Interview tips

The college student’s guide to recruiter do’s and don’ts

Avoid these 4 mistakes and impress your recruiter, instead.

Recruiters are usually the first person you talk to at a company. To move forward in the interview process, you have to make a great first impression. We spoke to Megan Malcolm, an Early Career Recruiter at Handshake, who is an expert at matching candidates to the right role. Here is her advice for mistakes to avoid, and ways to impress your recruiter, instead.

Top mistakes when talking to a recruiter

  • Being unprepared. Research the company before you speak to a recruiter. Tell them about what you found and why you are interested in the company they represent.
  • Telling the recruiter what you think they want to hear. Megan says, “You’ll be happier in a role and company that are genuinely aligned with your goals. Be authentic, be you.”
  • Reading from a scripted answer. “Recruiters can tell! Write down the key points of your story, but tell it like you would to a friend.”
  • Not communicating clearly. Cut down on jargon when speaking with a recruiter. If you’re a quick talker, try to slow down to give the recruiter a chance to fully understand you and take notes. And be concise: keep your answers to 2-3 minutes in length, tops. 
“If your interviewer can’t follow what you’re saying, it doesn’t matter how good the example is. Figure out how to tell your story in a way that makes sense to anyone: practice with friends, especially someone outside of your field of study. They will help you identify jargon that not everyone will understand.” —Megan Malcolm, an Early Career Recruiter at Handshake
  • Selling yourself short. Megan says, “We don’t expect perfection – we want to see humility and a growth mindset. Don’t be afraid to disclose the things you’re working on or have worked on to get to where you are.”

How to impress the recruiter

A tip from Megan: “Almost every job requires you to work with others – be ready to talk about how you collaborate, and make sure to include it in your stories!”
  • Be sure you understand the question before answering. Ask clarifying questions if you’re not sure what the recruiter is trying to ask! This can be especially helpful for vague or broad questions. 
  • Ask the recruiter questions. “You are interviewing us, too!” says Megan. You can ask about company culture, goals and challenges the company is facing, or about the interview process. The recruiter is also the best person to talk to about compensation expectations up front.

Don’t forget to follow up 

Write a thank you note! Megan’s advice? “Try to incorporate something you learned in the interview. If you feel like you left anything missing in any of your responses, clarify it in your follow up. And lean in to let them know you’re really excited about the opportunity—it goes a long way!”

Image courtesy of Gustavo Fring on Pexels.

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