I currently have a client who just cannot land a job. He has a strong professional background with impressive companies, he’s up to date on the latest technology in his field and he gets lots of interviews. Still, he is always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

This frustration for us both led me to think that if only I could get in the head of an interviewer, usually the company recruiter first then the hiring manager, maybe I could see what the problem was and offer some unique advice.

Maryon Urquhart is a senior HR professional with extensive experience in in-house recruiting. She was gracious enough to share her wisdom and insights as to what a recruiter is thinking about your resume, you and how you conduct yourself in an interview.

Cover letter and resume


  1. Mention the job title that you are applying for in your cover letter. Some recruiters read cover letters and some don’t, but it is better to err on the side of caution.
  2. Layout specifically why you meet the requirements of the position. Use the T-letter format if you need to for the strongest impact.
  3. Show the reader that you have read the job posting carefully by using vocabulary from the description and tailoring your cover letter and resume to the position specifically.
  4. Make your experiences and accomplishments that can relate to the requirements of the position stand out in your resume.
  5. Functional resumes are not well-liked by recruiters as they are perceived (rightly or wrongly) to be hiding something. There are times when one must use a functional resume, so be sure to be as disclosing as possible. Mention the company you did the accomplishment for in the bullet point.

The Job Interviewer’s Expectations


  1. Arrive on time.
  2. Exhibit good etiquette and manners.
  3. Look professional, even in a casual work environment. The recruiter wants to know that you clean up good and could possibly be taken along on client meetings or dinners and not be an embarrassment.
  4. Always dress up for a job interview. If you would normally wear a T-shirt and jeans to work every day, at least wear a blazer and dress pants with a collared shirt to the interview. You can seldom go wrong wearing a suit.
  5. Recruiters are watching you closely. They are highly aware of how you conduct yourself. Make eye contact. Speak with confidence. Try to look as settled as you can, versus nervous and on edge.
  6. As you sit across from the Recruiter, they are imagining you in the various roles and scenarios that you will be in while doing your job. They are trying to determine if you are fit.
  7. Allow the Recruiter to set the rapport and the structure of the meeting while you remain upbeat, confident and enthusiastic.

During the Interview


  1. Demonstrate what you have researched and know about the company. Work what you have learned into your answers, such as, “The annual report stated xyz, which is exactly what the aim was at my last company.”
  2. Demonstrate that you know there are changes or strategies, like buy outs, underway or pending, ergo, you know what the company is going through at this time and place.
  3. Talk about your successes. Answer every question with an Action + Result statement. This shows that you are organized, and these types of answers make it easier for the recruiter to assess you. Even if you are not asked for results, be sure you work your result and accomplishment statements into the conversation.
  4. Refrain from going off on tangents. Do not talk for the sake of talking. Stick to your Action/Result statements. Babbling can be a major turn off and the interview could run out of time before you get to articulate why they should hire you.
  5. Recruiters won’t move forward with you after the interview if they don’t hear results and accomplishments.
  6. Be prepared to explain why you want to work at this company. Did they win an award, are they socially responsible – how are your values congruent with theirs? Recruiters want to hear that you are enthusiastic to work for them specifically – not that you just need a job.
  7. Stop and gage how you’re doing every few minutes. Ask yourself if you are talking too much, too little, smiling, fidgeting, etc. Do you need more information about the company or the position so as to answer their questions more specifically? Remember to breathe.

Wrapping Up


  1. If there is time left as the interview is wrapping up and there is information that you want the recruiter to know, say, “In that we have a few minutes left I’d like to summarize some points I didn’t mention that make me a great candidate for this role.”
  2. If you don’t get a chance to say all you wanted to in the interview, add in these important points in a follow up email or thank you letter.
  3. A hiring manager might choose a candidate because they can see potential in you and they think you’re a great fit, but a recruiter is much more likely to choose candidates who simply have the best skill set.
  4. Recruiters know well whether you are the most appropriate candidate for the role and the company, because they know all the variables to compare you to. So when you know that you rocked the interview and you still don’t get the job, the chances are, there were considerations at play that you are not privy to.

Maryon finished off by saying that no matter how much you research a company and practice for an interview, it is important for every interviewee to be their authentic self. You want to sound confident and prepared, but not rehearsed. Good luck!


Colleen Clarke, Career Specialist & Corporate


Author of Networking How to
Build Relationships That Count
, How to Get a Job and Keep

Co-author of The Power of Mentorship; The Mastermind