13 Questions to Expect from a Recruiter – How to be Interview-Ready

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Got yourself an interview with a headhunter? Good for you!

Recruiters can help you find your dream role, and an awesome headhunter can really upsell you to potential hiring managers…

…but first, you need to know how to sell yourself to them!

Here are 13 great practice questions (and TIPS!) to help you prepare and be interview-ready:

The Standards & Always Asked

 

1) Tell me about yourself

An easy-opener:

Don’t overthink it, just relax!

Talk about your travels, hobbies and personal interests.

Recruiters are people too…

…connect with them! Find common interests, use the opportunity to calm any nerves, and set a positive tone for an excellent interview.

Keep it brief (around 30 seconds), be upbeat, and smile:

“ …I’m originally from India, but moved to Singapore to access the great education opportunities…”

“…I enjoy cricket, live music, and scuba diving…”

“…I’m passionate about charity work, and volunteer with the Singapore Nature Society…”

Show that you’re awesome to be around!

 

2) Tell me about your current role and responsibilities

Your first opportunity to sell your skills and experience!

Give a brief overview of your 3-5 main duties, and make sure to include:

Keywords, Metrics, Achievements and a Narrative

Keywords – let a recruiter know you’re an expert in your field

Metrics – give a sense of scale and context

Achievements – show you don’t just DO your job, you’re AMAZING at it!

Narrative – make yourself memorable

“…I’m an Advertising Manager, specialising in digital integration, social media management, and content creation…”

“…As Head of Technology I oversee IT infrastructure for 8 business units, across 600 end users and more than 1,500 devices…”

“…leading Sales, I’ve secured 24% year-on-year growth over the last 4 years, bringing in an additional $25M in revenue…”

“…as a former software engineer, I approach all challenges in a focused, logical manner…

 

3) Why do you want to leave your current job?

Ready for something new? Having problems in your present role?

People want to move on for lots of reasons…

…and with this question agency recruiters have heard them all!

What they’re really asking is:

  • What new role would be a good fit for you?
  • Are you likely to leave a company again in a short period of time?
  • Are there any red flags or issues a potential new employer should be aware of?

Again, honesty is usually the best policy…

…but stay positive!

Good answers:

I’m ready for a new challenge

I’d like to grow and progress

I feel I can do more, and take on more responsibilities

I think I’d be better suited to a different corporate culture

Bad answers:

I’m bored

They didn’t appreciate me

I can do better

I want more money!

 

4) What’s your current salary?

Here’s the deal:

Great people get underpaid all the time.

Are you currently earning less than you should be?

It’s okay…

…recruiters won’t judge!

They just want to see if roles they have in mind for you would mean a raise (yay!) or a potential cut (oh no!)

Be honest:

For a lot of people money is a taboo subject, but when looking at a new role it’s best to discuss it openly.

And, one of the benefits of using headhunters…

…is they can negotiate on your behalf!

 

5) What is your expected salary / what’s your minimum salary requirement?

Is it wrong to say you’re willing to set a minimum salary? To maybe take slightly less?

No, not necessarily.

Remember, most recruiters get paid a percentage of your annual salary …

…so it’s in their interest to get you an amazing salary package!

With this headhunter question, all they really want is to check their available roles are within your expected salary range.

One of the positions they’re hiring for looks excellent, but the money isn’t quite right?

Again, recruiters can negotiate for you…

…and maybe get you more!

In the event that a hiring manager can’t adjust the salary, a great headhunter will always discuss it with you:

They DO NOT just pitch you at your lowest price-tag.

 

6) What’s your availability / notice period?

The biggest mistakes you can make when answering this recruiter question?

1. Not knowing in advance

Did you not know you were having an interview today? A bit sloppy, don’t you think?

And even worse:

2. Saying you can leave early

Not respecting your current employer will make any prospective company wonder if you’ll be as unprofessional with them!

This is an EASY interview question, and smart hiring managers won’t prioritise a weaker candidate over you just because they can start a few weeks earlier.

Don’t worry, and don’t try to cut corners:

Be prepared, be professional…

…and come out looking like a great candidate!

 

The Specifics

 

7) What’s your favourite part of your current role?

Wondering why a recruiter would ask this, if you’ve already discussed your duties and responsibilities?

That headhunter question was to gauge your skillset and experience…

…this one is all about personality and satisfaction!

