Things you should never say to a recruiter, part one…

I'm willing to take any job at our company...that's how much I want to work there!

Comments (33)

  1. Christien says:

    You can definitely lose any leverage quickly.

  2. Your HR Guy says:

    I hope they like mopping!

  3. HeatherLeigh says:

    Yet I’ve had it said to me more than once. I don’t think the people that said it adequately thought through what they were saying. In their mind they were expressing enthusiasm. In my mind, they were telling me that they were not in demand and were unclear on their best skills.

  4. Lauren Smith says:

    You kidding?  That’s one of the best things to say! Right before staring lewdly at the HR person.

    Enthusiasm, baby! Catch my drift?

    But seriously folks, I don’t know if it’s the worst thing you could say to your recruiter, but it surely doesn’t help sell you. You’re selling yourself, so you want the customer to focus on your strengths. You want them to know how you can make them more productive, and telling them that you just want to work for them for working for them’s sake is not letting them know how you will benefit their team.

  5. HeatherLeigh says:

    Lauren-OK, I have to remind myself that you are kidding.

    It’s a pretty bad thing to say to your recruiter. The lewd staring (I’m gagging) will get you bounced immediately. If you say you’ll do any job, I’ll ask you why and let you finish out the interview. But great people have options and will not take "any job".

  6. Lauren Smith says:

    I remember early early on in my career when I thought it would be a good sign of "go-get-em-ituity" to say exactly this sort of thing. I said something along these lines to one of the managers over in the budding MSN division (we met at a bbq) and he gave me a lecture about this exact thing.

    "Man, I’d love to work at Microsoft!"

    "What are you interested in?"

    "It doesn’t matter. Just working there would be a great experience."

    Then I got my ear bitten off. "Microsoft isn’t around to give people experience. It needs people who know what they want to do and who have the ability to do it well. If you get some great experience from working there, that’s great for you, but no one is interested in giving you a job to build up your experience. Decide what you want to do and go do it. Don’t ask someone else to make that sort of decision for you."

    A handful of years later and I’m now doing stuff that I’ve always wanted to do, not just "any job". I wish I remembered that managers name…

  7. Ed Kuryluk says:

    I’m thinking back to the people I’ve interviewed and what I would have done if they said that. That would be a huge red flag. No soup for you! Next!

    I could see this list going on and on, I’m looking forward to seeing more.

  8. HR Reality Star says:

    Depends on the company…A massive company (MSFT) full of specialist might frown on this statement.  A smaller company who looks for more generalist might smile.  I’d smile at this and appreciate the passion.  I have hired some of my best candidates who had this attitude.  Note that I am a person who evangelizes fit over everything else.  Love my company and fit in…then we can talk about the skillz you have and the best role for you.

  9. Chris D says:

    "You don’t have mandatory drug screenings, do you?"

    "How far back do you check criminal records?"

  10. HeatherLeigh says:

    Lauren-he gave you good advice, whomever he is.

    Ed- hopefully there will be more community participation. I’ve got a few.

    Hr Reality Star- as far as i am concerned, the skillz needs to be there first.

    Chris D-funny

  11. Bhaskar says:

    Nice Tip to start with.I would be more careful while attending career fairs and will remember these tips.

    Drug Test- I thought they were rumors.

    Criminal Records-yes this is true.They do something called background check especially if one will be working for companies that are in USA for the IT consultants,which I am.

    Heather- Looking for more tips…And also any tips for MBAite interested in Information management too..



  12. Simone says:

    I have to disagree Heather. I got my first job by saying exactly that. A large unnamed company hired me when they saw my passion. I had recently made a career change and they sensed enough raw talent in me that they hired me on the spot. I wish MS could be the same way. This is probably why it is such a stagnant place to work.

    I’m now a part time marketing consultant for a successful startup. I also own an 8 person firm…

    and Heather, I hate to say it, but my schnauzer is 100X cuter than your stinky old mutt 😉

  13. Tim says:

    Chris’ comments reminds me of an application for employment my sister looked at one day (she worked at a trucking company).

    Q. Have you ever taken drugs?

    A. Yes

    Q. If yes, when?

    A. Right before the interview.

    Give the guy an A for honesty!

  14. Wine-Oh says:

    I may have just committed this fo-pa. I’ll let you decide.

    Its now 7:45PM NY time and have been playing phone tag with an in house HR person at a company. Were in the same time zone. We finally connected now and joked for a second about playing phone tag. I sort of blurted out "Its good to hear from you, but I am a bit surprised you are still at the office at this hour." She said she was working late and that Wednesdays are her late day. Duh I should have left out the latter part, and be happy she called back.

  15. HeatherLeigh says:


    I’ll try to come up with more tips for sure!

