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Informational Interview with Senior Recruiter at a Fortune 500 Retail Company (300,000+ employees)

  • Job Title: Senior Recruiter
  • Company: US Fortune 500 Retail Company (Not published as requested)
  • Department: Human Resources
  • Company size: 300,000+

Note: This informational interview focuses on the recruitment process for the technical team (Analyst and Senior Analyst) from a Fortune 500 retail organization in the United States. The details of the job description are not available. However, there are some great insights and advice coming straight from the lead recruiter who is responsible for screening and selecting candidates for interviews. ​


1. What is your title and role, and what are your responsibilities?
My title is Senior Recruiter and I lead recruiting for various technical teams within a Fortune 500 retail company in the United States.  The company transitioned from a retail store business to a technical leader with a huge focus for online sales. This completely changed the talent we recruited for and I was involved with recruiting for many analytical positions. Some entry level, but many positions for non-managers at various levels. 

2. Please describe the recruitment process for the technical team within your organization. 
Hiring is divided in two categories: campus, which is 0-2 years of experience post degree program and experienced, which is 2 to unlimited years of experience.

With regards to the campus recruiting process, our corporation has a large campus recruiting team that covers reputable colleges and universities in the United States. They are responsible for developing relationships with career services on campus, hosting career fair events and implementing internships and case studies on campus. Interns are selected during their junior and senior year of undergraduate studies. Those students selected for the internship have a 9 week rotational program during the summer in various technical areas of the company. They complete a case study and present to the senior executive team. Interns who perform well and are interested in the company post degree are offered a position contingent on graduation.

Campus is defined as 0-2 years of career experience. There are various analyst positions in the company that are extremely technical and designated for entry level candidates. Some of the analyst positions just require light technical skills and more of a business mindset. Each business in this company uses different tools and has various needs in a candidate. Some of the tools used include Excel, VBA, R, SQL, Access, SAS Base, R, Hadoop, NoSQL, HDFS, Pig, Tableau and Ruby on Rails.

Experienced hiring is 2 to unlimited years of experience. We have Analyst, Senior Analyst, Project Manager, Lead Analyst and various titles for non-managerial and managerial positions. Again each team uses different tools, so the technical skillsets vary by position. We try to call out the technical tools used specifically on the job descriptions. 

When interviewing campus candidates we are looking for candidates who bring strong technical skills and project experience. Some candidates bring previous internship or work experience to the table where they have been solving problems, working in a team setting, managing multiple projects at one time. These candidates have a major advantage over other campus candidates who simply bring the degree and interest. They have experienced success, failure and received performance feedback before.

When interviewing experienced candidates we are seeking similar qualities in technical skills and projects. Depending on the level of experience needed for the position, we are assessing the size, scope and complexity for the projects completed in previous positions. We are assessing leadership strengths and areas for improvement in the candidate. We are assessing overall cultural fit for the company and future interests to see if there is a long-term fit.

We do not provide VISA sponsorship for employment.

How do we find candidates and how do candidates find us? We host various career fairs and information sessions on campus to meet students and network. We receive a lot of referrals from career counselors on campus and do a lot of networking. Many students apply for the internships and some are selected for full-time employment. Other candidates new in their career apply for opportunities on our career webpage. At times we hire 30-50% of referral candidates that come to us from a current employee. This is a very effective way to evaluate companies of interest. Have them refer you in the career site! We receive many referrals for experienced candidates. Overall, good people know good people! Our company does post job advertising on various sites, attends association events and technical career fairs.

3. What are the major criteria in deciding whom to select for an interview?
There are many variables to selecting candidates for an interview. With campus and new in career positions, I’m looking for technical skills, project history and strong career accomplishments listed on the resume. With experienced candidates, I want to see technical skills, high scope projects, and good career progression. Resumes for everyone need to showcase results and accomplishments, not just look like a general description of responsibilities. Top talent spends time developing a very strong resume that showcases their skills and accomplishments. I interview a lot of candidates who are referred to the company. It’s good to see that someone interested in the company can get creative, network and conduct due diligence on the business. I like to see that level of drive, not just someone blindly applying to many job requisitions on the career site.

4. Is experience a must for this position?
Yes. Experience for a campus candidate includes technical skills, academic credentials and project experience. There might be some good candidates that are missed without the project experience, but the talent bar is high here. Past performance can be a clear indicator of how someone performs or what they do in the future, so having the projects history is vital.

Scope and level of project experience is very important for those with more years of experience.

5. How often do you hire analysts with no prior experience?
We do not hire analysts without any prior experience. We do see candidates without prior experience gain valuable skills and project experience in small to mid-sized companies and join us in the future.

6. Are there any software requirements for this role?
Each team uses different tools in the business. Some are for more technical people and others are more entry level. Software and tools we use are constantly evolving to stay on top of industry trends. The company values learning new software and we sponsor internal and external training for employees. Some of the tools currently used include Excel, VBA, R, SQL, Access, SAS Base, R, Hadoop, NoSQL, HDFS, Pig, Tableau and Ruby on Rails.

7. What educational background is required?
Minimum undergraduate degree and master’s degree is a plus. Our company values higher education and provides tuition reimbursement programs for employees.

8. Are there any designations that are preferred?
No, not for entry-level positions. PMP or six sigma are at times required for senior positions.

9. Any advice for job seekers with no prior experience?
The market is very competitive, so gain as much project experience as possible. Build great relationships with others and keep them fresh. You never know when one of your contacts may reach out to you with a great opportunity now or in the future. Candidates with limited experience have a better chance of being considered if they come from an employee referral, so network at all times. When you do get hired, work hard and get promoted. Employers like to see progression and promotions within one company, not job hopping and uncertainty. Build great relationships with your manager and clients.

10. Does your company currently have volunteer or unpaid intern positions open?
No, we offer paid internships only.

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