“The main benefit from working with Challenge Consulting is the guarantee of finding the best possible person for the position required.”

Wendy Tunbridge – Uniting
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For more information:
Stephen Crowe

Managing Director

Ph: 02 8042 8907

[email protected]


When applying for a new job via a recruitment consultancy, you will typically be invited in for an initial meeting to discuss the opportunity. You may view such meetings as an inconvenience and a procedural step towards securing your next role however we would strongly advise you not to view the meeting with complacency. The recruitment consultancy has been hired to put forward their best candidates for the job. If you fail to impress at initial interview this could very well affect your chances of securing a role, especially where the consultant represents a number of organisations in their industry of interest.

Read on for our advice on interviewing with recruitment consultants including what to expect from an interview, how to prepare for it and how to make the most of the relationship so that you are on track for securing a new role.

Time keeping

If you have an appointment lined up with a consultant, turn up 10-15 mins beforehand. If you are running late call ahead to explain. If you are early, find a coffee shop and take some time to relax before showing up for interview. You may think arriving 30-60 mins early for an interview shows you are eager however it can come across somewhat desperate and indicates poor judgement.

Dress appropriately

Treat the interview the same way you would an interview with a potential employer. Dress appropriately for the role you are applying for. Better to dress smart than underdress.

Treat everyone respectfully

It may sound harsh but you are being judged the minute you enter a recruiter’s office. Consultants will often enquire how a candidate has presented himself or herself to the receptionist or how they interacted with other candidates in the waiting area or prior to a group interview.

The recruitment consultant will want to know how you carry yourself in public and how strong your people skills are. So be polite, charming and smile!

Familiarise yourself with your CV

Your interview with a recruitment consultant is your opportunity to sell yourself and your experience. Know your CV inside out so that you can highlight your key skills by drawing on your relevant experience. Be open about any gaps in your CV or reasons for leaving previous roles.

Prepare yourself for interview style questions

The recruitment consultant will use your meeting to assess how you perform in a formal interview. Be prepared to answer some competency style questions i.e. Tell me about a time you had to deal with a complex problem or Give an example of a time you dealt with a difficult customer. Be confident and engaging in your answers. Also, don’t forget to take the opportunity to ask the recruiter any questions you may have. The meeting should be a two-way discussion!

Be aware of the roles you applied for previously

It’s advisable to be aware of the organisations you have applied to previously. This can be challenging when you have applied for a number of positions however, by making the consultant aware of the roles you have already applied for, they will gain a greater understanding of the roles you are interested in. In addition, they will avoid duplicating your application to an organisation that has already received your CV.

Take on board feedback & advice

Be open minded to feedback on your CV, appearance and interview technique. Recruitment consultants are there to help put you in the best possible position for securing a new role so it’s best to take onboard any feedback they give you. Good recruitment consultants will have a wealth of knowledge about the employment market, industry developments and their clients – all useful information to consider in your job search.

Keep in touch

Be pro-active and keep in contact with your recruitment consultant following your interview. It’s important to maintain a relationship with your consultant so that you are at the forefront of their mind when new positions become available. Don’t be afraid to follow up by email or telephone every week to check if new roles are available. If you were expecting to hear feedback regarding a particular role, follow up to check if there have been any developments.

We hope you found these hints and tips useful. Keep them in mind the next time you have a meeting lined up with a recruitment consultant.


You were picked out of the crowd of candidates to attend the interview. You meet the recruiter and start to feel like you are building a strong connection. You leave feeling confident and on a buzz. Then you wait with anticipation for the follow up call. When the recruiter gets in touch they tell you that unfortunately you were not successful, and will not be proceeding further.

At this point you will probably be experiencing feelings of confusion, disappointment and even anger. Do not react in a way you will regret. Instead think about the importance of maintaining relationships in your potential employment network. Remember that industry networks are all connected in different ways. So if one door closes, it doesn’t mean that another one isn’t waiting to be opened.

Before throwing in the towel and accepting defeat, you can run through the following steps to help lead you on a better the path towards success:

• Thank the recruiter/employer for their time – After all it isn’t easy for the person conducting the interview to deliver bad news to a potential candidate. To react badly only shows that you are emotionally reactive and respond to feedback negatively. It could also put you on the back bench for future roles if you behave in a manner that is rude or sarcastic.

