Keen to know what the client really says after your interview?

Ever wondered what clients REALLY say to the recruiter after the interview? The story below is 100% true and was taken recently during a call with one of our favourite clients. However, this feedback is not isolated to one person. We hear EXACTLY the same thing (in slightly different formats) over and over….so read on to find out what you need to do to ensure the feedback after your interview is as positive as it can be.

I’m currently working with a fantastic client in the FMCG sector. His business has experienced year on year growth over the past 10 years and he now requires a super star EA to keep him on track. Nothing out of the ordinary there, placing senior EA’s is our core business.

After he met with two candidates we caught up on the phone to debrief.

The conversation went like this:

(For privacy reasons we’re going to call them Jenny and Sue).

Naomi: How did you go with the two candidates?

Client: I really liked both candidates however, Jenny’s answers were so much more in depth and detailed than Sue’s. Sue still answered the questions but there was no passion behind her answers and they fell short. I didn’t really feel as confident in her ability as I did with Jenny.

Naomi: Ok, can you give me an example of one of the questions you ask?

Client: Oh look, I don’t think they’re overly difficult – I just like to encourage the candidate to speak and open up. One of the questions is about as basic as they can be – I ask what makes them a good EA? Both said similar things and both mentioned being organised. Pretty standard answer – no issues there. Obviously that’s something a successful EA needs in spades but simply stating “I think I’m really organised’ doesn’t paint any picture in my mind as to HOW they will be organised.

However, then Jenny started describing her list systems, how she’d taken herself off to do the advanced outlook course and had smashed its functionality which in turned helped her manage her bosses calendar and scheduling. She spoke about her own little rituals and ways that she stays on top of things – she was just so authentic. I was sitting there thinking ‘WOW! This is amazing, I need all of that!

Whilst Sue was nice and given she has the experience on paper there’s no doubt she could do the job but I just felt that Jenny sold herself better. She gave me the feeling that she’d really turn things around and make my work life easier. She was really good at describing how she runs her day. I didn’t even have to ask or dig for information, she was very forthcoming. I walked away feeling that it was an obvious choice to move forward with Jenny.

So there you have it.

One candidate opened up and SOLD themselves to the hiring manager, using descriptive answers and painting a clear picture of HOW they will take control of their day. The other definitely still answered his questions but only in words. She used short sentences that fell flat.

So now would you like to know the background on these candidates? Sue actually has 5 years more senior level EA experience than Jenny.

As you can see, experience isn’t the only thing a client assess when they are interviewing you. Don’t assume they know what you have done in each role simply because you’ve listed words on your CV. A piece of paper does not engage someone, personality does!
Therefore, don’t miss an opportunity to sell yourself in the interview. Give depth to your answers! Ensure you cover off the HOW and the WHY, not just the WHAT.


Tips for a successful meeting with your recruiter.

Recruiters – necessary evil some say. Others believe their careers have been developed and enriched by the support of a recruiter and are thankful that they exist.

Here is a quick read to help you gain the best out of your first meeting with a recruitment consultant.

  1. Don’t be late – don’t be early. I’ve said it a million times, a scheduled time is a scheduled time and no-one knows this more than a recruiter. We can be managing literally hundreds of tasks in any given week and our diaries will be blocked out back to back. Be mindful of this.
  1. Be the best version of yourself – Whilst many businesses are moving away from the traditional corporate attire they still expect you to be presented in a way that says you are ready for business (as opposed to being ready for the beach). Always better to be over dressed than underdressed. If you’d like to arrive in thongs and shoe-string strappy tops, that’s a-ok but just remember it will hinder your ability to be placed as you’re not going to be a professional representation of the agencies brand.
  1. Don’t take a coffee in – it’s a business meeting. Even if you ask when you arrive (with your cup already in your hand) “is it ok if I bring this in” and the recruiter says “sure that’s fine!”. Trust me, it’s not. They’re just being polite. You’ve just brought down your professional brand.
  1. Be ready to sell yourself – yes, sell yourself. Open up, communicate, talk about what you liked in previous roles, what you are seeking in the future and most importantly what makes you stand out from the crowd. Recruiters are essentially the middle man between candidates and clients. They are being paid to find something the client cannot source themselves – unique talent. Be that talent. Don’t assume that the recruiter knows everything about you even if you feel it is listed in the words on your CV. Be better than words on paper – be a personality!
  1. Keep the lines of communication open – Whilst it is definitely the responsibility of the recruiter to keep in touch with you, assist this process by reaching out to them every so often as well. Keep them in the loop with your movements, where you are up to in the process with other roles and any changes to your circumstances that will affect your work (eg moving house, booking holidays in the near future, changes in your career path).

