Tips for Conversations with Recruiters

FT recruiting is in full swing, which means it's the season for lots of phone calls, emails, and info sessions. As a recruiter in management consulting (MBB), I've interacted with a lot of candidates, and seen a lot of good and bad things. Here are a few general tips to help your conversations with recruiters go smoother and help you make a better, lasting impression.

Be confident in your body language and voice.

This is extremely important. A candidate who is visibly and audibly confident will strike me as much serious than a candidate who is slouching, or saying "umm" a lot, or just looks plain scared. This is true even for email and phone conversations; recruiters can distinguish the confident candidates from the scared ones. However, don't overdo it and overpower the recruiter -- that is a definite turn-off for the recruiter and will not play well to your favor.

Have a list of questions and comments in the back of your mind, and use it when appropriate.

I know this seems very obvious, but it's crucial. I've had too many conversations with candidate where I finish answering a question, and there's an awkward silence when I wait for the candidate to respond or ask another question. Remember, it's your job to direct the conversation. The recruiter is there to answer questions that you have, not give you a presentation or a guided tour -- so you need to be prepared to fill all the gaps in the conversation and make it seamless.

Play to your strengths and market your unique brand.

Recruiters talk to so many candidates that it's easy to forget most of them. You need to emphasize something about yourself that will stand out. Everyone has something interesting that can be marketed as that individual's "brand" -- it could be a cool project you worked on during an internship, or a unique hobby, or maybe something in common with the recruiter. Be sure to talk enough about it so that the recruiter remembers you, but not so much that he or she is going to think "oh god, this kid" next time you talk.

At the end of the conversation, ask if you can contact the recruiter for future questions.

The end of the conversation is perhaps one of the most important parts, because it is the last thing the recruiter will remember about you. Asking permission to contact the recruiter for questions you may have down the road will do two good things: 1.) it will prompt the recruiter to give his or her contact info, and 2.) it will demonstrate that you are serious about the job and you will be actively thinking about it. This is a very good sign for recruiters.

These are just a few of the tips I could think of. Let me know if you have any questions, and good luck out there!

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Comments (10)

Sep 3, 2014 - 12:54am

That's a great question. Those "half moons", as you describe them, were quite terrifying to me when I was going through the recruiting process as a student.

One thing is for sure: don't be the guy (or girl) who says absolutely nothing the whole time and simply stands there nodding and smiling. That tells the recruiter that you're too shy or nervous to speak up in a group, which is not a good quality. Don't be shy! Just pretend the other candidates aren't there!

However, on the other hand, you don't want to talk so much as to take over the group and prevent others from asking questions.

Your goal should be to speak enough (and well enough) to make an impression on the recruiter, and move on when appropriate.

Best Response
Sep 2, 2014 - 11:39pm

One key I learned from recruiters (probably holds true for all industry recruiters) is that your goal should not be to shove a resume in a recruiters face. They know your end goal is to secure an internship or a full-time job so don't state the obvious by pulling out your resume.

Instead (also pointed out in OPs post) talk about yourself and why you're interested in the company. If you are following the news and a major event has taken place (e.g. Firm selected to represent XYZ in an IPO, acquisition of an industry rival, etc) talk about it and ask for the recruiters perspective or thoughts.

I'm not in the financial services industry (work for an O&G equipment manufacturer) but as someone who has had the opportunity to be on the other side at career fairs, students who were focused on the company, its core values, or discussed industry news with me stood out far more than those who began the conversation by pulling out their resumes.

As mentioned time and time again on WSO you are selling yourself and your skill set. A way to "close the deal" is to let the recruiter know you are interested in joining the firm and are interested in XYZ opportunity. If there is a specific program you want to be a part of (e.g. IB Rotational Program) mention it.

There is a caveat as the aforementioned advice may not hold true for all recruiters. However it's your goal to figure out what sparks an interest in the person with whom you are speaking with and to play on that. Some want to know about your background and how you fit in with the company whereas others may want to do a majority of the talking and ask you questions.

Lastly (and IMO) I made it my goal to get the recruiter to ASK me for my resume versus me giving it to them. For me this was a way to gauge whether or not the recruiter was interested in me. I realized fairly quickly that company reps who asked for my resume were more inclined to invite me to interviews and mixers than those that did not ask for me resume.

To summarize the above:

1.) Don't hand your resume to the recruiter. Force them to ask for it.

2.) Figure out what peaks the recruiters interest and use that to your advantage.

3.) Remember that you are selling yourself as much as they are selling you their firm. Mention that you are interested in working for them at the conclusion of your conversation and mention specific program(s) if possible.

Hope this helps and if you disagree, please reply as I'm curious to see what everyone thinks.

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Sep 20, 2014 - 1:00pm

So bottom line it's kind of like flirting with a girl ;)
show confidence, lead the conversation and make follow-up questions, be able to tell some cool stories about yourself and in the end you ask her for her number.

Sep 20, 2014 - 1:01pm

Recruiters - Phone Interview Tips? (Originally Posted: 11/21/2007)

To recruiters/senior bankers who've conducted phone interviews, what do you like to hear?

What makes the candidate stand out from the rest?


Sep 20, 2014 - 1:02pm

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