Recruiters - can you answer these 3 questions?


When I first talk to a recruiter who is looking for a new job, I will always ask them 3 questions.


The answers separate the good recruiters from the average. They tell me whether a person takes their recruitment career seriously or are just hopping from one job to the next .They indicate whether a person is really committed to securing a new role or just dipping their toe in the water. They also highlight if someone is not telling the whole truth and has maybe something to hide. Not surprisingly, they  are the same 3 questions that a client will always first ask me about a candidate before committing to interviewing them.


If you are serious about securing a new role you absolutely need to be able to answer these 3 questions:


What did you bill last month, quarter, year ?

An exact figure to the dollar please. About……roughly….in the region of…..not sure….I’ll get back to you…..won’t do.  Any recruiter worth their salt will know exactly what they have billed and be able to give a detailed breakdown. If you can’t tell me, then either you don’t take your job seriously enough, or your billings are not that impressive (in which case it is better to be upfront and explain why).  


Why are you looking for a new job?

Answers like “I need a new challenge” or “I have outgrown my role” are too safe, wishy washy and  are almost definitely not the real reason you have decided to look for a new job. There is not correct answer, but if you cannot be specific, I will question whether you really are serious about moving jobs, or worse, hiding the real reason.


What are you looking for?

If you are serious about your career then you will have thought about what you need  from your next role. So answers like  “Just the right role” or something equally vague makes you sound at best like you don’t take your career seriously, and at worst a bit desperate.


So, before you put your CV together, or think of all the great things you can tell a future employer about yourself, make sure you can first nail down these 3 questions. Otherwise you may struggle to get past first base.


Views: 12595

Comment by Paul S. Gumbinner on November 15, 2011 at 9:34am

Love these questions. They are right on.  I would like to add a number four: What makes you different from other recruiters?  If the response is in the realm of I, I, I (e.g. I care more, I follow up better, I never give up...etc.) it is a good sign that the candidate is motivated by his or her own ego.  I look for answers which indicate a client-centric recruiter, like - I really get to know my clients so that I can understand what and who they really need.  Of course, I also like to hear about them being candidate-centric.  But your three questions are right on.

Comment by Mitch Sullivan on November 15, 2011 at 9:38am

What kind of answers do you expect to get from question 3?


Comment by Luke Collard on November 15, 2011 at 5:39pm

@Mitch -  I might expect to hear something like "managment experience", "opportunity to focus on a certain market" , "work with a beter / bigger brand", "more lucrative commission structure"..... but there is no correct answer. Whatever the answer is though, it needs to be specific and make sense. It should also correspond to the answer to number 2. What do you think?


Comment by Karyn Dobbie on November 16, 2011 at 1:25pm

@Luke  - I agree. It's not really about what the answer is but rather can the individual be specific and articulate what they want. If not, they have not given enough thought to it or possibly don't know.

Comment by Luke Collard on November 16, 2011 at 5:16pm

@Karyn - exactly !!! I A significant number of people who approach me looking for a new job are  infact not seriously looking at all (just had a bad day). They end up wasting everyone's time. So, if they cannot answers these questions, and probably #3 is the key one, then I will doubt that they are serious and therefore won't waste my time or my client's time.

Comment by Ryann Cheung on January 4, 2012 at 12:37pm

For those of us in house - question 1 isn't applicable, but thought provoking when we seek to hire external recruiters.  Sometimes I think a non-specific answer to number 2 could be hiding something, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.  If someone is leaving due to a horrendous work situation, I expect them to be diplomatic enough not to mention it!  However, one could still come up with a response tailored to "why this job".

Comment by Linda Ferrante on January 19, 2012 at 3:54pm

#1 is an interesting question to me....I have been doing this for the better part of 13 years and I don't know the answer to #1. I know what I was paid commission off of, but that is not the 'billed' amount.  In my experience, the 'billed' amount has no bearing on my tracking information, but rather the 'spread' or 'profit' per week/month/year.  I think, for me anyway, this is a more relevant number to track profitability.  I am going to go back and take a look at those numbers....


Comment by Mark on February 17, 2012 at 6:13pm

@Luke - Excellent post because it cut right to the point.  It makes the reader ask, "What have I done?  What do I really want?  Why should I move?"

My answers:

1.  For 2011, I know the exact figure of the total salaries that I recruited for my employer.

2.  My compensation was only about 4% of that figure.

3.  I want to earn a better income.

So, my primary for leaving would be a much higher income, not for working conditions or company policies, etc.  The real question for me is whether or not I would sacrifice my current working conditions and co-worker related intangibles for better compensation.   Having worked in places that offered good environment and people but poor salary and places with good money and lousy atmosphere, it makes for a challenging decision.

However, I am getting to the point where I needs to see a better compensation package, here or someplace else.

Thanks for helping me get it into perspective.


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