First Interview

The first interview is a casual interview often with a consultant or TA for larger recruitment firms or with the director directly for smaller recruitment agencies. Through this interview recruitment agencies are trying to answer the following questions:

  • Do you understand that recruitment is a sales job?
  • Why do you want to go into recruitment?
  • Do you understand the ups and downs of the recruitment industry?
  • Are you a competitive person and have strong communication skills?
  • How much do you know about the company?
  • Would you be a good cultural fit for the team?
  • What type of industry are you interested in?

In this course, we will go over how you can address the questions above and be invited to the next interview stage.

Show them that you understand that recruitment is a sales job

The most common mistake people make is thinking that recruitment is a human resources job and that your main goal is helping people. While this is true to certain extent, recruitment is mainly a sales job and as a business your primarily goal is making money/commission by making placements. Anything else is secondary.

Make sure to convey to the company that you want to go into a sales function and highlight aspects of a sales job that you may enjoy. A good answer may be:

“I want to go into recruitment because it’s an environment that is competitive and performance-driven, where I really appreciate that your hard work can lead to greater monetary income and fast-tracked career plus. Plus, I’m a people-person that enjoys making new relations, helping people out, and I think my ability to develop and maintain networks will make me a successful recruiter.”

Do you understand the ups and downs of recruitment?

Recruitment consulting is an awesome industry, but it is not for everyone. There are ups and downs in the industry and it is important to understand both sides. Being overly enthusiastic is a red-flag for employers because they may think that you do not understand the industry well enough.

What are the ups of recruitment?

  1. You are rewarded for your hard work and everything is transparent. Your bonus and promotion are entirely dependent on how many placements you make. This can mean fast-tracked career path and high financial potentials if you are a good recruiter
  2. The work is dynamic. You get to meet a lot of different people and often you are outside the office meeting people. You get to visit a lot of innovative companies and your job is going to be fast-paced and dynamic.
  3. You get to grow your network. During the job, you will meet the leaders in the industry and learn a lot about your industry coverage. The network you grow as a recruiter is extremely helpful in helping you become a successful recruiter, as well as beneficial for you in any future venture you may be involved in.
  4. Recruitment is a work-hard & play-hard type of environment. The job itself is competitive, fast-paced, and sometimes stressful, but after work, your team often go out together and release the stress of the job.

What are the downs of recruitment?

  1. Competitive environment: Recruitment is a highly competitive environment, where multiple recruitment agencies are competing for good talent. Especially in Japan where there is a strong labor shortage, the competition is even greater. Often you are put in a situation where your candidate has an offer from you and 2 other offers from your competitor. You must learn to influence the candidate to accept your offer.
  2. Rejections are part of the job: In recruitment, rejections are just part of the job and you must be able to learn from your mistakes and move on. The toughest part of the rejections is offer rejections, where you worked really hard and if the candidate accepts the offer, you will receive a bonus of 2M JPY and get promoted. You are excited, but the candidate decides to accept an offer from your competitor. In this case, you receive no bonus and no promotions. It’s tough, but it’s part of the job and you must learn to not repeat the same mistake and simply move on.

Do your research on the company

This applies to any type of interview that you will be doing. You MUST do proper research on the company. You can get information about a company through simple Google search, visiting their website, and importantly checking out on LinkedIn their company page and few profiles of the people that are working at the company. So what information would be good to know?

  • Understand the company culture and values
  • How big is the company and do they have any overseas offices?
  • What industry does the recruitment agency specialize in?
  • What type of people are working there?

Which industry do you want to focus on?

As a recruiter you will become an industry specialist, focusing on only 1 or 2 industries. For instance, a recruiter may specialize in Software Engineering recruitment for internet companies OR specialize in marketing and sales hiring for retail clients. As a newcomer, the best attitude we recommend is:

Be flexible and open to any industry. Whichever industry you join, you will be given time to learn about the industry and through experience become an expert in one.

If you do have a preference, for instance, you are extremely passionate about IT, make sure that the company you are interviewing for has a team that focuses on that industry.

Also, for now, there are certain industries that are struggling due to Covid-19. We recommend you stay away from specializing in such industries, like Hospitality and Retail.