When recruiters call to discuss a role we are working on, we are trying to learn about the person behind the CV and whether we have a position that suits your talents, personality, and goals.
What questions should you be asking a recruiter?
We want to know, not only whether you can do the job – we will already have a good idea about that from reading your CV anyway – but, whether you would want to do the job. Inevitably this will involve asking you a few questions, which will help us understand a little bit about you.
In these calls you also get the chance to ask us questions, to find out whether the role we are selling is something you want to do – and if it is, you deserve to know how you can get it.
Many of the candidates we speak to are a little thrown when we say, ‘Is there anything you would like to ask us’ and more often than not, nothing comes to mind. We genuinely want you to ask us questions – the more, the merrier. The better you feel you understand the role, the better your chances are of securing the role – which is what we both want.
So, what to ask? Here is a brief list – but honestly, anything you feel you need to know about the role or the company fire away.
1. Why would I want to work for this company?
The most important question of them all.
What makes this job better than the one you currently have? It is essential that you know that before you even give us permission to send your CV to our client. You want every assurance that this new role can give you something your current one can’t – new challenges and new experiences in a new environment. And if it can’t, you may as well stay put.
2. Why is the client hiring for this role?
You want to be clear about your potential new employer’s expectations, what success looks like in your new role, and what challenges you can expect to encounter if you get the job. You may also be able to find out if this is a brand-new position or if you are taking over for someone else, which is always useful to know.
3. What is the interview process like?
Job interviews come in all shapes and sizes these days, and it is vital that you know exactly what you are walking into.
Will there be one interviewer or five? How many stages are there? How long will each interview last? Will there be a written or technical test of any kind? Is this particular company known for doing things to deliberately throw candidates off guard? The more you can find out in advance, the better your chances are.
4. What feedback have you received from previous interviewees?
Once you have reached the interview prep stage, learning what caused other people to be unsuccessful at the interview is extremely valuable. Was it due to not having enough technical knowledge? Maybe it was due to them not having enough experience in one particular area, or there was one specific question that everyone struggled with. Whatever it is, knowledge is power. Find out what tripped other people up so that you can avoid falling into the same traps.
5. What is the company culture like?
You should not have to be a chameleon to get your dream job – you want your new colleagues to like you for you. But at the same time, you still want to know the sort of people you will be meeting. Is it a laid-back start-up with beanbag chairs and flexible working hours, or is it an old, well-established firm with strict working practices and an even stricter dress code? You will know better than anyone the kind of company in which you would do best – or you may well be able to thrive in any environment. But in any case, ensure you know which one you are going into to give yourself the best chance possible.
6. What can you tell me about the job that is not on the spec?
Many job specs – particularly ones for roles that have been live for a while – will not tell the whole story. Even the longest and most detailed specs may not have been updated in a few months or longer, and it is easy for certain things to slip through the cracks and never make it to the page. Be sure to ask whether there are any specific skills or qualifications that the spec does not mention. Even if they are not essential and are simply ‘nice-to-haves,’ knowing about them will help you to be more prepared than your competition.
As a company we take the time to fully understand our clients, the roles that are available and how a candidate can succeed. We record all of our client knowledge so that everyone in the team, whether in the UK or the US, are aware of exactly what the clients’ requirements are. By using the questions above, and any additional ones you think of, they allow us to find out what type of person you are and your motivators which is incredibly helpful when matching you with the correct client.