If you’re just considering a career in recruitment, you can read here to see what the reality of working in recruitment is for a recruitment consultant. But if you’ve decided that it’s the career for you, and are ready to apply for a job in recruitment, then now is the time to prepare yourself for your recruitment interview.
So we’ve asked John Marks, founder of Dynamic Search Solutions and someone who has interviewed hundreds of prospective recruitment consultants; to find out his advice for anyone going into a recruitment interview, the questions to prepare yourself for, and the questions you should ask them.
Recruitment Interview Questions
Here’s some of the questions that Dynamic co-founders, John Marks and Adam Law, ask when they’re interviewing future recruitment consultants. These will give you an idea of what to expect and what answers you should prepare.
- “Before I ask any questions, I introduce myself; a bit about my background and a bit about me personally”
Opening the interview by providing some information about themself helps make an introduction, make the interview a bit more informal and hopefully relaxes the person in the interview. Then it leads onto the opening question:
- “Tell me a bit about yourself.”
Perhaps the most standard interview question there is. But it gives your interviewer an idea of how well you can communicate something you know a lot about; yourself. And this is your opportunity to talk about your strengths and how they relate to recruitment.
- “Why are you here?” and “What do you want to be doing going forward?”
Now you’ve filled your interviewer in on your background and how you reached this point, but what about looking forward? If you say that, in a few years time you want to be leaving the company to start your real career as an astronaut, the business may not want to invest the time and money in you…
- “What do you think your skills are?”
This tells the interviewer about your opinion of yourself. Your strengths and weaknesses, and which areas of the job you would be good at, and which you would need support or training.
- “What do you know about recruitment” or “What do you think the day to day of this role will entail?”
This shows the interviewer if you’ve done your research into both recruitment and the business itself: If someone was applying for a role at Dynamic, showing awareness of the IT market is a fantastic way to stand out. And this question also shows if your view of what recruitment is aligns with the reality of the role you’re entering.
- “I would then follow up that question and ask for examples of the responsibilities they listed”
Being able to prove why you would be good for the role with real life examples is worth infinitely more than assumptions or assertions. For example “Being a recruiter means being able to convince or communicate over the phone, which I did extensively in my last role working at telecoms centre”.
- “Why do you want a career in recruitment?”
Whatever your reason is, isn’t too important. But your sincerity does tell the interviewer if you’re serious about a career in recruitment. After all, they aren’t going to want to waste investing time and money in someone who isn’t really interested.
- “What’s your biggest setback to date?”
As a recruiter you’ll have to be able to not only handle rejection, but overcoming setbacks is an essential part to becoming successful in recruitment. Sometimes you’ll get 30 no’s before you get a yes, but that 1 yes can make it all worth it.
- “Give me an example of when you’ve had to beat the competition. How did you do it, what motivated you?”
Some people get into recruitment for the money. Which is absolutely fine, it’s a huge motivator for a lot of people and a lot of recruiters. But what we’re looking for here, is a time where you delivered excellent results: At Dynamic we’re looking for recruiters to whom quality is their standard.
With all of these questions there are three things that your interviewer is looking to identify: Ability, drive, values.
Can this person do the job, and will this person do the job? Do they have the skills and do they have the motivation needed to succeed in a career as a recruiter? And are they a cultural fit? Will they fit in with the business and will they hold up the values of the business?
Recruitment Interview Advice
While it’s great to prepare yourself for the questions you may be asked, John also has some advice that will specifically prepare you for how to present yourself in a recruitment interview.
- “Don’t BS. Recruitment managers want to hear the good and the bad. Times when you’ve failed, times when you’ve succeeded.”
While we would all love to make no mistakes in our work, it’s not the reality. As a recruiter and as a graduate who is learning everything they know, learning from your mistakes is crucial to becoming a top recruiter.
- “Before your interview, think of examples of times you’ve worked hard to affect or influence someone’s decision, and a time where you’ve taken huge setbacks.”
Being persuasive is crucial to a recruiters job and having examples of times you’ve done this successfully will absolutely elevate you above other applicants: Whether it’s persuading a client to give you a job even after being told no, or being able to convey to someone that having you represent them in the job search is the best thing for them.
- ‘Soft skills’ are what make a great recruiter.
‘Hard skills’ are knowing how to use a coding language like python or knowing how to drive: Whereas ‘soft skills’ are presentation skills, or being confident in communicating over the phone. While there are some ‘hard skills’ that are important, it’s the soft skills that make a great recruiter.
- “Communicate clearly and confidently.”
Chief among these are being confident when you communicate. It’s human to be nervous in an interview and your interviewer understands this. But demonstrating that you can communicate with confidence under pressure is one of the most fundamental skills for a successful recruiter. After all, the interviewer needs to be able to trust you to represent the business to clients and candidates.
- “And be presentable. If you look good and feel good, I absolutely believe it comes across in how you speak.”
Of course, you want to make a good impression in an interview. But something we don’t always realise is how we’re dressed and carry ourselves influences the way we speak. And when you’re on the phone, your voice is all you have to try and gain a candidate’s trust.
Questions You Should Ask in a Recruitment Interview
But an interview works both ways, and now it’s your turn to put the interviewer in the hot seat. Towards the end of your interview is your opportunity to ask any questions that you have: To ask questions that will give you insight to not only if you would enjoy working at the company, but if it’s somewhere you will find success in your work.
So here are some recruitment specific questions for you to ask when you head in:
- What are your investment areas this year?
Is the business investing in training? In new marketing avenues for the business? Or new products to improve their recruiters performance? Their answer will give you insight into the businesses focus moving forward. But if your interviewer doesn’t know, it shows they don’t know what is happening within their own business.
- What is the back office and support structure like for consultants?
Recruitment isn’t a solo effort. To make you the most effective recruiter you can be, you need a full support structure. This could include: a training and development specialist to support your growth in the role, IT support to keep your tech working, a social media or marketing team to promote the business, or an office admin to make sure the business runs smoothly…
And so the best recruitment agencies don’t just hire recruiters. They hire the team that help their recruiters.
- How did you and your business navigate the pandemic?
How a business navigated the pandemic is a direct reflection of how they treat their staff. Did they put staff on furlough? Or just let all their staff go? If they let people go, you know that the business comes first. If they made the change to working from home, this shows the business is adaptable, and trusts their recruiters to get the work done no matter the location.
- What was the last company incentive? And how many people from the team hit their individual targets and went on the incentive?
Regular company incentives tell you that the business is doing well financially, and they reward their recruiters for their hard work. But if only 3 people in the whole office met their KPIs and went on the incentive? Then the business is setting unrealistic expectations for their recruiter
- What’s your policy on employee development?
Is your training and development a one off, when you join the team, onboarding deal? Or is it continuous development, with regular reviews and ongoing training? Here at Dynamic for example, we have monthly one-to-ones with managers where the recruiters set their own targets to hit. This helps the team feel comfortable in their goals, to push themselves and provides the individual support they need to be successful recruiters.
Now you should be prepared to go out and crush your recruitment interview, and ask the right questions to find the job that is right for you.