How Exploratory Interviews work

Exploratory interviews

In your quest for the dream job, you’ll have to answer a lot of questions – some tougher than the others. Informational interviews may not directly get you the job, but they can play a crucial role in getting you closer to your goals. Karthik Raju helps us understand the concept of exploratory interviews and walks us through the maze of what works and what doesn’t.


How Exploratory Interviews Work

by Karthik Raju

Recruitment Careers - KarthikFor recruiters, the task of finding the right candidate to fill in a particular position can be a challenging one, especially for senior positions. So, in addition to active jobseekers, headhunters are likely to look out for the passive jobseeker too, in order to find the right fit for a particular position.

For those who’re not familiar with these terms, active jobseekers are the ones who’re either employed or unemployed and actively searching for a job; however passive jobseekers are not actively job-hunting, but are open to better opportunities that may come their way.

In fact, as per LinkedIn trends, there are close to 75% passive jobseekers who open to discussions with recruiters and peers about various opportunities.

In this post, we’d cover the various aspects of an exploratory interview (also known as informational interview) and how you can make the best use of an interesting opportunity to get hired for a job of your choice.

These are different from job interviews where the interview is related to a particular job posting. Let’s see how these exploratory interviews can turn into a job offer.

Beginning of the exploratory recruitment process

Super recruiters source and shortlist potential candidates. They begin the process with an initial telephonic discussion. Here, they’d be interested in knowing more about the job seeker’s career aspirations.

Rather than trying to push you to accept any available job openings like a stereo-type recruiter, they’d ask you to chat for a few minutes about a potential career move that you might be interested in.

This is how a relationship starts building between the recruiter and the candidate which is very essential in the entire process.

The phone screening serves the purpose of listening to the candidate, asking questions and assessing various aspects rather than discussing about a position upfront.

How important is your LinkedIn profile

Most of the recruiters are likely to review the candidate’s LinkedIn profiles before approaching them. So it’s advisable to update your LinkedIn account on a regular basis.

Based on the current profile, they’d try to identify the various weak areas associated with the current role including learning and opportunity gaps which the new role could take care of.

They’d also point out the better prospects that the new position would offer like a broader role with diverse responsibilities, more challenges, bigger budget, more visibility and faster growth.

Is salary all that matters?

It is important that you don’t shortlist any available opportunity purely based on the remuneration it has to offer. It doesn’t matter if you’re not able to match your job requirement with any potential career opportunity the first time you talk to a recruiter.

Some of the job-seekers get too hasty in such situations and instead of being open to discussion, they seek just the basic information like the pay, designation, location and the organization’s name for any open position.

They feel it’s a waste of time spending more time getting deeper into the details. However, you need to be aware that for the right person, the company concerned may be willing to negotiate in many ways to have that person on board.

So, what would be the right approach?

You can express your interest by taking control of the conversation by discovering the various challenges associated with the role. If all this sounds exciting, you should describe your accomplishments that have something in common with the responsibilities of the new role.

Your emphasis should be on career growth and not on compensation. Many make a mistake of comparing and accepting offers based on compensation rather than understanding the role in-depth.

Even recruiters try to negotiate the salary without identifying the unique quality that a person might bring on the table. If you do not try to understand the role and its responsibilities, you may have to face undue stress later.

Role of the hiring manager

Once the super recruiter completes the initial exploratory conversation, they would connect you to the hiring manager to have a phone discussion before meeting for a face-face discussion.

During this discussion, the hiring manager would elaborate on the major challenges you’d face in the role; at the same time you’d be expected to discuss your past accomplishments.

This helps both the sides decide whether the job would suit the candidate, whether they’d be in a position to manage the various requirements the role demands.

Irrespective of the job openings, a few organizations are ready for exploratory discussions with outstanding candidates. This is a pro-active way to acquire the top talent for their future positions.

Jim Collins in his bestseller ‘Good to Great’ has stressed on the concept of “First who and then what”. By analyzing the behaviour of reputed organizations, he found that reputed companies achieved great milestones by putting people first.

Do’s and Don’ts for exploratory interviews

You need to be wary of a few things before you decide to take up an exploratory job interview. You need to know for sure which area you’re targeting.

For example, during the interview for an accounts opening, you may be asked – “Why do you want to work in accounts?

You innocently reply – “Accounts is only one of the options that came to my mind. But I’m also ready to talk about any other vacancies in Finance and Accounting, or any other department in your company for that matter.”.

You believe that your interviewer would be impressed with your flexibility. However, the truth is otherwise. You create an impression that you’re not sure about which area you want to work in and that you lack focus.

Instead, if you convince your interviewer why you wish to work in a particular functional area, you’d sound confident and create a positive impression.

If you feel lost and need direction or career guidance, set up a round of informal exploratory interviews with your mentor, career counsellor, and colleagues and once you have more clarity regarding your career goals, you can decide to have your interview with your recruiter.

Once you’ve discovered your field of interest, it’s time to identify the companies and industries you want to explore. You may either approach the recruiters or use your network to cultivate contacts.

Final steps

Once the interview process is completed, the core members of the organisation do the final assessment by considering the various selection criteria and making their judgement based on the extent to which the candidate has been able to fulfill the same.

At this time, reference checks play a vital role. Through reference check, organisations obtain information about the candidate’s background and past work performance from the previous employers.

To finalise the recruitment process, organisations would initiate the offer and this is the time for you to negotiate and discuss the various details of the compensation package.

Hence, it would be highly recommended that passive jobseekers spend time discussing and networking with the right people. You never know when any of these opportunities may translate into an amazing job offer.

Learn how you can improve your interviewing skills.

Image Source: Times Now

Author Bio: Karthik Raju loves to work for start-ups, enjoys food, cycling and networking. He likes learning new things and believes that there is no ending for learning. Connect with him on LinkedIn. Share your thoughts and queries for him in the comments section below.


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