When it comes to job interviews, planning and preparation are vital. The more you learn about the company you’re applying for, the better you’ll be able to prepare for your interview.
Your potential employer or a hiring manager will ask you some questions to decide whether you’re fit for the job position or not. Some hiring managers are also known to toss a few unexpected questions to see how you’ll respond.
That’s why you need to ask the right questions to the recruiter, as they will help you prepare answers for these questions.
So, what are some good questions to ask recruiters? We asked experts to give us their insights.
Table of Contents
- What are two or three things that make someone a top performer in this position?
- How many candidates have you placed with this client?
- What is the turnover rate for this job?
- How do you work with candidates of my background?
- Try to ask specific questions pertaining to the company
- What are the key challenges in this role?
- What is your company’s philosophy on employee training and continuing development?
- What common attributes do your best employees have?
- Ask about how long this opportunity is open
- Now that we’ve had a chance to meet, do you have any concerns?
- What do your employees like most about working here?
- What traits or skills have you found to be successful in the company
- Ask questions about their plans for the future and how your role is set up to support that
- What makes me the ideal candidate for this position?
- What kind of team-building activities does my team engage in?
Vice President and General Manager, Lucas Group
What are two or three things that make someone a top performer in this position?
When interviewing with a corporate recruiter, it is important to understand their perspective and their place in the process when you are considering what questions to ask.
I believe the questions a job seeker asks are significantly more important than the answers they give. Asking intelligent, thoughtful and interesting questions sets great candidates apart from good ones because candidates that ask questions are generally more likable.
As Dale Carnegie once said in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People, “We are interested in people that are interested in us.” Think about how this applies to your own life. I’ll bet you like being around people that are genuinely interested in you and generally avoid blowhards that only talk about themselves.
The irony in the latter situation is that THEY (the blowhards) probably like YOU, since you may seem interested in them!
A corporate recruiter looks good when they can provide the hiring manager with a complete picture of the candidate’s background, skillset, and competencies, in addition to their personality and cultural fit. If you ask the recruiter the right questions, they will tell you how to package yourself to be the most attractive candidate you can be.
Questions to ask and why:
Was there someone else in this role before?
If yes: Why did they leave the position?
If no: Why was this position created?
WHY ASK THIS QUESTION: If a position is a back-fill, then the performance metrics are well-known and the skill set is probably well-defined. If it is a new position, there may be more flexibility since they don’t know what they don’t know.
What are two or three things that make someone a top performer in this position?
What are two of the biggest challenges the person in this position will face in the first six months?
WHY ASK THESE QUESTIONS: You obtain information that will help you present your skills and experience in a more meaningful and impactful way, and can help the recruiter envision you being that top performer – which they will communicate to the hiring manager.
What is the best thing about working at (insert company name)?
NOTE: Don’t be specific in your question – let the recruiter tell you.
WHY ASK THIS QUESTION: The answer to this question provides you with a taste of the corporate culture. Are they most proud of being family-friendly? Is there tremendous income potential? Is it a fun work environment?
Remember, this is NOT an adversarial relationship. A good recruiter WANTS you to be a good candidate, so help them help you!
Founder, Job Coach Amy
How many candidates have you placed with this client?
About Third-Party Recruiters
When your resume is placed before a hiring manager from a recruiter, you are automatically more expensive because you come with a recruiter’s fee. If the recruiter is a trusted vendor, it can help. If the recruiter is not, it hurts. Here’s the deal.
There are two types of recruiters:
Retained recruiters get paid regardless of who gets hired. These firms are “retained” upfront to do the research on what kind of candidate will be the best cultural fit and bring the most appropriate management style. The client, then, chooses from a set of candidates that have already been pre-screened.
There are increasingly fewer of these as corporations get stingy about paying retainer fees. They tend to operate only at the highest levels (C-suites or board positions) or for the “hard to find” fit such as a business unit leader with experience in both circus operations and waste management.
Contingency recruiters get paid only if their candidate gets hired. They are in fierce competition with anyone and everyone who may seek to put a horse in the race. Contingency recruiters can run the gamut from fairly unscrupulous individuals who want to work with a high volume of warm bodies, to highly trained professionals who essentially are retained recruiters without the upfront fee.
