Sage Interviewing Advice from 5 Recruiters

Congratulations! You made it to the interview. Through your hard work—researching the position and company; networking with recruiters; writing a resume for human consumption, not purely focused on the ATS; and practicing answering the questions you predict will be asked—you’re ready.

There are some things you still need to consider, such as:

  • Preparing for video interviews
  • Understanding how to answer the questions that will be asked
  • Thinking of intelligent questions to ask the interviewers
  • Knowing how to answer the salary questions
  • Following up with your recruiter

All of this will be covered here. My suggestion to you is don’t skip a word. The recruiters who offer their advice are the real deal. They’ve taken time out of their busy schedule to offer you their advice and, most importantly, they want to help you succeed. One of them writes:

“As a recruiter, my success depends on my candidates succeeding. I provide advice on LinkedIn and other platforms for not just my candidates whom I work with personally, but candidates everywhere.” Tejal Wagadia, Sourcing Recruiter, Amazon

Preparing for video interviews

Ed Han Talent Acquisition Geek | Job-Hunt.org Contributor | JobSeeker Ally | I’m not active on LinkedIn: I’m hyperactive! | Wordsmith | Recruiter at Cenlar FSB | Ask me about IT opportunities in the 19067 and 08618 ZIP codes!

The key to performing well in practically everything is good preparation. Professional athletes practice for hours daily. Professional actors do exercises and rehearse lines for hours daily. So it is with interviews–but particularly with video interviews. And it begins from the moment you attempt to schedule your interview, and all the way through the process.

Some of what follows is just interview preparation best practices, but the items that are unique to video interviews will be called out in italics.

Scheduling

When the person with whom you are scheduling confirms your interview:

  • Do so in writing (email. SMS, etc.)
  • Always ask
  • How long should I budget?
  • With whom will I be speaking?
  • What technology will be used?
  • If they send a calendar invitation, scan the attendees, see if the interviewer(s) are also on the invitation list

Before the interview

These steps are essential in maximizing the likelihood of performing well in your interviews:

  • From the Scheduling step above, research your interviewer(s) online on LinkedIn and other forms of social media
  • Get plenty of rest the night before to the extent possible
  • Have a beverage handy for your interview: you will probably do a fair bit of talking in the interview, and pausing to take a sip can be a good way to stall for a few seconds and gather your thoughts when uncertain how to frame your response to an interviewer’s question
  • Again from the Scheduling step above, do a test call or two using the technology for your interview because unfamiliar technologies might behave unexpectedly, and throw you off during the interview
  • Most videoconferencing technologies have a chat feature: identify that feature and learn it, it is useful for troubleshooting any audio/video issues you may be experiencing
  • GoToMeeting when installed on a computing device periodically needs to update, so allow time for this to take place before your interview
  • Set the stage: identify where you will take the interview, and make sure the lighting is good, that you are not backlit or in shadow, that you have privacy and quiet, and make sure nothing problematic is visible in the background behind you–this is another good reason to do a test call before your video interview
  • Attire: select clothing that is not jarring against the background the interviewer(s) may see
  • Where possible use a Chromebook/laptop with an Ethernet cable: WiFi often offers lower bandwidth than an Ethernet cable connection, and using your phone could lead to your hand getting tired from being in the same position for an extended period of time

During the interview

Bear these things in mind during your interview:

  • In a panel interview, ensure that you are addressing each person, although the bulk of your attention should be on whoever is speaking
  • In the event of a technical issue, use the chat feature to help troubleshoot
  • Look at the camera, it is your interviewer(s): the reason for a video interview is to get a feel for the person behind the resume, and there is a great deal of non-verbal communication in any human interaction. It is easy to make the mistake of looking at the screen instead of the camera, but make a conscious effort to do better in this, it will help differentiate you from your competition

After the interview

It is generally considered good etiquette to send a thank you. Schools of thought differ on “the ideal medium” to do so: I have witnessed suggestions of a formal business letter, email, or text. What makes sense will be driven by the dynamic between you and the person who scheduled the interview. If in doubt, always favor the more formal over the less formal medium, whatever that is.

Summary

Above all, remember that a job interview is a business meeting between parties wanting to determine if they want to do business, and if so, how. The fact that this conversation is taking place over video is irrelevant.

It just means that there are logistical considerations that you should recognize and address to ensure optimal performance.

Understanding how to answer the questions that will be asked

Dan Roth Recruit for Amazon | Work for my Candidates | Professional Speaker

As recruiters a recruiter, I get asked all the time, “What is the hardest interview question you have ever heard?” I always pause, knowing I am not going to give them the answer they are expecting to hear.

Instead of a specific question, my response is always, “It’s not the question that is hard. The hard part is making sure you are answering the question how the interviewer wants you to.” Roughly 90% of the time I get a quizzical look so I explain.

