How to Interview with a Headhunter

We want YOU!

So, you got your first call from a headhunter, it took you by surprise, you were wary, and the call didn’t go so well…  sound familiar?  Well don’t let that happen again!  Whether you are on the job market or not, it is a very smart thing to not only talk to, but foster a relationship with a headhunter if you’re luck enough to receive calls from them.  Here are some things you should know in order to get the most out of these unexpected phone calls;

 

  • They know who you are.  Headhunters are skilled professionals and do not make random calls like telemarketers.  If they’re calling you it’s because you’ve been targeted through an assortment of databases, networks, referrals, media references and professional associations.  Take the call!  If you don’t have time or opportunity to talk to them when they call, make an effort to reschedule the conversation for a more convenient time.
  • This is not an informal call.  How you are perceived by the recruiter is how they assume you will be perceived by the prospective employer if they send you out for the job. Always be professional and remember that nothing you say is ‘off the record’.  How you handle this call will determine if you ever hear from this headhunter again.
  • Hear what they say.  Even if you are very content in your present position, you never know when you’ll be hit by downsizing, layoffs, mergers or acquisitions, and knowing what else is out there can give you a leg up in these circumstances.  The recruiter should be able to share information about the location of the position, the salary range, the vibe of the company and why they have an opening. You may actually discover that the position sounds like something that  interests you.
  • See it for yourself.  If, and only if, you have a sincere interest in the position they’re speaking with you about, they should be able to send you something in writing that will further explain the position’s duties, scope of responsibilities, experience level and skills required, as well as some general information about the company.  They may not be able to reveal the name of the prospective employer, but if they say they can’t show you anything in writing, beware; the position may or may not be legitimate.
  • Whose dime is it?  In this first call it is very important to establish how the recruiter is getting paid. There are two ways a headhunter works; either on retainer or on contingency.  On retainer they are being paid by the employer to find the right person.  On contingency, they may be one of several recruiters trying to make a placement, and it’s possible that you would be expected to pay their fees.  It is perfectly acceptable to ask if they’re on retainer or contingency, and if the answer is contingency, ask who will be paying their fees if they place you in the position.
  • Tailor your resume.  You will need to send them your resume if you are interested in the position they’re looking to fill. You may also send them a resume if you are not interested but want them to consider you for another position.  If you are going for the specific position they contacted you for, tailor your resume to emphasize the skills and experience you have that fits the position.
  • Maintain the relationship.  Even if you have no interest in the position they’re pitching, or in changing jobs at this time; give the headhunter a call once in a while to keep your rapport strong.  You never know when that relationship will pay off for the both of you.