20+ Best Questions to Ask a Recruiter for Job Seekers (+ Why to Ask Them) [2020]

Job seekers should be prepared with questions to ask recruiters in the event of a job fair or meeting with a recruiter regarding a job opportunity. Questions can help steer the conversation and ensure that the job seeker is passionate about the opportunity and wants to move forward.

A recruiter or hiring manager may call a job seeker on behalf of a staffing agency, a staffing firm, recruiting firm, or directly from the company acting as an internal recruiter. Asking a question about the job shows interest to the recruiter and employer. But provides an ample opportunity for the candidate to learn about the interview process, recruitment process, company culture, job requirements, and many other aspects of the job.

Great questions to ask a recruiter on behalf of a job seeker would be ones that:

  • Provide insight into the career path opportunities (how the job aligns with a job seekers career goals).
  • Provide valuable insight into the work culture (remote work friendly, for example).
  • Provide valuable insight into the salary expectations and requirements of the role.
  • Provide insight into the recruiting process, hiring process, and interview process.
  • Provide insight into the open position or job opening.

Thoughtful questions should be asked to the recruiter. These are questions that provide the job candidate with insights rather than simply asking questions about the potential employer. The questions should assist the job candidate in their job search rather than asking any question. For example, an informed question would be about the remote work culture and how collaboration is handled without being in person. This is better than asking what soft skills or skill is required for the position.

Tip: Job seekers should perform research about the company and the role before speaking with a recruiter. This will make the job seeker appear as a “good fit” from the beginning of the conversation since they are well informed. And this can leave most of the phone interview or screening interview open for important questions and answers rather than simply describing the job.

These questions turn the recruiter into a person who offers career advice rather than someone who answers questions, which can make the job seeker sound informed and attractive to the job recruiter. There are technically no “right questions” to ask the recruiter. But a good question is specific to the company and makes the interviewer feel as though the job seeker is already well informed.

Tip: Most recruiter discussions happen by a phone interview. This session is technically not a job interview but a screening interview (informal). Job seekers shouldn’t expect a phone interview question or behavioral interview question during this process. This is a time for the recruiter to present the opportunity and specific questions to be asked by the candidate. If that exchange occurs, it is a “successful interview.”

Questions to Ask a Recruiter About the Role

Question 1: What is the job description?

This question summarizes aspects like the duties, skills required for the job, who you would be accountable to, and are accountable to you. It gives you a brief idea about the work associated with the position.

Question 2: What are the prerequisite skills or educational qualifications for the position?

Any corporate job will demand a specific set of skills. To be capable and perform the duties without any errors, you need to possess the expertise to handle the role. The above question lets you learn about the required skills along with other qualifications needed for the position.

Question 3: How long has the position been open?

This question lets you know about two things: demand for the job and the strictness of candidate assessment. If the job has been open for over a month, there is a high probability of people not being interested in the job. Alternatively, it could also mean that the candidates are failing to make through the interviews due to strict interview conditions. Then again, you might get to know that the job has been open for only a week. In that case, you do not get any idea about the competition for the job or the interviewer's meticulousness.

Question 4: Is the position in question a newly created one or a vacancy due to changes in the workforce?

Sometimes companies have a change in management, which might also result in the creation of some new roles and designations. Or, there might be a change in ideas and priorities, which creates new job titles. Then again, an open position could be a consequence of a change in the workforce (like promotion, retirement, or firing [in extreme cases]). You are not looking for a right or wrong answer to this question. It only lets you understand the circumstances which led to the availability of the job.

Question 5: What are the reasons that other candidates haven’t been selected?

There are preliminary conditions set for a specific job; meeting them makes a candidate eligible for the position, after which the interview process follows. Asking the recruiter about the cause of the non-selection of other candidates might reveal potential shortcomings you need to careful of. It could be related to skills, experience, or any other aspect. Being aware of the things gives you forewarning – providing time to work out the inadequacies to perform better in the interview.

Question 6: What are some of the challenges and opportunities associated with the position?

A job comes with associated duties, tasks that you need to do and are ultimately responsible for. Knowing the challenges and opportunities, you will encounter in the position gives you time to prepare yourself mentally. It won't feel like a bad surprise when you face the issue later down the road. It will also help you evaluate your career progression, letting you know if the job matches your intentions and ambitions.

Question 7: I want a job that provides me a chance for career advancement. What’s the scope of growth and benefits of working with this position and company?

People want gradual progress in their careers, be it in the form of salary increases, increase in responsibilities, or job title. Through this question, you get to know the perks of working in the position.

Question 8: How much does a job like this pay on average?

Inquiring about pay gives you a salary number that the company is willing to compensate for the position. Not only do you get to know how much you might get paid, but it also lets you assess the value. Value related to job responsibilities. This information also allows you to consider and compare other offers (if any).