Amazon and many other companies want applicants to use the STAR method.

Situation

Task

Actions

Result/s

This format allows applicants to have a clear structure. First you explain the situation, providing whatever background information is needed that gives context. Next what was the task? The task could conceivably be the problem you are looking to solve.

Actions are the next component. Within the actions, what measures did you take to resolve the situation? How did you arrive at this decision? Did you research prior? Did you seek out varying opinions? Did you have to pick between multiple options? We really want to know in the actions not only what you did, but the why behind it.

Finally, the result/s. Was it a positive outcome? Were there data points showing the improvement you were able to make? Was the client happy? Were your actions ones that you could replicate in the future with similar results?

This may sound standard, even simple.

The trouble for most comes in two parts.

The first is that while the structure is easy to follow, many job seekers do not consider the context of the question. Amazon has 16 leadership principles. The interviewer may be hinting to you that they want to hear an example of customer obsession.

But due to nerves or any number of factors, the answer provided is either based on prepared answers that have been practiced time and time again and is not catered to the question being asked.

Or so much time is spent on one area of STAR that it comes across as overly verbose and potentially gives the wrong impression of how the candidate communicates on the job.

The other big miss can be data points. Many high-tech companies want you to back up your claims with some sort of tangible evidence. If you created an application that raised sales for your company 30% we want to know that.

But, data points are often seen as numeric. If your customer obsession led your client to award your company more business, that is another metric that can be used. It is all relative on the job and what you are doing.

So how do tough interview questions become easy? Well, they don’t…but they can become easier. Make sure you are actively listening to the interviewer, research the company beforehand and look at the job description and job tasks as a guide you can base your answers off of.

The thing is, we can’t suddenly become telepathic and know what every interviewer is looking for. What we can do is do everything in our power to make sure that you are giving yourself the best chance to succeed.

Thinking of intelligent questions to ask the interviewers

Kelli Hrivnak Recruiter partnering with companies to hire Digital Marketing & Technology Talent | Dream Team Builder 🏆 Career Growth Catalyst

“Do you have any questions for me?”

You reached the end of the interview–Don’t blow it now. Your answer should never be “No, I’m good on my end.”

I’ll relate it to a first date. If your date wasn’t reciprocating questions back to you, what would your impression be of his/her interest level? Here’s what I would think: They just aren’t that into you.  

Even if the interviewer did a bang-up job of providing an overview of the job and company, they are testing to see if you did your research and prepared for the interview. 

This process is mutual–employer and candidate should be qualifying each other to vet the fit. The goal of all interview processes is to gather and learn as much information as you can to assess if you will succeed in the company.

If you’re still trying to figure out the culture, you have to go deeper and ask more specific questions than the blanket “Tell me about your company culture?” Here is a sampling of what you can ask instead to reveal the ethos of the organization.

History:

Is this a replacement or growth hire?  

What challenges have prior hires had in this position?

What traits and behaviors made hires in this position successful?

Management style:

What happens when an employee fails?

How do you address under-performance issues with employees?

How do you set and track goals for the team AND individuals? Is goal-setting a collaborative effort?

Leadership:

How are leadership decisions made and communicated?

What is your or company’s approach to performance reviews?

Is there anything you can disclose regarding company growth plans for this year (product roll-outs, acquisitions, 

Communication:

How often do you hold stand-ups or meetings to communicate news/information with the entire team? How often for one-on-ones?  

How often and how do you provide feedback? Or are you generally “hands-off”?

How do employees give and receive feedback?

How do you stay in contact with the team?

How are you keeping employees connected during these times?

How (or when) do the other departments collaborate?

DEI

What are you doing to promote a diverse/inclusive workforce?

What has been the most difficult part of implementing a DEI program?

Does the company encourage and support employee resource groups?

What has the company implemented to eliminate bias in the hiring process?

Learning and Development

Are there opportunities for upskilling and personal development?

What does the onboarding process look like? Are there mentors or “buddies” on staff available after onboarding? 

Would I have a chance to represent the company at trade conferences?

Where have successful prior hires in this position been promoted to?

Work/Life Balance:

What are leadership’s expectations for work hours?

Should I be expected to be available for emails on nights/weekends?

Before you wrap-up,

  1.  “Given what you have learned so far, do you have any concerns about my skills or experience that would be problematic for success in this position?”

Yes, the candidate does take the risk of having the interviewer call out a real issue. However, the candidate is taking a proactive approach and allowing the opportunity for the interviewer to bring up any reservations about the fit–given the interviewer takes this chance to be honest too. It’s your final chance to prove you are the best candidate.

  1. What are the next steps in the hiring process? When would it be appropriate for me to follow-up?

You are setting the stage for managing expectations of the hiring process.

