3 sneaky ways your recruiter checks on you when you get an interview

You made it through the resume scanners, heard from a recruiter, and now have an interview scheduled (possibly on Zoom). You might think you’ve passed all the tricky hurdles getting to this point. Think again. Recruiters are crafty and will check on things you wouldn’t think of in order to really get to know you.

Here are three areas where your recruiter will sneakily learn about you.

How you conduct yourself when the recruiter isn’t watching

Everyone is buttoned-up, cleaned-up, and putting their best foot forward during the interview. It’s a formality and recruiters know that it doesn’t represent how you might act in a more dynamic situation or on a day when things just aren’t going well. 

According to Dee Ann Turner, author of Crush Your Career: Ace the Interview, Land the Job, and Launch Your Future, recruiters are checking with everyone you interacted with up to the point of the interview. As an HR executive with three decades of experience, she would routinely check on how the candidate treated the following people:

  • The receptionist you met when you walked in
  • The taxi or Uber driver that dropped you off
  • The HR generalists that arranged the interview with you

As an extreme example of what a recruiter might check on, I’ll share a personal story from one of my very first interviews with the CEO of an automotive parts supplier. I waited patiently in the lobby for about 10 minutes before being ushered into his office for the interview. He informed me that he was just down in the parking lot looking inside my car to see if I treated it with respect and kept it clean. Color me surprised to hear that! But, luckily, growing up in a car-loving family, I was accustomed to keeping my vehicle spotless at all times. And while this story makes sense when going to work for a car-related business, a recruiter could see vehicle cleanliness as a symbol of your organization.

Just because we’re now interviewing virtually though, don’t think you’re off the hook. The HR generalist you book the Zoom call with can still easily report back your demeanor in emails or phone calls.

What you get up to in your personal time (in the present and past)

It seems like this should go without saying, but your recruiter is going to check on your social media profiles. Even if you think they are private, you may have been tagged in a public photo by someone else. Remember, in college, when you were partying and everyone wanted to tag everyone else in Facebook photos? Now, you may want to remove those tags and ensure those aren’t the pictures your recruiter sees. 

On top of that though, Google search results will show a recruiter what else you’ve been up to over the past few years. If you’ve taken part in sports leagues, joined a professional networking group, or been in the local newspaper for your volunteer efforts, they will be able to look that up in seconds.

What can you do now? Clean up your social media profiles. Remove any childish or possibly inflammatory headlines or posts that you wouldn’t want a recruiter seeing. Update your LinkedIn headline to be a professional tagline for yourself, highlighting your expertise, and the job you are currently going for. Make sure your profile pictures are also polished and present you in the best light possible.

Do a Google search on yourself now. Figure out what your recruiter will know about you, and then plan to answer any questions that may come up. Even if you don’t speak about your personal interests in the interview, at least you’ll know the picture that was painted for the recruiter after their online search.

If you actually spent some time getting to know the company

Just as Google can tell a recruiter about you, so too can it shine a light on what you need to know about the company. Read up on the company policies, blogs, and sales pages. Read articles on news websites about the company to get an unbiased view of the work they do, who their executives are, and how the public views them.

Come prepared for the interview with questions that cannot be answered by Google. If you ask a question the Google bot can answer, it’s a huge red flag to the recruiter that you couldn’t be bothered to prepare thoroughly. Consider asking personalized questions to the hiring manager or recruiter about how they like a particular aspect of their jobs, and what their favorite part of working for the company is. 

Lastly, and here’s one of the sneakiest things they’ll check, you need to pick your outfit carefully (even on Zoom). Do some recon. Sit outside the building and watch the people coming and going to get a feel for the dress code. If you can’t be there physically, search the company website to see how their employees dress in promotional materials. Then, dress one tick above that level. It shows nuanced research into the company and that you took the time to figure out what would be most appropriate. 

One bonus tip from Dee Ann Turner and applies to the land of Zoom interviews: FULLY dress the part. Don’t just have your upper half business and bottom half pajamas. There are two reasons for this:

  1. Just in case the camera catches a bit of your outfit below the chest, you want to make sure you appear professional.
  2. Getting fully dressed will put you in the mindset for a work-related meeting, and you’ll feel more confident when you speak with your recruiter. 

Be prepared for your interviewer, no matter how sneaky

Now that you know what your recruiter might learn about you, you can prepare for your interview extensively. And hey, if you happen to have a recruiter that isn’t half as sneaky as the ones I’ve encountered, then your research will have you appearing competent and well-suited for the job.