March 2, 2017

Tips for Working With Recruiters: An Interview with Mitch Kurker

Although I have been working with recruiters ever since the dot.com boom, starting my software testing career as a QA Consultant at Oracle's Waltham, MA office back in August of 1996, I never really knew what a recruiter's life was like on the other end of the telephone.
  • What was their day-to-day life like at work? 
  • What did they like about their job? What did they dislike about it? What did they wish would improve?
  • Did they have any advice for candidates on making the interview process smoother, from the phone screenings to the in-person interviews?
  • It's tough out there for manual testers who follow traditional non-coding QA roles. Did they have any tips?
  • And, not to press my luck, but did they have any tips on negotiating salary? 

... As a new co-organizer of the Ministry of Testing - Boston Meetup, I felt it was my duty to found out.

Over the weekend, I drafted and sent out a Google Forms survey, How Boston Recruiters See The Software Testing Industry 2017 to every recruiter I have spoken to in the past two years. Below is the response I received from half of the two-man team that placed me in a position last Fall: Mitch Kurker and Rob Wall, at Modis IT - Boston.




Name: Mitchell Kurker
Title: Executive Recruiter, Technology
Company: Modis - Boston, almost two years
Studied at: University of Massachusetts at Amherst - Isenberg School of Management
LinkedInhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/mitchell-kurker-21487248/

How Does Your Company Stand Out From The Crowd?: "Personally, I think it is more about the individual you are working with rather than the company that recruiter works at. With so many agencies out there, so many are alike, but so few recruiters are."

About The Recruiter


How Long Have You Been a Recruiter? How Many Years in the Business?

"I'm coming up on 2 years as an Executive Recruiter. This is my first job after graduating college".

What is a typical day for you?

"My typical day is split between working with clients and hiring managers to understand their hiring needs or potential projects coming down the road. The other 50% is spent identifying, sourcing, and meeting with potential candidates for said roles".

What do you love about your job?

"I love working with people. Almost 100% of my business is done in person. I meet with every client and company I'm working with to understand their culture, and at the same time, I do my best to meet with every candidate in person who may be a fit. This is to ensure a long-term match for culture and personality. I also love the satisfaction of finding potential candidates their next great career move! My favorite part about my job is receiving referrals from clients or candidates because this means I'm doing my job the right way and providing great customer service". 

What do you hate about your job, and would you mind if I quote you on that?


"I hate when a client or candidate thinks I've failed them. Everyone makes mistakes and I'm not perfect, but I do my best to handle each client and candidate on an individual basis and give them my best effort and attention. As busy as this job can be, that does not always happen, however that is no excuse!"

About The Interview Process: Got Any Advice?

Job placement can be tricky, from cold calling potential resources, screening applicants, setting them up with interviews, and negotiating the final offers. Do you have any advice you would give to software testers?

For the Initial Phone Screen with the Recruiter


"Be yourself and keep things casual. We are not the enemy :) we're here to help you and learn about you as a technologist and as a person. Whenever a candidate has their guard up when speaking with me, it's not so much a 'red flag' for me not to work with them, but instead, I know there must have been a bad experience at some point that I would like to hear about so I don't give that candidate the same bad experience".

For the Initial Phone Screen with the Client Company

"Use your recruiter for preparation! I do my best to learn the ins and outs of each position, the hiring manager, his/her team, and the overall company culture. This is why we do things in person. Recruiters can not make you a great technologists or give you the answers to the test, but we can do our best to give you as much artillery as possible to 'win the interview' assuming we know our clients very well".

For Interviewing with the Client Company On-Site

"Dress to impress. I always suggest business professional, unless specifically instructed otherwise. First impressions are everything, and appearance is that first impression. Also, do your research on the company. If you're getting an on-site interview, chances are you're somewhat technically qualified. At this point, it's important to impress the hiring manager with your knowledge of their overall business & industry". 

For Negotiating Salary

"Trust your recruiter. Our clients pay us a percentage of your base salary, so it is in our best interest to get you the highest offer possible. At the same time, we understand the market, and this is where our expertise comes in handy. We do our best to get a candidate their ideal target salary, while not pricing them out of the market demand. Be open with your recruiter about what you're currently making, what your high-end target salary is, and the low-end salary that you'd potentially consider after going through the entire process. Communication is key to be sure you and your recruiter are on the same page!"

About Manual Testing


How difficult is it for manual testers to find work?

"2017 is a candidate driven market. I suggest manual testers expand into automation, to be as marketable as possible, but with how low unemployment is in the tech industry, jobs are aplenty for good talent in general!"

Do you have any advice for manual testers?

"Some industries where I see the demand for manual testers currently are in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. But that is always changing, and so should candidate skill sets. Candidates should always be exposing themselves to new technologies and challenges".

Parting Thoughts


Any Last Comments You May Want To Add?

"I suggest keeping an open mind with every recruiter you have a meaningful connection with. I understand how often candidates are contacted about the next great role - we recruiters get those messages quite a bit as well. For direct-hire positions, you never know when that next great role will come, or when you're suddenly without a job. Having a large and trusted network of recruiters who truly understand what motivates you and what you're looking for is going to be the best way for you to land your next amazing position, or get back into the work force as quickly as possible without having to 'settle' for any old job".


Thank you, Mitch, for the detailed responses! Mitch can be reached at:

Are you a recruiter that places QA resources in the Boston area? 

Take the survey, How Boston Recruiters See The Software Testing Industry 2017, in order to be indexed on the Boston Recruiters page on the Ministry of Testing - Boston Meetup site. 

Contact T.J. Maher if you wish to host an event at your Cambridge or Boston office location!

And thank you, Conrad Hollomon for tapping me to be a co-organizer of the Ministry of Testing - Boston! I haven't had this much fun since I was an Assistant Event Coordinator of Nerd Fun - Boston!

And as always, Happy Testing!

-T.J. Maher
Twitter | LinkedIn | GitHub

// Sr. QA Engineer, Software Engineer in Test, Software Tester since 1996.
// Contributing Writer for TechBeacon.
// "Looking to move away from manual QA? Follow Adventures in Automation on Facebook!"
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