This is part two of Abby Kohut’s presentation on Winning Over a Recruiter presented in Rochester NY at Medaille College by The August Group.

In our earlier post, find information on:

  • Your collateral
  • Job Hunting
  • Social Media

In Winning Over  a Recruiter: Part 2, I will cover:

  • Phone Screens
  • Prepping and Primping
  • The Interview
  • Closing the Deal

The Phone Screen

The goal of the phone screen is to get the interview. A company phone screener can schedule your interview. If you are talking to an external recruiter, they may have to confer with a hiring manager before scheduling an interview.

If the phone screener says they are passing your resume to the hiring manager to see if they are interested, don’t expect a call according to Absolutely Abby. She says 75% of the time the answer is no. Recruiters will give you a clear signal you are moving forward right away.

After a phone screen, it is a good idea to check what you could do differently, especially if you are not moving on to the live interview.

Be Available

Always be available by phone. Return calls as quickly to reschedule a better time to talk to the interviewer.  Recruiters have a long list of candidates. They call to set up interviews with the first 10-15 people who respond.

Never begin an interview when recruiters call because you are not ready. Always ask to schedule the call later so that you can do some research on the company and position. You only need 30 minutes. Make up an excuse that you are in the middle of something.

 First Impressions Count

You don’t have a second change to make a first impression. Your first impression with a recruiter is when you answer the phone.

Many recruiters call from their homes and block their phone number. When you see that blocked number, you expect a telemarketer. In fact, it may be a recruiter with your dream job.  An upbeat and happy voice will set the right tone.

If you make a recruiter happy, you start off on the right foot according to Abby.

Keep your energy and enthusiasm high while talking to the recruiter. Try walking around while you talk or smile in the mirror – your voice will be more energetic.

Prepping and Primping

Research the company’s website before an interview. Don’t depend on the recruiter to tell you about the company – it’s really a test. When candidates are surprised by information that is public knowledge, the recruiter knows you did not prepare for your interview. Prepare some unexpected questions to prove your interest – more on that later.

Dress to Impress

Always dress better than the position you are interviewing for. Invest in a few good suits in brown, black, blue or dark beige families. Avoid light-colored suits.

Prepare your SAR’s

You may have heard of the STAR method, Abby relies on the SAR method. SAR’s stand for:

  • Situation
  • Action
  • Result

Develop 4-5 scenarios that you can talk about during the interview to highlight some of your key accomplishments.

Prepare Questions to Ask

This is one area where candidates shine or fall flat. The typical questions candidates ask are:

  • What’s the process or next steps?
  • What are the benefits?
  • What is the culture like?

These questions may be top of mind but they are not thought-provoking. If you ask them, you’ll get a yawn from the interviewer.

Ask questions that require the interviewer to think before they speak. Here are some to consider:

  • Describe your management style
  • What kind of successes would you expect after six months
  • What goals would expect within 30/60/90-day plan?
  • Describe a typical work day
  • What kind of employee is a successful employee in your department?
  • What weaknesses do you have in your current operation?

Abby suggests asking no more than three questions. You don’t want to monopolize the conversation.

Think about a good closing question. A great closing question might be:

Are there any skills you are looking for that I have not described enough for you? This question allows you to gauge how well you communicated your skill sets for the job and to recover gracefully by providing more information.

Practice, Practice, Practice

You can never get enough practice interviewing. Practice with a neighbor, friend, colleague or family member. The more you practice, the easier it will be talk about yourself and your accomplishments.


Never be late. Always be early. Map out the route and do a trial trip at the same time you would have to leave for your interview.

If you are ill or there is a death in the family, call to cancel. The interviewer wants to see you when you are at your best.

It is always better to cancel and reschedule than to be late.

The Waiting Game

The waiting game is when you arrive for the interview and before the interview starts. While you wait, Abby suggests:

  • Don’t arrive early or late to the reception area– be on time.
  • Turn off your cell phone and email.
  • Review your resume, SARs, the job description and company information.
  • Take notice of the company paraphernalia and the people around you – is it a good place to work?
  • Read the industry magazines or materials available.
  • Don’t bug the receptionist – they are spies for HR!

The Interview

So you have made it the interview, it’s time to make a great impression!

Top Five Interview Goals

Absolutely Abby shared her observations of what makes a successful interviewer:

  1. Have nerves of steel. If you are nervous, let the interviewer know upfront – they will understand.
  2. Be confident without being cocky. Not sure if you are cocky? Ask a friend. If you are cocky, fix it.
  3. Pretend you are 10 – and then you will be during the interview.
  4. Be flexible, friendly and seek facts or information. Don’t be a know it all.
  5. Proactively interview the company, don’t just be interviewed.

Interview Missteps

Take advantage of this reminder on what you should AVOID during an interview:

  1. Fishy handshake
  2. Not asking permission to do something – taking notes,  coffee, water
  3. Chewing gum
  4. Cell phones ringing or buzzing
  5. Not being able to answer the reason you left your job!
  6. Stumbling over criminal convictions
  7. Bad at small talk
  8. Talking about sex, religion, politics etc.
  9. Lack of eye contact
  10. Being dishonest
  11. Lack of passion about the company or job
  12. Bashing your former company, boss or employees
  13. Misreading body language
  14. Falling into the best friend trap – remember the recruiter is NOT your best friend
You are past the interview…but your not done yet until you…

Close the Deal

If you are in sales, you don’t have the deal until you close it. When you are interviewing, you are selling yourself to the company. If you don’t ask for the sale, the company won’t know you are interested. Here are a few tips on what to do to close that deal.

  1. Ask great questions.
  2. Always pretend you love the job even if you don’t. You can always decide to decline an offer or another interview later. The interviewer will never believe you fell in love with the job later.
  3. Always ask for the order job. Don’t leave any doubt in their mind.
  4. When you are leaving – give a parting handshake. Ask for their business card and ask when you will hear from them.
  5. Expect more than one round of interviews. You may wonder why the company can’t make up their mind – instead think of each interview as one more advocate when you get in the door.
  6. Always send a thank you note – handwritten and quickly (within 12 hours).  Bring along some stamped envelopes and write them out after you leave. Keep the note short – no more than three paragraphs. Write something different for each interviewer referring to something in your conversation.
  7. Have your references ready to go. Call them and tell them about the job and company so they are prepared to speak to the reference checker.

It was a treat to meet and get to know Abby. I was able to attend four different sessions. Here are the posts:

Winning Over a Recruiter with Abby Kohut: Part 1

Job Hunting Tips Using Social Media

Being Overqualified is not a Job Search Death Sentence

Absolutely Abby Hits Rochester NY with a Splash!

Coming soon – an interview with Absolutely Abby where I get to ask her some questions!