Confessions of a Frustrated Recruiter

Business Support Recruitment Industry Tips & Tricks

Dear Soon-To-Be-Candidate,

I hope that this letter finds you hopeful and all geared up for your job-hunt. But before you come and see me, I’d like to tell you a bit about myself and give you a few tips (if I may) for your next interview.

A bit about me: I’ve been in recruitment for a few years now and get very excited when I have a great, ‘potential’ candidate booked in for an interview. I put an ad up, trawl through hundreds of CVs, conduct phone screens and then put you on my shortlist. You have a great CV and sound fantastic over the phone. I feel a great sense of accomplishment when I find an amazing candidate. It’s akin to scouring for a gemstone – which it really is a lot of the time.

The big day arrives; you come in to meet with me, we start talking, and then my excitement morphs, slowly but surely, to steady DISMAY. You do so well – so well, until the moment I start interviewing you. You were professional and polished over the phone. Some of you were even funny. Then you come in, and the expectations I have crash to the ground.

Now, I’m certainly not the Genie of All Things Recruitment. My short but sweet letter will not guarantee you 100% success at your next interview, but it will certainly help you with an element of awareness, which always helps, right? Remember, I WANT to help you. I SEE potential in YOU and WANT you to do well and get that JOB, so I’ve prepared a list of things to remember when you see a recruiter or anyone who might be interviewing you (this is assuming that you already have an up-to-date CV and some decent experience).

Tell Me Your Strengths (Your STRENGTHS, not Mike’s, Mindy’s, or Molly’s)

Everyone comes in and tells me that they are organised, responsible, hardworking and reliable (not necessarily in that order). I almost have to stop people in their tracks (subconsciously put my hand up in their face like a traffic warden) and ask them for the qualities that make them who they are.

  • What makes you YOU?
  • What are YOU really proud of about yourself?
  • What quality sets you apart from the rest of the enormous job-hunting demographic?
  • What makes you different to Mike, Mindy and Molly (all who happen to be organised, responsible, hardworking and reliable)?

I had one candidate tell me last week that he was inquisitive, curious, and always eager to find out about things he doesn’t know yet; he even gave me some good examples of these! Now, doesn’t that sound great?

Stories make us REMEMBER you – it’s how humans relate to one another. I might forget your name after a couple of years, but I will never forget your story.

Cigarettes & Gum 

Only post-interview if you have to. Never before and certainly not during! I’ve had a surprising number of candidates chewing away in the middle of an interview. Not a good look.

I’m Not Your Mate

Please refrain from referring to your potential employers as ‘mate, bro, dude, love or doll.’

As friendly as I seem to you, please do not wink at me (or anyone that interviews you) post-interview. Fight the urge to become overly familiar and extremely casual with us. Remember that we’re paid to judge you, so keep the professional demeanour, at all times.

No SMEAR Campaigns, Please.

We don’t want to hear it; well, we do, but please frame it tactfully.

Slander never makes you look good. LOUD alarm bells go off in my head when I hear ‘my boss was a *insert expletive here*’. It makes me think that one day you will turn around and say the same things about me or my company.

Tip: Tell us the truth, but ALWAYS be gracious about it.

Dress Sense

Tip: No fluoro lipstick, no gold heels, no blue hair, no sunglasses on your head, no oversized dangly earrings, jandals, or a dress which would be more suitable in a party as opposed to an interview. Have a shower, cut your nails, and make sure they are clean.

The professional, subdued look is always the way to go (if you’d like a role in a corporate environment). The way you present yourself always leaves an impression.


Pick our brains, utilize the time you have with us to get feedback on your CV, etc. Most recruiters will be more than happy to give you tips on how you can be successful in your job-hunt. Don’t get defensive when we do offer to give you some feedback.

Finish Well

Don’t underestimate the value of a good handshake and smile at the end of the interview. Thank them for their time and check in after a couple of days.


Now, I hope that my letter will help you in your next interview and other interviews to come. Remember, use your common sense (in doubt ask someone more experienced), prepare well and have faith in yourself and your abilities. The possibilities are limitless!

Your Direct but Well-Meaning Recruiter,