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Jobs & Careers magazine | January 17, 2018

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How to prepare for a recruitment agency interview

How to prepare for a recruitment agency interview
J&C Team
  • On March 15, 2013

You may be au fait with the traditional interview process, but the recruitment agency interview can prove an entirely different beast. And with the unknown comes the sequential concerns and worries about what to expect. So, to put your mind at ease, we’ve come up with some simple steps to preparing for an interview with an agency rather than an employer direct.

1. Appreciate the differences

It may sound obvious, but the first step to perfecting the agency interview is to remember that you are not meeting the company themselves. Recruitment agencies act as the middle man between candidates and employers, and take much of the recruitment process out of an organisation’s hands. Essentially, if you want to impress the company you’re applying to, you’ve got to impress the recruitment agency. Always keep this at the front of your mind.

2. Sell yourself

There are two instances in which you will have an interview with an agency. The first is if you’ve been shortlisted for a job, the second is if you’ve contacted an agency on a speculative basis. With both of these, your recruitment consultant is likely to want to get to know your CV, experience and personality a little better – not only to see whether you’re a good fit for the role you may have applied for, but whether you may be suited to other vacancies they have on their books currently. When talking about your experience then, it pays to show off the breadth of your knowledge and skills, so that the consultant is well aware of your entire skill set.

3. Take it just as seriously

It can be easy to view an interview with a recruitment agency as somewhat less serious than one with a direct employer, but this is certainly not the case. It’s always better to do your research and preparation as you would for any interview – if it ends up being more of an informal chat, then so be it, but it’s always better to be over-prepared than under. The recruitment consultant can be the difference between going through to an employer, and not.

4. Get the most out of it

Sometimes recruitment agencies can get a bad reputation for not delivering what a jobseeker was hoping for. However, much of this may actually be attributed to the jobseeker in question. If you thought you were attending a formal interview for a specific job, but when you arrive, the recruitment consultant talks generally and doesn’t mention the role, bring it up. Let them know that you were hoping to be put forward for the job in question, and ask them what happens next – and discuss what you’d like to happen – so you both have a better idea of each others’ objectives.

5 Ask their advice

If your interview with a recruitment agency is an introductory meet, rather than an interview for a specific role, it may be worthwhile asking them for their opinion when it comes to the jobs you’re applying for. After all, many consultants will be experts in their particular field, and may be able to advise if you’re setting your sights too high (if you have little working experience) or if your CV isn’t selling you as well as it could be.

6 Remember: it doesn’t end at the interview

Once you’ve walked out of the interview, don’t think your work stops there. A relationship with a recruitment consultant needs to be maintained and nurtured. After all, you’re not the only candidate on their books, and if you don’t ring or email every week or so to find out if they’ve spotted any suitable roles, you may be left in the dark. If they’ve promised to put you forward for a role, check-in to find out whether the employer was interested in you. Sometimes you won’t be told that an organisation went for someone else, so be pro-active to prevent getting your hopes up unnecessarily.

Image: Shutterstock


  1. Corey Smith

    Wow, it’s surprising to read that the recruitment agencies represent the middle man when it comes to doing the job interview. Most of my job interviews were the managers themselves coming to interview me. I’m sure that it’s different with other jobs but, I’m glad that I got a glimpse to read this article. The tips that this article provides is true because when you are in an interview you basically sell yourself by telling the recruiter of what you are really good at.

  2. Michael Public

    I think they author means the recruitment agency narrows you down to the shortlist from the broader applicant list. So, in a way they are the first gatekeeper, the 2nd gatekeeper is the manager, obviously. There may be other gatekeepers, HR, your bosses boss, directors, head of business and so on.

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