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Working with recruitment consultants - the questions we ask and the reasons why

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Mark Pearce, Fircroft’s Client Relationship Manager for West Australia, takes a look at the questions that are commonly asked by recruitment consultants, and the rationale for asking them.

One of the early stages in the recruitment process is the candidate qualification stage where recruiters ask candidates a series of questions.
In the current climate it’s easy to see why candidates are becoming savvy and carefully choosing which recruiters they want to work with.

This blog is intended to offer a very basic overview on how candidates can work effectively with recruiters. Ideally, once you reach the end of this blog, you’ll have a clearer idea of why recruiters regularly ask you certain questions, and what you can say and do so that the recruiter is in the best possible position to qualify positions for you.

Candidate qualification is a vital early part of the recruitment process.
Done properly, it can ensure that a candidate is presented as a high-calibre individual with an array of unique benefits and accomplishments they can bring to an employer.

This blog doesn’t cover every question but it will look at some of the more important ones.

If you are looking for work and you are about to contact a recruitment agency, these are some of the qualification questions you are likely to be asked:

Where are you currently interviewing / which companies have you applied to?
This is a key question and it should be one of the first questions a recruiter asks.

Many job seekers think recruiters ask this question to gather information about companies that are hiring, so the recruiters can introduce one of their candidates instead, knocking the job seeker out of the equation.

Sadly, this can happen however this isn’t, and shouldn’t, be the reason for the question.

The reason a recruiter will generally ask where a candidate is currently interviewing is to that he/she doesn’t contact one of these companies, creating a situation which would make both the recruiter and the job seeker look inept in the eyes of the company. By providing clear information during initial conversations you can ensure the process runs smoothly.

A recruiter also needs to know this information so they know if they are in control of the recruitment process.

If a candidate is interviewing with 5 companies the preference for a recruiter would be to work with a candidate who is interviewing with 1 or 2.

A recruiter will also be able to increase the pace of the recruitment process.

A candidate who is interviewing with 1 or 2 other companies can create a sense of urgency with a company that wants to interview them.

If the company doesn’t move fast, the candidate can be lost to one of their competitors.

Why are you looking for a new job?
Another key question and one which should be asked early on in the process.

Candidates looking to move jobs for more money are often avoided by recruiters, especially when the candidate can sit down with their current boss and ask them the question.

A candidate looking to move solely for more money is often the candidate who will stay with their current employer once a counter offer is made.

A recruiter will be on the lookout for answers around peer performance, poor management and better career opportunities.

There are plenty of other reasons, however it would be exhaustive to list them all here.

A recruiter needs this information in order to brief their clients around reasons for leaving and most importantly - so the client can gauge whether they can offer what the candidate is seeking and cover that with the candidate during an interview.

Which companies do you respect in the market and why?
While recruiters can advise candidates which companies may offer career opportunities, a candidate should also offer an idea of which companies they wish to work for.

This is where recruiters and candidates can build a targeted marketing list of companies they can approach.

Again there may be companies not to approach as the candidate may have already made an application or the candidate may not respect the company.

A recruiter will ask candidates why they wish to work for a particular company. It’s important for a recruiter to understand the reasons why as they can share this with a prospective company when they speak with them.

Ideally a candidate and an agency recruiter should be able to make a list of 5+ companies to target without too much trouble.

What future benefits can you bring to an organisation?

Recruiters will ask this question to gather an understanding of what benefits a candidate can bring to a company.

It may be that a candidate can help a business save money, generate profit, improve processes or even turn around a company that is struggling.

It’s important for candidates that they can make this clear to a recruiter. Many a time when asked this question a candidate will ask a recruiter to refer to their CV to pick something out.

The very best candidates are able to articulate the benefits they can bring to an organisation themselves. After all, they will need to promote themselves at a job interview.

What past tangible achievements will demonstrate these benefits?
So you can articulate the benefits that you can bring to an organisation. But can you demonstrate any tangible achievements as a result of these benefits? Being able to do so, and informing your recruiter of this, will be a big help.

What is a tangible achievement? A tangible achievement is something that can be measured. It can be something that has an indication of time or money associated with it.

For example; a candidate may have delivered a key project 3 months ahead of schedule for their previous employer, saving $20m in the process.

This information is paramount to a recruiter as they will use it when speaking with prospective employers.

A candidate who can offer a tangible achievement will look more attractive to a prospective employer than a candidate who can’t.

Who did you report to at (COMPANY)?
Before a recruiter embarks on working with a candidate they will want to ensure the person they are working with can perform at a high level.

A recruiter will also want to ensure that the future benefits and tangible achievements can be checked and verified in the form of a reference check.
Sadly, most recruiters fail to ask for references when representing candidates.

At a recent recruitment event in Perth, Western Australia a speaker announced that less than 5% of candidate references are taken with previous employers.

A lot of the time a recruiter may not be able to work with a candidate after qualifying them. It’s only right at this stage that a recruiter informs the candidate of this so they don’t have their time wasted.

Normally a recruiter will ask a lot more questions than those mentioned above and the reason for this is because they will want to check that they can work with a candidate and represent them professionally to their clients or prospective companies.

After all, it is in a candidate’s best interest and benefit that a recruiter can approach prospective employers on their behalf, in order to help them progress in their career.

And that's it - a very basic overview on how candidates can work effectively with recruiters.

What has your experience been like when working with a recruiter previously? What questions have you encountered that you weren’t sure about. Like, share or leave a comment below and thanks for reading.
Working with recruitment consultants - the questions we ask and the reasons why - Time to read 7 min
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