Ten Common Questions a Recruiter will Most Likely Ask and How to Answer Them

A recruiter will have a suite of questions that they like to ask most candidates in their interview. Of course, they will also have unique questions to the candidate and job, but there is typically a set of questions that we use to benchmark all candidates. Most of them aren’t meant to trick candidates, they are fail proof ways of finding out the most crucial information we need to assess your suitability for a role.

While there is no right way to answer these questions, the way you reply can increase your chances of the recruiter knowing more about you and feeling more confident that they can put your CV forward to the hiring manager. The harder it is to extract information from a candidate, the more challenging it can be to know what drives them and know if they are right for the role.

Like with most things, the more you prepare for an interview with a recruiter, the more you likely you are to ace it. Here are the Ten Common Questions recruiters ask in their interviews and how to answer them:

  1. Tell me more about yourself? This is often used as an ice breaker by a recruiter. Generally people are most comfortable talking about themselves so it is an easier question to start with. However, this question is so simple that people often don’t prepare to answer it. This is your chance to sell yourself. Think of this as your opening pitch. Don’t list your career history. We can see that on your CV. Instead, give us a brief snapshot of your major career achievements. Then tie those in with why you are now looking for your next opportunity.

  2. What are your greatest strengths? This can be a bit of a stumbling block. It can be hard to “brag” about what you are best at. A little preparation and rehearsing on this question always helps. It helps you feel less awkward or embarrassed. You should be honest but also relevant. List a few skills but make sure they are relevant to the job you have applied for. Try to give an example of how you demonstrated those skills to back up what you are saying.

  3. Can you tell me about your weaknesses? This is less about what you’re not great at and more about your honesty and self awareness. Try to focus on something you are working on improving (but not something that is imperative to the job you’ve applied for). Make sure you let the recruiter know what steps you are taking to improve these skills.

  4. Can you tell me about a time you excelled in your job or tell me about a professional achievement? It's one thing to tell a recruiter that you are good at a job. But going into detail about an achievement, an award or how you go above and beyond is always going to work in your favour. A solid example that relates to the role you are applying for is the perfect way to sell to us what makes you great at your job. If you’ve been recognised by a previous employed by an award or recognition, even better!!

  5. Can you tell me about a time you’ve had to overcome a conflict or problem in the workplace? Everyone will have things in their workplace that have caused conflict or where an issue has arisen. We’re all human after all. But the key to answering this question, is to explain to us how you managed the problem. That is what we care about. Did you escalate it? Did you deal with it on your own? We want to understand how you went about solving a problem.

  6. What would you like to be doing in 5 years time? Be honest about your goals here. There isn’t a right or wrong answer. Do you want to be doing the exact same thing you do now but for a different company? Or do you want to be managing a whole team? As recruiters, we are trying to work with you to find the best job and fit for you as well as the best candidate for our client. That means we want to match you in a job that will give you the satisfaction and growth or role you want.

  7. Why are you looking for a new job? We need to know this. We need to know what is motivating your change. Is it money, the environment, your boss or something else? Make sure whatever your reasons, you keep them positive. Don’t slag your boss or the company - frame it that you are looking to expand your experience and would like to try working for a different management style.

  8. What type of management style gets the best from you? Try to shape this answer into a positive about you and your work ethic and style. Let us know that you work well with most managers but you do like autonomy, or guidance, etc.

  9. What other recruiters and jobs have you been interviewing for? Again, honesty works best here. We are trying to gauge if you’ve been put forward to the roles we are recruiting for already by another recruiters. We also need to understand where you are at with other jobs. Are you at first, second or final interviews? Have you just begun? A recruiter needs to manage their client so if you are interviewing elsewhere they know and can act fast if they want you. We are working on your team. So be transparent with your recruiter so they can help find the best job for you.

  10. How would your colleagues describe you? We are trying to get a feel for your personality here. While this can be a little tricky to answer and sell yourself, try not to be too modest. Let us know that you are quieter or can be a bit silly, etc. Tell us about your great qualities that are professional but make you a great work colleague.

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