The unscrupulous types will be happy to tell you that you have been selected for your excellent record to join a prestigious marketing organization and then send you to a busy downtown corner to wear a sandwich board and pass out leaflets. They are probably hiring 50-100 people per week and always looking for more because the burnout rate is high.
Professional recruiters have good relationships with their clients and will tell you a bit about the atmosphere of the office they represent, what the managers are seeking, the type of person who succeeds in the role and what to expect in the interview process. They want you to succeed so they can get paid, but they also have a close relationship with the client.
The questions to ask the recruiter are:
- How many candidates have you placed with this client?
- Is your client the hiring manager (the person who makes the decision on the candidate) or the recruiter (the person who serves candidates up to the hiring manager)?
- How long have you been working with this client?
- Do you know specifically what the hiring manager is looking for or does not like?
If you get the feeling based on the answers that the recruiter does NOT have an established relationship with the client, be careful about sending him or her your resume. You’ll be a more expensive, less desirable candidate coming from an unknown recruiter.
Also check to see if the job is publicly posted, as some recruiters learn about open positions from the same places that you can learn about them and you may be able to send in a resume directly!
Vice President of Business Development, Messina Group
What is the turnover rate for this job?
Don’t you want to know why the job is open? Are people running away screaming after a week at this job? If there’s a high turnover rate, ask why.
Your recruiter might try to sugarcoat the answer to this question, but it’ll give you an idea of how difficult the job is. Think twice and do some research before accepting a job with a high turnover rate.
What should I know about the hiring manager?
The recruiter is the mediator between you and the person hiring you. So, you should use your meetings to learn as much about that person as possible.
What’s it like working for that person? What types of employees do they value most? What types of things do they look for in new hires? The more you can learn about the hiring manager, the better you’ll be able to prepare for your interview.
Are there are any questions I should prepare for?
Every interview is different, but most of them involve some iteration of the same questions.
Obviously, you’ll want to be prepared for those questions. But some hiring managers are known to toss a few unexpected questions in there to see how you’ll respond. Your recruiter can clue you in to help you prepare answers for these questions.
How do you work with candidates of my background?
“What is your process for recruiting and how do you work with candidates of my background? What is your strategy?”
Ask the recruiter what their general recruitment process is. Are they going to call existing clients or reach out to new clients on your behalf? You want to know how and what method is the recruiter going to represent you in the marketplace. You want to know if they will be passively waiting for calls to come to them from existing clients, or actively marketing your background to the marketplace.
The more energetic and proactive a recruiter is, the better. You will be able to get a sense of this by asking these questions.
“What is your perspective of the market like with someone of my background?”
Ask this question to know how long the search may potentially take, and what the market temperature is like for someone with your background. If there are a lot of positions open that are demanding someone of your background, it is likely easier for you to find a new role.
“How often are you going to communicate with me and how often should I be communicating with you?”
Recruiters are often busy juggling different tasks and clients so ask this question to understand how a recruiter would like you to keep in contact with them, so as not to annoy them and to ensure that the relationship is productive.
“What else can I do as a candidate to facilitate a more robust job search?”
Recruiters should be 25% of your job search. Ask this question to know how else you can better your own search for a job, find out what ideas they have for you. Recruiters are very resourceful and creative individuals, so some may have some good ideas for you as to how you can help yourself too!
“What would you suggest I do to improve my resume?”
Ask this question to ensure that your resume is representing you in the best light in the market. Most recruiters look at hundreds of resumes every day and know which ones are landing interviews with clients. They are the best individuals to ask this question to, and a good recruiter should be able to provide you with some helpful tips.
CEO, Korn Ferry | Author, Advance: The Ultimate How-to Guide for Your Career
The number one concern really isn’t the money or the title—although let’s face it, that’s what most people want to concentrate on and ask a recruiter right out of the gate.
There are a time and a place to talk about money. But most important—though rarely asked—is what you are going to learn on the job.
