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How Headhunters Can Ruin Your Job Interview

Updated on December 11, 2012

I've been through quite a few interviews in my time for various jobs. Some of the worst experiences I've had personally were with HR "specialists" at headhunter companies. First of all, the fact that you can actually get a degree in something like Human Resources boggles the mind. A four year degree in helping your own company or other companies to hire employees seems like overkill.

HR specialists seem to be either kids just out of college or angry and impatient middle-aged women hopped up on happy pills to cover up their hatred of the people they are supposedly helping to find work. For example, I can recall having applied to a job involving writing and editing travel content for a website. This was basically all the information that was available on the job site.

The hard road through HR recruiter-land
The hard road through HR recruiter-land | Source

I duly applied to this job just as I had to literally hundreds. I was not expecting to hear back from anybody here either. To my great surprise I get a call the next day at 6 PM for a really excited headhunter lady from the recruitment company handling the job I mentioned above. She spoke for 25 minutes non-stop, only allowing be to cut in during the few breaths she took to ask one or two questions. Even during these questions she seemed to be annoyed that I was asking something.

Basically, for 25 minutes all I could get in was some "um hm's", "OK's", "I see's" and "Oh's!"

Then comes this from the middle aged sounding hyped up HR lady:

Headhunter: "How does this sound to you?"

Me: "Good. Interesting."

Headhunter: "OK now! Tell me one thing, are you an energetic type of person or more laid back?"

Me: "More laid back."

Headhunter (testy voice): "Well I can hear that! Ha ha! You're very quite. I'm the exact opposite. If you get this interview you're going to have to be a lot more enthusiastic and energetic for me! You HAVE to come out of your shell, OK?"

Me: "OK"

It was at this point where I felt like hanging up. There is absolutely no point in HR telling anyone how they should act at an interview. Now I'm aware that these people enjoy writing up and following formulas on this type of thing. After all, that's supposedly what they learned in college. People are not the same. If someone has been a certain way their whole lives, they can't turn into happy fun guy all of a sudden just because they are going to a job interview. You can't keep up a fake persona once you've been hired. That facades going to disappear really quick after the first few days.

So, getting back to the phone interview. The headhunter lady asked me various questions as to my experience. Many of the qualities she asked about I have no experience in. Despite this, she insisted on my giving some sort of example that might come close to the quality she was looking for. This happened for about 5-7 different job requirements. At this point I was starting to have serious doubts as to whether I was qualified for this position or not.

This was not the first time that headhunters have angled for favorable answers. Obviously the more candidates they send to the company looking to hire, the higher the chances that one of their resumes will get hired and thus they will be making the big commission bucks. So they are basically OK with sending obviously unqualified candidates to interviews. If the interview goes terribly wrong and the company looking to hire questions the recruitment company as to why an unqualified candidate was sent to them, they say that the candidate must have lied about their qualifications over the phone. Undoubtedly many job seekers do embellish their resumes and their phone interview answers just to get a foot in the door.

After this 25 minute rapid fire phone interview, the lady (Sherry), asked me to send in articles that I've written on a certain topic. I informed her that I have not written anything on those topics, to which she said "You haven't written ANYTHING on these topics??", in an agitated voice. All in all I found her whole attitude to be extremely pushy and aggressive. Many headhunter agents don't care about the individual candidates, but about the amount of commission they could be making.

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