When a recruiter calls you in for an interview, it's helpful to know what you should expect from the meeting and how to prepare.
Recruiters are Not Employers
A recruiter who calls you in for a personal conversation in her office isn't in a position to hire you. Her plan is to present your resume to an employer with an open position that may be a match for your skills. If she presents you to a hiring manager, advocates for you and provides additional details supporting your candidacy (like a background check), her services and the strength of her endorsement can help move you into the final round. And if you get hired, she gets paid. This means she has two important goals during her meeting with you:
- To make sure you're right for the job based on the information the employers have provided to her.
- To make sure you step up to the plate and hit a home run when the "real" interview happens.
Isn't This a "Real" Interview?
During this initial interview, it's a good idea to put your best foot forward, dress to impress, stand up straight and use the same steady eye contact and firm handshake you'll bring out when meet your potential employers in person. Throw out your gum, leave your coffee cup in the trash outside and take off your coat when you step in the door.
But at the same time, you'll need to be a little more direct with your recruiter about your "fitness" for this job.
If you have specific needs these employers will have to meet, or if you suspect this isn't the job for you, let her know and explain why.
After all, she's putting her reputation on the line to present you, so if you have doubts or questions about the job, clear them up now. You can also expect the recruiter to be a little more honest with you than an employer may be when it comes to your credentials and presentation. If you lack one or two of the skills required for the position, expect her to discuss this with you in clear terms. If you aren't sure what to wear or how to behave during the official interview, feel free to ask your recruiter for advice, and expect blunt honesty in return.
The Recruiter Works for Employer Clients, Not You
You aren't the one paying the recruiter to help you — her employer clients are. So if they like you and hire you, everybody wins, including her. If you aren't a likely match, she'll be more interested in finding another candidate for this job then finding a more suitable position for you. Don't take this personally. Stay flexible, and if she doesn't call you back immediately after the meeting, follow up with her no more than once per week. If she does find a better match for you, she'll let you know. Until then, turn your attention back to your job search and move on.