Non-Cheesy Interview Tips from a Headhunting Pro

Non-Cheesy Interview Tips (or how to rock your interview)

 In Job hunting tips

The real talk brought to you by Montreal headhunters

Tired of cliche interview tips? Let’s talk about good-looking recruiters, money discussions and the do’s and dont’s of swearing in interviews.

Does your Recruiter happen to be exceptionally good-looking?


Awesome – conversing with someone who is easy on the eyes for 45 minutes straight never hurt anyone, that’s for sure.  But please (please): don’t compliment your interviewer’s physical appearance. We’ve got some lookers on the Pronexia team and, although they might seem flattered when you (over)compliment or ask them out (true story!), you end up looking desperate and unfocused.

The parallelisms between the dating world and the job-hunting world have been made numerous times (and by us, especially! Read more here):  but the truth remains that the two are deeply different – so let’s keep it that way.  A Recruiter is in a (small) position of power over any candidate in the sense that their recommendation could dictate, almost directly, the course of that person’s career.  Don’t flirt (pun intended) with that relationship: keep it professional, know where the line is between friendly and flirty, and make sure not to cross it.  The rest of your career thanks you for it.


Coming off a bad (employment) break-up? Keep it classy in your interview.

people-office-group-teamTalking about your former job in an interview is the same as talking about your ex on a date (yes, we’re back to the dating metaphor): keep it brief, don’t get too graphic and don’t overload the person in front of you with unnecessary details (TMI is a real thing).

One of the oldest tricks in the “recruitment book” (note: this not a real book) is seeing how far a candidate will go when it comes to discussing their former employers.  Why?  Often enough, a candidate’s past experience will shed some light onto who they are as an employee, what issues they may (serially) encounter, and may even reflect how they might end up working out with one of the Recruiter’s clients – especially if it’s negative.  Trashing your former employer is a huge red flag for anyone in an interview setting.  No matter how rough of an experience you just had, be sure to keep it as honest as possible without sacrificing class.  Here’s a sample from a recent interview from just last week:

“Honestly, working at XYZ was a good experience.  However, it became clear after a number of changes at the company that management was struggling to retain its employees, the culture had suffered, and overall the place became a bit of a mess.  Still, I had excellent colleagues, a wonderful working environment, and I learned a ton – I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.”

Damn, that’s classy.


Swearing? Let’s Not.

eminemFan of the F-word? So am I! But let’s leave it outside the interview room. It doesn’t make you sound cool in a professional setting; you seem crass and out of control.

This may seem like a surprising fact, but at Pronexia we often hear candidates swearing during an interview – it’s a regular occurrence.  We’re definitely not “prudes” or overly “traditional” by any means, but we still have clients, a reputation of our own, and our personal integrity to protect and to serve.  If our candidates are a reflection of our own values, then accordingly, at the risk of compromising those values we’ve spent years building, swearing during an interview is just not cool, and won’t ever be.

It’s surely refreshing to be in a non-traditional interview, and easy to feel comfortable in a laid-back setting with young, smart, cool people interviewing you.  But swearing is never called for and is never welcomed by your interviewer, regardless of how “cool” they seem – so be sure to check yourself.

While swearing is definitely not the right method, the idea behind it is valuable: it’s important to stay relaxed, cool, and not overly robotic during an interview.  Yet, knowing how to balance a sense of being relaxed while maintaining a sense of formality is essential to any good interview.  Your ability to keep things formal, classy, and sophisticated speaks volumes to your interviewer.


When it comes to talking about pesos, just keep it real.

moneysaladAn interview is not an auction – let’s not play salary games. Know how much you are looking for and stick to it. I have had people inflate or deflate their salary expectations by $30,000 in a matter of minutes; it looks silly and will surely make both of us uncomfortable. Talking numbers is part of the job hunting process; be straight up and don’t dance around it. I won’t either.

It’s a Recruiter’s job to understand salaries, to understand the market, and to evaluate what a candidate is worth in relation to the marketplace.  If you’ve been out of the job-hunting game for a few years, be sure to ask your recruitment firm partner what someone like yourself might be worth nowadays – and expect them to tell you straight up.  It’s always in a Recruiter’s best interest to help secure you the highest amount they can, but they do need to understand the basics: what you’re earning, what you’re aiming for, and what you won’t/can’t accept.

So be real with your answers: don’t sacrifice your worth regardless of how desperate you might be to find a job (I know, we all have bills to pay): you’ve worked hard to get to where you are, so know what number is your “magic number” and stick to it.  However, if money isn’t your primary motivator and you’re open to less, speak up! If your dream job comes up but may be offering a lower salary than you are targeting, make it known that you are still fully available for it.  If you’re not, dream job or otherwise, you’re not – and that’s fine too.  But don’t be flip-floppy, don’t think an interview is an auction or a bargaining table, and remember that money just ain’t a game; so be straight up about it.


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