Will you be given stretch assignments periodically and with some regularity? Will you be given global exposure, which is vital to advancing your career?
You also need to know about your boss: Who will you be working for?
Too often, people do not pay enough attention to the boss and that person’s impact on their career development. Consider the 70-20-10 rule that states 70% of learning occurs on the job through development opportunities, including assignments that stretch you and allow you to learn new skills.
Another 20% is from people, especially your boss—who, by the way, is also largely responsible for the 70%. That means 90% of what you’re going to learn in this new job will depend largely on who your boss is. Only 10% is from training and courses.
Another vital part of the conversation with a recruiter is around relocation if a job requires you to move. Don’t assume you can address telecommuting or virtual work arrangements at the end of the interview process when you get a job offer.
I’ve heard so many stories about candidates who go through several interviews, assuring the recruiter and the company that relocation is “no problem,” only to reveal at the end that they cannot move. If you have questions about how much flexibility there is in where and how you work, ask that upfront.
Try to ask specific questions pertaining to the company
An applicant’s opportunity to ask questions usually comes at the end of the interview. He or she must prepare at least two questions that demonstrate an interest in the position, a drive to excel in the role, and the fact that they’ve done their homework.
I am definitely an advocate of encouraging candidates to ask thoughtful questions during an interview. Typically at the end of an interview, there is an opportunity to ask questions. This is an applicant’s opportunity to display they have done their homework and due diligence about the company.
I advise my candidates to look at the website and the person’s LinkedIn to try to ask specific questions pertaining to the company.
When I personally interview people for an internal hire, I always note if an applicant has displayed they did research about my firm. This shows a genuine interest which is important. Hiring managers want candidates who are dedicated and convey why they are interested in the actual company.
In addition to asking a question that is very specific to the company, it is also good to have some general “go-to” questions. This also displays to the hiring manager that you are engaging and inquisitive which are positive attributes to show regardless of the specific role.
Some examples can be asking more details of what the job entails or a typical day would be in the role. Also inquiring about opportunities for growth displays that you are seeking a long term opportunity.
Always remember an interview is a two-way street and an opportunity for them to learn about you and vice verse. You want to make the most of your interview experience and having good questions can undoubtedly help separate you from others who aren’t prepared or inquisitive.
You want the hiring manager at the end of an interview to have no doubts that you are invested and want the job!
Michael Trust, MPA, SPHR, PHRca, SHRM-SCP
Human Resources Director at Michael Trust Consulting
What are the key challenges in this role?
An interview is a two-way conversation and as such, candidates should be prepared to ask in-depth, well thought out questions. Some can be prepared in advance – obvious things like “what is the culture in the organization” with probes to test the veracity:
“What is the typical career path for this role, and how many people have been successful in this path at this organization?”
“What is the work/life balance like (along with “I don’t mind working hard; I’m just trying to gauge if the expectation is 60 hours a week or more or 40-50, and if the expectation is that someone is available 24/7 or on weekends/evenings, etc.”) so that I can properly determine if this role fits within my desired parameters”
Particularly now with the alleged “hot labor market”, this is a question employers will likely want to answer)
“What are the key challenges in this role?”
“What are the major issues that someone coming into this role should expect to tackle quickly?”
“What is the work style of the hiring manager?”
Some question will have to be developed on the fly, as the interview progresses – as the candidate learns more about the role, expectations, challenges/opportunities, and the like, a candidate will want to ask thoughtful questions around what they are learning to gain more insights.
One of the great questions to ask if “you’ve described some particular challenges – may I explain how I would attack these to help solve them?” But don’t give away the store – that’s free consulting – and organizations will eat that up; you want to whet their appetite for more – which they get when they hire you, not before.
Timothy G. Wiedman, D.B.A., PHR Emeritus
Associate Prof. of Management & Human Resources (Retired)
What is your company’s philosophy on employee training and continuing development?
During the majority of employment interviews, at some point (usually toward the end of the interview session) the hiring team will ask applicants whether they have any questions concerning the vacant position’s job description, company policies & procedures, employee benefits, the organization’s philosophy, and culture, etc.
