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. Remember: an interview is a two-way street.
Depending on your questions, a recruiter's answers can provide plenty of key information about the employer and the vacancy itself.
Asking questions before an interview is a win-win: even if you don't like the answers, you will have saved yourself time and stress by not proceeding with the application process.
There are several reasons why asking questions ahead of an interview is a good idea:
· The recruiter will know the employer. The employer is your recruiter’s client – it's likely that they will have a good relationship with them and will have matched candidates with them previously. Therefore, remember that they are a fantastic source of insider information to tap into.
· To take control of your job search. A recruiter might be putting forward multiple applicants for every vacancy, so don’t expect them to automatically provide detailed information to you about every match. Make sure you ask though; this will demonstrate initiative and interest.
· To check you have been matched correctly. A recruitment consultant is usually paid by the employer once they have filled a vacancy. They will make the job opportunity sound tempting to draw you into the process but, ultimately, it is up to you to assess whether the job is a good fit.
· To make sure you are fully informed. Preparation is everything when it comes to recruitment, and smart candidates know that thoroughly researching the position will give them a strong advantage. It is almost a certainty that you will be competing against many other candidates for the same position – and they may well be better qualified and more experienced than you.
Here are examples of questions you can ask a recruiter to gather helpful information:
1. Can you tell me more about the job?
The interviewer has more detail about a job than what is posted online. Asking questions will help you learn more about the job. You do not have to settle for the pieces of information you see on the internet. That is what every other job seeker sees. You might want to know what working in the role entails, the hours you are expected to commit to the work, and if the position allows you to work, learn and advance your career.
2. What are the top skills needed?
To be on the safer side, you can ask the recruiter for the skills required for the role. The recruiter will be happy to provide you with this information. Whatever the needed skills are, it will help you restructure your resume to highlight the skills you have in your previous career path that match the job’s requirements.
Skills and experiences are the essential things a recruiter is looking for in a prospect. So knowing what they want and comparing it with what you have can give you an edge in the recruitment process.
Though a recruiter may not know the details of the team's day-to-day operations, this question can reveal important information on the organization’s culture, work hours, and work-life balance. They may also have some information on specific programs or projects you’ll be working on and enlighten you on who you’ll be working with.
3. What is the company culture?
Different companies have different cultures. What is obtainable where you used to work might be different from what your new job wants. A job description might list requirements or desired qualifications, but this question can open up the answer to revealing more about the role’s priorities. The team might be looking for somebody who will execute tasks or a self-starter who will bring fresh ideas to the table. The recruiter can provide you with the company’s culture and ideology. Asking the recruiter about the company culture and policies will help you assess yourself and see if you can thrive in the company.
4. What is the salary range for this role?
Before going further into the job interview, comparing the salary the job offers with the compensation you expect is reasonable. Some jobs require a lot from you but end up paying little. Knowing what the job entails and your take-home salary helps you make an informed decision about whether to take the job or not.
Do some research ahead of time to see the typical salary range for a person in this role. Factor in your own experience, location, and expectations and come up with a range that is fair for somebody in your position. If a recruiter asks what your desired salary is, you can provide this range. You might also use your previous salary as a reference point and lay out expectations for an increase.
If a recruiter doesn’t bring up compensation in the interview, ask about it. Though discussing salary might feel awkward, establishing expectations ensures you won’t feel undersold or that you wasted your time if you receive a low offer. The recruiter can also make sure your expectations are within their budget.
Also, asking for the salary range for the role should not be the first question. Instead, the question should come after you must have understood your role and have detailed information about the job.
5. Can you tell me about the interview process and timeline?
This question clarifies expectations around when you can expect to hear back about the next steps and what you should anticipate in interviews to come. The recruiter may share the names or LinkedIn profiles of the people you will be interviewing with and lay out how many interviews the process typically includes.
This can also help determine if the process will fit into your timeline. If you’re looking for a job to start immediately, but the position requires you to go through security clearance which will take several months, this will be crucial information to have.
6. How long has the job been open?
Asking why an organization is hiring for a role can give you useful information about career progression opportunities, the organization’s direction, and what situation you’ll be walking into should you accept a job offer.
The previous person in the role may have moved on to a different job, been fired, or been promoted to a new position. In any case, you’ll have a better idea of the dynamics and opportunities in that role. If the position is entirely new, ask why the position was created. You’ll have better insight into whether you’ll be filling a role with clear definitions or one where flexibility will be an asset. If a job post has been up for too long, it might indicate that the working condition is not so favorable, so other jobseekers pass. Or the recruiter has not found a suitable candidate.
A similar question you can ask is, “Can you tell me about the interview process and timeline?”
When you want to apply for a job, it would be great to be aware of the recruitment timeline. The answer to these questions helps you know if the job’s timeline can fit into your schedule.
7. Is there anything in my resume or background that could be a concern?
Perceived gaps in your work history or skill set can be a significant concern to the recruiter. Asking the recruiter if there is anything in your resume or background that could be of concern will give you the opportunity to explain the perceived gaps. However, if there is no gap in your work history, asking these questions will help you streamline your resume to suit what is acceptable in the organization.
8. Would you recommend any changes to my resume or cover letter?
When you have the opportunity to speak with a recruiter, you are free to ask if your CV is good. If it does not look too good, the recruiter can advise on making your resume stand out and meet the recruitment expectations of the hiring manager.
Your recruiter should not be perceived as unapproachable. Rather they should be seen as an ally. This way, you would be confident while asking questions that favor your job search. Asking these eight insightful questions correctly will provide more necessary information about a job and help you determine if the job is good for you or not.
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