    Simone, why such a hater? It’s really not necessary. We do hire for passion but we also hire people that know their strengths and want to use them. Don’t worry, I won’t try to recruit you. The appearance of desperation in an interview situation is not powerful. It’s not hard to understand why saying you’ll do "anything" would look bad to a selective/competitive employer. Perhaps your employer hired you (on the spot!) for your amazingly cute dog. I’m just here to offer advice from a professional recruiter. All are free to take it or leave it, as always.

    Tim-funny! We did drug testing at my previous employer (an insurance company) and I’d only had to call one person to rescind their offer. That was tough but I can’t imagine the person was totally suprised.

    Wine-Oh- that doesn’t sound like much of a faux pas to me. I think that it’s reasonable to assume that most people have left the office at that time. She probably took it as a compliment that you were impressed.

  16. Wine-Oh says:

    I would be nervous if any company offered me a job on the spot. Says either they are desperate to fill the role, or that they have had the spot open for a while. I also think it depends on the type of position (right out of college vs. experienced) the type of company (well established vs a startup).

    PS- A schnauzer is cuter than a lab mix? Dont think so.

  17. Lauren Smith says:

    It’s probably not a good idea to compare the cuteness of your kids/dogs/husbands during an interview either, unless you’re going to be extremely self-effacing about it.

    My current job, I was offered on the spot. I think it’s more because I was recommended by someone who is a trusted friend of the CEO. He was hired before me and now I work under him. It’s a great little nepotic system we’ve got going here.

    But yeah, unless you’re someone like Linus Torvalds where your reputation precedes you by miles, it’s probably a good idea to be wary of any company that is willing to offer you a job on the spot.

    Corollary question. Would you the interviewee be turned off by a company so eager to get you that they said so during the interview?

  18. Wine-Oh says:


    Who is Linus Torvalds?

    As for your question, I would take it as a compliment if a company wanted me badly. But I would still take time to figure out if it was the right fit. I wouldnt accept on the spot.

  19. Penguin says:

    Go Linus!

    Go Linus!

    It’s your birthday!

  20. HeatherLeigh says:

    In recruiting, walking someone out the door with an offer is a pretty impactful way to make the offer. I have done it a small handful of times and only when the interviewers had sufficient time to come together and discuss/share feedback. It is easiest to do where you have an existing relationship with the candidate, deep conversations previous to the interview day, interviewers that are talking to each other through-out the interview day. When you can do it, it’s pretty awesome. It’s not desperation (we aren’t saying "we’ll offer you *any* job"), but it certainly sends a message to the candidate. I would never recommend accepting an offer on the spot. As a candidate, I’d also consider whether I felt thoroghly interviewed. I know it sounds kind of strange to insist on being interviewed thoroughly but if I, as a candidate, am going to make a very important life decision, I want the party on the other end of the decision to be sure.

  21. Arthur says:

    This is interesting because I am looking to work in Finance and there are a wide variety of finance roles at MSFT. Honestly, I would be happy with any of them as a first job

    at MSFT, so if someone asked me what I want to do in Finance, I could say ‘Anything is fine’. And there is a good reason for saying that. When I look at my career goals, I desire to be a CFO-type of a company. Having a diverse collection of finance roles under your belt is necessary to be best prepared for that role.  That’s my view based on my research and talking to people who have been there done that. So any role could fit and I would be happy doing it. But precisely for the reasons that Heather is mentioning here, I would not dare say "Any finance role is fine in your company" during a MSFT interview. I would craft my answer around a specific role which I think would best balance my desire to work at MSFT as well as my career goals. That’s just the reality of the interview game.

    Someone also said earlier that if you are a ‘star’, you have other options always. So you don’t need to sound and be desperate. But really, ‘stars’ are what, 5% of the job searching population? Can you really fill every role at MSFT with ‘stars’, and would that even be good for the company?

    I interviewed at Google last year and met almost 10-15 people there. About 90% were what you could term ‘stars’. Sorry to generalize, but the level of arrogance and holier than thou attitudes that typically go with ‘stars’ were apparent even during the confines of a short meeting with each of them. I never got the offer and I don’t think I would have enjoyed it even if I had worked there. I would have been fairly wealthy though, but i guess that’s another discussion for another day…

  22. HeatherLeigh says:

    Yeah, but you should always go in assuming you are the star, in a humble way. I hear you about the level of arrogance. It’s just ugly, whether it’s coming from a candidate or an interviewer…yuck! Athur, I think you said it well: "I would craft my answer around a specific role which I think would best balance my desire to work at MSFT as well as my career goals. That’s just the reality of the interview game. "

    It’s like that commercial that says "when banks compete, you win". Companies will compete for top talent and you need to position yourself as top talent. Don’t make stuff up, but don’t say you’ll do anything. You have a good perspective on the situation Arthur. And I’d be happy to get your resume to our finance recruiting team if you have not already sent it to them  : )

  23. Arthur says:

    Thanks for your offer! I sent my resume over to one of your colleagues in your team a week ago. She promised to forward it to the Finance recruiters. I haven’t heard back since, but I guess its vacation time for many and it takes time to get back.  Meanwhile, I’m networking my way around the company and brushing up on case interview techniques that I did back in b-school.  (Rusty!!)  I’ve heard cases are commonly given in finance interviews at MSFT.

