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9 Questions Recruiters Ask

9 Questions Recruiters Ask

So, now that your fabulous new resume is out there, people are starting to notice. You should of course use it to apply to those jobs which are posted on company websites, but you should also post it on sites like CareerBuilder, Indeed, etc. These popular job sites not only function as a one-stop shop for applying to multiple positions with different companies, but they also serve as an ever-updating pool of active candidates for recruiters.

Why do companies hire third-party staffing agencies in the first place? Doesn’t the in-house Human Resources team take care of reviewing applications and conducting interviews? Sourcing talent, screening potential candidates, facilitating full interviews, and negotiating offers takes a huge amount of time and focus. The HR teams of large companies have people dedicated to doing this work, while smaller companies may not have an HR team at all. In either case, recruiters help find the best candidates out of the hundreds of resumes which may be submitted for a job, or they search extensively for talent to fill those jobs which require highly specialized skill sets.

Furthermore, recruiters are valuable to the companies who hire them because they establish working relationships with candidates. When a company needs new employees, they can call on a recruiting agency to tap into their network of talent. Recruiters are also valuable to you as a job-seeker; an employer who doesn’t hire you probably isn’t going to follow up with you throughout your career, or refer you to other positions, but a recruiter will.

When I come across a great-looking resume, my next step is to pick up the phone. There are things that even the most specific resumes can’t capture about a person, and speaking to you is the only real way to get a sense of those not-so-quantifiable traits that make you you. The following are the questions my team and I ask our new candidates.

  1. Please walk me through your resume and tell me a little about yourself.

    The purpose of this question is two-fold: I want to hear how you talk about yourself, and I want to hear how you handle open-ended questions. I don’t need your life’s story, but I also hope you expound beyond a sound-bite. Your decision-making process is my main focus here: what prompted you to take the steps you did?

  2. What are your main strengths and career interests?

    Good recruiters want to establish a relationship with their candidates, which means getting to know them beyond the requirements of a particular position. While you may be perfectly capable of fulfilling the duties of the job we’re discussing initially, you may also be a great fit for something else on my docket. You and I both want you to get a job, of course, but we also want you to like it.

  3. What potentially puts you in the job market right now?

    Maybe you’re looking to relocate to a new city, or move back closer to family. Maybe you’re being proactive because your current employer is downsizing, or maybe you’re just ready for that next step up the ladder. This is still interesting to us even when you’re only passively searching for something new; if we know what the key aspect is which will inspire you to make a move—you’ll be on our short-list when that perfect position arises.

  4. In terms of salary, rate and geography where would you like to be?

    The more we understand your goals, the better. There’s also the practical considerations that come into play here—maybe the school districts are important to your family, or maybe your SO has an awesome job and wouldn’t want to move—these things will come up in greater detail as we move through the interview process, but it’s never too early to make note of anything that will influence your decision whether to accept a position.

  5. What is your current base salary?

    Some people balk at the money question—I understand, it’s a personal thing. However, it is a standard screening question because it’s usually a pretty good indicator of of skill level and experience. For instance, if you make a $50,000 salary at your current position, it’s unlikely you will be considered for an $90,000 position. The reverse is also true: if you make $90,000 now, hiring officials will want to know why you’d accept a $50,000 job.

  6. Do you get any additional bonuses or incentives on top of that?

    Maybe your current position has a great base salary but no bonus, while the position for which you applied has a lower base but an awesome bonus and stock options. These details come into play when it’s time to negotiate an offer.

  7. What is/was your hourly rate (if contractor) and do you work on w2 or corp-to corp?

    Taxes, baby. This article from Biztalktaxes gets into the weeds on this topic. Basically, working on a W2 means that you work as an employee of ours—the company who hired us pays us, and we pay you. Corp-to-corp means that the company to which you are providing your services—your client— pays your business, meaning you own either an LLC, a corporation, or an S corporation. If you’re a contractor, make this choice by weighing the pros and cons of each and decide what suits your financial needs best.

  8. Where are you right now in terms of your search and do you have any interviews or offers pending?

    This is mostly to ensure we avoid any conflicts of interest; if you’ve directly applied to the job we are discussing, I can’t represent you. Additionally, if a company is slow to respond after they interview you, we can motivate their decision-making by mentioning that you have other offers to consider if that’s the case.

  9. Do you have any questions?

    I’ll tell you what I can about the work environment, the company culture, the company size, how long they’re been around, etc. Some details are confidential at this stage however, the big one being the actual name of the company. I’ll tell you that when they ask to interview you. The biggest reason is to keep our relationship intact—I want to be able to vouch for you, and again, we can’t do that for those who apply directly to the company.

This initial conversation is designed to help us not only understand what you would offer your potential new employers, but also your goals and expectations; it’s more about you than it is about our client. Once we wrap up our preliminary discussion, I get to work crafting an introduction of you to our client, which along with your resume will prompt the next step: the job interview.