Recruiters can be powerful allies in your search for a new engineering or technical position. Recruiters have personal connections to many great companies in the market, they can match you with positions that align with both your skill set and your professional goals, and they are often looking to fill positions that have yet to be posted to the public. If you’ve never worked with a recruiter before, use these strategies to manage your expectations and prepare for your first interview.
Consider It a Real Interview
Some professionals don’t consider their first meeting with a recruiter to be a “real” interview. It is true the recruiter is not able to hire you. Rather, it is their goal to present you and your resume for an open position that appears to match your skills. If they do present you, they will advocate for your hire.
However, this is still a “real” interview. Their goals are to learn more about you and gather more information about your skills and background. They will also be evaluating your ability to do well in interviews with current or future clients. The pressure might be a bit less than an interview with a potential employer, but they are the gatekeeper who can grant you access to a host of new opportunities. Therefore, treat it as you would treat any other first interview. If they sent you information about a specific position at a specific organization, conduct research and come prepared with a list of thoughtful questions.
Be Prepared for Candor
One benefit of interviewing with a recruiter is you’re free to be completely honest. In fact, honesty is the best policy in a first interview with a recruiter. Talk openly about your career goals and what you’re looking for from your next employer and your next opportunity. If you suspect the position isn’t quite right for you, be direct and explain your reasons why. Recruiters need to present candidates who are not only a match, but who would be likely to accept an offer. You may not be the right match for the job they’re recruiting for today, but if you’re honest about what you’re looking for, they will reach out and let you know when a new opportunity arises that is a better match.
Brace Yourself For Feedback
Remember, the recruiter will be noting your interview skills throughout the conversation. They want to know you’ll knock it out of the park when they present you to a client, so they will likely offer you some constructive feedback on your interviewing skills. They may also provide feedback on your resume composition. Make sure you are prepared to listen to that feedback and take action if you need to make some adjustments.
Ask Lots of Questions
Recruiters expect you’ll have a list of questions prepared, not only about the position, but about the process of working with them and their firm. When presented the opportunity to ask questions, ask whatever you need to in order to make an informed decision about moving forward. Recruiters want you to be comfortable with the process, and a great recruiter will take the time to address your questions and concerns.