9 Smart Questions to Ask Recruiters Before Interviewing
Recruiters provide vital links between employers and prospective workers. Some job candidates seek out their services directly. Others discover after submitting an application that the hunt is being conducted by a recruiter on behalf of a company.
Don’t be surprised if you even encounter a recruiter when you’re not looking for a job—some make “cold calls” to people they’ve identified as a good possible fit for an open position.
Knowing what questions to ask recruiters helps candidates to truly get a handle on what certain employment opportunities are all about. But what should you ask?
Questions to Ask Recruiters
Can you tell me more about the job?
Recruiters can provide greater detail than what you may have already learned through a job posting, network connection, or website, so encourage them to reveal everything they know.
After you’ve established some basics, probe more directly into the nature of the specific position. You’ll gain insight about daily life and company values, which can be critical when you’re trying to decide whether the opportunity is worth pursuing.
“It’s good when candidates ask relevant questions about the inner workings of the role, not just about information they can find online,” says Matt Cholerton, human resources leader and founder of Hito Labs. He recommends asking questions such as:
- What, specifically, are some projects I’ll work on when I start?
- If I’m successful, what will I have done in six months? In one year?
- Who will I work with in this role?
- How would employees rate the company culture?
What are the details of the role?
Finding out if the job is full-time, part-time, freelance, employee, temporary, etc. will be important. Recruiters may not mention that it’s a three-month temporary job with the potential to be permanent, and so on.
Find out if insurance and paid time off is offered as well. If the basics of the job don’t meet your needs, you’ll be wasting your time and the recruiter’s to move forward.
Why did the last person in this job leave?
Are you coming into a newly created role? Did your predecessor get a promotion? Was someone let go? Asking this question to a recruiter could be telling.
How long has the job been open?
The recruiter’s answer can be a red flag. A position that’s been open for quite some time may signal that other candidates found reason to pass it up, and maybe you should be on guard. Or it might mean you’ll be dealing with a particularly fussy or indecisive hiring manager.
If the job just opened, expect the hiring process to take some time since the employer likely will be looking at a few candidates before getting serious about offers.
What are the top skills needed?
Getting this information from a recruiter can help you quickly know how well you’re qualified for the role, and where you might be lacking. It can also help you determine if you’re really interested in the job.
For example, if the position requires a lot of behind-the-scenes work and you’d rather be client-facing, you may want to find something more suited to your skills.
What is the company culture like?
Company culture is important, and a question that you should always ask recruiters. You want to be a good fit for the company, and you want the company to be a good fit for you. Pay attention to how the recruiter describes the company.
Is it a button-down culture where employees are expected to work late? Are there any staff get-togethers? Is there a dress code requirement? Are they remote-friendly? Any of these details can help you know if the company will be a good match.
Does the company have a remote work policy?
Flexible and remote work has gone beyond the “work perk” stage and has become an expected way to work. If it’s important to you to be able to work at home or adjust your schedule as needed, find out in advance if this is possible in this particular role.
If the company has a remote work policy, this can provide you all the details you want to know. If they don’t have a policy in place, you may need to dig deeper to discover the company’s feelings on flexible work. And while many companies say that they’re “open” to it, if there isn’t already a formal policy in place, then this may not be the best fit for you if flexibility is high on your list.
What’s the time frame for filling this job?
Understanding the time line of both the recruiter and hiring company will help manage your expectations. The recruiter should be able to tell you an estimate of how long it will take to hear back from them for the next steps, or even how soon the company wishes to have a new hire come on board.
How long have you worked with this company?
If the recruiter is internal, meaning they work at the company, their answer to this question can give you insight into their longevity there and how well they know the company and the position.
If the recruiter is external, you can ask about the respective firm’s relationship with the company. If they have a long and healthy history together, the recruiter may be more helpful in getting you hired.
Questions to Ask When a Recruiter Makes Unsolicited Contact
Hearing from a recruiter when you aren’t actively job hunting can take you by surprise and may make you leery. However, especially in this age of social media, recruiters have plenty of ways to learn about and connect with people who appear promising. Get some basic information from the get-go, such as:
- Where did you obtain my name and contact information?
- What is the name of your firm, and where is it located?
- What other roles have you filled recently?
If you decide the opportunity might be worth further investigation, start tailoring questions more directly to the actual position. Pose the questions mentioned earlier as you see applicable. Cholerton also suggests asking:
- Why do you think I’m a good fit for this role?
- What has been lacking in candidates so far?
- What is the salary the company said it can pay for this role?
And be sure to get the person’s full name, title, and contact info. After you perform your own research on both the recruiter and the prospective employer, you’re bound to have many more questions!
Get More Job Search Advice
As you move along in your job search journey, you’re bound to have more questions. Luckily, we offer a few different newsletter options that can provide you job leads, advice, and special offers directly to your email. Whether you need job search inspiration or tips navigating the job market, our newsletters can provide the content you need.
Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com
A version of this post was originally published on December 2, 2017.
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Beth Braccio Hering, Writer, Freelance Jobs
Beth Braccio Hering has been a freelance writer for 20 years. In addition to extensive contributions to various Encyclopaedia Britannica products, her work has been published by outlets such as CareerBuilder, Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter, Walt Disney Internet Group, and…Read More >
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