• Don’t be afraid to ask for specific feedback – The best way to make improvements is to gain feedback to learn for future opportunities. Advice on how you performed during the interview (body language, eye contact etc.) or how you answered interview questions can be really useful for upcoming interviews. If the feedback relates to experience or skill sets, you may even want to consider educational courses or work experience that may help further develop those areas.

• Let the recruiter know that you would like to be considered for other suitable roles that become available. This keeps communication open and allows you to keep connected to potential employers.

• Don’t hesitate to get out there and start applying again right away – You probably don’t feel like applying for more jobs when that feeling of rejection hits you, but that doesn’t mean that there is nothing out there for you. It is important to stay focused on the goal of finding the job that’s right for you and not give up. Reach out to people within your network to let them know that you are searching for new opportunities. Register with a recruiting company that works in your chosen field. You can also seek out networking opportunities to start building more connections.

• Keep practicing your interview skills – This may sound like common sense, but the more practice you get the more confidence you will have when you interview. Practice for different interview methods e.g. one on one, panel or video interviews. Ask connections who are responsible for hiring people what they look for in the ideal candidate and practice their useful tips.

Remember that the application process is competitive and that we can’t win them all. That doesn’t mean however that we can’t take further measures and practice further steps to help us land our next great role.

What was the best feedback you ever received after an interview?


When a potential employer likes your CV and requests an interview it can feel like you are on top of the world. The next step is to then prepare yourself for the interview. While there are many ways to make a lasting impression, I would like to look at what to avoid doing during an interview:

1. Don’t freeze up – While we can all be nervous at times, freezing up is not how you want to be remembered during the interview.

To overcome this you need to practice, practice, practice. Practice your interview questions and the scenarios you think you will encounter during the interview. This is a great way to deal with nerves and build confidence in your manner and responses. It is important to have a positive mindset on how the interview will go. If you believe you will fail the interview, chances are you will. It’s okay to admit that you’re nervous, but it is important to believe that you will perform well.  How do you do this?  Practice, Practice, Practice.

2. Don’t dominate – Confidence is essential to take into an interview, however, dominating an interview with your personal monologue is not what a potential employer is looking for. Remember the employer is making time to see you to learn specific information about you in order to assess your suitability for the role. If you are not allowing them to ask questions or cut them off mid-sentence, you will be remembered for the wrong reasons.

Practice listening skills as well as answering questions prior to the interview. Active listening can provide you with valuable insight about the company and the role you are applying for. It shows your genuine interest in the company/potential role and helps you tailor your responses to the interview questions.

3. Don’t be sloppy – Find out the company’s dress code standard prior to the interview. But no matter how casual the dress code – don’t be a slob. It should go without saying that whatever you wear should be clean, pressed and neat. It’s also better to be a little over-dressed rather than under-dressed. When someone comes to an interview looking like he or she has just rolled out of bed, it communicates lack of respect for the interviewer, the job and the company.

4. Don’t throw anybody under a bus – There may be circumstances that have caused you to move on from your previous role and how you address these in an interview is very important. Describing your previous boss as ‘incompetent’ or saying that you worked with the ‘colleague from hell,’ doesn’t help you to shine as a potential candidate. Saying negative things about your past work life in an interview only gives the impression that you’re both a complainer and indiscreet.  Neither quality puts you on the ‘let’s hire’ list.

If you have had a negative experience it may be better to portray it by commenting on what you have learned through the experience, and what you are hoping for in a future opportunity.

5. Don’t focus more on perks than the job – When you are tailoring your questions for the job interview, focus what will be required of you in the role and where it might lead in the future. Questions such as; how many weeks can I take for annual leave, how many sick days can I have per year or what sort of computer do I get, may give the impression that you are only interested in the role for the perks. The employer, on the other hand is looking to understand what you can provide to the company and whether you will complement their culture.

6. Don’t be opinion-free – To get the role doesn’t mean you need to be a ‘yes man’. If you need to ask more questions for clarification don’t be afraid to do so. It is important to show initiative and to have opinions as long as you can back them up with valid reasons, especially if you are applying for a leadership role.