The recruiter can be your best ally – you’ve just got to work with them so that together you can find the best possible job and career for you.

What Should a Candidate Expect from a Recruiter?

A good recruiter will partner with a candidate during their job search and often well into their career. Just like all professional relationships, there is always a limit to what the recruiter is able to do (we cannot force a client to offer you a job), but all candidates should expect the following to happen when dealing with a recruiter. (Sadly, this is not always the case but rest assured, there are plenty of great recruiters out there willing to do all these things and even go beyond!!)

A Face-to-Face Interview

Before a recruiter sends your CV to a client or company, they should have met with you and interviewed you first. From time to time (when urgency is a problem), the recruiter may wish to telephone interview you, or set up a Skype meeting. However in any case, they should absolutely have spoken with you in detail first to understand your experience and what you are looking for. This is as much about an opportunity for you to get to know the recruiter representing you, as it is about you having the opportunity to demonstrate your skills and personality.

The better a recruiter knows you, the easier it will be for them to sell you into their client, and the better your recruiter can explain to their client why you are the right fit and have the right skill-set for the job. Hint: If the recruiter doesn’t know you, they won’t be able to fight for you and back you when it comes to the crunch.

Advice on your CV, Presentation & Interview Tips

Recruiters advising candidates on any improvements that can be made to their CV is part of the service. If you have a terrible CV, but excellent experience that is clearly not represented in your CV – your recruiter should tell you. Any advice or tips that they give you should be constructive and helpful. Again, we want you to get the job and sometimes a little guidance is needed (remember that we are experts on this.)

A recruiter lives and breathes CVs, candidates and clients. We know what we are talking about and if we are telling you, it is because we want to help you.

Briefing before an Interview

Before you go to a client interview, your recruiter needs to brief you about the company, the person you are meeting with and what they are looking for in a candidate. This DOES NOT mean you are not expected to do your own homework and research, however, a good recruiter will give you as many pointers as they can to help you succeed in your interview. It is after all, in their best interest for you to smash the interview!

Feedback on Interviews

Your recruiter should be able to give you feedback on all your interviews, including your interview with them. We can often help guide and advise on where you can improve your interview skills after the first interview (and we hope to pick up anything that could be an issue for a client in that interview – hence the importance of having a face-to-face meeting with your recruiter in the first instance).

It is part of our job to speak in detail with the client after your interview. From that conversation, your recruiter should be able to give you feedback on your meeting with their client and how you went.  Take this feedback on board, as it could be the difference between you nailing your next interview and totally flunking out!

Follow up

A good recruiter will care where you land. Whether they place you, don’t have any appropriate jobs on at the time or don’t in fact place you in your next role – they should follow up with you and keep in touch. A candidate should always expect a follow up email, text, or phone call from their recruiter.

On the flip side of this – you too can follow up with your recruiter.  A solid, two-sided relationship is ultimately the best type of relationship for a candidate and recruiter.

A Friendly Ear

This one is a tricky one as we are all super busy and from time to time, this friendly ear is taken advantage of/the line is a little blurred. BUT any good recruiter will be available as a friendly ear to their candidates.

We understand that just because we see people going through the recruitment phase every day, doesn’t mean that the candidate does as well. As recruiters and consultants to businesses, we are speaking with HR and business leaders daily so we do know a lot of what is going on in companies and how businesses work. Just like in all of life, we appreciate that our knowledge and experience is better shared than kept bottled up. A good recruiter will be available as a sounding board and able to offer some insight when a candidate needs.

