Don't Overlook Human Resources | Ladders

The hiring manager will never know that you exist if you can't get past the recruiter or human resources representative.

Don’t Overlook Human Resources

The hiring manager will never know that you exist if you can’t get past the recruiter or human resources representative.

Has this ever happened to you?

More often than not, the first contact a job seeker will have with a hiring company is a member of the human resources department. And far too often a job seeker disregards this stage of the interview process as perfunctory and an obstacle between him and the hiring manager who will ultimately make the choice about whether or not to hire him. Many approach the meeting or phone interview with an HR representative lackadaisically or disrespectfully.

As the HR representative on the other side of the table, I’ve encountered individuals who were rude or despondent towards me because they thought that it was a waste of time to explain themselves to the human resources manager during the phone interview. These individuals would become agitated at the line of questioning, not put much thought into their responses or quickly inquire about the next step in the process, meaning they wanted to speak with the actual hiring manager versus someone in human resources.

Do so at your own peril. We decide whether you ever get to meet the hiring manager.

Age and Seniority

Job seekers often make the mistake of taking into account the age or seniority of the HR representative. Whether the interviewer is an experienced or junior HR representative, always show respect, patience, and understanding when describing your responsibilities, job and future goals. The phone interviewer has the power to present you with the key to your success or cause you not to receive another phone call. So forget whether she is a seasoned professional, is in your field of expertise or completely understands your contributions. This is the person holding the stack of cards in your favor or not.

One of the most important aspects of any type of interview that the recruiter and hiring manager is looking to see is “personality” and “character.” In other words, don’t forget who you are: your story, what makes you passionate about your career, what inspires you (outside of a paycheck) to get out of bed every morning. In interviewing hundreds, maybe thousands of candidates, those who stick out, for better or for worse, are those who are true to themselves. You have to keep in mind that the recruiters and hiring managers are meeting several candidates to fill multiple positions at any given time. You want to act as if you are happy, encouraged and elated that you have been afforded an opportunity to showcase your skills and accomplishments.

The Three “E’s” of Interviews

One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard over the years from recruiters is that the candidates are missing the 3 E’s: They come across as lacking energy, enthusiasm, and eagerness, especially in the initial interview.

Learn the three E’s to wow the phone interviewer. You have to demonstrate that you have energy, and are enthusiastic and eager. No one wants to talk with someone who seems lethargic, uninspired, negative or apprehensive about working hard and carrying their weight. The job of the first interviewer is to bring your work experiences to life for his hiring manager. He has probably worked closely with this person and can anticipate the type of questions and push-back he will encounter. Remember, the recruiter’s reputation is on the line as well. He’s spotted something that prompted him to pick your resume out of hundreds, but he can only present the best and the brightest for an in-person interview with the hiring manager.

Always extend an offer to the interviewer to contact you at any time if he has further questions or needs clarification on any information that you have provided to him. Let him know your level of excitement, flexibility, and gratitude for spending time with you. At the end of the day, all qualifications aside, we align with individuals with whom we “connect” on a human level. That typically means the individuals who have shown us respect and gratitude.

Last but not least, remember, if you are offered that coveted position, the human resources director/manager/recruiter will continue to play a pivotal role in your career throughout your tenure with that particular organization. Be nice.

Tanjia M. Coleman

Tanjia M. Coleman Tanjia M. Coleman is a recognized expert in human capital and executive hiring. For more than a decade she has advised corporate human resources departments on strategic staffing decisions and executive development. Now, through her firm Your Best Career Now, Coleman advises mid-career executives on their career decisions and professional development. She has a Master’s degree in Industrial/Employee Relations and Organizational Development from Loyola University Chicago.

Read more about