22 October, 2020
By Jeff Gillis
When you’re looking for a new job, working with a recruiter is an incredibly smart move. You get a job search ally who can help you find your perfect match. But, if you want to get the most out of the relationship, you need to have excellent questions to ask recruiters at the ready.
Because you can learn more about the recruiter’s expertise, the kinds of roles they fill, and specific opportunities. That’s all ridiculously important.
If you want to make sure you’re prepared for your meeting, here’s what you need to know about these pros, along with example questions to ask a recruiter.
What Is a Recruiter?
Alright, before we get into the questions to ask recruiters, let’s take a step back and explore what a recruiter actually is. At the core, recruiters are professionals that help companies fill vacant positions. They learn about the job and screen candidates to see if they are a good match. They even work with candidates to set them up for success, helping them tighten their resumes and hone their job interview skills.
But it’s important to understand that not all recruiters are the same. One of the biggest things to remember is that recruiters can be internal or external to a company.
In some cases, businesses have recruiters on staff. Why? Because they can elevate the candidate experience. And, considering that 89 percent of job seekers will accept a job faster after contact with a recruiter, it speeds up hiring.
Internal recruiters focus on filling jobs at that company specifically. They don’t look for candidates for positions outside of that business.
External recruiters operate differently. These candidate-seeking pros work for staffing firms, recruitment agencies, or independently. Companies outsource their recruitment to these professionals, so those recruiters may fill openings at a whole slew of businesses.
Understanding what kind of recruiter you’re speaking with is a must. That way, when you’re choosing questions to ask a recruiter, you focus on the right ones.
Top 20 Questions to Ask a Recruiter
Now it’s time to dig into what you’ve been waiting for: the top 20 questions to ask recruiters. These questions will help you learn more about a recruiter’s services, exciting opportunities, and much, much more.
1. Do you recruit for only one company or several?
If you don’t already know if you’re meeting with an internal or external recruiter, this should be the first question you ask. It allows you to determine what jobs they may be trying to fill, as well as how much reach the recruiter may have in the local area.
However, you do need to understand that the recruiter may only give you a general answer and not a list of employers they work with. Why? Because they may be bound by a contract that prevents them from sharing the company names until it looks like a candidate is a strong fit.
2. Can you give me the job description for the role you’re considering me for?
This question is all about getting an overview of the position. You want to find out about any must-have skills or traits and the job’s responsibilities, and this is the way to get that information.
3. Is this position new, or is it a backfill?
Knowing whether someone else previously worked in the position is helpful. While neither answer is inherently “right” or “wrong,” what the recruiter shares always opens up opportunities to learn more.
For example, if the position is new, you may want to ask why it was created. If it’s a backfill, you might want to find out why the person is no longer in the role. For example, did they leave the company? Were they promoted into a higher-level job?
4. How long has the position been vacant?
With this question, you can glean some insights about the hiring process or the hiring manager’s mindset. If it’s been several months, that could indicate that the hiring manager is highly selective or that there is some kind of challenge that’s preventing them from choosing a candidate. It could also mean that filling the role isn’t a priority or that the process is long.
5. How quickly are you trying to fill this position?
This is another question that gives you clues about the timeline and whether there’s a sense of urgency. If the company wants a new hire in place as soon as possible, the remainder of the hiring process might be incredibly quick. If the hiring manager wants to take their time to find the right match, it could be a while before you hear about a decision.
6. Can you describe the position’s manager?
When you’re meeting with a recruiter about a position, you aren’t interviewing with the person who supervises the role. While you will likely meet the manager before an offer is extended, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t find out what you can about them now. That way, you can gather details about their management style or personality before you move forward.
7. Have other candidates been passed over? If so, why?
If you can get any information about why a candidate wasn’t chosen already, seize that opportunity. While this may not be relevant for positions that have just been listed, if the spot has been vacant for months, it is.
Getting a chance to find out why other candidates aren’t moving forward serves two functions. First, you can discover why they were rejected, giving you an opportunity to determine if your skills or experience are enough. Second, it gives you clues about how choosy the hiring manager is being.