    Hopefully, I can start the interview process soon. Can’t wait!

  24. Jingying says:

    I think all these depends on the culture and the recruiter.

    Back home, we have job probation "Test and trial period",where you can start as entry level and the company test and fit you later.

    So if you would ask me, if i interview for a job in my home country, i won’t mind doing any job such as entry level job . etc.. and prove my worth during probation. Any job would be good for me to prove i’m a fit and a valuable asset.

    But, i realise that it does not work the same for MS. I interviewed for developer post althought i know i do better at managing/ consulting. I suck at interview and am trying to improve at it. But the short interview does not justify my capability and my passion to add value to the company.

    Dependin on where you are, "I willing to take any job" may imply that you are indecisive and unsure of yourself.

    But elsewhere on another part of the world, that may mean, I’m willing to take on any role to prove you my worth. Just give me a chance to show you.

  25. HeatherLeigh says:

    Arthur-Cool! Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.

    Jingying- good point…there are cultural aspects to what you say and what you don’t say. Methods of paying respect differt by culture for sure! Some of the reasons you mention are why I often encourage people to try contract work at Microsoft. Good input Jingying…thanks!

  26. Sean says:

    Ive never really worked with a recruiter before where I wasn’t interviewing for a specific position, so I haven’t really had an opportunity to say that. Plus I’m far enough along in my career where that would be an outright lie.

    But there are a few companies that I am quite interested in working for. I also have a decent range of skills, any of which I would be interested in pursuing at the company. Assuming that I am not applying for a specific position, should I focus on a specific skill/position or bring up a range of skill sets/positions that I feel I would be a good fit for?

  27. HeatherLeigh says:

    Sean- good question. I’d start out focusing on specific positions. There’s a weird paradox in recruiting. Recruiters want you to be focused but also flexible. So it’s better that you you focus on the cross section of positions that you are most qualified to do and that you most want to do. Get it to a manageable number of positions. I don’t know any recruiters that wouldn’t call you about other positions if they thought those positions were a fit. That way, it gives you the option of daying no if they don’t interest you.

    I haven’t really ever gone and tracked it, but I’d guess that most people that we hire here are hired into positions other than one of the few they applied for.

  28. russedl says:


    I can understand not wanting to hear, "I’m willing to take any job…" as a recruiter.  Would it be acceptable to hear something like, "I’ve considered many of the open positions, and feel I would be a good fit for X position or X position."?  I’m sure this would leave the door open for the recruiter/interviewer to probe the interviewee/applicant to try to determine the best position.

  29. HeatherLeigh says:

    Russedl-yes, exactly!

  30. Pete Radloff says:

    Heather, I could not agree more. NEVER say you’ll take any job.  FLAG FLAG FLAGGGGGGG!

    If you aren’t focused on your job search, then the recruiter isnt as likely to target you as a high prospect.  We want someone determined and focused on where THEY want to be. Besides, if they made 100k at their last job, do we really think they will take the 35k entry level job? and if they do, should I take some "no-doz"so I’m still awake ro re-recuit for the position in a week when they quit? Nay…… just let ‘er rip and tell me what ya wanna do.

  31. HeatherLeigh says:

    yeah, let ‘er rip ; )

  32. Kit says:

    I think that desperation is the last thing you want to come across in any interview.

    The only time someone should even state they would do anything is when they are already on  the team and there are timeline where everyone are willing to go beyond to meet deadlines.

    Recruiters are looking for specifics-keywords, matchup. They do not want to look foolish and set up interviews that are a waste of time to the inteviewer. They are individuals making a presentation.

    Would you ever consider coming to a presentation unprepared? Enthusiasm is good but what exactly are you enthusiastic about?

    Microsoft and other companies are appealing to most people. What will distinguish you from others is what you will be able to contribute to Microsoft and that means having clear definition of your needs too. People are usually more productive when they are doing things they like.

    Microsoft is definitely a compnay that has their pick of the cream of the crop. Their hiring strategies clearly states outloud to me that they are focused.

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