Question 9: What type of career path does someone in this role receive?

Asking this question can provide you insight into ways that the company can advance this position and help you achieve career goals.

Question 10: What's the average salary range for this position?

Asking this question early can help ensure that you and the company are on the same page in terms of compensation.

Question 11: Is there something on my resume that you'd like to see?

Asking this question can help to revise a resume in the event that a hiring manager or team might like to see. A good recruiter will assist the potential candidate in making themselves more appealing to the client or team.

Question 12: What skills do you feel your client values most for this position?

A great recruiter will try to help the potential candidate position themselves to the client more effectively. A way to do this is to provide insight into what soft skills, hard skills, and core competencies the team or company is seeking.

Question 13: What type of training is provided for this position?

Asking questions about basic training opportunities can assist the job seeker in understanding what career advancement opportunities are available.

Question 14: What type of cover letter insights does this job require?

Asking the recruiter how to author a cover letter can be useful for the job seeker. A successful recruiter looks to provide insights to the candidate and should help the candidate align themselves to the job opportunity and job title.

Questions to Ask a Recruiter About the Company

Question 1: What is the interview process like with this company?

Every company has their own rules when it comes to conducting interviews and hiring employees. Asking the recruiter provides insight into the process. Whether there is a preliminary written test, whether there is a phone interview before the actual meeting and more. Knowing these small details allows you to prepare accordingly to perform better.

Question 2: Will I be subject to any form of training?

The training, in this context, could be related to the period before being assigned any work, or during the working period to improve your skills and help in career development. Some companies actively engage their employees in training programs while others don't. This information will be vital to shaping your career growth plan.

Question 3: What will be the criteria for evaluating my performance as an employee?

Companies don't just hire people and forget about them. They tend to keep track of their work and performance. Your performance matches closely to their expectations. If not, you risk getting demoted (or, in worse cases, fired from the job). There are usually parameters that help employers evaluate their employees' performance. Inquiring about them in advance will let you know the factors you'll be judged.

Question 4: What is the culture of the company and workplace?

Every company has a system based on work ethics and culture, which varies from one organization to the other. Google does away with formal wear while the company in question might be mandating that you dress formally. Formal wear is just one aspect. Knowing the principles that the company relies on and how it relates to your future work will help you make an informed decision.

Question 5: What can you tell me about the hiring manager?

The hiring manager is usually the one you will be reporting to before joining the company. It might be that the recruiter and the hiring manager are close acquaintances. Alternatively, that might not be the case. This question is to assess the relationship between the recruiter and the hiring manager while also letting you know more about the manager. This additional information (like their technical background, history with the company) will help you communicate with them during the interview process.

Question 6: What’s your opinion on this company?

Asking this question will sum up the recruiter’s impression about the company. They might provide useful insight that could help you make a decision.

Question 7: Can you tell me more about the hiring process here?

Asking this question can help you understand what the process will be like and determine if you'd like to proceed to interview with the business.

Question 8: Can you tell me more about the company's culture?

Asking this question can give you insight into the way that the company goes about accomplishing the annual goals. This can provide you further insight into whether you'd like to interview with the business based on your desire to be within the work environment.

Question 9: Can you tell more about the recruitment process?

Asking this question can give you insight into how the recruiter found you and what types of attributes the company might be looking for. This can sometimes lift valuable insights you can use to your advantage when you interview.

Question 10: Can you tell me more information about how I might be able to discuss salary with the company?

A great recruiter should provide insight into how to better position salary negotiation techniques. The objective of the recruiter is to place the applicant. The recruiter can provide helpful insights to ensure that salary expectations are met.

Questions to Ask About the Recruiter

Question 1: How long have you been with this company?

This question explores the connection between the company and the recruiter. It might be that the recruiter is a close associate of the company and regularly helps them with hiring. A recruiter with numerous job openings means the company trusts the recruiter. On the flip side, there might not be such close relationships.

Question 2: How long have you been recruiting in this industry?

This question aims at understanding the duration the recruiter has been working in the field. That also translates to experience. A long time in the industry indicates vast experience dealing with companies and candidates – making them a reliable source of information.

Question 3: How many clients have you placed in this company?

Talking about the candidates they placed also speaks about the recruiter's association with the company. Numerous placements mean that the recruiter is a trusted source of hiring people; thus, a good sign for you.

Questions to Ask an Executive Recruiter

Question 1: What's the total addressable market of the business?

Executives are often incentivized with performance goals. Understanding the total addressable market is a great way to understand the potential of the business.

Question 2: What performance incentives are built into the employment contract?

Understanding what the executive team has drafted for the executive search can be important to understand.

Question 3: What experience does the "perfect candidate" have for this role?

Executive positions require a healthy amount of previous work history. Understanding what types of work experience the executive search requires can be useful for the job seeker.

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.


Help us by spreading the word