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How to Prepare for an Interview

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This article was written by Sarah Wiemero, a technical recruiter for Earnest.

Congratulations. You finally landed a phone interview with a recruiter at your dream company for a great job. You get an email from the recruiter and you set up a time to chat, and that’s when it dawns on you that you don’t actually know what you’re going to say.

Initial phone screens with recruiters have a reputation for being about as fun as a visit to the dentist. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

As a technical recruiter at Earnest, I have talked to thousands of people in my career. With only a 20-minute phone conversation and a quick read of their resume (or sometimes just their LinkedIn profile), it’s my job to vet each candidate for next steps. In most cases, the hiring managers rely on my assessment of an individual to potentially join, grow, and better our whole company for the good of our clients.

My job is also to help candidates present themselves with their best foot forward. Here are the three things I wish every candidate knew before setting up that initial call with a recruiter.

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Before your phone interview

1.Know about the company. Do your research! It’s 2016… get on the company’s website or, at the very least, Google and read some background information. Know what the company is doing, what problems it is solving, and what it hopes to accomplish along the way. In my experience, it doesn’t matter what gets you excited about the company, but I am looking for something that tells me about the good of our future together.

2. Be prepared to share about yourself. If you don’t know how you’re going to add to the company’s team before our call, I hope you will by the time we end our call. The best candidates are self-aware and know what they have done and what they contribute. Also, we recruiters love to hear about what you don’t know and what it is that you want to learn.

3. Be familiar with the Art of Woo. Ultimately, this initial call is a bit of sales call — you’re selling your experience to the recruiter, so be prepared to woo him or her. Be lovable. But be yourself. Be the most lovable version of yourself. Let’s be clear: you are not interviewing the recruiter, but if you don’t have two to three questions about the company, the team and the business trajectory, the recruiter is going to worry and think you’re not serious about the relationship.

At Earnest, for example, we believe that everyone has something to teach and everyone has something to learn. When I am interviewing, I am looking for that understanding in candidates’ responses: I want to hear both the things that they are good at — and what they want to learn. I love to hear what they are proud of in their past accomplishments, that they have an idea of what they want to do in their next role, and that they understand (or are at least curious about) how that plays into the greater story of the company.

Practice your talking points with a friend

Remember above all else, most companies want to grow their teams by adding more great people. That means they are looking for incredible and diverse professionals who are emotionally intelligent and committed to making a company bigger and better.

Consider an interview to be an invitation and a chance to tell your story. Slow down and practice it with a friend. Give nods to all the hands and hearts that have helped you get to this particular phone call. Be conversational — ultimately a recruiter wants to get to know you.

In-house recruiters are your future teammates and we’re your advocates to the rest of the hiring team. We need to know your story to tell your story. It’s a chance to make a great first impression. Show us how great you are and how much our team will benefit from hiring you.

Good luck out there — I know you’ll be great. P.S. Earnest is hiring too!

Conquer your student debt. Refinance now.

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Disclaimer: This blog post provides personal finance educational information, and it is not intended to provide legal, financial, or tax advice.