At that juncture, a good question for candidates to ask might be:
“What is your company’s philosophy on employee training and continuing development, and is there any funding available to assist employees who want to upgrade their skills by taking job-related courses or certification exams during their free time?”
As a hiring manager, I enjoyed hearing questions of this sort because I felt that they indicated that an applicant was interested in continuing education and professional growth– versus simply getting a job. And these days, all organizations need employees who are committed to keeping their skills up-to-date!
Jennifer Lee Magas, MA, JD
Vice President, Magas Media Consultants, LLC | Clinical Associate Professor of Public Relations, Pace University
You always want to make a good impression at the start of an interview, but your questions during and at the end are just as important. When an interviewer asks you “Do you have any questions for us?” you better have something prepared. Here are my recommendations for good questions.
Can you tell me what a typical day in this position looks like?
This question shows pointed interest in the position, and the intention to follow through should an offer be extended. You’re trying to prove you can handle the workload and fit in the company culture, and asking for a day-to-day description is the start of figuring out where you may belong in the scheme of things.
What would make me a success in this position?
This question shows ambition. You should always leave an impression that you’re a hard worker, but this question suggests “I’m going to come into this job, and I’m going to work hard at it,” because you’re looking to benefit from the position as well as the company does.
Why did the previous person leave this position?
This question is something you can’t research. You’re asking this to see the challenges of the job and evaluate and explain how you can handle them better.
What will be the biggest challenge for the person filling this position?
The standard “What does this position entail” or “What will I be doing in this position” makes the jobseeker seem uninformed about the employer and gives the interviewer the impression you did not do your research about the company prior to the interview.
Ultimately, this portrays a disinterest and lack of caring for the interviewer. However, asking about the biggest challenge that comes along with the person filling this position gives you even more insight into the job and allows you to explain your strengths and how you would best handle that challenge.
Where are you in the hiring process? What’s our next step?
Although this question may seem basic, ending an interview with this question is essential. This gives the interviewer the impression that, even after the interview has concluded, it confirms you are still very interested in this job position and you believe the company is a good fit. Therefore this gives you further understanding of what is next in the process in order to get you one step closer to landing the job.
HR Director, Studio 54
What common attributes do your best employees have?
If you or your skillset is in demand you should use that to your benefit and turn the tables somewhat.
You want to find out if a company will be a good fit for you, however, no interviewer will bad-mouth their company and will always give the best impression of their company. You’ll need to ask nuanced questions to get the real deal on what goes on. Some questions to ask include:
1. Why do you like working here?
No need to focus so much on their answers, more the manner and how quickly they respond. If there is a significant delay for their first answer that would raise a red flag. Any general benefits should be ignored, every company should have that – it doesn’t make them any more special
2. What common attributes do your best employees have?
This question will help you identify what they value in their employees, it allows you to recognize if you have the same ones.
3. Why should I work for you?
This directly challenges them, and their assumptions that they are in control. If they are pleasantly surprised this means they can take constructive feedback and are ok with an honest employee.
4. A classic question revolves around asking for career opportunities and progression in the company.
To put a real twist on this, ask them to give an example of someone who has progressed from your level – again this shows real proof that the company’s actions back up their word.
Business Innovator | Co-Founder & CEO, Cleverism
Ask about how long this opportunity is open
After completion of the interview, a question comes from the employer, “It’s done from my side. Now, do you have any questions?” Now, it’s the right time, don’t miss it. You must plan for this question like you prepare for the interview.
You can get help from the following sample ideas:
Ask about how long this opportunity is open?
It makes sense when you know how long the company is in the process of hiring for the same position. You can get an idea of competition and chances of selection or rejection. It also happens that if the opportunity gets open for a short time, it means that the company required immediate hire, and the decision will be announced soon.
What is company culture? How diverse is the workforce?
Asking the employer about company culture includes working hours, reporting methods, dress code, or interaction with other employees. It gives a clear idea of what the company expects from a new hire. It is not necessary if you have cleared a technical interview, but you also be a culture fit candidate.