 7. Don’t stretch the truth – Just don’t, it will come back to haunt you.

8. Don’t be clueless about the company – In the age of the internet, there is no excuse for going into an interview not having a solid foundation of knowledge about the company. If you don’t care enough to find out about the company, it’s natural for the interviewer to assume you won’t be that interested in finding out how to do the job well, either.

What are your experiences with interview dos and don’ts? What feedback would you provide to a candidate going in for the interview process?


The debate about whether an organisation should use a candidate’s online profile to assess their suitability to join an organisation has been circulating for a number of years now.  Survey results (mainly from the USA and UK) appear pretty inconclusive as to how many are doing it, with figures ranging from 40% to 90% of respondents admitting to using online information in the selection process.

The basic issues are:

  • Is it an invasion of privacy?
  • Is it fair on shareholders, existing employees and customers to select a person without using all the publically available information?
  • The level of publically available information a person publishes on their own social media accounts is controlled by that person.
  • Not all information available online about a person was authorised by them or is necessarily accurate.
  • Apart from LinkedIn, online information about a candidate is most often used to rule a person out of a job.

An early article (2010) about the ethics of the subject describes the employer’s position as follows: “According to an article on Ethica Publishing’s web site, ‘When an employer uses Facebook as a means for employment screening, they are practicing the utilitarian approach of ethics [which states that] ‘the ethical corporate action is the one that produces the greatest good and does the least harm for all who are affected – customers, employees, shareholders, the community and the environment.’… Employers do not care if they invade your privacy during their hiring search as long as it is serving the ‘greater good’ by hiring superior employees.”

Well, my opinion is that an employer (or agency working for an employer) should use the verifiable information that is appropriate for the stage of the recruitment process, the type of organisation and the position being sought.  That means that early in the process it is very appropriate to use information from, for example, LinkedIn (as it only exists for this purpose and all LinkedIn users are very aware of this) and the results of searches regarding a person’s work history.  I do not think it is appropriate to use Facebook or similar information at this stage as this information is predominantly concerned with a candidate’s life away from work.

Once the person is in the final stages of consideration, though, (typically after interviews have been conducted and the person assessed for both job and cultural fit by the hiring manager and at the time they are being considered for offer) I think it is an appropriate part of a background check to review other sources of information as long as the person is not ruled out without being given the opportunity to respond or validate any unfavourable findings.

The other consideration that, to my knowledge, has not been fully tested is the legal position.  There have been a number of high profile cases where an employer or agency has been accused of not using all available avenues to verify a person’s history when the history presented has turned out to be false, but I’m not aware of any cases where an employer is pursued because they ruled out a candidate based on information they found online.

So, what is my conclusion?  I think it is only appropriate to use a person’s online “personal” i.e. non-work, information to confirm the appropriateness of an appointment once the decision has been made using the “traditional” methods (interview, role play, psychometric testing, etc) and that the candidate should have a ‘right of reply’, if needed,  before a final conclusion is reached.


I’m sure you can relate to a time when you walked out of an interview feeling mentally and physically exhausted. You ran through the interview over and over again in your head, and what stuck was that one question that just completely threw you off guard.

I know I have. I remember walking out of an interview feeling like an epic failure, only to then be called a few hours later and I was offered the job!

The tough interview question I had to deal with related to how society viewed the Gen Y – how we are categorised as having a more relaxed work ethic and whether I a) agreed that this was true and b) whether I considered myself to be a part of this category. I froze and words stumbled out of my mouth with the general theme, although I can’t even recall what I actually said. Fortunately my overall response must have appealed to the interviewer as they offered me the job that afternoon!

This month we asked you ‘what have been the hardest interview questions you have been asked?’ I consulted our recruitment experts here at Challenge Consulting, and provided below are their suggestions on how to prepare for these types of questions in the future:

  • What are some of your weaknesses? The reality is we all have weaknesses. The purpose of this question is to understand how aware you are of your weaknesses and also understand how proactive you have been in developing your skills to overcome your weakness. E.g. my biggest weakness is my perfectionism. I tend to not to want let tasks go until I know that I feel they are perfect. As my last job required me to juggle conflicting priorities, I had to develop my organisational skills to ensure that I prioritise and meet competing deadlines.
  • Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 15 years’ time? Most people aren’t psychic so it is hard to say where you will be in 5 years, let alone 15 years! However, the purpose of this question is to better understand how you would like to develop your career. Explain why you have applied for that job and why you want that job. Next, you need to ensure you maintain the balance between being realistic and not too ambitious. Why are you committed to this job, how does it fit into where you want to go? What are the skills that you hope to develop in this job? Are you someone committed to this job or are you going to leave tomorrow when something better comes along?
  • What is a normal day like for you? This is a question that both candidates and employers get asked. It is hard, because most days aren’t “normal”. The purpose behind this question is to best understand how your time is most likely to be spent. What would be the percentage split of responsibilities? Are their seasonal influences on how your tasks will be split? Is your work project-based and therefore your workload will be dependent on the project? You may like to explain how your last week or month looked, to provide an example of how your workload is managed.
  • Give us a specific example of someone you found difficult to work with. What did you do? What was the result? The purpose of this question is looking at how you have adapted your own interpersonal style to meet the needs of the situation. Provide the steps that you took in building this relationship and what you learnt from this in the future. You can of course outline an example of where you were faced with someone that was particularly challenging, and outline the steps that you took to build this relationship. The key thing is explaining how you are proactive in resolving situations. We’ve also covered an article on this previously that you may find of interest.
  • Why shouldn’t we hire you? This is a tricky way of asking – what are your weaknesses? See above.
  • You have 1 minute to tell me why I should hire you – While this question may seem like it’s pressuring you to sum up your response, this question does allow you to outline key points and it is the opportunity to sell yourself in the interview. When the interview is being conducted, one minute can actually be quite a long time to outline your strengths. If you have never taken the opportunity to write down your key strengths, I suggest taking the time to do so, as this is a question that you can prepare yourself for.
  • How would you define ‘common sense’? Sometimes it can throw you off to be asked to define something as you may feel that you need to tell the employer what they want to hear as opposed to using logic and applying the term to something that you would use in a day to day situation. Here is the dictionary definition: Good sense and sound judgment in practical matters.

We always recommend practising your interview skills. Last week we featured an article that explains the benefits of mock interviews. But despite all the practice sometimes you just cannot prepare the answer ahead of time. When faced with that tricky expert, remember nobody is a better expert on your key strengths and what you can offer the role better than you. Instead of going into panic mode (which is our natural response) give yourself space. Breathe. Listen to the question. Don’t be afraid of short pauses. Reflect on your key strengths and skills and give your answer.

But remember nobody knows you better than you, so you are the perfect person to answer that tricky question that they are asking.


Especially at this time of year, leading into the warmer months, the competition in the job market is high.

There is something about Spring that makes people invigorated to take the leap to their next perfect job. Unfortunately for you, that also means that there are more and more candidates actively looking for work too.

So what makes a great candidate stand out?

I consulted one of my colleagues who interviews regularly and she outlined these key qualities:

  • an easy to read resume
  • a smile and a friendly, positive manner
  • professionally presented, they have made some effort to make a great first impression
  • brings energy to the interview
  • stays on topic, and doesn’t go off on a tangent, but answers the questions asked of them.
  • articulates their skills and experience clearly and concisely.

This also relates to a previous blog: FACT or FICTION: Is appearance/presentation a key factor to put you ahead of the rest when it comes to a face to face interview? Most employers stated that while appearance was important, having the skills and qualifications for the role were a vital component of the application.

It is essential that you ensure that you are not only professionally presented, but also have the skills and experience relevant for the job. Apply only for those jobs that you have experience, target your applications, and practice your interview questions according to each and every new job opportunity.

Take time to prepare for the interview as much as you can, this can include: research the role or organisation (if mentioned in the advertisement) and reviewing the job description. Match your skills and experience to the requirements of this role.

Depending on the job you are applying for, the qualifications, skills and experience required may vary. But based on my personal experience I would also suggest you bring along with you copies of additional information that that sells your skills, qualification, and experience – certificates, written references, transcripts and anything that is relevant to the role.

So how can you prepare to ensure that you are that candidate that stands out? Here is a summary of the tips from Job Search Success Handbook: Tools, Tips and Tactics

  • Tailor your resume to the jobs you are applying for
  • Practice interview questions
  • Know the job requirements
  • Know your resume in detail
  • Be ready to market your skills and experience
  • Dress for success – and be ready to put your best foot forward!

