We have discussed how to prepare for an interview with a prospective employer, but rarely does anyone talk about how to prepare to interview with a headhunter. Before moving on, there is something very important to remember: it is a wise person that tries to impress a recruiter. I was told many many years ago that a proper businessman should always know a good doctor because you never know when you will get sick, a good lawyer since you never know when someone will sue you, and a good headhunter because you never know when you may find yourself out of work.
Preparing for the Recruiter!
Before engaging in a interview with a headhunter, be ready to discuss key points that are critical to your job search. It will allow the process to be much more effective for you, the candidate.
1. What is going to be your availability to make interviews? Most companies want to interview people within a 48 hour period, and during normal business hours. Do you have the availability and flexibility to make interviews with your current job? Making a job change is a job in itself.
2. Think through you ability to commute. If you have a short commute now, ask you self how far you are willing to drive. Factor in family commitments, other obligations, and the price of gas. We hear people all the time say they will commute an hour, but is that with traffic or without? An hour commute can be pretty far; just remember that and keep in perspective how far you have been commuting.
3. Ask yourself and be prepared to discuss you short range and long range occupational goals. Are you just looking for a job or a career? What’s instrumental to you and your family?
4.Have you thought through your ability or desire to relocate? Talk it over with you spouse, family, or friends. Have you ever moved before? What about your housing situation? Can you sell or rent your house? What are your plans, and what is your backup plan? If you have ever moved before, you understand how much of a big deal this is.
5. Outline your professional strengths, and be able to articulate them. Make sure you evaluate areas where you need to improve. Recruiters and employers still ask those questions.
6. Be prepared to discuss your accomplishments, especially looking back over the last few years. Employers like people that have accomplishments and can clearly and consciously discuss them.
7. Know what you are looking for in a new opportunity and be prepared to give examples and/or articulate them in detail. What you are looking for in a new position should tie in very closely as to why you are looking for a better opportunity. The more specific you can be, the more it helps the headhunter not waste your time, their time, and the employers.
8. Always be ready to discuss your salary history. When have you received raises? How much? Recruiters will most importantly need to understand how you are compensated (salary, O.T., bonuses, etc). This is another area where the better the information that you provide, the less time will be wasted.
9. Evaluate your readiness to move on. Think through if you are serious or just window shopping. No one likes to waste time or be used to get a “better deal” where they are currently working, aka: counteroffer (see the counteroffer blog).
It’s important to understand the more candid you are with a recruiter, the better the results. As I’ve mentioned before, you never know when you will need one, so it’s important to impress one.