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How to convince a recruiter to hire you? 2/3

In part II, Mirela and Molly from Project A Ventures explain how recruitment interviews work in Germany and what you should do to better market yourself.

Watch the video above or read the HIGHLIGHTS below

Fernanda (Moderator): Now, let’s talk about interviews. What are the most common questions you usually ask candidates?

Mirela: It depends on the role so it’s very hard to generalize. However, one thing that I personally always ask is after I did my introduction and the company, introduction in the role, I always ask the candidates to introduce themselves shortly and that’s very important for me because it’s the idea as the first connection at him or her. So it is that they should know how to present themselves in a short way but still be quite on point and cover the most relevant things that they did so far.

We normally have 30 minutes for an interview, so if the candidate takes 20 minutes just to present themselves, I won’t have time to ask my questions.

So it’s very important to have prepared some sort of short introduction. It depends on the seniority of the role. Because if it’s a more junior role, I don’t expect that the person to know everything but I would rather approach how they learn stuff and their motivation to learn and to grow and to develop. If it’s a more senior role, then, of course, I would like to go and see what they did, what they know, what they are capable of.

And then again, it depends if it’s a very technical role, if it’s a tech lead or it’s a team lead. Because again, if it’s a tech lead, I would expect someone to be very strong technically because normally a tech lead would require you to coach other engineers so I would expect you to be the expert in that but if you’re a team lead, normally you’re going to be leading people, so I don’t expect you to be that strong technically, just to have an overview of different technologies, but rather being able to manage people.

So it depends on the roles. I would say it’s always important to think what is the role and also in the job description where it says what we’re looking for, how the profile should look like and also the questions would be shaped on that most of the time.

Fernanda (Moderator): Well, I just remembered some students who I interviewed at Imagine who are not so talkative, they are more introspective I would say. Do you have situations like this as well?

Molly: Yeah like more introverted-quiet types, yes. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing to be introverted but I think you have to challenge yourself to say something more than just like “how are you?”, and then “I’m good”. You really have to sell yourself in the introduction because the personality aspect is a big part of what we recruit for, so we want to see if you’re going to be a cultural fit to the company and that really sets the tone.

Challenge yourself to think of something and it’s as easy as the weather…You know, if it’s dark outside, if it’s raining, if it’s sunny, it’s just something to talk about and that’s something that everyone seems to have something to say about.

Mirela: Yeah, and also related to that… I know that sometimes people don’t know what to say if I would ask them to introduce themselves.

What they can do is to kind of walking through their own experience or through their own CV. You can just walk through your CV quickly and say OK, so after my graduation, I worked two years in this company and I did this project, then I moved to this company and I worked with these tools during these projects and now I could get this company doing this…

So, kind of walking a bit chronologically through your experience could be a good start. As a bonus, you also know what to say!

Besides, it’s interesting thinking of different situations that you had, I mean normally as a recruiter and also as a hiring manager, I would ask you: can you tell me more about a difficult situation, about a challenge…how did you approach it? What kind of tools did you use? By asking these questions, we’re actually looking for concrete examples, because it’s very easy to talk in general and saying “when I have a difficult situation I just ask Google and then I solve it”. But it’s much better if you give practical examples. So prepare some examples of the challenges that you had, things that didn’t go so well, and things that went very well.

Fernanda (Moderator): Very nice advice. And you mentioned before that when you talk to junior candidates, it’s much more important not exactly what they know already but their willingness to learn and how they solve problems, how they look for solutions, so maybe this could be a kind of a strategy to show their proficiency. For example, if you ask about something that the person doesn’t know exactly how to explain or if you ask the person to tell you about a challenge, and they didn’t exactly face the kind of challenge you asked about, maybe they could try to think about something similar and how they approached the situation, how was the process until they found a solution.

Mirela: Exactly! For a junior role, I wouldn’t expect someone to tell me maybe an example from work because if they work for like six months, maybe they didn’t have that but anything from school, be from some other projects that they had. Maybe they had some other projects, they worked for some organizations or something and that can help.

Fernanda (Moderator): What would be in your opinion something that people should absolutely avoid doing during interviews?

Mirela: One thing that I think is important is that you shouldn’t interrupt. So, if I’m talking…I actually don’t like to be interrupted, and I think no one likes to be interrupted.

It should be in the end not only an interview but it should be also a discussion between the recruiter and the candidate or the hiring manager and the candidate.

Because it is the idea that I’m presenting something about the company, the role and I’ll ask you some questions, you can also ask me some questions. And, it’s a discussion, I would expect respect and not being interrupted but then also I would expect the candidate would listen to me.

Fernanda (Moderator): I think it’s important trying to establish a kind of relationship with the interviewer.

Mirela: Exactly, that’s very important. Then you as a candidate if you’re interested in something specific, normally I always give at the end some time for the candidate asks questions.

Fernanda (Moderator): Thank you, Mirela. Do you think that it’s a problem if a candidate follows up the interviewer one week after the interview?

Molly: Usually at the end of the interview, the interviewer will set up a term for a reply. For us, it is usually about seven business days. And that should be agreed upon in the interview I would say to avoid any confusion and if the recruiter doesn’t say it, the candidates can ask themselves.

I think something that a lot of people don’t do is a follow-up e-mail like “thanks for the interview, I’m looking forward to your feedback next week”.

So if the interviewer doesn’t get back to that candidate within the agreed-upon time, then I think it’s appropriate to send a follow-up e-mail. So, if it’s been longer than seven days, maybe wait one extra day just to know…maybe they’re like about to send me one and then you can ask — “hey, just you know..just following up…”. If you do it too early, you run the risk of getting lost in the e-mail box of the interviewer anyway because recruiting is a fairly quick process. So if we do have an update, we want to give it to you immediately, so we don’t then…then your e-mail just gets lost and we kind of forget. So, yeah, definitely. But don’t be too antsy, just wait a few days and someone will come back to you.

Fernanda (Moderator): Ok, great. About the steps of the selection process. After the first interview, what are the common next steps in your experience?

Molly: So, usually the next steps really depend on the role and we are particularly different because we’re a venture capital and we work with different clients that aren’t necessarily at our office. So, most of the time, well, you know, the phone screen is by the Talent Acquisition. That’s usually the first step. Then it will go to the hiring manager at our venture or it will go to the hiring manager at the department head at our company.

Mirela: It is also possible that there is a practical exercise, especially for tech roles. Indeed, it’s quite common. Then you have a case study to prepare at home or maybe like in real time with a hiring manager or with some people from the team. Sometimes people would have some tryout days with the future team. It also depends on what country we are talking about and how realistic it is to invite someone from another country for a tryout day.

Fernanda (Moderator): Thank you very much. I think you covered the most important topics of recruitment interviews.


This post is part of a series. Continue to Part III.

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