And one more thing that I cannot stress highly enough – know the jobs you applied for. If you are applying for multiple jobs, keep track of the jobs that you have applied for. There is nothing more embarrassing than finally getting that call from an Employer or Recruiter and not remembering the role that you applied for!

Did you know Challenge Consulting is on Facebook? If “like” us on Facebook today you will receive a PDF copy of your must-have handbook for a successful job search: Job Search Success – Tools, Tips and Tactics.


The job market is a competitive one when it comes to setting yourself ahead of those applicants who are all applying for that ‘perfect job’ at the same time. So how do we set ourselves ahead of the rest? How do we make ourselves more than just a piece of paper?

If you are passionate about a position of course you are going to want to pick up the phone and make that call. This will establish a more personable approach, to allow the employer to identify with not only your qualifications but your personality and communication skills. Often this will open up the opportunity to meet face to face for the interview process.

On the other hand, when is the follow up call a disadvantage? This was something that I wanted to gain perspective on from other organisations out there who may know what I am referring to. While some candidates believe that the follow up call(s) improves their chances, it can often be causing the opposite effect, if it isn’t being utilised properly.

I will give you an example. We had recently advertised a position online and were receiving a high number of applications for the role. A potential candidate contacted our office requesting to speak to a consultant as they wanted to meet in person to discuss the role and take part in an interview. Great initiative and confidence right?

I asked the candidate if they had applied online for the role or provided our company with any details about themselves or a CV with their experience/qualifications. The candidate had not done so, however, they wanted to hand over the CV in person to the consultant when they came in to have an interview.

When working in recruitment, we need to show our clients the details of the potential candidates and review the applications before shortlisting for the interview process. We then need to schedule an appropriate appointment once the shortlist had been reviewed and after the interview takes place, to provide feedback to our clients to then look into conducting a second interview with the client directly.

When I explained to the ‘potential candidate’ that we would first require their information and would then be in touch once reviewing the applications for this position, the candidate would simply not accept my recommendation to submit the details and asked to speak to a consultant directly. I obliged and put them through to the consultant, to which the same information was repeated to the candidate that I had requested…

I’m not saying that all candidates react this way when a position is advertised, but for this particular candidate behaving in a pushy to almost demanding approach in applying for the job, and their inability to take instruction when I was trying to guide them into the right direction did not make them a top choice to recommend to the client in my eyes. Would you agree? Especially when two people in the office had to explain the application process before the interview could even take place!

Another disadvantage I often experience with candidate calls is this – Venting frustration over the phone if you have not received a personal phone call confirming if you are accepted/declined for the interview process – While I understand that this can be a slow process at times, it is important to consider that there may be over 300 applications coming in for the same role, and contacting each candidate personally can be even more time consuming if not impossible for the recruiter to complete. I think one of the worst mistakes is to take it personally (especially getting upset over the phone at your potential recruiter) because again, having a bad temper doesn’t often make a stand-out candidate… in a good way.

While conducting some research on this topic, a website called www.theladders.com outlines the following: ‘If the job posting doesn’t provide a clear closing date, HR experts and career coaches generally agree that one week after applying is an appropriate amount of time to wait before you follow up… don’t ask why you haven’t been called yet. Instead, keep the tone of the conversation or email light and friendly, and, if you can, slip in a few questions and have a bit of a conversation if it seems appropriate.’

Another website I reviewed called www.jobsearch.about.com had the following four tips below on the follow up process after an interview:

1. First, you want to get the business card from the person you interviewed with. The best way to get it is ask the interviewer before you leave. On most cards will be the three things you want.

1) The correctly spelled name and title. 2) The street address. 3) The interviewer’s email address.

2. Second, you send him/her a thank you email for the interview that very evening so it’s waiting for them when the recruiter gets to work the next morning.

3. Third, you make a follow-up phone call to the interviewer on the fifth day after the interview. Let them know of your continued interest in the job and ask if there is any further information they needs from you. If the person who interviewed you is not available when you call, leave that basic message on their voice mail.

4. Fourth, you send a snail mail letter to them ASAP. I call this the “reverse cover letter.” It basically expresses your interest in the job and summarises some of your strongest points as they relate to the job. About now many interviewers are thinking, “Wow, if this is the professional manner this applicant works this is the kind of person we want.” From that point on, just once a week, you politely alternate between phone, email and snail mail until she says you got the job or someone else got the job.

