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Career advice: What do experts look for when they recruit?

Interacting with recruiters

Recruiters make a living by finding the right hires for other companies, but what do they look for when recruiting for themselves? With more people wishing to change jobs, combined with employers creating new opportunities, Alistair Cox, CEO of recruitment experts, Hays, believes that the interview is now more critical than ever.


Alistair warns that appearing confident, well prepared and in the possession of the right skills may not be enough for you to be seen as the most desirable candidate.

Cox says:

"Competition for roles in many sectors is getting tougher while at the same time competition for talent is also increasing. We all know the basics for interview preparation, so how do you shift from being a good candidate to being a great candidate in a crowded market?”

Cox recommends candidates bear in mind three questions he thought about recently when interviewing for a senior management role:

"Would I enjoy working with you?’ Would they work well with the team?’ and ‘Will you help make my firm succeed?"

While conceding it is not necessarily possible to prepare to prove your character is a good match for the company, Cox believes you can still make sure your personal qualities come through:

“As many recruitment failures stem from a cultural mismatch between individual and organisation, you need to give your interviewer enough insight into your character to assess whether you have the humour, resilience, adaptability, initiative, ambition, passion and integrity to work well together.”

Team working ability should be easier to display, Cox says candidates should give examples of collaborative efforts they have nurtured and been a part of:

“When preparing for an interview, think of how you have created effective and valuable working relationships. Share instances where you have put aside personal ambition for the benefit of the wider team.”

Finally, he advises applicants to find ways to demonstrate their interest in the role by addressing existing problems:

“In one interview, a candidate asked me questions about a challenging industry issue we face, and in discussion, they outlined a clever solution. That was impressive and stood out. Similarly, I want to hear specifically what they had done to solve problems and deliver successful results in their previous roles. I don’t want people who will just do their job; I want people that consistently make a positive difference.

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