For many jobseekers, it can be confusing and downright frustrating to try to understand what a recruiter is thinking when he or she reviews a resume or is evaluating a candidate post-interview. Most recruiters would like to speak with everyone personally, but some of their job postings have so many people applying, that they often have to rely on form letters.
Here are some insights into all those questions you would love to ask the person on the other side of the “Apply” button.
Scenario #1: I just clicked Apply and submitted my application. What happens now?
After a job is posted, recruiters will spend time reviewing applicants and setting up interviews for the most qualified people. They also do some proactive searching for skilled candidates if they’ve got a really tough job to fill. After interviews wrap up, recruiters spend a lot of time comparing notes with the hiring teams. During those discussions, they will offer expertise to influence hiring decisions and help determine the best person for the job.
Scenario #2: I thought the interview went well, then I got a form letter. What happened?
Don’t take a form letter as a sign of not doing well; it’s possible that you did a great job, someone else just did slightly better. Recruiters truly wish they could respond to everyone personally, but some of their open jobs have literally hundreds of people applying.
Scenario #3: Is it a bad idea for me to apply to the same role multiple times?
It’s not unheard of to apply multiple times before being hired, especially at well-known companies or in competitive industries. The key is to show the recruiter you have something new to offer the next time you interview. Start by doing an honest self-assessment of your interview performance:
- Did you struggle to provide strong answers?
- Did the recruiter have to ask follow-up questions to understand your responses?
- Did you make it to the interview step or were you declined during the apply phase?
Whatever you uncover, know that you don’t necessarily have to offer something drastically different the next time, sometimes just improving your interview performance is enough. But if you were declined early in the process, take some time to consider whether you met all the criteria for the role. You may want to take a few months to obtain new skills or experiences before trying again.
Another best practice is to take some reflection time immediately following an interview. Write down everything you can remember – questions you were asked, your answers, what you did well, and what you would improve.
Scenario #4: Why didn’t the recruiter offer me feedback after the interview?
Recruiters and the hiring team collaborate before deciding where strengths and opportunity areas exist, so immediate feedback wouldn’t be helpful to the applicant. Another reason is time – offering feedback to a large volume of applicants isn’t very efficient. Even if only a few people applied, many recruiters are hesitant to give feedback due to legal reasons.
Scenario #5: How can I stand out during the interview process?
Believe it or not, simple things like professionalism, manners, and a polished presence make a huge difference. Display your enthusiasm for the job and practice articulating your qualifications so they’ll sound natural, not rehearsed. Make sure to research the hiring company so you’ll sound informed, and avoid gimmicks. And don’t forget to send a personalized “thank you” note – you’d be surprised how many people forget.
Scenario #6: I was originally scheduled for a phone interview in two days, now it’s pushed out two weeks. Is this a bad sign?
Not necessarily. Many industries (banking, finance, PR, to name a few) have frequent emergencies that need addressing right away. If your interview is rescheduled once or twice, that may be a normal course of business. Five or six times? It could be a sign that the business or person is a bit disorganized. Chat with a trusted contact in your industry to uncover if this is normal.
Scenario #7: During an interview, I was only asked two or three questions. Should I be concerned?
There are many reasons for short interviews, so don’t worry too much about the length. Sometimes, recruiters identify something early on that tells them they want to move a candidate to the next step in the process; they then save deeper questions for that stage. Many phone screens, for example, only take about 15 minutes. It could also be that your interviewer isn’t prepared for the conversation or is newer at interviewing. Always make sure to ask your own questions to demonstrate your interest in the role. Asking solid questions can make a more memorable – and more positive – impression.
Scenario #8: I get so nervous during interviews! Will this affect my ability to get a job?
While it’s true that you are being assessed on your ability to stay composed in a tough situation, how much you are measured will depend on the role. For example, if you are applying for a senior leader position, recruiters will expect you to appear confident and relaxed.
In other roles, many recruiters will overlook slight nervousness, but if your emotions get out of control (crying, gasping for air, being unable to speak) it can negatively affect the impression you make. There are little tricks to look less nervous than you feel – smile a few times, avoid conversations fillers (such as “um” and “uh”) and don’t be afraid to pause if you need a moment to compose your thoughts. Above all, realize that recruiters empathize that interviewing is hard. Remember that they brought you in for a reason – they want you to do well and get hired.
Devon Miller, Talent Branding and Recruitment Marketing at Vanguard, is a writer specializing in branding and marketing topics that create authenticity and engagement via social media channels. Vanguard is one of the world’s largest investment companies, offering a large selection of high-quality low-cost mutual funds, ETFs, advice, and related services.