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What Do Recruiters Look For When They Interview Someone? | No BS Job Search Advice Radio

Ep 852 This question was originally asked about IT positions however, I believe the answer can be applied to any type of interviews.


I was asked a terrific question by someone.  The simple way to ask it is, "What do recruiters look for when they interview someone?"  It was originally asked about IT recruiters, but I think the answer is pretty universal to all recruiters.

You have to start by understanding that people don't just simply interview individuals for the heck of it.  They are trying to fill a position. . They are not trying to create "inventory" as though, at the right time, they're going to go to the shelf and pluck a book off of it.  It doesn't work that way.

Time is precious. They are trying to fill jobs.  So what are they looking for?

The 1st thing is competence.  Is your background match up with the position that they are trying to fill or other positions they are trying to fill? . There was obviously something that elicited interest on their part, and they are trying to figure out whether you actually have that experience.

But I want to call out something that is obvious to me who is done this for a long time and may be less obvious to you.  Competence is not the only variable that firms look for. . Sometimes what they do is consider, "He's not quite perfect in this . But what she can do is this other thing so they may use a weight or a measure to evaluate you. We all have seen people who are not competent who have been hired so we know that is not the only criteria when they hire.

Here's what else they look for:

Self-confidence.  Do you inspire confidence that you are the solution to a need?  If they brought you into a room with an absolute stranger, would you be able to convince them that they could trust you?
Character. . Do you have character? Are you a character?  Some jobs require a big personality and that sort of role, whether it is in sales or in other areas is important in some jobs and not in others.  Character is 1 of those funny variables.
Chemistry. . This is a funny one for me to talk about because I think firms are wrong for looking at this one, but they do.  The notion of chemistry is how you will fit into an organization. How you will fit into his apartment. How you will fit into a company.  To me, this is where bias shows up in interviews because you are on good behavior, they are on good behavior. You weren't showing who you really are and neither are they. . So, how do you will evaluate for fit?  They aren't administering industrial psychology questions, are they? . They haven't given their own staff such questions.  . How do you really measure for fit?  In their subconscious, the notion of chemistry comes down to who you remind them off. . It's a reality for now that I hope changes in the future.
Charisma. . This is the big one.  Charismatic people always do better than non-charismatic ones.  Some jobs don't require charismatic people. But, overall, companies and their managers are enamored with charismatic people, the ones with that magnetic personality that makes them lovable, delightful, believable. It's like how we elect presidents (let's put aside the current election.  As I release this, it is November, 2016) , and instead look back in time.  The United States tends to elect people who are engaging, and enormously charismatic and didn't know much.  I'm not going to identify who I'm thinking of, but all 3 that I am, at the time of their election, didn't know squat about being president.  Ronald Reagan, an actor who became a governor.  Bill Clinton, governor of 1 of the smallest states in the country with a poor education system.  Barack Obama, a US Senator who pondered his election rarely went to the Senate to do work and instead went out campaigning.  These were men who grew into the job.  America was engaged with them, even though from a policy perspective, they were very different from one another.  They were all completely different.  Reagan was the model conservative; today, Bill Clinton would be seen as a moderate (even then, he campaigned this 1, even though he didn't govern that way); Barack Obama campaigned as a moderate but, revealed with time that he had more progressive underpinnings.America has grown with each of them and loved each of them.
It's not about knowledge per se. It's what I call sometimes, "the squeeze bottle effect." When you interview, you can't simply show how qualified you are. You have to address the emotional side.

As I spoke about in the video recently, when you have a brownie with ice cream at home, I'm sure it is very very good. When you go to a restaurant, there is one thing that is different about that brownie and ice cream – – they have decorated it with a squeeze bottle with chocolate syrup and may decorate the plate with other things. You eat with your eyes as much as with your mouth, right?

It's the same in interviewing. If you are hired solely on your knowledge, they can give you a test and make a decision whether or not to hire you. Based upon the results. Other things come into play.

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves life coaching, as well as executive job search coaching and business life coaching. He is the host of “Job Search Radio,” “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice.”

Are you interested in 1:1 coaching or interview coaching from me?  Email me at and put the word, “Coaching” in the subject line. offers great advice for job hunters—videos, my books and guides to job hunting, podcasts, articles, PLUS a community for you to ask questions of PLUS the ability to ask me questions where I function as your ally with no conflict of interest answering your questions.  

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