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Recruiter Interview Questions and Answers

Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.

Position Summary

Recruiters are talent specialists who help companies find top-notch candidates for available positions. Recruiters play an essential part in placing the right person into an open job. There are different recruiters, including Internal Recruiters, Agency Recruiters, Permanent Recruiters, Temporary Placement Recruiters, Executive Recruiters, and even Headhunters. Headhunters are recruitment experts typically contracted independently.

What is the difference between an Internal Recruiter and an Agency Recruiter?

An Internal Recruiter works inside of the hiring company as a regularly paid employee. They recruit for a range of positions for their direct employer only. Internal Recruiters usually have a background and education in Human Resources (HR).

An Agency Recruiter is a third-party professional who works on a contract basis for the hiring company. An Agency Recruiter works for an employment agency or recruitment agency that has been engaged by a hiring company to find talented candidates for one or multiple open positions.

Agency Recruiters are usually paid by their client on a per-hire basis. This structure means that an Agency Recruiter earns payment only after making a successful talent match and their candidate signs the job offer. Some recruitment agencies will charge a retainer fee, similar to a lawyer’s fee structure, to ensure that the hiring company is genuinely committed to the talent acquisition project.

What are an Internal Recruiter's responsibilities?

  • Determining their employers' current and future hiring needs.
  • Working with hiring managers to determine departmental requirements.
  • Analyzing their employers' retention rates and turnover.
  • Developing engaging talent attraction strategies.
  • Advertising job postings.
  • Sourcing job candidates through platforms such as LinkedIn or Indeed.
  • Evaluating and screening in/out job applicants.
  • Performing initial candidate interviews.
  • Conducting candidate reference and background checks.
  • Facilitating job offers and offer negotiations.

What are an Agency Recruiter's responsibilities?

  • Meeting with clients to discuss current job openings.
  • Discussing and finalizing candidate qualification criteria with clients.
  • Writing and publishing job ads on LinkedIn, job boards, and social platforms.
  • Finding passive candidates using LinkedIn and other talent sourcing tools.
  • Screening out unqualified applicants and screening in qualified candidates.
  • Performing initial candidate interviews (pre-screens).
  • Preparing eligible candidates for their job interview with the client.
  • Keeping clients informed on project progress and important updates.
  • Conducting candidate reference and background checks.
  • Facilitating job offers and offer negotiations.

Types of Recruiters

1) Contingency Recruiter: The hiring company pays a contingency recruiter only if they hire a candidate that the recruiter introduced to them. This fee agreement often means that the job opening goes out to multiple contingency recruitment agencies. May the fastest recruiter win!

2) Retained Recruiter: The hiring company pays a retained recruiter an upfront fee for their services. This fee agreement ensures that the retained recruitment agency has the job opening exclusively.

3) Executive Recruiter: Typically, an executive recruiter works with clients to find and place high-level candidates for executive positions.

4) Contract Recruiter: A Contract or Temporary Recruiter focuses on finding workers for their clients’ temporary or contract positions. A Contract Recruiter works in a very fast-paced environment that changes by the minute.

5) Specialized Recruiters: Many skilled recruiters focus on one industry or area of expertise. These include IT Recruiters, Sales Recruiters, Engineering Recruiters, and more.

How do I become a recruiter?

- Earn a degree in Business, Human Resources, or even Psychology. Not every recruiter will require a degree; however, many specialized recruiters will need higher education in their fields, such as IT, Finance, or Engineering.

- Gain experience in business, sales, human resources, or even research. You will want to show consistency as a detailed achiever and excellent communicator able to work in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment.

- Work towards highly recognized recruitment certifications such as Certified Personnel Consultant (CPC) or American Staffing Association.

- Take training on primary recruitment tools such as Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and LinkedIn Recruiter.

- Consider taking online coursework related to Project Management, Documentation, Workflow, Diversity & Inclusion, Sales, Business Development, Research, and Interview techniques.

Interview Process

When being assessed for a recruiter position, you can expect a well-organized and structured interview process. After you apply, the interview process may include:

- A brief pre-screen phone call.
- An in-depth first interview.
- An in-depth second interview.
- Subsequent interviews. A recruitment position may require your participation in multiple job interviews.

Once you reach the final interview stages, the hiring company will contact your employment references. They will also conduct any pre-employment background checks and other steps such as education verification. The last stage of the hiring process is the job offer and negotiation.

An aspiring recruiter should expect to answer behavioral and situational interview questions focused on their attitude and ability to compete and win. They should also be prepared to demonstrate exceptional verbal and written communication skills. The interviewer will also look for a recruiter’s ability to conduct fast research and have proven strengths with detail and documentation.

What should I wear for my interview?

Typically, a recruiter will go to work in a suit. If you apply for a Contract or Temporary Recruiter position, the attire expectations might be more relaxed.

