At WinterWyman, we love making enduring matches between our candidates and hiring companies. But we know job seekers want and deserve more– whether they get a job through us, another recruiter, or on their own. Here, our expert recruiters share some of their best tips for setting up candidates for job search success.
Katy Spriano – Director of Recruiting, Accounting, Finance & Administrative Contract Staffing
“I find that candidates really appreciate learning from our experience with the company where they are interviewing. The ability to share with a candidate questions that were asked in other interviews is a unique perspective we can offer. I also like to get other contractors involved. If I have someone working in that same department already, I will ask for their advice on what the candidate can do to win over the hiring manager. This intel from the inside is invaluable to our candidates and often the edge needed to land the role.”
Sara Ferraioli – Managing Director, Human Resources Contract Staffing
“Some of the best insight I can give a candidate before an interview is specific directions and information on how to get to a client site. I know this sounds basic, but being lost can mean a candidate is off their game because they couldn’t find the building or went to a wrong entrance. I thoroughly explain directions and share landmarks so they know they are on track. Also, many offices have security checks, so I always remind candidates to give themselves plenty of time for check in and to bring a photo ID. The last thing any job seeker wants is to be late and stressed for a meeting because they didn’t plan for security. I also describe the office space—what the lobby looks like and what the office in general is like. This level of detail allows the candidate to picture the day of the interview and to go in more prepared by knowing what to expect when they arrive.”
James Doherty - Principal Account Manager, Human Resources Contract Staffing
"One of the unique benefits we offer our candidates is deep insight into the people with whom they are interviewing. Because of our long-standing relationships and regular interaction with our clients, we understand their personalities, likes and dislikes, and what they are looking for in a candidate and during an interview. Like all of us, hiring managers have biases, pet peeves, things that get them excited, and things that turn them off. Once we find the candidates we believe are the right fit, we can take it a step further and coach them on the best ways to present themselves to each hiring manger. For example, we may have a client who especially dislikes being interrupted or spoken over, which can happen inadvertently when a candidate is nervous or excited. This insight helps us coach the candidate by reminding him to actively listen and to breathe before speaking. By knowing these kinds of details and preparing our candidates in advance, they are going in stronger than their competition."
Kirstie Fiora – Senior Staffing Manager, Technology Contract Staffing
Why did you leave
“Every interviewer has standard questions. A candidate can really shine by having positive, upbeat answers ready and rehearsed to some of those standards, such as, “Why did you leave your last position?” The best ‘go to’ answers start with “My favorite part of that job was x, and that part of the position became less of my responsibility so I decided to pursue other opportunities. How would I be using x to help you in this role?”
To be ready for anything, prepare a ‘go to’ answer for the one question you never, ever want to be asked by an interviewer. Be honest with yourself. If you can turn a firing, demotion, or personality conflict into what you liked best about the job and have a crisp (two sentence at most) answer rehearsed and ready to go, your anxiety will dissipate and your confidence will shine through in the interview.”
Rae Sanders - Principal Staffing Manager, Accounting, Finance & Administrative Contract Staffing
Write them down
“I always tell candidates going in for an interview to make sure they have their questions written down. I still feel scarred by a very awkward interview I went on when I was fresh out of college. It was very long and thorough. At the end, the interviewer asked me if I had any questions and I looked at her blankly thinking, 'We’ve been in here for an hour and a half, you answered all my questions.' All I could do was say no and she took that for disinterest in the job. If I had written my questions down, referred to them, and then replied, 'I had many questions coming in, but I think you answered them,' she would have known I was in fact very interested in the job!"
Brian Beaudry - Principal Staffing Manager, Accounting, Finance & Administrative Contract Staffing
"When I help a candidate prepare for an interview, we work together to craft an effective campaign. We talk about why their profile is well suited to the open role and how to present that, in detail, to the hiring manager. I also work with them to anticipate any potential objections the hiring manager might have. Sometimes preparing to answer a question about something they may lack can mean the difference between securing an offer and being passed over. For example, a candidate that is otherwise right for a job but doesn’t have the software required for the role can confidently reply that they have always been able to quickly adapt to new software environments in the past. Preparing ahead of time for these potential pitfalls can allow a candidate to keep their confidence level high during the interview, rather than fumbling to respond with a satisfactory answer in the moment. When it comes to handling instances where a candidate comes up short from what the hiring manager is asking for, what you say is not as important as the confidence with which you say it. Preparation allows a candidate to answer those instances in the best way possible.”
Tracy A. Cashman - Senior Vice President, Executive Search
"No matter if you are C-level or entry level, interview preparation is critical. However, it’s not just doing your research on the company and the interviewer; it’s actually practicing 'telling your story.' You don’t want your interview to be the first time you talk about a certain accomplishment, or your biggest weakness, or the reason you left your last job. While you don’t want to sound scripted, interviewing is definitely one of those things that you get better at with practice—we all just hope you don’t have to practice that much! Take the time to polish your responses to some typical interview questions (your strengths, your management skills, your team play, etc.) with a significant other, a family member, a career mentor, or even videotape yourself. Prepare and rehearse some stories about your proudest accomplishments at your last few jobs, as well as your greatest challenges, and make sure those examples really support your candidacy in key areas. Ask for constructive feedback. Do you sound sincere? Does the story exemplify what you want? As they say, you only get one chance to make a first impression, so if your first interview is for a job you really want, you don’t want to consider it time wasted because of not being properly prepared."
Lauren MacArthur - Partner, Information Design & Delivery Search
Step by step
“One of the most fulfilling aspects of my job is helping candidates prepare for the process—from resume prep through interviewing. I start with helping them customize their resume to highlight attributes as they relate to each job; no one resume fits all positions. This also helps candidates formulate a story line for the interview.
When preparing to talk with a hiring manager, I provide intel on the company, the job, and the people they’ll meet. I give pointers on the best ways to research the company to gain a deep understanding of their product or service offerings, recent news, and key players, and I always encourage candidates to find commonalities like shared contacts, home town, or college. This helps build rapport between the candidate and the interviewer.
Before the phone screen, we talk about what to emphasize and what to play down. We practice responses to pointed, open-ended, and challenging questions through role-play, and also work on voice modulation. When an interview is booked, I help candidates get ready to present themselves, including what to wear and grooming. I often ask for a picture to ensure an appropriate look for the company and the position, and may recommend adjustments based on my knowledge of the organization and the hiring manger.”
Stuart Coleman - Senior Managing Director, Accounting, Finance & Administrative Contract Staffing
I want the job
“The one piece of advice I give everyone is to make sure the hiring manager knows you want the job. In sales they tell you to make sure you ask for the business. While not everyone is applying for a sales job, you are selling yourself during an interview. I can’t tell you how many times I talk to a candidate before and after an interview and hear how much they really like and want the job. Then I talk to the hiring manager and hear something like, ‘They were fine. Nice enough, seem like they could do the job, but I really couldn’t tell if they wanted it.’ The candidate was so focused on answering questions and proving that they were qualified for the position they completely forgot to let the manager know they actually wanted it. So make sure that, at a minimum, you close with, ‘Thank you so much for your time. I really enjoyed getting to know about you, the job, and the company. I feel like there is a good fit here and I believe that I really could add value. I am very interested in the role and hope that you consider me.’”