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Why Recruiters are Pure Gold to Cultural Intel

The day is here and the interview is scheduled. A bright future awaits. Given the possibility of this being the team you might spend most waking hours with – you will want every gold shaving of intel you can gather while panning for it.

If this is a company of serious consideration, you've filled your notebook from corner to corner from the company website, public employee feedback, network knowledge, and your often-ignored-but-necesssary 'gut feeling' intuition.

Even more insight beyond the depth of web pages – is with the Recruiter inviting you into a conversation. This is where the real work begins in creating an authentic connection with them. Why? Your goal is to go beyond what is out there for public consumption and gain an understanding of their culture and it starts – and often ends – with them. The good gold is not always on display, but found in what is said – and what is not.

Look for clues in behavior, response – and silence

This is your time to decide if you want to move to the next stage. It is not just about the other voice on the line, but seeing yourself there and connecting in a way that gives enough information for you to decide whether or not you want to continue.

While it is important not to be overly critical of a Recruiter, it’s perfectly okay to use this time to genuinely get a feel for how they are connecting with you. Your goal is to leave the conversation in a better place than where it began. You both need to understand one other to truly feel engaged.

How do they respond to your question(s)?

We have all been a candidate before – including recruiters. While questions will likely fall to the technical shop-talk with the Hiring Manager, be ready to ask a question or two of the Recruiter beyond the salary and next steps.

More important than the answer is how they respond. If your question was met with engagement, avoidance or a flat-out “I don’t know” without a direction of where or when your question would be better asked at another stage, this is cultural insight on communication and their understanding of the business need for the position. While your recruiter might be new, customer service does not change. Look for those that address your question or – at minimum – leave you in a place where it will be.

If your inquiry was avoided altogether, these empty responses add up. Listen to what is left unsaid.

How did the interview close?

Before closing the interview out, take a pause to be sure your answers were as clear as you wanted them to be. If you have an answer you would like clarification on prior to disconnecting, ask if they would mind a brief revisit to provide additional detail. They may have another commitment following yours. Be sure to frame the request for additional time with respect of their existing schedule.

Listen for how they respond to your need for a few additional minutes. Are they receptive, accommodating, curious, or agitated? While not every situation has an auto-response, how they work through the unexpected need is a glimpse of the shimmering sliver of gold intel you want to be mindful of.

Post-interview: The many moving pieces

This may come as a surprise, but not all interviews end with a next step. This does not mean you are not moving forward. The process involves several people ranging from calendar availability, timelines, interruptions, PTO, business travel, demand seasons, priorities, other applicants internally and externally, and behind-the-scenes activity. Even if well-intended, time delays happen after the recruiter sends interview notes onto the hiring team. It’s important to be patient.

Recruiters are the cultural front line

Throughout your time with the Recruiter, even if it was only at the initial interview, if they did not increase your interest to move forward – or leave you slightly more intrigued – be mindful that the company chose them. They were selected to be the first – and sometimes last – conversation you have with them. And this is pure gold.


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