If you are not sure of the wardrobe expectations, check out the hiring company’s website or LinkedIn profiles of current employees for visual clues.

What are some basic recruitment terms I should know for my interview?

1) Candidate Pipeline: A ‘candidate pipeline’ is the recruiter’s list of qualified job candidates who have expressed interest in the open position. Like an emergency room triages its patients, a recruiter will move across their ‘candidate pipeline’ and screen candidates by the strongest to the weakest match. A ‘candidate pipeline’ is sometimes referred to as a ‘talent pool.’

2) Onboarding: The process of familiarizing a candidate with their new role and employer. A recruiter will often help facilitate a newly hired candidate’s onboarding process to ensure that they have a positive experience.

3) Applicant Tracking System: Also called an ATS, an Applicant Tracking System describes the software a recruiter uses to handle the recruitment and hiring process. An ATS can accept and filter online job applications and even rank job applicants on behalf of a recruiter. An ATS takes care of many cumbersome tasks and keeps a recruiter organized and on track with their project.

4) HRIS: Human Resource Information System is a common experience requirement for an Internal Recruiter who will perform many HR-related tasks for their employer. An HRIS allows a company to keep detailed, accurate, and confidential data on its employees.

5) Bullpen Environment: Some agencies will place their junior recruiters in a 'bullpen' environment where desks are put together in an open-office environment. This close-knit environment allows recruiters to quickly and easily update their team members on a recruitment project’s progress. Envision the movie ‘The Wolf of Wall Street.’

6) 360 Desk: When a recruiter works a 360 desk, they handle the entire recruitment process from the very beginning to end. A '360 Recruiter' works with their clients to craft a job posting and is there when the ink dries on their successful candidate’s job offer.

7) 180 Desk: When a recruiter works a 180 desk, they handle only a portion of the recruitment process. For instance, they may work on the talent attraction and vetting process, passing the qualified candidate along once they enter the interview process. Alternately, they may be responsible solely for business development, working hard to find new clients for their agency.

8) C-Level: Also referred to as the C-suite, this term refers to an executive-level candidate or position. A C-level candidate will be a CEO, COO, CTO, or CFO, for example.

9) Generalist: A generalist is a recruiter who takes on talent attraction projects for a range of clients across various industries.

10) Active Candidate: An active candidate describes someone currently employed or unemployed who is openly looking for work.

11) Passive Candidate: A passive candidate describes someone who is not actively looking for work but is open to being approached by a recruiter to discuss a tempting new position.

Internal Recruiter Interview Questions

  1. Name one thing you could improve in your process, as an Internal Recruiter.

  2. Tell me how you find qualified candidates. Share an experience in which one of these methods helped you find a great employee.

  3. Tell me about a recruitment mistake you made. Were there any details in the process you missed and realized later? How did you adjust based on what you learned?

  4. How do you react when you and your leadership team disagree on the quality of a candidate?

  5. How do you help your company to make sound hiring decisions?

Continue: View All 30 Internal Recruiter Interview Questions

Agency Recruiter Interview Questions

  1. Talented Agency Recruiters are entrepreneurial. Give me an example of how you have embraced an entrepreneurial mindset.

  2. How would you make an average candidate appear more attractive to a client?

  3. How is your recruitment performance measured in your current role?

  4. Recruiting in an agency environment requires a lot of selling. Do you have any sales training?

  5. How do you properly qualify potential new agency clients? Is it necessary to you to that your clients are ethical, or will you take any job order?

Continue: View All 30 Agency Recruiter Interview Questions

Temporary Staffing Recruiter Interview Questions

  1. Why would a client prefer to hire a temp over a permanent employee?

  2. Walk me through your process after receiving a new job order.

  3. Tell me about a time when you were unsuccessful in filling a job order. How did you handle the situation?

  4. What is your current temp-to-hire ratio?

  5. Do you consider yourself a persuasive person?

Continue: View All 30 Temporary Staffing Recruiter Interview Questions

Permanent Staffing Recruiter Interview Questions

  1. What are your top 3 most important activities as a recruiter?

  2. What steps would you take if your newly placed candidate quit without notice?

  3. Are you comfortable being paid on a 100% commission basis?

  4. How do you use data and analytics in your recruitment process?

  5. Are you accustomed to working in a bullpen environment or do you have a personal office?

Continue: View All 30 Permanent Staffing Recruiter Interview Questions

Executive Recruiter Interview Questions

  1. Tell me about the most prestigious placement you have made in your executive recruitment career.

  2. In which ways do you lean on your formal education, as an Executive Recruiter?

  3. Walk me through the types of placements you have made as an Executive Recruiter. In which industries are most interested?

  4. Tell me about your experience making project bids and completing RFPs.

  5. Do you have experience leading junior associates and researchers? What skills and characteristics make you a strong leader?

Continue: View All 30 Executive Recruiter Interview Questions

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