5 Great Questions to Ask a Recruiter • Career Sidekick

5 Great Questions to Ask a Recruiter

Questions to Ask a Recruiter

Just like any interview, if you’re going to be talking to a recruiter, you need some great questions to ask them. This article will show you 5 great questions to ask a recruiter in that first conversation.

These questions will help you impress them and will provide you with two types of important information:

1. Information about whether or not the job is worth pursuing.

2. Information that will help you get hired if you choose to pursue the job.

Let’s get started…

5 Questions to Ask the Recruiter:

Question 1: How long has the position been open?

This is a great question to ask recruiters because it will give you a sense of how the search has been going, how many candidates are in the company’s pipeline, etc. If a position has been open for a year, it’s tipping you off to the fact that the hiring manager is either extremely picky, or nobody wants the job. This is usually a red flag either way. It could also mean that the hiring manager doesn’t really know what he/she is looking for and keeps changing the requirements.

At the same time if a position has only been open for one week, you can expect a delay in the hiring process even if you interview right away. Hiring managers usually like to see two or three candidates face to face before making an offer.

Question 2: Is this position a backfill or newly created?

It’s nice to know if a position was previously held by somebody else or if it was newly created within the organization, so this is one of the best questions to ask a recruiter.

There’s no right or wrong answer to listen for here, but knowing this type of information is helpful in understanding the big picture. If this is a backfill, you can follow up by asking what happened to the person that previously held the job. Maybe they were promoted, left the company, transitioned into a new group, etc.

Question 3: What can you tell me about the hiring manager?

Not only will you interview with this person, but you also might report directly to them (it’s a good idea to ask specifically whether the hiring manager is also the person you’ll be reporting to). It’s helpful to know what type of technical background the hiring manager has, as well as information about his/her history within the company. This information will be helpful when speaking with the hiring manager later in the interview process.

Question 4: What are the 3 or 4 most important skills?

This is pretty self explanatory. This information should be used to assess whether or not the job will be a good fit for you. If you decide it’s a potential good fit, use the information provided to customize a resume before sending it (if you haven’ t submitted a resume already). You should also use this information to prepare some talking points or questions before your interview.

Question 5: What are some reasons that other candidates haven’t been selected?

This is an essential question to ask recruiters because the hiring manager might not tell you this information later in the process. This can help identify some potential mistakes that candidates have exhibited, whether it’s on a resume or during an interview.

Wait, should I ask the recruiter any questions about salary?

Asking directly about salary at this stage can backfire. If you didn’t see the information posted on the job description and if the recruiter didn’t discuss salary with you, I’d recommend saying something like this: “My current base salary is XX,XXX. Would the salary range of this position be able to offer me any career advancement?”

One more thing you can ask questions about…

The questions above are designed to provide you with info that will help you land the job and get hired… or quickly know if the job isn’t a good fit.

But there’s another type of question you should also consider asking a recruiter. This type of question is designed to find out how good THEY are at their job.

These questions are especially important when working with an “agency recruiter” (a recruiter that doesn’t work directly for the company you’re trying to get a job at).

Because you often have a choice of multiple recruiting agencies to work with, so you want to know things like:

Do they have substantial experience as a recruiter, and in this industry? Or are they new and relatively inexperienced (and therefore less knowledgeable and less likely to get you hired).

And how closely do they work with this company you’re trying to get hired at? Do they have the hiring manager on instant messenger? Or do they exchange one email per month and barely know each other?

If you’re not sure what this last paragraph means, I wrote an article on the different types of recruiters, and how you should use them. It’ll help you figure out which type of recruiter you’re talking to, and why it matters.

So here are some specific questions to ask recruiters in this case:

  • How long have you been recruiting in this industry?
  • How long have you been with your current recruiting company?
  • What is your relationship with the hiring manager?
  • How often do you communicate with this hiring manager?
  • What is your company’s relationship with the hiring company and how long has your firm worked with them?

These are all questions you should ask a recruiter that works for a staffing or recruiting agency.

Always be ready to talk to a recruiter

Even if you never seek out help from a recruiter, you might still find yourself interacting with them if they contact you, and that’s where knowing the best questions to ask recruiters can come in handy.

They might cold-call you based on a referral or based on your LinkedIn profile.

Or you might apply for a job and have an external recruiter call you to discuss the position, because they’ve been hired by the employer to “screen” applicants for the job you applied to.

If you use the questions above with each recruiter you speak with, you’ll make a better impression and you’ll learn uncover a lot of important details that you can use to give great answers in your upcoming interviews with the company.


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