My first interview – recruiter edition


It is not only the candidate who needs to be prepared for an interview – recruiters have to know both what they want from a candidate and how they are going to get it.

Interviewing is a technique that needs to be developed and refined – changing to suit the candidate and uncover information that may not lie on the surface.

We spoke to some recruiters about the first interviews they conducted and what they learnt from this experience…


Taking the reins

Lisa Stairs is an independent recruiter with LSRS who conducted her first interview as part of Susan Hamilton Personnel: a commercial candidate who had applied for a secretarial position.

In preparation Lisa says that she worked from a checklist to make sure that she could gather all the information that was necessary including skill-set, packages used, typing speed etc.

“Unfortunately for my first interview the candidate was 15 years my senior and clearly very experienced. I found myself battling to take control of the interview as she would keep deviating from the checklist that I was working from”.

What did you learn?

Lisa remembers that this interview took a lot longer than expected and that it made her realise she was going to have to be more assertive in order to take the reins in future.

“Checklists are useful but you have to remember you’re working with a person and not a widget!”


Getting familiar

Chris Knight, Recruitment Consultant at Optima Site Solutions, started with an agency that supplies the staff of Warehouse Industries. Training at the companies head office every two months Chris was inducted in all the essential components of recruitment: from cold-calling and face-to-face meetings with clients, to interviewing candidates.

“My first interview was a dummy run with a candidate who had already worked with the company,” working from a checklist but remembering that he may need more prospective clients, Chris asked for the name and number of the candidate’s supervisor – “Little did I know that this is what my boss wanted me to do – so thankfully I had passed the test.”

Despite the training he underwent, Chris acknowledges that there is a certain element of interviewing that requires you to get familiar with the types of candidates you are interviewing.


What did you learn?

Whilst Chris’ first interview was quite controlled he says that he learnt most from the interviews that went badly.

Starting recruitment in 2007, when there were a lot of redundancies he says that his main challenge was to figure the ones that had just cause from those who were victims of economical circumstance.

“The key thing I learnt is to get familiar with the types of people your interviewing so that you can recognise how you can best place them.”


Talking a different language

Claire Beattie, Recruitment Advisor at Charterhouse, conducted her first interview as a rookie headhunter for an IT recruitment firm. Nervous that she wasn’t qualified enough to conduct the interview Claire says that this particular candidate, who had 10 years experience dealing with blue chip clients, would often use IT terminology that she didn’t understand.

“I asked him to clarify what it meant each time even though I felt a bit embarrassed!”

Claire explains that she had informed the candidate that she was new to the IT (SAP) market and that he may need to outline some of his projects in more laymen terms. In addition to this Claire explains that she “scribbled loads of notes down and went through them with my manager afterwards – who was supportive and able to clarify certain points that I hadn’t understood.”


What did you learn?

Surprised that it went so well, Claire believed that her initial admission of nervousness helped to establish rapport early on in the interview.

“After 15 or so interviews, I felt much more comfortable and conversation flowed naturally with candidates. But I will never forget the hesitancy & nervousness I felt with picking up the phone for that first time though!”

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