It is also possible that the company has a vast workforce that belongs to various customs. There may be variance in language, dressing, or eating. Hence you need to know that either you can be workable in such an atmosphere or not.
How does a company work for employment growth? Is there any training offered?
Every candidate thinks about growth and indeed looks for continuous progress. The market is not static nor technology. One needs to learn further, experience more to groom himself for future attempts.
It is essential to know that if the company hires you offering the right salary package and perks, and either the company investing in employee training and development? Do they provide any educational methods or sponsorship programs to keep their workforce up to date? Such information gives you an idea about your real growth in the long run.
What are the performance indicators?
We always heard KPIs, key performance indicators, which are performance pointers that a company defines for employees. They vary for different departments.
You perform best in your interview, but you are required to know what procedures the company has to measure job performance that will be considered for job security, increment, promotions, and other perks or benefits. These measures must be quantifiable and achievable goals following a standard time limit.
Who will be your manager, or how many staff members are there in the same department?
It is the right time if you ask to meet with your manager. Before becoming an employee, you can ask about the work procedures and even critical opinions and expectations without any shyness.
Introduction with the team is a sneaky way to prepare yourself for better performance. Being an interview candidate, you can get a more profound insight that gives you a better sense of the organization’s practice and hierarchy.
Ask him permission for further contact.
Indeed, at whatever stage you of your hiring process, you would like to hear from the HR manager whether he has hired you or not. On the other side, it is a good gesture to stay in touch with the interviewer either you get selected or not. At least you are better than those profiles which have been not invited for an interview even.
The hiring process is always continued in large organizations. There are more chances that maybe next, you could be shortlisted first to hire.
Be positive, grow the network, and keep the contact with you for updates of the current interview as well as for the next opportunity.
Erica M. Shelton
Executive Recruiter for Shelton & Steele
Questions can be an opportunity to sell yourself because they show the interviewer your mindset. For example:
“I am not interested in coming here and doing a good job, what’s the difference between someone who is average, and someone like me who wants to be exceptional?”
If you are a high-end professional such as a lawyer or consultant, a great question would be:
“I have a client base that will keep me and several other people busy. Would it be possible for me to meet with the people who could benefit from the additional work I will bring with me?”
This shows the recruiter that you are not looking to be fed, you are someone who will feed others.
Finally, a great question for in-house recruiters of HR is:
“Obviously you have been successful here because you are sitting on the other side of the table from me now. Can you share with me any personal insights or anecdotes that have contributed to your success at this company?”
Anytime you give someone permission to feel good about themselves and discuss their accomplishments, they will feel better about you.
Keynote Speaker | Learning Designer | Master Facilitator
- Why is this position open?
- What is your leadership philosophy?
- What is the leadership philosophy of the CEO?
- What are the values of the company?
- Can you give me an example of a time someone in my position lived those values? And/or, can you give me an example of when you’ve had to follow your values or philosophy when dealing with your team. What about a time it would have been easier to go with the flow and you followed your gut, or your values instead?
- Have there ever been times you’ve wanted to do something you knew would be in the best interest of the company and you weren’t sure how the board/your boss would feel?
- What types of activities does the company do to support diversity?
- What’s the biggest change/challenge the company has had to deal with until now? How did it play out? Did things take longer than expected? Were there any surprises? Bruised egos?
A new leader in a company always brings new ideas. Sometimes teams, who are used to doing things a certain way, find this challenging.
- On a scale of 1 – 10, what’s your sense of how flexible the team and your colleagues are with change?
(If the number is low) How do you like to lead? Would you support me in a change you agreed with, but where other people are resistant? What would that look like?
(if the number is high) can you give me an example of a time the team/company faced a new idea and how it played out
GENERAL NOTE: A candidate shouldn’t ask all of these questions. They are a menu of options to have ready depending on how the conversation goes.
Questions to avoid until the company has actually offered you the position:
How much vacation do I get?
Can I get a parking spot?
What is the salary?
How long until I’d get promoted?
Would you pay for me to get an MBA?
Questions like these signal to the recruiter you are only there for a paycheck. During a job interview, you want to show that you are thoughtful about how you’d be able to help the company.
