7 Questions a Job Recruiter Will Ask You

Posted November 19, 2018, by Jenny Sakr

The relationship between a candidate and a recruiter is an interesting one. You both potentially have something the other one wants, but that’s not a given. This means the best way to find out if you are each what the other is looking for is to ask each other healthy questions. When you meet your recruiter, whether in relation to a particular opportunity, or to gauge if they have something suitable you may want to apply for, they are going to ask you some questions. Recruiters want to put the best people possible forward for the opportunities they want to fill because they want to deliver a successful candidate. Then, they get paid, and they improve their relationship with the company they’re recruiting for. The last thing the recruiter wants is to have someone get hired and the placement turns into a disaster.

How then, do they try to figure out if they want to “market” you to their client (the company posting the job)? They are going to ask you questions, and it’s not always just about your skills, and expertise. Here is a list of 7 questions recruiters ask candidates:

#1 – Why are you looking for a new job?

This question won’t apply if you are unemployed (the question might be instead why did you leave your last job and why are you returning to work now?) If you are in employment don’t be surprised if your recruiter wants to know why you want to leave. This doesn’t mean they are suspicious or thinking badly of you. They simply want to get a feel for what you are unhappy about in your present role, to see if the new opportunity you want to apply for will resolve those issues for you. For example, are you leaving your job because of the culture? If so, then the recruiter needs to know because they have insight into the culture of the new company. Or are you leaving because you want to progress your career? If so, the recruiter needs to know this because they won’t want to place you in a small family business where there will be limited progression opportunities. Or perhaps, you want to leave because of the gruelling commute you make every day. You recruiter needs to know these things. Then, they can help you find work closer to home.

#2 – What do like about your current position? And dislike?

With this question, your recruiter wants to get a sense of what you like to do and what you dislike. This information can help inform their sense of how well you will fit the opportunity they want to fill. The question isn’t just about considering your job likes and dislikes from a technical point of view, although of course that matters too. They also want to hear about the positives and negatives in terms of culture. For example, are you a lone wolf stuck in an office where everyone is expected to work collaboratively? Or do you spend all day alone at your desk when you want to be part of a more dynamic collaborative culture? Try to answer questions like this one on more than one level. Try to talk about what you like and dislike from a practical point of view, in relation to the company culture, and how you feel about the management style.

#3 – Something seemingly random…

Sometimes your recruiter might ask you a seemingly random question. Such as “how would you describe yourself in three words”, or “what do you think about x random thing”. I’ll never forget when I was asked in an interview if I had a magic wand what 10 things would I do. I came back with answers such as “I’d end all wars, violence, and poverty”, and “end discrimination in all its forms”. The person who was interviewing me was very successful and money-orientated individual, and he was expecting me to answer with things like “I’d buy a big house” and “I’d buy a shiny car”. He tried for ages to get me to say what I “really” wanted because he couldn’t believe my list. But those things were what I would want and I’m not into gathering up lots of expensive belongings. He did say the wand was magic, sheesh. So, what happened with this exchange was his questions exposed me as an intrinsically motivated person, and him as more motivated by material things. Funnily enough, I did get the job, and it was a successful partnership from both points of view. However, in the end, I did move on because of the differences between what motivated me and what motivated my boss. So sometimes these seemingly random questions will unearth certain aspects of your personality, characteristics, or culture, and those things will help the recruiter find a good opportunity for you.

#4 – What was the biggest challenge you have faced in your job and how did you handle it?

With this question, the recruiter wants to begin to build a picture of the work you have done and how you have handled and responded to difficult situations. Not everyone needs to have some dramatic story of saving their company from bankruptcy to get lots of points on this question. Sometimes, simple grounded stories about challenges you have overcome at work can tell the recruiter a lot about your skills and fortitude too. Sharing with them your experiences and how you coped (professionally) will help them pitch and market you to the hiring manager.

#5 – Describe your experiences, strengths, weaknesses, and goals in x minutes

Your recruiter wants to get a feel for how you will come across in an interview, and as a potential candidate for their client. When you answer these kinds of questions think of yourself as a pitch and the recruiter as the potential investor. Pitch yourself as best as you can, aligning what you say as much as possible with what you already know about the job opportunity. Don’t forget weaknesses can become strengths it just depends on the job and how you look at them. When you discuss your weaknesses think like a politician, it’s all in the spin! Talking about your weaknesses can also be a way to demonstrate maturity and your proactivity by saying things like “my weakness in previous roles has been my introverted side, but I’ve recently taken a public speaking course to improve myself in this area”. Of course, your answer will need to be true and relevant to your particular circumstances. Telling them you’ve taken a public speaking course, when you haven’t, isn’t a good plan.

#6 – Do you have any other interviews lined up?

Your recruiter may want to know if you have any other interviews lined up. Tell the truth because if there is an urgency to scoop you up before others do, they will want to let the hiring manager know. When a recruiter puts you forward for a job opportunity, they are investing their time and energy into you, and they have a right to know what finger you have in other pies (if you do). If you do have other interviews lined up it doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t want to put you forward, but you may need to do some extra work to convince them where your priorities lie.

#7 – Do you have any questions for me?

I hate, hate, hate when people ask me this! My mind always goes blank on the spot even if my head was teeming with questions seconds before. However, people do ask, so if you are like me and go blank under pressure then prepare in advance before you meet your recruiter. If you won’t remember the questions you want to ask, write them down and take them into the meeting with you – check out these 8 questions to ask your job recruiter. If you’re one of those people who ask snappy intelligent questions on their toes, well, I’m not jealous at all.

Don’t feel intimidated!!

What will a recruiter ask you? Now you have some idea, you can better prepare for your next meeting with one. Don’t feel intimidated or pressured, yes these meetings are important but remember you’re both on the same team here; this is not a job interview. Your recruiter wants to match you to the perfect position and get to know you, know just what’s on paper. He/she want to place you in a job with a company whose culture you like and will thrive in, in a position where you can attain job satisfaction. Why? Because when they get the matching right, they earn their keep and improve their relationships with the companies they have successfully placed candidates for. And when recruiters succeed everyone wins. You get placed in a job which you love which is great for the company you will work for, and of course good for the recruiters too. When recruiting goes well, everyone is a winner. Let them ask their questions, you ask some pertinent questions too, and let’s get everyone matched up perfectly and bouncing out of bed on Mondays.

Jenny Sakr
Jenny Sakr

Jenny found her way with words while interning during uni, since, she's produced articles on it all – from hair and beauty to homewares, travel, career advice and study tips. On a weekend you're most likely to find her lining up for a table at the latest cafe or restaurant.

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