Going for job interviews as a recruiter myself has been weird.
I’m on the other side of the table for once, and this experience has made me realize two main things about interviewing:
First, there are a lot of terrible recruiters out there.
Second, just because you’re a recruiter doesn’t mean you know how to be interviewed.
I came to realize that second point after a lot of really good interviews became really damn awkward when the recruiter turned the conversation around on me and asked the standard, “Do you have any questions for me now?”
You would think that after 3+ of saying this to candidates myself, listening to their questions, answering their questions, and judging the “quality” of their questions (huge f*cking eye roll) that I would know exactly what to ask and how to nail this portion of the interview.
Yeah, turns out that was not the case.
So after weeks of asking some weird f*cking questions and wondering why no one wanted me to grace their company with my Goddess-like presence, I did a little digging through my old notes from some of the best and worst candidates I’ve interviewed to look for patterns in their question-asking.
This, combined with some serious self-reflection, made me realize that it’s not them, it is in fact me.
3 Things You Should Never Ask a Recruiter
1.”What’s the company culture like?”
It’s completely acceptable to inquire about culture, but this question is broad AF. Broad questions like this put the recruiter on the spot, and in an employer’s market (which is most of North America right now) making the recruiter feel uncomfortable is not promising for the candidate. They might not know how to describe the company culture as a whole (especially if this is a recruitment agency you are interviewing with), as with most large companies it varies significantly between departments and even between teams.
Instead ask this:
“Can you describe the culture within X team, and how it relates to the larger company values.”
A good recruiter will have done their research on the culture in that department/team and should have a general understanding of what the company they work for/are recruiting for (if agency) values and is trying to achieve. This question won’t make them scramble to spit out an impressive answer and you’ll still get the important information that you need.
2. “What are the opportunities for advancement?”
It’s great to be ambitious and good hiring managers will look for this quality in candidates. However, asking this question can easily make a candidate sound entitled, as if their priority from day 1 would be working towards a promotion as opposed to focusing on being successful in their current role. This can make recruiters and hiring managers question what drives a candidate and unless it’s a sales-focused role that you’re interviewing for, money and promotion is usually not what they’ll want to hear.
Instead ask this:
“I’m looking to join a company that values learning and development, what are the mentorship opportunities available in this role?”
This question tells the interviewers that you are serious about your career, open to learning and growing, are likely very coachable, and are looking at your next role as a mutual investment between yourself and the company as opposed to a clock-in clock-out job. These are all very positive qualities that most hiring managers want in an employee.
3. “What are the major projects/daily tasks I would take on in this role?”
This is a very valid question, but if you still don’t understand the job at this point, asking this question will not go over well. I’ve attended plenty of interviews where I got to the question stage and still didn’t have a solid understanding of the role because the recruiter or hiring manager didn’t explain it well enough (or because I’m just dumb AF), but chances are they aren’t aware that they didn’t explain it well to you. Asking for clarification on role this late in the game will make them feel like you didn’t listen to them, are a slow learner, or just aren’t taking the opportunity seriously.
Instead ask this:
“In 6 months, what would I need to accomplish for you to say I have been successful in this role?”
Asking this question will give you two value pieces of information. First, the recruiter or hiring manager will hopefully touch on tangible outcomes like metrics, KPIs, or types of projects you would be working on. Second, this question will likely extract information from them on the soft skills needed for the role, like teamwork, resiliency, openness to coaching, leadership and mentorship opportunities, etc. This will give you the information you need to slay, gurl!