Ted Keyport, CSP
Senior Recruiter, The Tactical Interviewer
Now that we’ve had a chance to meet, do you have any concerns?
One of the biggest pieces of advice I give my candidates is to ask the ‘Concerns‘ question.
“Now that we’ve had a chance to meet, do you have any concerns?”
I can’t tell you how often this question has saved someone’s bacon. Just a few months ago I had a situation where a hiring manager interviewed a candidate and asked if they happened to own a particular tool that was ubiquitous in this industry. The candidate did not own the tool because his company had provided it, but simply answered, “No, I don’t have it”.
The interviewer nodded, and the interview continued. At the end of the interview the candidate asked, “Do you have any concerns?” and the interviewer said something to the effect of, “I’m worried you don’t have experience using that particular tool. If you don’t have experience with that tool, it means you can’t do A B or C, all of which I would need this person to do in this role.”
“Oh!” said the candidate, “I know how to use that tool very well. I simply don’t own it because my previous company supplied it to me. But I had to use it every day.” He ended up getting an offer. But he would not have gotten one if he hadn’t asked this question.
This question allows you to fix any mistakes you might have made earlier in the interview. Sometime’s it’s something very simple. But even a simple little mistake or misunderstanding can grow into doubt as the interviewer turns over your meeting in their mind.
Career Expert and Content Strategist, Zety.fr
What do your employees like most about working here?
In a job interview, you sell yourself short if you don’t do a little interviewing on your own. Recruiters expect you to ask questions, and they will assess you on this as much as they do when you answer their questions.
Plus, with unemployment rates hitting all-time lows, the tables have turned on employers, and job candidates get to decide whether they want to work for a specific company or not. Start by showing your interest in the company. Recruiters and company owners are always impressed by people that show passion and enthusiasm about work and the company itself.
Never ask: “what does your company actually do?” you should know this already.
But you can always ask questions about the company’s long-term goals, work culture, or how teams operate, like:
- “Could you go into more detail about the company’s culture?”
- “Is there a career path that someone in this position would be expected to follow?”
- “What do your employees like most about working here?”
Then you can go a bit further and ask questions about the job you’re applying to:
- “What can you tell me about the job apart from what was in the description?”
- “What is the key to succeeding in this role?”
- “Could you tell me a little bit about the person I would report to directly?”
These are all good questions to ask. Getting answers to these will also let you decide whether this is something you’re really up for.
Finally, show your interest in participating in the next steps of the hiring process by asking:
- “What’s the next step in the hiring process?” and
- “How long does your recruitment process usually take?”
Dr. Robert C. Satterwhite
Head of the Leadership & Organizational Effectiveness Practice at Odgers Berndtson
- Is this a retainer or contingency assignment?
- How many people have you placed with this client?
- To whom does this position report? What can you tell me about the hiring manager? What’s his/her style?
- How long have you been working on the assignment?
- Is this a new or old job? Why is it open?
- What criteria will you be using to select the person for this job?
- What concerns do you have about my ability to do this job?
- Does the company actively support professional development for their employees? What types of programs are offered?
- What does the employee need to do in order to qualify for a development opportunity?
- If there aren’t any specific programs offered internally, what support is provided for training and education taken independently?
This could include tuition reimbursement, being allowed to take time for classes and workshops, and so on.
Companies that offer professional development programs, whether in-house or externally, typically have a supportive, employee-focused culture. This one factor carries many positive implications about what it will be like to work for them. And as an employee, one should always be seeking growth and learning opportunities.
Founder, The Corporate Con/noisseur
What traits or skills have you found to be successful in the company
Interviewing with a recruiter is inherently different than one with the hiring manager. Whereas the hiring manager will have extensive, in-depth knowledge and understanding of the topic and role being interviewed for, the recruiter may not.
A recruiter’s job is to screen and vet applicants, passing on their opinion to the hiring manager for an additional interview.
When interviewing with a recruiter, you should avoid asking questions pertaining to the specifics of the role and the knowledge needed to be successful in the role. Rather, you should ask questions that are more general.
