So you’re looking for a job. You updated your resume and LinkedIn profile. But are you ready to talk to recruiters?

Chances are when a recruiter finds you online and thinks you have potential for a job, they’ll give you a call to ask you a few questions.

As a tech recruiter at a staffing agency, the purpose of my first conversation with a job candidate is to find out if you are someone I can recommend for a formal interview with my client, the employer.

The purpose of this post is to help you prepare ahead of time so you won’t be caught off guard when a recruiter calls you about a job opportunity.

What recruiters are looking for in the first telephone interview

The first time a recruiter calls you they are basically looking for these things:

Communication Skills: Are you easy to understand? Are you comfortable talking about your professional background? Are you a good listener?

Listen carefully. It’s okay to take a pause to plan you answer. You can even say something such as,  “That’s a good question, I need to think about that for a moment”.

Interest: Are you interested in the kind of job they are trying to fill

Availability/Location: When are you available to start and is the job location convenient for you?

Job Type: Do you want a permanent job role or a contract role?

Money: Are your salary or hourly pay rate expectations in the range that the employer is willing to pay ?

With that in mind, here’s how to prepare for your first talk with a recruiter.

Be prepared to answer these questions when you talk to recruiters

A recruiter is calling and they want to talk to you about a job opportunity!

Do your research ahead of time to make sure you’re ready to answer these questions:

What kind of job do you want?

Take a moment and write out the kind of job you want and why this job interests you.

What makes you qualified for this job?

Write a summary of your skills and experience that will help you succeed in the job you want.

Note any accomplishments you have, especially where you can give proof of an improvement you’ve made for an employer.

Numerous of resources on the internet will help you dig even deeper if you’re starting fresh.

Pro tip: Check out our post, Tell Me About Yourself. It comes with an exercise/worksheet to help guide you through the steps. Not only will it help you answer the question, but it will help you lay out your experience and skills as well. Two-in-one win.

What are your salary or hourly pay expectations for this role?

Employers appreciate the honesty.  

I’m a firm believer that you should do your best to give a well-researched number on your compensation expectations.

If your research has given you more than one number, then give a range.

What is your start date availability?

Write down the date you’re available to start. Be upfront about vacations or other plans that may change your availability.

  • If you’re able to start immediately, say immediately instead of “one week”
  • If you’re working, two weeks’ notice is the norm (check your company’s policy/your contract)
  • If you’re not currently working, then “Immediately” is your best answer as long as you truly are available to work immediately

This way, both parties can have an honest and open dialogue so that expectations are met on both sides.

Are you incorporated or a sole proprietor?

Independent contracting is a contract job role where the contractor is either incorporated or a sole proprietor.

That’s why when you apply for a contract job role, the recruiter may ask you if you’re incorporated.

Incorporated and sole proprietor are the two most common types of contracting agreements for independent contractors here in Canada, although some companies may be willing to take you on as a temporary employee.

I highly recommend to read our post, Choosing to be a Sole Proprietor versus Incorporation for Independent Contractors.

A Note on Remaining Positive

Since a phone screen is usually the first point of human contact in the recruitment process, it’s the first time the recruiter or hiring manager will hear you and make that first impression about you.  You want it to come off as positive.

This is more of a mindset.  I know it’s not easy, especially when you’ve been searching for a while. I’ve been there too.

Remaining positive is like exercising – you need to be aware of it and practice it constantly to strengthen the muscle.  

Be it with your job search or other things in your life, remaining positive is important. When you’re positive, others can tell by the way you carry yourself, and the way you talk.

Research and preparation unlock the next level in finding a job

Just remember, research and preparation are the key to moving to the next level in your job search — a face-to-face interview with the employer.

I wish you the very best with finding your next great job!

Got a question or topic you’re curious about? Leave it down in the comments section below!

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