Just like in any industry, there are plenty of average recruiters out there but there are some really great ones too.  More often than not, it is the candidate and recruiter who establish a really solid ongoing relationship, that have the best outcomes.

For Naomi and the team at Sprint, we pride ourselves on having genuine and long lasting relationships with our candidates throughout their careers. It is not uncommon for us to place a candidate in several of their roles over the years that pass. This is recruitment at its best. It won’t always work like this, but we hope by sharing the above, you know what you as a candidate should expect from your relationship with the recruiter.


How do you put your best foot forward?

Finding a new job takes time and you need to put your best foot forward. Not just when interviewing with your potential new boss but from the moment you hit “send” on your email with your CV.

Here are our Sprint Tips for “Putting your Best Foot Forward” & landing the job:

First Impressions
Your CV is your first chance to not only make a good impression, but to make an impression at all. Recruiters will look at hundreds of CVs every week. You need to make sure your CV stands out for the right reasons; no spelling or grammar mistakes (PLEASE!!) and if you are including a cover letter, take the time to address it to the right person.

To make a good impression and to secure an interview, your CV needs to match the requirements of the job. If the job ad is asking for experience supporting a large team, make sure your CV highlights your experience supporting a large team. If you have no relevant experience, you will need to make sure your cover letter addresses why you are applying for the job.

You have to prepare for every interview, even the initial interview with the recruiter. The amount of times a candidate has said to me “I wouldn’t wear this to the job interview” or “I wouldn’t do this in front of the client”…GUESS WHAT…If you don’t impress us and demonstrate you’ve got what it takes, we won’t be recommending our client meets you. We will assume how you act in front of us, is how you will behave in front of the client. The recruiter is just as important as the hiring manager and preparing to meet the recruiter should not be underestimated.

Prepare for every interview (with the recruiter, the hiring manager, HR or anyone else). Take the time to research the company, know the job description and know your own CV. If you know whom you are meeting with, research them and their experience on LinkedIn. It doesn’t have to be hugely time consuming, but it is easy for an interviewer to recognise those candidates who have taken the time to prepare versus those who have not.

The more you prepare, the more you emphasise your commitment to the role, your willingness to learn and your enthusiasm to get the job. That is the person the hiring manager wants in their team.

Do we sound like a broken record about this? Good. Presentation is so so so important. You cannot put your best foot forward if you turn up to an interview (at any stage of the recruitment process) and you are not immaculately presented.

Neat and tidy hair, appropriate clothing for the job and company you are interviewing with. Make sure your shirt is ironed, your stockings don’t have ladders and you have appropriate footwear on. Keep your perfume to a minimum; you don’t want to leave a lingering scent of you in the room.

Presentation is in the detail so take time out before you go in for your interview to make sure you’re looking at your best.

Stay positive. We understand it can be draining but don’t give up hope and stay positive. The right job is out there for you.

As a recruiter, when someone becomes ‘Negative Nancy’ about the recruitment process, it is obvious and it doesn’t bode well. We want to see the best of you, and when we recommend our client to meet you, we want them to see a sparkle in your eyes. So even if you are feeling a little drained, keep it at bay and remember that a positive attitude is the type of person that a hiring manager wants to bring into the team.

Badmouthing a previous employer or the recruitment process is not professional or endearing to a potential new manager. No matter what your experience has been in recent times (even the world’s worst boss); keep your interview positive and focus on your skills and what you will bring to the job you are interviewing for.

Follow Up
You nailed the interview! Great. But even after the interview, you still need to put your best foot forward and stand out from your competition. Follow up! Send a note, drop a brief email or even send a LinkedIn connection with a thank you. Let the recruiter know how much you want the job and don’t be afraid to let the hiring manager know too. That said, keep it brief and professional (and only if they gave you a business card) and don’t bring up anything new. Short and simple = Leaving a lasting impression.

Landing the dream job starts long before you meet your potential new manager. You need to do your homework and be putting your best foot forward from the moment you decide you want a new role.