June 17, 2021

IT Job Interviews Via A Recruiter vs. Going Direct

8 min read

As you apply for jobs and start having interviews, it’s easy to lump recruiters and hiring managers all as the same thing. In reality, going through a recruiter is quite a different process. There are many advantages to involving a recruiter in your job hunting and application process. We think that many Kiwis aren’t given the full picture about what it means to find work through a recruitment agency. With our new candidates, we often get feedback that doing it through Absolute IT has made life much easier and our processes has managed to prepare them better for interviews.

In this article, we’re going to talk about interviews and the process around this. So, how does an interview with a recruiter differ from those with the employer directly?

Recruiters can help give you extra context about a role

First, let’s talk about one of the biggest advantage of working with a recruiter prior to jumping into an interview with an employer. Employers hire recruitment companies to find good candidates for specific roles they need filling. Absolute IT’s job is to connect talented IT professionals with businesses who need their skills.

Employers that reach out to us are often long-term clients. Our consultants and candidate managers learn about these businesses through the process of hiring for roles and meeting with employers frequently to understand the wider business goals. Because of this, we are in a unique position – we’re external to our client’s business but have a great understanding of their hiring process, company culture, and opportunities. When candidates work with Absolute IT, we’re able to provide them with background information on the employer ahead of the actual interview. This includes:

  • Detail about the role beyond what the job ad says.
  • Who the personnel involved are – hiring manager etc.
  • More information about the team.
  • Background about the company and what they do.
  • Information about the specific project the role is being recruited for (if applicable).
  • Insights into workplace culture.
  • Career development opportunities.
  • Attributes, skills and experiences that are most valued by the employer.

Having extra information going into that first interview can put your mind at ease as the discussion won’t require nearly as much fact finding vs. going in cold.

Prepare for the employer interview with your recruiter

On top of all the information about the employer you can get from a good recruitment company, you’ll also be able to get help preparing for the interview itself – the types of questions that might be asked is just one example.

Our team at Absolute IT are interview experts. We can run you through how to prepare, stay relaxed and make a good impression. If it’s been a while between interviews, we can even provide you with resources on the process. If there’s a particular area of expertise the role needs, a recruiter can work with you on how this is surfaced in the interview itself – as well as in your CV.

Recruiters are an advocate for you as a candidate

You must remember that a recruiter isn’t simply an extension of the employer’s hiring function – they are a valuable tool for job seekers. Much like a broker will connect the consumer with financial services, recruiters know that by helping the workforce get better at finding great roles, we’re also servicing our clients (the employer). It’s in our best interest to give you as much help as we’re able to.

Recruitment occurs at all levels of experience. Depending on the level and field you’re in, a recruitment company’s candidate manager can provide assistance where it’s needed the most. For someone senior who has left a long term role elsewhere, they may well need some refreshers on the interview process. We see this commonly with people who have been made redundant – a recruiter is your advocate to help present your best version out to the tech market.

Remain professional in meetings with either recruiter or employer

Let’s get back to the topic at hand – the interview. Or broadly, in person ‘meetings’. While it’s true that the environment of a recruiter discussing opportunities with a job seeker will be less intense than the interviews themselves, it’s important to remember the recruiter does ultimately work for the employers and their main objective is to find the right person for the job. If you display signs of tardiness, poor presentation, lack of motivation or any other concerning traits to the recruitment company, it’s unlikely you’ll find yourself in the dream job.

Here are some common mistakes job seekers can make at the recruiter stage:

  • Being too casual – dressing untidily or turning up late.
  • Not providing a full picture of skills and experience.
  • Poor communication – verbally, eye contact and via body language.

Approach your recruitment meetings with a friendly, open but professional manner. This will help us get the best sense of who you are, and what sort of employee you might be to our client.

In the interview itself, all the same rules apply. Just make sure that your communications are tailored to the task at hand – you will have limited time in the interview so use it wisely! If you’re concerned about your ability to answer questions succinctly, get your recruitment manager to guide you through this ahead of time.

Being shortlisted by a recruiter can help speed up the process towards getting an interview

Recruiters will work hard to distil down a range of candidates to those that are best suited for a job. As specialists in this area, and not a hiring manager who will have many non-hiring related jobs also on their plate, we’re typically able to expedite this process. After we meet with you and ascertain your level of experience, we can determine if you’re a good potential candidate and can line up that first interview ASAP.

Anyone who has contacted a business about a role directly and not heard back for weeks can attest to how challenging the ‘waiting game’ can feel. We’ll make sure you aren’t left wondering for too long about whether a job vacancy is promising or not.

Soft Skills – how these differ between employer and recruiter

The demand on soft skills has grown exponentially in the 21st century. Businesses and recruiters are placing non-technical skills at the top of their criteria list for hiring. This comes along with the data and empirical evidence around how cohesive teams of good people produce better outcomes than ‘brilliant jerks’.

A recruiter will be building a picture of your soft skills from the first time you meet. They’ll ask questions about experience and your goals which outside of the job fit, help to understand your listening, communication, motivation, critical thinking, positivity and other personality traits that can translate into a good or bad hire.

The thing to remember about soft skills is that they are even harder than technical skills to fabricate, especially to recruitment experts. The best rule of thumb is to be yourself – honesty and transparency is your best bet at conveying who you are to a recruiter. If you think you’re lacking in certain soft skills, that’s a good thing to highlight. Simply identifying your work on areas is a skill in itself.

The hiring manager will be looking for certain soft skills more than others depending on the business’ culture and ideal fit for the position. For example a highly technical role that doesn’t have any direct reports will likely require excellent problem solving skills above leadership skills. A recruiter may be able to guide you on this so you can go into the interview well-prepared to demonstrate your relevant soft skills.

Hard Skills – how these differ between employer and recruiter

As we’ve covered, recruiters are there to distil down the wave of candidates into a shortlist. Part of this process will be reviewing the technical skills you bring to the table. This starts with the CV, then continues with a phone interview and in person. While both the recruiter and employer will be asking you about your experience and relevant skills, you can expect the recruiter to be asking broadly about experience, and an employer to be connecting your background to the needs of the team or project in question.

By going through the conduit of a recruiter, you can fine tune your experience and how you talk about this based on what the recruitment manager indicates will be relevant. This means you can reference specialised knowledge of a platform, language or methodology that you know could be relevant to their needs. A business will be attracted to a candidate who they can see making a positive impact from day one.

A recruiter will follow up after interviews

This is something that really separates out most employers and recruiters. Because we have a foot in both camps (you and the employer), we will ensure that both you and the employer are followed up with soon after the interview for a debrief. Typically, we’ll start by giving the job applicant a call to find out how it went, how they felt about the interview, what sort of questions were asked, whether there was anything unexpected or challenging (such as left-field situational questions) and of course, if you want to continue with the application process.

Once we know where the candidate stands, we’ll go and do much the same with our client – how did they feel the interview went and are they keen to progress to the next stage.

If there are lingering questions on either side, the recruitment consultant can help answer these. This is the phase at which valuable feedback is provided in both directions – especially if the job seeker is unsuccessful and wants to know why. As recruiters, we take this responsibility very seriously as it can help you hone in your skills for next time, or advise our client on how they can better run the interview going forward.

Want to learn more about job interviews via a recruitment company?

Chat with our team about the process, where we’ll help you prepare for interviews with employers. See our dedicated resources for more job interview advice.

Further reading

Career Advice – Absolute IT
Our process – Absolute IT

Absolute IT