13 Questions to Ask a Recruiter

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
June 13, 2024 at 1:24AM UTC
You know it’s important to ask questions in any interview. The questions you ask a recruiter not only show her that you’re invested in the position but can also help you gain insight into the company and role.
Here are 13 important questions you should ask a recruiter in your screening interview.

13 Questions to Ask a Recruiter

1. How long has this position been open?

If the position has been open a long time, it could be a sign that you’re dealing with a particularly picky hiring manager or employer or that the position is undesirable. On the other hand, in the case of a brand-new opening, an employer will probably want to interview several other candidates before settling on the right person for the job.
In either case, the length of time a position hasn’t been open probably isn’t a deal breaker (unless it’s a truly ridiculous length of time such as a year), but waiting through a long hiring process could be anxiety-provoking.  

2. What are 3-4 basic characteristics, skills, and qualifications the hiring manager is looking for in the right candidate?

The recruiter has spoken with the hiring manager, probably at length, to find out what she wants for this position. While the employer may be able to give you a more nuanced and detailed response as far as the type of candidate she is looking for, the recruiter most likely knows the basic qualifications the candidate will need to have to proceed in the interview process (and ultimately land the job).
It is best to get this basic information on the table early so neither of you wastes the other person’s time. If you don’t meet the minimum requirements, let the recruiter know and ask her to keep you in mind for future opportunities for which you might be better suited.

3. How long have you been working with the employer?

The length of time a recruiter has been working with an organization can give you insight into what the relationship between them is like. If the recruiter has worked with an employer for a long time and filled numerous positions for it, then that is an indication that the employer trusts the recruiter and will take her recommendation about potential candidates seriously. If the relationship is new, that doesn’t mean an employer definitely doesn’t trust the recruiter’s recommendation, but it may suggest that the recruiter is not quite as attuned to what the organization is looking for.
Still, a good recruiter will be able to quickly glean information about the employer and its needs.

4. How frequently do you communicate with the employer?

You’re looking for a recruiter who is in close contact with the hiring manager, because that type of professional will have more sway in the process, which is better for you as a candidate.

5. What do you know about the hiring manager?

The hiring manager may be your boss, so you want to know as much about her as possible. While the recruiter certainly isn’t going to give you dirt on her client, she may be able to fill you in on her experience and relationship with the organization, which will not only help you prep for the interview but also give you insight into what your working relationship with her might be like.

6. Why is the position open?

This position could be a newly created one or the result of someone leaving. If it’s the latter, you should ask why the previous person left, since it will help you understand more about the role. For example, if she was promoted, that might bode well for your future at the organization, too. On the other hand, high turnover could be a red flag.
If the job is a new position, then you could follow up by asking about the needs of the role.

7. What does the timeline for filling the position look like?

You want to know what you’re in for as far as how long you’ll have to wait at each stage. If the recruiter indicates that it may take some time, that means you shouldn’t worry if you don’t hear back immediately after an interview. On the other hand, if the employer is eager to fill the position quickly, you’ll be looking at a compressed timeline.

8. What are the steps in the interview process?

Similar to question #7, this question will help you understand what to expect. Some hiring managers want to go through several rounds of interviews to gauge fit, while others may be comfortable with fewer. Knowing the answer to this question will help you understand where you are in the process and what to expect in the future at a given point.

9. Are you the only recruiter working with the employer, or are you sharing the account?

If the recruiter is the only person working on the account, then the odds are better for you. If many recruiters are sharing it, the hiring manager will best likely to devote significant attention to your resume, since she’s likely seeing many.
If there are many recruiters working with the employer, it doesn’t mean you have no chance; it just indicates that you will need to ensure that you have the necessary qualifications to stand out in the hiring process.

10. What are some reasons other candidates haven’t been chosen?

While the recruiter may not be willing to share this information with you, it’s still a good idea to try to glean as much information as possible about potential turn-offs for the employer. Knowing the mistakes of previous candidates will help you make sure you don’t repeat them.

11. What experience do you have recruiting in this industry? How long have you been working in this capacity?

A recruiter with more experience in the industry knows the ins and outs of the field and is a better judge of your qualifications and the needs of the organization. This can help you in the interview process, because she can give you a sense of the skills to highlight, as well as determine if you’re a good fit for the position.

12. How did you find me?

The recruiter may tell you upfront that she got your name from a LinkedIn search or as a recommendation from a colleague. If she doesn’t, knowing this information can help you gauge your fit with the employer, since a referral from a source you trust can speak volumes.
13. What else do you think I should know about the company?
This question can help you learn about aspects of the company about which you may not have thought to ask. For example, you might learn about the company culture and get a better idea of whether you’ll be a good fit.

Why You Should Ask a Recruiter Questions

• You’ll come across as prepared and interested in the role.

Since the recruiter has a vested interest in filling a position for the employer, she will present candidates who seem like the best fit. Someone who has clearly done her homework and seems equally invested in the role is a much more viable candidate than someone who clearly hasn’t prepared for the call. Asking questions shows interest and commitment to your own presentation.

• You’ll learn potentially valuable information about the employer.

This may not be the perfect role for you, and that’s okay. It’s important to know that upfront. Asking questions will help you learn about whether the job is a good fit.

• You’ll gain tips for the interview process.

The recruiter can give you invaluable insights into what the hiring manager is looking for in a candidate, as well as tips about the employer and what it’s like to work there. Knowing this information will help you better prepare for the interview process and know what to highlight to the hiring manager.

What You’re Looking for in a Response

• Insights about the employer

Again, you want to learn as much as possible about what it might be like to work for the employer. Look out for potential red flags.

• Information about what the employer is looking for in a hire

You want to understand what the employer wants so you can stress these skills in your interview.

• Indications about whether you and the employer would be a good fit

What would it be like to work for the employer? The recruiter may be more forthcoming with information than the hiring manager. You don’t just want this job to have a job; you want to have a positive relationship with the employer, feel valued, and actually enjoy your work.

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