A Recruiter’s Guide to Winning a Job Interview

I work as a recruiter—my job is to find and hire the right people for different organizations.

This job has given me a unique insight into the interview process—what works, what doesn’t, and how jobseekers can make a great, hire-this-person-right-now impression.

I want to help you land the job of your dreams, so here are my top 10 tips for winning a job interview.

1. Be nice

Whether you’re talking to the receptionist, recruiter, hiring manager, or someone you pass on the way to the restroom, be pleasant to everyone. Your attitude is everything.

2. Ask the recruiter what the suggested dress is for the interview

Suits aren’t always the best idea in Oregon, and can occasionally backfire if it shows a lack of understanding of their work environment. I’ve always recommended business casual attire (think button-up shirt and slacks), and like the guideline of “dressing one step above the role.”

3. Be concise in your answers

It’s easy to ramble when you’re nervous. Give a summary answer, with an example integrated into it, then ask if they’d like you to elaborate.

4. Have examples

Many questions will relate to the duties and qualifications. Re-review the job posting beforehand and make sure you’re ready to explain your similar or transferable experience.

5. It’s okay to bring a cheat sheet

Many are amazed when I recommend they write their examples down, so they can refer to them during the interview. It’s not a closed book test! This shows me you’re prepared!

6. Think “what, how and wow”

When they ask you for an example, summarize it as follows: what I did, how I did it, and what was the impact (“wow” factor).

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You don’t have to tell them about a project that went perfectly. In fact, telling us about one that had obstacles you had to overcome is stronger, because it shows you are a) human, and b) a problem solver.

7. Have at least five questions prepared

Nothing irks me more than a candidate who says, “You’ve pretty much answered all my questions.” This shows zero curiosity. Trust me, there are always questions. This is your opportunity to learn valuable information and sound thoughtful as well by staying away from generic inquiries.

But here’s one caveat: it’s best not to inquire about pay or benefits during the interview. Ideally, you should know this information ahead of time. Many employers include salary information in their job listings, and Mac’s List now requires this information in order to submit a job posting. Do your best to know the offered salary before the interview to avoid interviewing for a position you can’t accept.

8. Take notes

This shows you are paying attention and want to remember what they’re telling you. Keep good eye contact, but if it helps, take notes!

9. Remember, interviews are a two-way street

Make mental notes about how the process was handled, and if you could envision yourself working with these individuals.

10. Smile, shake hands, say thank you. And don’t forget to breathe

Be gracious. Remember that no matter what happens, this was a learning experience.