We asked ourselves, how can we give best tips for interviews? If we wanted to know the recipe for a Pizza, we ask a chef (or the Internet), if we wanted to know, where we should get our iPhone battery fixed, we ask the Apple Genius Bar guys (or the Internet). So, if we want to know how best to respond to an Interview, we need to ask someone who chooses the right candidates for management jobs. And so, you may end up coming back to us, at Vantage Point (really the Internet) if you wanted to know, ‘What questions should I rather ask in an interview with an executive recruiter..or not ‘. Here is our top 5 question series to a recruiter, Werner Schmidt for us to find all this, and more.
What do you particularly look for in a candidate for management jobs?
Schmidt: We regularly work with aspirants of management jobs. Usually during competency based interviews, and with the help is ‘situational’ questions, we are able to check the essential aspects for vacant positions, mainly in terms of ‘soft skills’. In addition to individual responses, we pay a lot of attention to clarity that a candidate is able to display in such non-standard interview formats. We also pay attention to the classics: appearance, clothing, body language, conversational behavior, the interest in a position, preparation for the interview etc.
What is the level of patience you would display? Do headhunters give candidates for executive jobs a second chance?
I belong to the very patient category here. Usually, I would not end an interview in 5-10 minutes even if it is absolutely clear that the candidate is not right for the vacant position (I am aware of many colleagues here who are quite stringent though). In such a case, actually, I get annoyed with myself more than anything else. A bad fit is something I should be able to access in the CV-screening phase itself, and it is not for the candidate to understand. I take the lead, and try and understand the candidate better, to see if he or she can be placed in a more suited position. However, on the same position, there is never a second chance.
Which questions should a candidate never ask?
This is difficult to answer and usually depends more on the position and the time in the interview. The question of potential earnings is fine at the end of an interview but in the beginning of the interview, it can corner the interviewer. There are also the classical taboo questions like: ‘ can the new employer tolerate private Internet surfing or telephone calls’ or anything that can be perceived as racist, sexist etc.
How can I be more interesting as a candidate for executive jobs for a Headhunter?
Naturally it is ideal to build a name in a given area, say through publications, so that the Headhunter can immediately think of you for a vacant position and send you a search mandate. Certainly, the application documents must follow the requisite guidelines for applications to an executive position. It is also important to be specific in the letter of motivation or a cover letter stating why you are best suited for the position (and not send the exact same applications like an assembly line). For certain executive jobs, a specific skill may be needed, which needs to be mentioned in the documentation clearly.
Are there any significant trends in staffing needs of your clients as a headhunter?
In general companies are trying to pack a lot in one position, so that instead of hiring for a couple of roles, they can have one person fitting in multiple roles. Flexibility is also a thing – and sometimes candidates may be asked to move roles, locations quite quickly. Additionally, companies are obsessing with finding the perfect fits, meaning that there should be a 100% match in the profile and the expected skills.
We would like to thank Mr. Schmidt for his insights. As a matter of fact, this interview took place a while ago, but we wanted to publish it to share these insights, that our candidates are usually always looking for.
About Werner Schmidt
Werner Schmidt is the director of Harvey Nash executive search company in Germany. With more than 20 years of experience in the industry and more than 10 years of experience in recruitment, Werner Schmidt has focused on positions in marketing and sales as well as general management. He is mainly active in the technology industry. His vast experience has included placements for companies including IBM, Adidas, Nortel, British Telecom, AT&T, CSC, Nestle. He has also worked in the US previously, giving him strong exposure in the US market and thus partnerships with many firms globally.