They want to know what makes you happy at work, so they can find a role that would make you ecstatic!

Enjoy the opportunity, and talk about what you like.

And remember:

Make sure to focus on the why! It’ll help your recruiter build a better picture of you…

…and the better they know you, the more effectively they can sell you to a hiring manager!

“…I love client relationship management, because I really enjoy making connections…”

“…data research & analysis is for me the best part of my role, as I find uncovering hidden insights and trends fascinating…”

“…I get great personal satisfaction fixing something that’s broken, so troubleshooting and support is my favourite part of my job…”

 

8) What’s your least favourite part of your role?

The top secret to a great interview is to stay positive:

Even when tackling headhunter questions that it’s easy to feel negative about!

All they really want to know is what roles you wouldn’t enjoy…

…so don’t stress!

Relax, be honest, and try to stay upbeat:

“Data entry is probably my least favourite part of my job” sounds a lot better than “I hate data entry!”

 

9) Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Trick question?

No!

Agency recruiters do anticipate you’ll want to move on and progress, and excellent hiring managers will want you to…

…as long as it’s with the same company!

Stepping stones are fine, and if you make it clear you’re serious about positions and the company they’re with you’ll be great in an interview.

“…I’m interested in finding a company with an excellent culture, and working my way up through operations…”

“…I’d like to find an organisation with room for me to grow, starting as a national sales manager and then taking on more regional responsibilities…”

 

10) What kind of company would you like to work for?

What is this recruiter question really asking?

What matters to you, and what you think would be a good fit!

Good things to consider:

  • Culture
  • Size
  • Market

“…I really enjoy collaborative, team-focused environments…”

“…I like working with small-sized firms, where I feel I can really make a difference…”

“…I’d love to transition to the tech sector…”

An amazing headhunter will try to find you a role that’s a perfect fit…

…because when you’re happy in your new job, your employer is usually happy too, and that makes a happy recruiter!

 

11) What do you know about XYZ Company?

Your headhunter has a specific role in mind for you:

If you know in advance which company it’s for…

…do some research!

This kind of preparation shows you’re a serious professional, and reflects really well on you as a candidate.

If you don’t know in advance, get put on the spot and don’t know anything…

…that’s okay!

You can’t know everything about everyone, even if they’re in the same market as you, and you’re not expected to.

It’s perfectly acceptable to say you don’t know much…

…as long as you show you’re willing to follow-up after!

“I know they’re engaged in X, Y, and Z, but that’s about it. However, I’ll do some investigation and research into them!”

 

The Examples

 

12) Tell me about a time when you had to do X, to result in Y

A recruiter question that comes in many forms!

This question is all about showing how clear you are on your role and its drivers:

If you can answer easily, it means you can see the big picture…

…and big picture thinkers are highly valuable!

An easy way to prepare for these headhunter questions…

…is to think in advance about some of your greatest achievements, as well as your biggest challenges.

Chances are good some of them will apply!

By being prepared, you can make sure you not only pass these challenging questions…

…you show VALUE with them.

 

The Exit Question

 

13) Do you have any questions for me?

The best way to show you’re an excellent candidate?

Have questions for your interviewer!

The headhunter doesn’t ask this question and give you the opportunity?

Give it to yourself, and ask your questions anyway:

 “…are there any internal company training or development programs available…”

“…how fast is this company growing…”

“…have you hired people into this firm before, and do they enjoy it there…”

“…what’s the level of talent in this company, and do they strike you as a team of high performers…”

Not only can you show interest, enthusiasm, and professionalism…

…you can also make sure the positions your recruiter is considering you for are dream roles!

 

There you have it!

13 GREAT headhunter questions, to help you prepare for an awesome interview!

Want to know a few questions that are excellent for you to ask a recruiter?

Here are 3 quick BONUS tips that can help you stand out, get comfortable, and make the most of your headhunter!

 

  • Where do we go from here / what’s the procedure?– Get to grips with the recruiter’s working process, and make sure you know what to do and how to proceed

 

  • When can I expect to hear from you?– Know your headhunter’s timelines, and stop wasting your time checking your email and chasing them for an update

 

  • Do you have any concerns about me as a candidate?– Possibly the best question you can ask any agency recruiter or hiring manager! Tackle any worries they have head-on, and show you’re a candidate who just gets better and better!

 

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