Having The Debrief: Why It’s Significant

What does having the debrief with your recruiter look like? And why should you even do it?

In this week’s blog, I want to address the technical area of the debrief.  This will only apply to those candidates that choose to use a recruiter.  The debrief is after the interview conversation where you share your interview with your recruiter.  Not only does a candidate have a debrief, but the hiring manager has one with the recruiter too. The purpose of having the debrief is exactly that – to debrief both parties to answer all inquiries or questions that may have been raised during the actual interview.  But I am getting ahead of myself.

The Pre-Call

Let’s start at the beginning of the interview process.  You, the candidate, have decided you want to take an interview with the firm that the recruiter recommended.  You prepare for your call and usually have a pre-call with the recruiter.  The purpose of the pre-call is to answer any questions that were raised during your due diligence and preparation for the interview.  It is not, and I want to be clear about this, to get the questions that an interviewer is going to ask you ahead of time.  Now that we cleared that up, let’s discuss the next steps.  You have your interview and then you check in with your recruiter.  Most recruiters will ask for this check-in; personally, I do not.  I want the candidate to take the initiative to call me and fill me in.  If they do not, I know that either they do not want to learn more (as discussed in last week’s blog); or they are indifferent and do not see the value of having the debrief, which usually means the interview did not go as planned.

A Recruiter’s Insight Based On Few Questions

Now let’s assume that the interview went well, the candidate calls me, and we begin having the debrief. Do you know what the first question I ask my candidates is?  “How did the call end?”  I can tell more about the success of the call as to how the hiring manager ends the interview.  It’s the knowledge of each hiring manager’s style that allows me to have this perspective.  I am sure I am not the only recruiter who gathers this insight.  So, knowing how the call ends, I can!  The next question is, “How much time was spent in the interview process?”  Again, I am aware of how much time each one of my hiring managers takes.  If one of my managers typically takes the full hour and the interview ends in thirty minutes without an explanation why the manager had a hard stop; I again know that the interview did not go as well as hoped.  It’s these little observations that give me great insight into what happened during the interview.

Honesty Is Key

Now continuing, all signs are positive. I would then go into any questions that may show there was something that the candidate picked up which may have caused concern for the hiring manager.  The reason I want to know these are for my debrief with the hiring manager. I can be alert to the potential issue and have backup data which may solve the issue or concern immediately (or at least allow me to present another viewpoint).  Let me explain an actual situation that occurred years ago.  My candidate thought the interview went great: however, the hiring manager thought the candidate was saying that he would not consider leaving his old firm as he has been there for so many years.  Thus, a stalemate was potentially occurring.  When I questioned the candidate, he stated that if that was said, and he does not remember saying it, it is not the truth. He wanted me to clear the air immediately.  With information gained from the debrief I did; we moved forward and on-boarded the candidate.  This never would have happened if there was no debriefing on both sides of the candidate and the hiring manager.  In conclusion, be as explicit in your thoughts when you are having the debrief with your recruiter. It can only benefit you. 


If you would like to discuss your options, please reach out for a confidential conversation at 760-477-1284 or email at [email protected]. He can also be reached on LinkedIn. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter here, which is a compilation of our weekly blogs, so you never miss one. You can find our listing in the “supplier and services” section of the Red Book under the title of “executive recruiting.”

About Harlan Friedman, JD & Founding Member, H. Friedman Search LLC. Harlan is a thirty-year veteran Public Finance Banker turned recruiter who specializes in the placement of all levels Public Finance Bankers, Healthcare Bankers, Municipal Advisors, Compliance Officers, Issuers, and Bond Counsels.