A Recruiter’s Perspective on How to Land Your Next Interview or Job

by: Smith and Howard

August 25, 2017

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As a recruiter, I’m often asked what companies look for in candidates coming out of college.  The answer varies depending on the stage of the person’s career, but there are some common traits.

Successful recent graduates will have some common traits on their resumes. You may not have all of these, but having several, along with excellent networking skills will take you far.

  • Your resume should be perfect.  Have several people proofread it to identify any typos.
  • Your degree should be from an accredited college or university.
  • Good grades in more challenging majors are essential.  If your GPA is lower than 3.0, you should leave it off the resume, but know that you will be asked about why it is missing. If your major GPA is higher than your overall GPA, it should definitely be included.
  • Extra-curricular activities are important. It’s always good to show leadership roles in campus and off campus organizations.
  • Working one’s way through college is another desirable quality.  It shows that you can balance multiple priorities and have time management skills.  You don’t have to be the founder of the next Facebook, but do demonstrate you had a life outside of the classroom.
  • Volunteer experiences show character and an ability to think of others. These also help show you as a well-rounded person.

All of these attributes help in landing an interview.  Once you’re in the seat, it’s imperative to perform well and set yourself apart. I’m routinely surprised at how candidates forget the most basic, yet crucial, steps in the interview process, and these steps begin before your interview date.

Before you interview, consider the following:

  • Do research on the company, as well as the key people.
  • Come up with at least 10 questions that cannot be answered by a quick look at the company website.  The interviewer will probably answer most of these during the meeting and you’ll want to have one or two left over when they ask you if you have any questions for them.
  • Be early. The adage “if you’re on time you’re late” comes to mind.  It is not recommended that you walk in thirty minutes before your appointment, but you should get to the location early and walk into the office ten minutes ahead of time.
  • Be polite to the person who greets you.  Instead of just telling him or her who you are there to see, try “Good morning, how are you?”  Then introduce yourself, and let him or her know the purpose of your visit.
  • At the beginning of the interview, let the interviewer know that you have read and understand the job description but ask them what top three attributes will make the person in the role successful.  Take mental notes and respond with examples of how you have those qualities.
  • Do not ask about work/life balance unless you have extraordinary needs (school, family, etc).

For people with some work experience under their belts, I begin to look for other things:

  • Designations like CPA, CFA, MBA and other examples of continuous learning.
  • Demonstrated upward mobility with the same company. Earning a promotion at one’s current company looks better than leaving a company for a bigger title.
  • Extracurricular activities still count; organizing volunteer opportunities or even team building events are a great way to stand out.
  • Be able to explain how you have been able to develop people and help them grow.

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