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Top questions to ask a recruiter




10 minutes

It’s no secret that recruiters can earn good fees from placing candidates. So, it’s more than fair that as a candidate you leverage their unique position and knowledge to help you in your job search.  

Recent research has shown that UK job vacancies have hit their highest level since the start of the pandemic as the easing of lockdown measures has led employers to start recruiting. The stats show that in the February-to-April period there were 657,000 vacancies, up about 48,400 on the previous quarter. This unlocking of opportunities makes it the perfect time to brush up on your interview techniques.  

In our experience, most people don’t ask enough of recruiters - or perhaps don’t know how to. We know candidates get approached for lots of roles (especially in the product and tech world), so it’s important to prioritise your line of questioning and make the most of your (and the recruiters’) time. 

That’s why we’ve come up with a cheat sheet to help you make the most of these conversations and ensure you get value out of them. 

By asking the following questions to recruiters, it’ll allow you to do two things: 

  1. Maximise your chances of getting the job 

  1. Help you decide if the company is right for you or not 


Here are our top questions you should ask a recruiter... 


What information can I give you to increase my chances of getting an interview? 

Why you should ask:   

  • Different people/companies prioritise different things in applications, the recruiter should be able to advise on what will increase your chances. 

  • Whether it’s updating your CV by adding in something in that would specifically interest the company, like a URL to a side project that’s relevant – making that extra bit of effort to tailor your application to that role could make all the difference.  


Have you placed many people with this company? AND What are the key things they look for in a candidate? 

Why you should ask:   

  • Does the recruiter have an established relationship? Do they know the hiring manager and process well? It’s important to investigate this and gauge how much they can help you.   

  • The second part is useful to establish a baseline for what the company looks for in people. This can also help determine an early understanding of whether the company is right for you. 


Why have previous candidates failed during the interview process? 

Why you should ask:   

  • It’s good to understand how the company runs their processes and where people fall down. For example, is it hard or soft skills? 

  • These types of questions help you understand the businesses’ expectations. Gauging this early on will enable you to decide whether the process is a good use of your time.  


What do you think is the best thing about working with this company? 

Why you should ask:   

  • Recruiters have a unique perspective. If they’ve worked with the company for more than 12 months, they’ll have been privy to lots of decisions and feedback. If they can’t give you something convincing that’s a red flag.  


What do you think is the worst thing about this company? 

Why you should ask:   

  • The same principle applies – the recruiter should be able to share information with you here that can help inform your decision making.  


How many people have left the business in the last 12 months?  

Why you should ask:   

  • While most recruiters won’t have all the stats to hand, they should have a rough idea of how many people have left, specifically from that team or function, and why. 

  • A high turnover rate can indicate wider issues within the company or team, so it’s good to clarify why this is – if that’s the case.  


How many other candidates are interviewing for this role? (And what stages are they at?) 

Why you should ask:   

  • This gives an insight into how the recruiter and client work. Do they focus on a small number of well-matched candidates (E.G five at a time), or are they going for volume?  

  • Also, based on the other candidates and the stages they are at, is it a good investment of your time? For example, if there are three people at the final stages (in a three-round process), you might as well wait and see how those people do.  


How do you think I compare to other candidates you’ve spoken to?  

Why you should ask:   

  • While it’s a little unfair on the recruiter, and they’re not allowed to give specific details about other candidates, they can point out where you align well. They also might be able to give some generic feedback, E.G everyone is on the same par in terms of experience, or you’ve got the most experience in X out of the candidates we’ve spoken to.   


What can I do to best prepare for an interview? What should I focus on when speaking to the interviewer? 

Why you should ask:   

  • Candidates aren’t mind readers - it’s hard to know exactly what the other person wants to hear from you. 

  • The recruiters will have had other people interview, so they’ll have feedback from those interviews and be able to give guidance on topics to focus on, level of detail the person is looking for or big things to avoid. 


If you’re looking for your next Product or Tech role, get in touch at contact@confidotalent.com! Share your top questions for recruiters with us on Twitter or LinkedIn, we’d love to hear from you.  

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