8. What are the top three necessary skills for this job?
Here, you find out whether what you bring to the table might be a match. Additionally, it can give you information that may help you revamp your resume in a way that appeals to the hiring manager or come up with answers to job interview questions that best demonstrate those abilities.
9. Can you describe the company’s culture?
Culture fit is critical for long-term success. Even if the position itself sounds amazing, if you don’t mesh with the workplace, believe in the company’s mission, or share similar values, you may not enjoy the job.
10. How long have you worked for/with the company? What about this specific hiring manager?
Gauging the relationship between the recruiter, the company, and the hiring manager is a wise move.
If the recruiter is new to the company or hasn’t worked with the hiring manager previously, they may only have a surface-level understanding of the position. But, if they have a long relationship with the employer and hiring manager, they probably have detailed knowledge.
Now, this doesn’t mean that a shorter relationship is a problem. It simply lets you know that the recruiter might not have all of the answers.
11. Has the hiring manager ever passed on meeting a candidate you recommended?
This question is a bit blunt, but it lets you know how seriously the hiring manager takes recommendations from the recruiter. Additionally, it could give clues about the recruiter’s ability to find strong matches for the position.
12. Can you tell me about turnover at this company?
Finding out about turnover is a smart move. High turnover can be a sign that working for the company comes with some challenges. Low turnover indicates that people, by and large, enjoy being there, as they aren’t leaving for jobs with competitors.
13. What’s the compensation package for this position like?
While asking a hiring manager about pay during an initial meeting is usually a no-go, it’s fair game when you’re dealing with a recruiter, especially an external one. Ideally, they’ll be able to give you an overview of the salary range and available benefits, allowing you to decide if the job meets your needs earlier in the process.
14. What’s the candidate selection process like?
It’s always smart to find out what’s on the horizon. The recruiter should be able to tell you about the main stages, including whether there are multiple interviews, skills tests, screenings, or other steps involved. In some cases, they’ll also have a clear timeline, though that isn’t always the case.
15. Where is the workplace located?
This question might not be necessary if you’re interviewing with an internal recruiter. You’ll know what company they’re recruiting for, so you may already know where the office is.
But, if you’re working for an external recruiter, you need to ask this question. That way, you can decide if the physical location works for you.
16. Is working remotely an option? If so, is it a long-term option, or will that change?
For many professionals, the ability to work-from-home is a coveted benefit. It gives you a level of flexibility, making work-life balance easier to manage.
But, even if a position involves working-from-home today, that doesn’t mean it will tomorrow. You need to find out if that situation is likely to change, ensuring you’re prepared for the switch when it happens.
17. What kind of interview questions will I be asked?
This is one of the questions to ask recruiters if you want to get a leg up on the interview process. That way, you can craft answers for questions you’re almost guaranteed to be asked in advance.
18. Do you think I’m a good candidate for the position?
Getting the recruiter’s opinion never hurts. It lets you know what about you stands out, as well as if they have any reservations about you as a candidate. If they do have doubts, you can address them directly.
19. How did you find out about me?
If you were approached by a recruiter, it’s wise to ask where they found out about you. Did a member of your network drop your name? Did your LinkedIn profile catch their eye? That information can help you refine your job search going forward, and that’s powerful.
20. Is there anything else I should know?
This catch-all question allows the recruiter to give details that haven’t already been covered. It’s an opportunity for them to share, so make sure to ask it.
5 Questions to Avoid Asking Recruiters
There are questions you shouldn’t ask recruiters. Some are a bit rude or inappropriate. Others may make you seem entitled or picky. A few may make the recruiter question whether they should move forward with you.
If you want to make sure you don’t make a misstep, here are five to avoid.
- Do you have anything better than [job X] available?
- If I take this job, how soon until you can find me something different?
- Do I have to pass a drug test? If so, will they keep drug testing me after I’m hired? Will I get any warning about an upcoming test?
- Does the company use tracking software to watch me while I work?
- How quickly will I be able to take a vacation?
Putting It All Together
All of the questions to ask a recruiter above can help you find out what you need to know. By skipping the ones that are best avoided, you can increase your odds of making an outstanding impression and, ultimately, getting a chance to interview with the hiring manager.
Thanks for reading!
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