General Question

shilolo's avatar

How do I interview with a "recruiter" or HR person?

Asked by shilolo (17826 points ) July 16th, 2008

I have an “informal” interview next week at a large biotechnology firm. It will be in two parts. One, with the department head (who would be my boss), and the other with their main recruiter/HR person. I feel comfortable answering questions about my eduction/work experience, but I have never had an HR interview. Does anyone have any pointers? Also, my specific concern is how to deal with compensation issues if the recruiter asks how much I expect to be paid.

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13 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

My only suggestion would be to wear another suit. (And we will all write references for you, of course.)

robmandu's avatar

Good advice from Rands in Repose about how to answer salary questions.

ketoneus's avatar

HR interviews are usually just to make sure you are not a serial killer. Just be relaxed and honest and you’ll do great.

shilolo's avatar

@Gail. Thanks, I’ll have to dust off a real suit (I never wear one).
@Rob. Thanks for the link. Excellent advice from Rands in Repose!
@Ketoneus. You’re probably right, but I’ve heard stories about the recruiters/HR people at this particular company being kind of critical.

Bri_L's avatar

@robmando-great article!!!

wildflower's avatar

This is how we conduct all our interviews; first manager, then HR.
They will probably ask some of the same questions, but won’t drill down in to task specifics. Instead they will focus on motivation, commitment, availability and salary expectations. With regards to the last part, of you have to give a figure, give one that’s higher than what you’d be willing to accept and prepare some reasoning, ie. It’s a move, you’re giving up tenure, etc.
Oh, and make sure you’re consistent. They’ll most likely have the notes from the first interview.

Good luck!

breedmitch's avatar

Just smile a lot and look happy to be there. Everyone wants to work with a genuinely happy person. I’m going to assume that your resume speaks for itself. You’ve more than proven your competence here.
If you can, as I believe you feel, “sail” through the first part of the process, your future boss will make it known to HR how much hir wants you. That puts you in the driver’s seat as far as salary negotiations. Just be firm and fair (and smile – it shows you respect your abilities) and I can’t see why they wouldn’t bend over backwards to get you.
Good Luck!

Lightlyseared's avatar

I wouldn’t be fooled by the “informal” bit they probably take these thing deadly serious and so should you. I would imagine they just want to get a feel for you as a person. I expect you are going for a high level position within the company and therefore it is important that they can be confident that you will work well with the team they have in place. I would recomend you research the company not only how they present themselves but how they are reported about in the press etc. Also being well versed in the areas they are researching and being able to explore future avenues of research (basic interview stuff that I’m sure you know already.

As to reimbursement do your reasearch, find out what the industry standard is and be realistic. If you go too far under what they are expecting to pay you then they may feel you don’t apreciate the complexity of the job (or something) go too far over and they’ll just think you’re an idiot.

And finally remeber that not only are they interviewing you but also you are interviewing them. Do you want to work there? Is it work you are interested in? Can you see yourself fitting into the team? etc…

flameboi's avatar

Confidence is the key to success in a job interview, even if its informal, you can send signs to your interviewer, the blue suit/white shirt/red tie always makes a great impression, sends the message “I’m your man, hire me you will not regret it” the black suit/white shirt/purple tie screams out loud “I’ll be your boss in the not so distant future”. Things like a firm hand shake, the way you sit in the chair, the tone of your voice, your time piece (believe it or not, is the first thing an HR interviewer notices in your attire, the second thing, your shoes) are huge points of reference. About the salary, with all the confidence you have, tell the person that you would expect to make between 20% to 30% more, seeing it only as personal growth… I’m sure for the rest of the questions (team work, your schedule and what color is the room you are in*) you’ll be fine.
*They love that question.

shilolo's avatar

Wow, thanks for all the input. I really don’t quite know what to expect. I’ve been interviewed plenty of times in my life, but it has always been with non-professional interviewers (scientists and doctors). I’m quite capable of talking about my work and experience to them (and of changing the subject so they can talk about themselves :-)

However, I’m just a bit nervous about the recruiter. As far as salary goes, I’m not sure it will come up (yet), as this is billed as an “informal” meeting (I’m aware that nothing is informal, including my conversations with the boss’s secretary) prior to the more “formal” full interview day (if it gets that far). That said, my nervousness stems from the fact that this job would be a 100–200% pay increase (mainly due to my still being “in training”, a position the University here abuses with long hours and low pay).

Knotmyday's avatar

Just a little more specific dress suggestions:

Go with a single-breasted, two-button navy suit. Unobtrusive pinstripes will work. Navy evokes trustworthiness and order. Three-buttons suggest trendiness. Do not wear a blazer.

White pinpoint oxford dress shirt, button-down, tab, or spread. Don’t get fancy with patterns, blended fabrics don’t wrinkle as much. No collar-bars. Have it professionally pressed before wearing.

White t-shirt underneath. Not a wife-beater.

Maroon tie, single color/pattern. No paisley. Red ties evoke a presidential image, think Reagan/Bush. You want them talking about you, not your flashy tie.

Black belt.

Wear shoes with laces, slip-ons evoke leisure. Match your shoes to your belt.

Match your socks to your shoes.

The image you are creating is not one of impressive fashion taste; but rather, one of solid dependability.

When you enter the room, greet them with a smile and a handshake. Take a cue from Bill Clinton; maintain eye-contact and smile while you are introducing yourself. Maintain eye contact until you have moved to the next person, if there are several interviewers.

While introducing yourself, enunciate your name, and smile while saying it.

Their first impression of you is the most important, and you must make sure that they remember your name.

Most important: Practice doing these things with your spouse, and ask for honest critique. Do it till you can pull it off naturally, then take her out to dinner. She deserves it after all that.

sorry this post was so long. We’re all rooting for you. Go get ‘em!

flameboi's avatar

@knotmyday
!
@shilolo
I’m sure you are going to make it!

Lightlyseared's avatar

from my own experience the role of the recruiter is too smooth the whole process. They may not have any actual input into the final decision. Rather, with the much increased complexity of recruitment particularly in regards to legal stuff their job is to manage the process and ensure everything happens properly. They also act as your point of contact in the recruitment process.

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