Knowing how to answer the salary questions

Teegan Bartos, CCMC, CCM Helping Ambitious Professionals Gain Career Clarity, Get Hired Quickly & Have Their Income Match Their Impact ✷ Career Coach & Resume Writer ➟ 𝘋𝘔 𝘮𝘦 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘗𝘦𝘳𝘧𝘦𝘤𝘵 𝘍𝘐𝘛 𝘈𝘤𝘤𝘦𝘭𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘰𝘳

The most important thing I can share with you about salary negotiations is it starts before you ever speak to someone. A company is going to have a pay range in mind and have preconceived notions about your worth based on your location, education, previous titles, and market conditions – none of which is within your control.

That’s probably why Glassdoor found that 59% of American employees accepted their offer without ever negotiating. And what’s worse, is only 1 in 10 of U.S. employees reported earning more than their former job.

But the great news is, companies also take into consideration how you articulate your value across your LinkedIn profile, resume, and throughout the interview process – all of which is within your control.

Let’s dive right in starting with my top three mistakes to avoid:

1.      Discuss salary BEFORE a formal offer is given – know your worth and preferences.

2.      Don’t accept an offer ON THE SPOT – ask for 24-48 hours to review.

3.      DON’T accept the first offer without countering.

Where to research your market value:

Salary.com, Payscale.com, ONetOnline.org, job postings in states that require pay range transparency like Colorado and Connecticut, and talking to people with access to that information via informational interviews.

How to begin salary talks during the interview process:

In most states, it is illegal to ask what your current salary is, so more often than not, you will be asked what your compensation expectations are. Here are four different approaches to answer this:

  1. Based on my understanding of the role, I would expect to be near $X.
  2. I want to learn more about this role to give an exact figure, but I need to be within X to Y range.
  3. All in I would want to be near X and Y with my guaranteed cash near Z. How does the company factor equity and bonus?
  4. Before I can answer that I would need to learn more about the position. What is the salary range for this role?

If you are an executive or your role requires you to negotiate, I would avoid option number 4. My go-to answer during early stages is a well-researched option number 2 for mid-level professionals and option number 3 for executives.

5 steps to negotiating your offer via email after reviewing for 24-48 hours:

  1. Gratitude: Thank you.
  2. Optimism: I am excited to join the team!
  3. Evidence & Range: The offer is below what I was expecting. I believe this position should be between X and Y.
  4. Value Proof: I’ve been able to A (lead a global IT transformation resulting in $52.3M in cost avoidance and 237% in increased productivity through automation initiatives) and B (another relevant value add example) and know I would be an asset to the organization. 
  5. Ask: Is there flexibility here?

Negotiating is a complicated process to cover in 500 words, but you’ve now got a starting point that you can customize to fit your needs.

Following up with your recruiter

Tejal Wagadia Demystifying recruiting/hiring one post at a time | Nerd at heart | Samwise Gamgee to your Frodo Baggins in recruiting | Views are my own| Maxed out on my connections, please hit follow!

Recruiters and Talent Acquisition folks shouldn’t be unapproachable either before or after or anytime during the process!

We are neither Ents or Golum from LOTR, but I do understand why that’s the perception. 

Working with a recruiter should be easy and it’s as much on you as a job seeker as it’s on the recruiter!

Questions that I often get as a recruiter from job seekers are about how often and what to say. 

Let’s start with How Often:

Recruiters are just like you and can forget sometimes. It’s okay to reach out to us and come back up in our headspace. 

The cadence should be every 3-5 days depending on your bandwidth. 

Your recruiter should have told you a timeline that you should hear back by! If they don’t, you can absolutely ask during the first call about it. 

Script:

“Thank you for all this information. Could you go over the interview timeline and when I should expect to hear back?” 

If this wasn’t communicated with you during your first call and you’ve already interviewed with an organization and haven’t heard back, you want to start 3 business days post your last interview or communication! 

If you have the phone number, you should definitely call. If you only have an email, that works too. Here are the scripts you can use

Phone voicemail:

“Hi (Recruiter Name), This is (Your Name). I interviewed with (Team or Person) on (date). I am following up to see if you had any updates for me. Please give me a call back when you get a moment, my phone number is (xxx-xxx-xxxx).”

If they pick up, you can use the first part of the voicemail message to begin the conversation.

Email script:

“Hi (Recruiter Name),

I hope you’re doing well. I interviewed with (Team or Person) on (date). I am following up to see if you had any updates for me. I enjoyed my conversation with (Team or Person) and would love to move forward in the process. 

Please let me know if you have heard anything back yet or when I should expect to hear back.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME.”

I promise you as a recruiter, you aren’t bothering us. Sometimes I have someone on my to-do list to get back to but before I know it it’s past 6 and I have to end my work day! It happens! I always push the candidate over to the next day’s to-do list but it’s not a fool proof system. 

Remember this is your job search! You have control, take ownership of this control.

________________________________________________

Want to know how to prepare for interviews, read prequel to this article.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s