The responses from our poll respondents seem to reflect that the follow up call can often encompass both advantages and annoyances and can be summarised as this:


  • You can set yourself apart & make yourself memorable by making the follow up call, however, make sure you have you have some basic questions applicable to the role so the calls’ purpose isn’t just to introduce yourself but to also show interest and initiative with legitimate questions
  • Having personal contact is a definite advantage but they (the candidate) should always be pleasant about it and not be too pushy
  • I think if handled professionally, potential candidates (with specified qualifications) have an opportunity to make a solid first impression as long as they are respectful of the recruiter’s time.


  • The candidate should not appear desperate and call multiple times
  • If they call without the appropriate qualifications for the job
  • Don’t stalk your recruiter, especially if they say they will call back. They may not be a person that likes follow up calls, so pushing will only make you appear difficult

I hope this provides a little more perspective to the applicants who are out there and are currently looking for employment, and if you haven’t had your say, please make a comment below or you can participate in this week’s poll: What qualities do YOU think represent a remarkable boss?


I liked this topic because our company runs a series of interviews with a variety of candidates on a regular basis. Our requirement as the recruiter is to not only find a candidate that best ‘fits’ the role, but someone who will also represent the company that they will be employed for. Having taken the opportunity to sit in on the interview process while a series of questions have been asked, not only are the responses accounted for, but how they present themselves, even in group interview environments.


I’m sure all employers at one stage or another have had that ‘potential candidate’ that you have corresponded with to then come in for an interview and you were just gobsmacked when you finally met them face to face. Whether it was the bags under their eyes like they had been out all night, or the untamed ‘bad hair day’, and even the occasional outfit that made you think they rolled out of bed and dressed themselves in the dark…

But then, Voila, there is that ‘Star Candidate’ that walks in with confidence and has been groomed to the ‘T’ – clean and neat hair, has ironed their collared shirt or may even have provided a suit jacket for the occasion. When that candidate walks up to you and shakes your hand with a great smile, eye contact, and a charming charismatic way about them, you can’t help but be bussing about this person after they have left the room.

So what did you as the respondent think in regards to this?

Some of the responses that I liked were:

‘How you present yourself speaks volumes about your level of self-respect, your regard for those around you, and the seriousness with which you are taking your job application and the interview process. If you can’t be bothered getting properly dressed for an interview, your interviewers will not be able to help questioning the kind of attitude you are going to bring to the job.’ And also, ‘Yes! How you dress is how you feel. If you feel confident and eager to obtain the role, then that should shine through in how you present yourself.’

There was also a couple opposing views to the question, ‘Unless you are applying for a Front Desk or Receptionist type of role, personality, skills, qualifications and previous experience should be the first thing that puts you ahead of the rest.’

I thought I would do a bit of research on the topic as well and found that whirlpool.net.au had some very descent tips in regards to appearance for an interview. For men, besides the suit and tie, there may be the five o’clock shadow that may be worth removing before the interview, fresh breath, and even a nice cologne as body odor can be a real turn off. For women, it is making the choice of attire that is suitable for an interview and not a night out, and hair which I have even seen sometimes to be unkempt.

Another website called ehow.com posted an article that stated: While we’d all love to dishonestly claim that appearance doesn’t account for much, we all acknowledge that, despite our best efforts, we use appearances to make judgments and assumptions, especially in the professional arena. When it comes to interviews, your appearance is your first impression. If you make the wrong first impression, it doesn’t really matter if you were the top in your graduating class or saved your previous employers millions because by the time the interview gets to that point, the interviewer’s mind is already made up about you, accurate or not.

The interview process in today’s society may require you to go through two or perhaps three interviews before you are considered for the position. That shouldn’t mean however, that any of the interviews you take are any less important than the other. My message to all of those out there currently applying for roles is to show the person interviewing you that you are serious about the role. Treat every interview as though it is the first or last one to make you stand out from the rest and deserve that position!

This topic can also be linked to our latest press release, ‘How to be the most memorable person in the room’, yet overall I think the decision has been made. FACT: Personal appearance/presentation is a key factor to putting you ahead of the rest in a face to face interview.

Haven’t had your say? Please don’t hesitate to below!