Interview with the headhunter

These 5 missteps can ruin your headhunter interview

Being in contact with a suitable headhunter can give your career a real boost, but make sure not to fall into these traps if your career is important to you! After all, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

To ensure your conversation with a headhunter turns into a real career boost, it’s important to avoid some missteps.

One either has an existing professional network, or they’re currently building one. In either case, it’s always good to proactively contact a headhunter. After sending in your documents, you may receive a phone call from the headhunter inviting you in to meet because your resume perfectly fits an open vacancy he has. Great news! Now what? Make sure to avoid the following mistakes in your first meeting so that you leave a lasting positive impression on the headhunter. Also, make sure to take note of the “top tips” from renowned headhunter, Thomas Friederichs.

Mistake number 1: Hidden agenda

You already know before the interview that you don’t want the job, yet you still go. Perhaps for practice? If the headhunter realizes this, the relationship, and your newly established contact, are finished. This behavior is unprofessional and it can be interpreted as you not being a reliable business partner.

Top tip: Be honest and transparent right from the start about your goals and ideas. Don’t try to use the headhunter for your own personal agenda.

Mistake number 2: Lack of seriousness

Even if it sounds cliché, first impressions count. If you appear inappropriately dressed, or you blatantly put your smartphone on the table, you’re conveying to the headhunter only one thing – that you’re not in the least bit interested in the conversation. This will quickly sever your newfound ties.

Top Tip: Always dress one level higher than the vacancy requires, and give your counterpart full attention and concentrate on what really matters – the conversation.

Mistake number 3: Lack of exclusivity

Career planning takes time. Don’t get too impatient and make the mistake of wanting too much too soon by distributing your documents to several headhunters at once, as well as every HR department you’ve been in contact with.

Top Tip: Be sure to delegate certain tasks to your headhunter. Clearly define which companies you will have direct contact with, and which your headhunter will contact for you.

Mistake number 4: Lack of credibility

Incorrect or contradictory information on your resume is an absolute killer. If you cannot plausibly explain the stated business relationships on your resume, you become vulnerable. A trained headhunter will ask questions and quickly uncover inconsistencies.

Top Tip: Talk openly about your career and any changes or gaps you’ve had along the way. If you convey this information clearly and humanely, it speaks for you as a person who is honest and ready to take on responsibility.

Mistake number 5: Missing change motivation

You need to know your own motivations for change, and what you would expect from your new employer. Make sure to have your reasons formulated, as to why you’re interested in this new particular position, and why you want to leave your old industry/position.

Top Tip: The key to success is your motivation. You must know what your motivations are and be able to formulate them clearly. Understand that making a commitment leads to changes that can massively affect your professional life. When you’re ready, say it and make sure to go into the process with realistic expectations.

Headhunters devote their time and attention only to high performers who know what they are capable of and consistently demonstrate to which next step they’re willing to go. Only then can the HR personnel, candidate and headhunter design a successful placement process – at the end of which is your new dream job.


About the author

Jörg Peter Urbach is the author, editor and blogger of Sprachleidenschaft. He has been writing for more than 25 years, for print and online. Concepts. Stories. Journal articles. After studying musicology and German language and literature, Jörg Peter worked as an editorial manager in the classical music business. As long-time chief editor of the portal wissen.de, he knows how to inspire readers with clever topics.

If the native Kieler is not writing, he is walking through the Alps. Or listening to the opera. With mindfulness.



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