As a sales executive Recruiter, it’s amazing how often people lose sight of the basics when it comes to interacting with recruiters during interviews. Then again the pandemic has caused so much change (both personally and professionally) that perhaps we should cut each other some slack. So, to what extent should we be making allowances versus adhering to the pre-Covid set of standards and norms around interviewing?
Based on thousands of Sales Executives across North America whom we communicated with over the last quarter, here a few impactful tips to communicating and presenting yourself to recruiters and hiring managers:
Responding to LinkedIn InMail
Yes, we are all busy, but when a recruiter reaches out it is always best to respond with a short, courteous, and spell-checked response. This one small step creates a big impact and can pave the way for a future relationship. Errors happen and no one is perfect, but remember, the way you communicate in writing to a recruiter does matter.
One thing recruiters, and their clients, find particularly off-putting are individuals who respond rudely. Such as telling the recruiter not to reach out to them at all if they don’t disclose the company name and salary upon initial contact. While this may seem like a quick way to cull through outreach offers, it’s particularly damaging.
The way you respond, be it curtly or courteously, has an enormous impact on a recruiter’s impression of you, and the likelihood of them continuing to build a relationship with you. Just because that specific outreach offer wasn’t a fit, doesn't mean there won’t be an amazing opportunity down the road that you passed up simply because of one single curt LinkedIn response.
Responding to Interview Questions
Being ready and prepared to answer interview questions takes planning and practice. How does one practice? By doing a dry run not once, not twice, but over and over until you feel you got it right. Now, don't get me wrong, your answers need to be true to who you are and should embody your personal narrative, but they also need to be succinct, meaningful and impactful. These answers need to influence your audience enough for them to emphatically know that you are capable and qualified for the position.
If you have a long and storied career, there is lots to talk about, but you need to choose your words wisely. In the grand scheme of things the interview process does not allow much time together so make sure to make the most of it. It is important to communicate what drives you, your work style, what you are looking for in your next opportunity, and what drew you to the opportunity you are currently interviewing for.
Additionally, showcase what your previous roles looked like in terms of responsibilities, outputs, how you made an impact, and what made you stand out from your peers. In terms of how you measure success and showcase your accomplishments a narrative is important, but also know that solid quantifiable data is just as pivotal.
Amidst Covid, we’ve often seen basic interview etiquette go to the wayside; unfortunately, the same cannot be said for an employer’s expectations. No matter if you are over video or in person, the basics stay the same.
As a recruiter, we need to see you on camera, your whole face in proper lighting with appropriate volume and in a respectable setting (ideally with minimal background interruptions.) Most employers and recruiters do understand that working from home has its challenges and that it is not always possible to have a stand-alone space, but try your best to block off space and time for your interview.
As much as we understand why you might think that taking a call from your car or on the street is preferable to your busy home (or from your bathroom on the floor - yes this has happened), it is generally wise to stick to a more professional setting using a well placed, upright desktop or laptop computer. Be sure to have an appropriate background setting chosen for your video call, something with minimal distractions that looks professional. If that is not available, there are also plain/clear background templates offered through many video based services.
If you absolutely must take a call from your car or otherwise, let the recruiter know ahead of time and the reason for why you are doing so. Equally important, be sure to test your connection and video application prior to the call and ensure you have the recruiter’s and/or employer’s contact information should something go awry. In the case that something does go wrong, be sure to make contact right away.
Check in to your online meeting several minutes early to ensure you have a proper connection. If something happens to come up and you will be late, send a note right away letting the other party know. Showing up late to a meeting (whether in person or online) is not acceptable.
Sometimes in our eagerness to take a meeting we squeeze it into an already jam packed day. Unfortunately, this often results in having to cancel and reschedule. Rather than doing this, consider choosing an interview time that will allow you room to breathe before and after in order to perform optimally. Additionally, having to reschedule a meeting more than once due to work interruptions does not bode well for you and will likely cause you to be removed from the interview process.
Contrary to public opinion, what you wear to a video interview with a recruiter really does matter. Showing up to a meeting in a sloppy t-shirt and baseball hat does not give the recruiter confidence in moving you forward to interview with their client (aka your potential employer.) That's not to say you will be discounted for that reason alone, but it does not allow a recruiter to have a good sense of how you will show up for an interview. Generally speaking, we would assume a minimum standard of business casual and for more formal organizations, corporate attire. If you are unsure about expectations, always reach out to your recruiter prior to the interview.
As with most people today, we are all a little Zoomed out. The last thing anyone needs is a long draining interview. What sets interviewees apart is their ability to bring life to the conversation. How did you engage on video call? Were you energetic and engaging? Or, were you monotone and showing little to no interest in building a relationship with the recruiter and the details of the role?
2020 was a turbulent year, but many companies are still growing, particularly in the technology sector. In order to perform optimally when interviewing, even if passively for a future opportunity, it is important to be mindful of both your communication and presentation style at all times.
For more tips, check out our blog post about How to Ace your Remote Interview and How to Nail a Sales Interview. Or connect with me, Randi Woloz, directly; I would be glad to help in any way I can. I specialize in representing top producing senior Sales Executives to high growth technology organizations across North America.