What's the difference between the interviews with a recruiter and an interview with the hiring manager?

The differences are, broadly speaking, all about one thing.

The recruiter isn’t going to be your boss. He or she may have some very good insights about what the boss wants out of you in terms of technical ability as well as what’s called culture fit (do you fit in with the rest of the team?), but that recruiter is always one degree removed from the truth. That degree could be very small, it could be quite significant, but you can’t possibly know.

The recruiter will be vetting your technical ability as well as culture fit as best as they are able. Interestingly, because recruiters typically spend a whole lot more of their time doing so, they may actually be better at asking the right questions to do so. But what a recruiter is trying to match to still isn’t necessarily the same as the hiring manager him or himself.

That said: if you don’t do well with the recruiter, you’ll never move on to the next step. To succeed in such an interview, you must do your best to discern what technical skills and culture fit are most important, and be the best combination thereof.

By contrast, the hiring manager knows what he/she wants out of you. They may not have the best ability to draw out whether you have what’s being sought, but they certainly have the clearest picture. By the time you are meeting with the hiring manager, it’s more about culture fit than the technical skill. A hiring manager used to judge candidates on the basis of wanting to sit next to them on a long flight.

So to succeed in a hiring manager interview, be your best self: be genuine, but optimized. You might not be as strong a match as the other people on the shortlist. You can’t win them all. But if you’re your best self and that’s a match, your work experience will be so much better.

The Details

The biggest difference between interviewing with a recruiter and a hiring manager is the different level of detail you’ll get into. In most cases, a recruiter has to line up the number of applicants for further requirements on the basis for the hiring organization, so the recruiter is just sifting through to find people who specifically fit the requirements they've been given. A recruiter isn’t going to know the finer points the company, so they need the broad strokes. The qualified candidates are being selected and the hiring manager who will then determine the qualifications actually apply to the open position. If you’re interviewing with a recruiter, be prepared to keep it simple and hit the highlights of your qualification.

The Job Fit

A recruiter will be looking for a perfect candidate to fit in the position; a hiring manager has more freedom to determine whether a person’s experience would be beneficial for that position—even if it's not a perfect match. A key work of recruiter has to focus on the job requirements provided by the hiring organization and won’t usually have the insight (or permission) to make any broad leaps incomparable work. If you've been interviewing by a recruiter, be ready with precise examples of how you meet the listed requirements.

The Culture Fit

A recruiter has to make fit, based on what he has been told by the hiring organization, will only want to present candidates with the best possible culture fit. That means the recruiter has received a list of characteristics or an idea of what right type of employee is, and he’ll be looking for indications that you fit that mold. You’ll have to show your personality and be prepared to prove how well you work on a team.

You’re Attitude

Our attitude is one thing that will be the same in a recruiter and a hiring-manager interview. A recruiter deserves the same deference and respect that it would give to a person inside the company you're interviewing with. The important news is that the recruiter is on your side. While this person has a lot of candidates to get through and eliminate, he wants to have the best possible people to present to his client, so he'll want you to be a good fit. Also, every interview with a good recruiter is an excellent opportunity for networking. Even if you are not a good fit for that particular job, if the recruiter likes you, he will remember you for the next position that comes up for a better fit.

The Follow-Up

Its need to follow up with a recruiter just like you would with a hiring manager, but the follow-up will be different. First of all, keep it brief. A thank-you email is acceptable if you’ve communicated in that way already, and it doesn’t need to be much more than that. Thank him for his time and wish him the best. The good news is that a recruiter wants to provide the best possible candidates, he is more willing to help you with the next phase of interviews. If you are called back for a second interview, this one a hiring manager at the recommendation of the recruiter, it is acceptable to contact the recruiter and ask for tips to help you prepare. He'll want you to do well because that will make him look good.