How to Work with Executive Recruiters: Interviews

Guest Expert, Pamela Atwood,
Executive Recruiter

Part 2 of our executive recruiter series: How to prepare for recruiter-coordinated interviews.

  • Do your Homework.   Research the Company including all people you will be interviewing with.  Linked-In and Google are good resources here.
  • ALWAYS over prepare.
  • Communicate freely with the recruiter.  Phone them immediately after ALL interviews to share feedback.
  • Listen intently and learn from your recruiter’s coaching and feedback.
  • Plan for your interview just as you would a sales call. Interviewers notice when candidates are well prepared (and when they’re not!).
  • There are three parts to an interview: 1) Rapport Building (the opener); 2) Conversation (the middle).  You MUST prepare questions beforehand you can ask during the interview; 3) The Close.  Ask for the position if in fact you are truly interested.

Relationships are built on trust and communication over time. It’s important to keep recruiters up to date on your interviews to ensure they can negotiate the best deal for you.

Pamela Atwood, MBA, is President of Atwood Associates, an executive recruiting firm.  She brings more than 20 years’ experience in the healthcare arena, including recruiting, management, marketing, and business development. She is also serves as adjunct professor in Upper Iowan University’s Health Care Services and Human Resources degree programs. Pamela chairs the American Heart Association “Go Red for Women” Executive Leadership Team.

Your Cell Phone Can Ruin Your Interview

By Guest Blogger, Isabella York

In today’s modern world, cell phones play a very important role in communication. Everyone, including students, use cell phones to keep in touch with others, to convey an important message or to find information in an instant.

For those looking for a job, your cell phone could be your best friend when you need to call companies to inquire about job openings or to confirm an interview with a prospective employer. But, when used inappropriately, cell phones could cost you the job you want.

You can’t answer your phone every time it rings. And you shouldn’t, especially when you’re on an important job interview. Unfortunately, though, a lot of people break this rule. This definitely calls for some brushing up on cell phone etiquette.

First, here are some pet peeves headhunters have when it comes to interviewing people who can’t seem to part from their phones.

  1. Gabbing or texting nonstop on your phone while waiting for your interview. OK, so it’s not your turn yet to impress the employer with your wit and charm. But that does not give you license to chat or text ceaselessly in the waiting area. That seemingly oblivious receptionist at the front desk could be eavesdropping on you or secretly eying you from a distance. Your private conversations could turn out to be not-so-private after all when word about your chatting or texting marathons reaches the hiring manager. That just gives a bad impression, so please, take your personal business elsewhere or wait until the interview is over.
  2. Using the internet feature of your phone. Many new cellphones these days come with browsing features that help people get information on the go. Even if your data plan allows you to surf whenever you feel like it, remember that you are waiting for a job interview. You may think that this is not as severe as talking or texting on your phone, but it is. Surfing while waiting shows you’re bored and that you’re better off somewhere else than waiting for hours for your interview to happen.
  3. Using your phone to take down notes. Surprise, surprise! Some people actually DO this during job interviews. You know from the moment you accepted the interview invitation that you need to take down notes to retain information. Why would you be using your cell phone to record information, when you could’ve brought a notebook or an organizer for that purpose?
  4. Answering a call in the middle of the interview. Unless you’re expecting an emergency call from your wife who’s about to give birth or other related emergency (although, if it’s an emergency, why would you be expecting it anyway?), your phone should be turned off during the interview. Making a potential employer wait for you while you finish your phone conversation is just plain rude. The hiring manager wouldn’t think twice about kicking you out of the room, at least mentally.
  5. Talking to someone in the company’s restroom. This can be summed up in one word: gross. Whatever your business is, don’t talk about it in the restroom, especially not in the company where you’re having an interview. You don’t know who else might be in hearing range and listening to every juicy detail you dish while on the phone.

Having said those things, there are good practices to observe so you don’t jeopardize the job of your dreams. Some tips:

  1. Instead of burying your face on the phone while waiting for your interview, consider mentally rehearsing your answers to possible questions that may pop up during the interview.
  2. Before entering the interviewer’s room, turn your cell phone OFF. Yes, you read that right: Off. Even if you have your phone on vibrate mode, your interviewer would still hear its buzzing sound and that could interrupt the flow of conversation.
  3. If you are expecting an important phone call, inform your caller not to contact you during specific hours.
  4. Ask someone else to take the call for you or run your errands BEFORE you head out to your interview.
  5. Turn on your voice mail so you can listen to your messages after the interview.

It is important to make a good impression on your job interview. Even if you have a list of great accomplishments, those things won’t matter much if you don’t show respect to your future employer. Nonverbal communication matters greatly especially when meeting someone for the first time. Use your cell phone sparingly when waiting for an interview or preferably not at all.

Isabella York’s background includes serving in Human Resources with Balsam Hill,  a provider of fine pre-lit Christmas Trees. She’s also a busy mother with a son to raise, who enjoys being outside in her backyard garden. 

Graphic by SnapHappy Creative LLC.

Want more help with interviews? Check out Invincible InterviewsSM

Job Searching Sucks

I’ve been listening in on several LinkedIn groups of late and there’s a common theme, job searching sucks!

Comments have included: “No one hires older candidates.” “I don’t know how to communicate transferable skills.” “I know I sure don’t want to do what I did before…but…” “I hate networking.” “Who do I talk to?”

It’s true that many of the above are perceived obstacles. Let’s talk about some solutions that work in overcoming them.