This can include, “what traits or skills have you found to be successful in the company” and “what can a successful candidate do on their first day to ensure they have a solid understanding of the company and the company’s internal processes.”
These questions are great for asking a recruiter because they are a bit more general. In addition, these questions show the recruiter that you have an innate yearning to be successful in the role. This will be a positive note in the recruiter’s note that they provide to the hiring manager.
Founding Partner and Vice President of Valeo Groupe, US (The parent company of Epoch Clemson)
Ask questions about their plans for the future and how your role is set up to support that
Just as an organization wants to be sure you are a good fit for them, you want to ensure it’s going to be a good long-term fit for your goals as well.
Ask questions about their plans for the future and how your role is set up to support that.
The big picture can be just as important as the day-to-day. If you’re looking to grow your career, there’s nothing worse than joining an organization where there’s zero room to do that and it’s something you can get a feel for pretty much right off the bat.
Co-Founder and President, MyRoofingPal
An interview with a recruiter should be used as an opportunity to learn more about the company they’re wanting to place you with and to get “inside” information that might help in interviewing with them specifically.
Too many people treat a recruiter as an unnecessary middle man, and while some can be, many recruiters exist to help you dig deeper than the average applicant. Don’t spend your time asking things you could easily find out on your own. Instead, seek out firsthand knowledge that isn’t going to be posted on job listings.
A great question to ask is: Why is this position open? Is this a new position the company has created, did someone retire and leave a vacancy, or is there so much turnover for this position that you’re better off looking elsewhere?
The answer can help you decide if the job is right for you, and if it is, you can better formulate an approach.
Other great questions include:
- Why have they turned down qualified candidates in the past?
- What’s the hiring manager like, and what do they respond well to?
- What’s the overall culture of the company?
- Why do people leave the company?
Some candidates may consider these questions “rude,” but they’re necessary for knowing what you’re getting yourself into, and so you can plan an approach that will land you the job.
Finance Expert | CMO, LetMeBank
The recruiter isn’t the hiring manager, but they can be your stepping stone to getting the job. Take your conversation with the recruiter seriously and do yourself a favor by making it a conversation instead of a back and forth. Get comfortable, even as you stay professional. Feel free to make appropriate jokes and lighten the mood, just don’t forget why you’re there.
When you get a chance, ask what the recruiter feels are the top three skills a candidate should have for the job.
This helps you decide if you’re a good fit and also shows the recruiter that you’re serious and thinking things through.
Ask about the recruiter how long have they been doing the job, what kind of people have they met on the job?
These questions tell you not just about the recruiter, but about how much sway they might have. If they’re brand new, they might not have as much influence as a seasoned recruiter.
Finally, ask about the position itself.
Why are they hiring from the outside? Is this a newly created position or is this a newly vacated position? And how long has the position been empty? Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It won’t cost you the job so long as you’re professional.
Founder and CEO of GetVoIP
What makes me the ideal candidate for this position?
There are two questions that can provide excellent insight into a position when you’re talking to a recruiter.
“What makes me the ideal candidate for this position?”
This helps you prepare for the interview in a more focussed way, as opposed to simply guessing what skills or traits they were looking for.
“Who will be doing the interview?”
This question helps understand the tone of the interview. You’re going to get a different kind of experience depending on whether you’re talking to someone in HR, middle management, or the C suite. Knowing who will be in the room allows you to prepare accordingly.
VP of Operations, NuLeaf Naturals
What kind of team-building activities does my team engage in?
One way to identify a great candidate is by their curiosity regarding your team culture. As such, I immediately elevate a candidate to the next round if they ask any of the following:
- What kind of team building activities does my team engage in?
- Are there opportunities to work with other teams day to day, weekly, or even quarterly?
- Where do you see the growth of this company, my team, and the role specifically?
- What kind of success metrics do you use to evaluate an employee in this role?
- Can I connect with a team member or two to ask their opinion about the team and the company?
Any of these questions indicates a genuine interest in being a part of a team. That is the kind of candidate I want to bring into our organization: someone who is looking for more than just a j.o.b., but a future fellowship of colleagues.
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