; they’re making sure they make the right hiring decision. Be patient.

With these seven recruitment secrets revealed, the job interview just got decoded for you. Remember this though: when you get to the interview stage of the recruitment process, you're so close, but you're now competing with others who are in the top 2% as well. Getting the job is going to come down to fine details and bringing your "A" game to edge out your competition. There are no guarantees that you'll get the job, but you can do everything within your control to tip the scale in your favor. You're equipped with the information you need to nail it! Now show those other candidates who's boss!

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Photo Credits: Mogwai

Next Week: You Got an Offer! How to Negotiate Your Best Contract


JC Halfkenny is CV Boss. With over 20 years of recruitment experience she has reviewed thousands of resumes and hired hundreds in various industries such as manufacturing, spa and wellness, finance, retail and aviation. As an experienced recruiter, she knows the secret of resume writing lies in knowing precisely what to put in, precisely what not to put in, and exactly what kind of a spin to put on a resume, to ensure it will stand out from the crowd.

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