1. Know what you want. If you don’t, it’s much harder for your network to help you. “Know anyone who’s hiring?” is not an effective networking opener. Plus, it is not the hiring decision-maker’s job to tell you what they have open or what position you may be good for. One HR director from Hallmark told me, “Help us out a bit. We’re not career counselors. Tell us what you want!”

If you’re making a change and are unclear of your new direction, I recommend completing career assessments to help you gain focus. Use a real person to help you, not just online assessment tools. A career coach or counselor can help you narrow down your choices and determine the right path for you. It’s a team effort, because your coach is objective, and sometimes a person needs help in defining goals (and a little prodding as well).

2. Age. You are the age you are. Trying to hide your age is going to be an eye-opener when you show up and appear older than 40. Rather than hide your age, demonstrate your value to an organization. What do you bring to the table BESIDES years of experience? A CEO of a staffing firm told me, “For people with 20 or more years of experience, DO NOT write that into your resume. Put a BENEFIT STATEMENT into your resume – something that speaks of how you 1) made the company money, 2) saved the company money or 3) streamlined procedures. Years of experience is immaterial and may indicate that you are just “old.” Companies want to know what kind of contribution you can make to their success – not how many years you’ve been working.”

I have worked with clients 50 and older. One 58-year-old client was very concerned about this. I must say, I had no idea she was 58, and only guessed she was older than 50 because I worked with her daughter previously. She was smart, savvy, dressed young – yet very professionally – and had modern glasses and haircut. This is important for interviews. Another, 62, bought a fitness club and runs this. All of my clients have “young” attitudes, are willing to learn, many are very physically active. You can talk about your marathon, bicycling, etc. on your interview if it comes up. If it doesn’t, know that you can mention relevant hobbies on your resume. I do not mean golf and reading. These are BORING. I do mean, if you ran a marathon in Prague, cool. Mention it. I did this for a client who was transitioning from being an experienced hospital staff nurse to pharmaceutical sales. She got the gig.

3. Transferable skills. Sure you’ve got them. It’s your responsibility to help employers connect the dots. It’s not an employer’s responsibility to do it for you. How? a) Demonstrate your thought leadership online – blog posts, tweets, article links, commentary all help you achieve this. BONUS – doing so shows you “get it” and are hip to online social media. b) Build your LinkedIn network. You are who you hang with. c) Read things outside your industry as well as inside. This gives you a broad perspective. Then communicate your new thoughts online, in white papers, and at your next industry gathering (professional network, etc.).

According to a Microsoft survey in 12/2009 about social media and hiring, 79% of interviewers said they Google candidates before meeting them. In another survey, 45% of employers said they would eliminate candidates based on what they found online.

Let’s help them find some good (not scary) stuff.

Want more ideas? Visit my newsroom here:, subscribe to this blog, and subscribe to my e-zine ( – check out the sign-up box).

Job Interviews: See no evil. Hear no evil.

Abridged: CNET Networks

It’s a common mistake of the job seeker to believe that interviewers possess some kind of clairvoyance. They think that they really don’t have to go out of their way to present a certain image because an interviewer is going to just magically pick up on their sterling qualities. But the cold, hard reality is you do have to put forth an effort and present some behaviors that your interviewer will respond to. Here’s what to avoid:

Bad non-verbal cues. I know it’s a cliche, but a firm handshake and good eye contact really make a good impression. People tend to equate a limp handshake with weakness. And, unless weakness is a job prerequisite, you’re out of luck. Many people will say they’re so shy they can’t make eye contact. Be prepared for an interviewer to take that as a sign that you won’t be able to stand up for yourself at work, and judge you accordingly.

Talking too much or not enough. Watch the interviewer’s eyes. If you’re coasting into 20 minutes to answer one question, and the interviewer is starting to fidget or yawn, wind it up. On the other hand, if the interviewer pauses after you answer a question, then that may mean he was expecting more. Beware of not asking questions. Sometimes the interviewer has been so thorough in his descriptions of the job and company that there doesn’t seem to be any more to ask. The best questions to ask are those that pertain directly to something the interviewer has said during the interview. It shows you’ve been listening.


One more tip – have at least three questions ready BEFORE you go to your interview. That way, you’re prepared no matter what. What questions do you ask? Do your research on the company – have at least two of the questions related to your company research. Then ask, “What are your expectations of this person in the first 60 to 90 days? Or “Describe your boss.” Or “Name the qualities you’re looking for in a top candidate.” Want more? Check out our newsroom.


You said what on your interview?!

Thanks to Jackie Farwell of The Associated Press for providing these lovlies courtesy of a recent poll by staffing firm Accountemps. In this poll executives were asked to name the wackiest pitch they’d ever heard from a job seeker. Here are some of their responses:  

“An individual told me he was allergic to unemployment.”


“One candidate said that we should hire him because he would be a great addition to our softball team.”


“A person said he had no relevant experience for the position he was interviewing for, but his friend did.”


“One person brought his mother to the job interview and let her do all the talking.”


“One job seeker said he should get the job because he had already applied three times and felt that it was now his turn.”


“One candidate sang all of her responses to interview questions.”


“One individual said we had nice benefits, which was good because he was going to need to take a lot of leave in the next year.”


The nonscientific national poll included responses from 150 senior executives with the nation’s 1,000 largest companies.


Want to be a rock star on your next interview? Check out these interview tips right here: Enjoy!