Yes – you can question your recruitment consultant

by K B , updated on April 17, 2010

Questions to ask the interviewer

I was asked a question this morning about what to ask recruitment consultants in interview. The answer is as much as possible. If you are in the hands of a good consultant, they should have anticipated your questions with the client.  However you can often find that recruitment consultants will be in sales mode. They can have a high commission at stake plus pressure to present any candidate quickly. You want a chance to cut through the sales pitch to find out more about the job and whether you are actually in with a realistic chance of success. So fire away.

1.  Why has the role been created? You want to get an understanding of the challenges you may face. Stepping into a newly created role is completely different to stepping into an existing role, with pre-defined measures of success.

2. How would you describe the working culture or the challenges? I emphasize asking “you.”  That brings the question back to their opinion, not what is written down in a job description. You may get a deeper insight that way. A consultant who is not familiar with the client, will probably refer you back to the job description. This should serve as a warning sign to do your own due diligence on the information they provide.

3. Why did the last person leave? This gives you a sense of what may be available within a company. If the last person in the role was promoted, that’s probably a good sign.

4. How does this company define success, and how long will I be given to succeed?

5. What interview process can I expect with your client? What’s their role in the hiring decision? Sometimes there will be two or three people interviewing you at various stages. Each has their own role to play. You need to establish what that is so you can prepare properly.

6. Will you present me to the client? Sometimes consultants will not present you and will not tell you why. A good consultant will tell you why they won’t. A poor one will leave you hanging.

7. What would get in the way of you presenting me to the client? This can open up a franker discussion about your quality as a candidate.

8. How can I improve my interview skills? Ask for feedback. Consultants interview hundreds of people. They should be able to give you one or two pointers, and, if they are presenting you to their clients, it’s in their interest to do so.

9. How many other candidates will you present to the client, and how does my experience compare to theirs? With these questions, you get a sense of your worth in this equation plus how long it may take for them to make a decision about you.

10. Have you worked with this client for a long time? A good consulting relationship takes time to build. So you will want your consultant to at the very least have visited the client. If a consultant works for a long time with a client, they should know more about what makes the organization tick.  However, sometimes the consultant’s dealings with the client may be speculative. They may have called the client and suggested they have good candidates, then advertised. If you get a sense that this is the case, then you will need to ask more questions of their client before you make up your mind about a job.

If you’d like help navigating the job market, email me directly on, or post a question on the comments section below and I’ll answer it.


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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

V_Perry November 22, 2010 at 4:45 pm

RT @InterviewIQ: #recruiters #jobsearch Yes you can question your recruitment consultant

InterviewIQ November 22, 2010 at 1:00 pm

#recruiters #jobsearch Yes you can question your recruitment consultant

InterviewIQ December 13, 2010 at 12:25 am

#recruiters #jobsearch Yes you can question your recruitment consultant

jcascone December 13, 2010 at 11:59 am

RT @InterviewIQ: #recruiters #jobsearch Yes you can question your recruitment consultant

InterviewIQ December 22, 2010 at 1:40 pm

#recruiters #jobsearch Yes you can question your recruitment consultant

scott_peterson4 December 28, 2010 at 7:24 pm

@InterviewIQ Any tips on networking with loose acquaintances? Don’t want to come across as needy or seeking something without providing.

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