So, you’ve applied for the job, and now you’re waiting to hear back. This can be a testing period in the process, where you anticipate the prospective employer will get in touch, but you are conscious that more hopefuls will be counting on the same. Either way, you need to be prepared for the initial contact to come.

What should you expect in the first conversation?

You can be sure that the recruiter will look for the following information (or at least some of the following):

  • Discuss your current role;
  • Why you are exploring opportunities;
  • What your long-term career aspirations are;
  • Your understanding of the position and what you know about the business;
  • Notice period;
  • Salary expectation.

It is imperative that you put your best foot forward in this conversation. To do this, you need to be prepared and in a good position to speak. For instance, if the call comes through when you are at your desk, politely advise of this and schedule a call back on your lunch break or after work. Do not feel under pressure to have the conversation there and then. Confirm the person’s name before hanging up and confirm where they are calling from (if you have any doubt).

In this time, refresh your memory on the role and organisation you have applied to. Why were you interested in this job? What are you going to highlight in your experience that is going to make you stand out from the other candidates being considered? Ask yourself these questions and you will set yourself up for success. If the conversation with the recruiter goes well, you will more than likely secure an interview. Go over the information on your CV – it is very easy to forget what’s there, and you want to make sure you remember to highlight all the relevant points.

When the recruiter calls back, ensure you are ready to receive the call. Position yourself in a quiet room where you will not be disturbed, or take a walk outside. The first thing you will probably be asked to discuss is your current role/latest role and the key responsibilities in the position. From there the conversation could go in a few directions – the recruiter might ask you why you applied to the job, or why you are looking at job opportunities in general. Be open and honest in this discussion.

Also, be mindful that this is your opportunity to find out more. Ask questions and show a genuine interest (presuming that you are genuinely interested!). If you have any uncertainty during this conversation, don’t be afraid to speak up. Perhaps you have concern about the seniority of the role. It might have sounded great in the Job Description, but now you have reservations that it’s too junior. Honesty is the best policy. It is a waste of your time, and theirs if you know at this stage that the role is not quite right.

The recruiter will most likely end the conversation by confirming your notice period and salary expectation. Again, try to be open; specifically, when it comes to the remuneration enquiry. This is asked for several reasons, but primarily to ensure your expectation is aligned to the allocated budget for the role.

Before hanging up, confirm with the recruiter when you can expect to hear back. Sometimes this timeframe will shift, but at least it will give you an indication. Being proactive is also encouraged, so if you haven’t heard back in a reasonable length of time, pop through a call or an e-mail to follow up. Also, be open about other roles you are interviewing for. You don’t have to give exact details, but it is necessary for the recruiter to know if you are at the final stage of another process.

While a lot of what we have covered here sounds obvious and perhaps basic, it is staggering how many people are ill-prepared for the initial discussion with the recruiter. Remember, this is a first impression, and first impressions count.

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