What To Ask When Working With A Recruiter

How To Make Sure You’re Effectively Using Your Time With a Recruiter

by Wes Lieser

Earlier this summer, my wife and I decided to have some landscaping done around our house. Neither of us has anything even close to resembling a green thumb, so we started calling landscaping companies. The first landscaping company we contacted told us we’d probably be better off calling a different company because we wanted a rock-bed and shrubs put in, and they mostly do lawn maintenance and plant flower gardens.

I had no idea landscaping companies specialized in different areas, but this is just another example of how the whole world is becoming incredibly specialized. The recruiting industry is no different.

I talk to candidates all the time that tell me, “Oh my gosh! You get it. You actually know what I do!”

At the same time, I’ve gotten some salty responses from candidates because I’ve declined conversations with them. I’m not trying to be disrespectful, it’s the complete opposite. I’m actually trying to respect their time by telling them that talking to me won’t be a good use of it. If it’s not the area I specialize in, I likely won’t be an excellent resource for you in your job search.

Therefore the question isn’t, “How to use a recruiter?” Instead, the question IS, “How do I make sure I’m making good use of my time, when I’m talking to recruiters?”

Related Post: Job Intake: How To Discover The Ideal Candidate ➢



Here are 5 Questions to ask recruiters so you’re not wasting time.


  1. What functional area do you specialize in? (i.e., Sales, IT, HR, Marketing, etc.)

Purpose—The more functional areas that a recruiter says they specialize in, the less likely they are to have multiple roles that fit your needs. If someone recruits for sales, IT, and finance opportunities, their network is going to be more extensive, but not as deep. If a recruiter specializes in a specific space, it’s literally their job to know everyone in that space.


  1. What industry are your typical clients in?

Purpose – More and more companies are targeting candidates with industry experience. Especially if they’re going to pay a fee for them. For instance, just because someone is a sales recruiter, doesn’t mean they have network connections in every industry. Specific verticals like healthcare, SaaS, and insurance typically like people with prior experience.


  1. Are most of the opportunities you come across contract or permanent positions?

Purpose – This one is pretty obvious. Most of the time, recruiters who work on contract positions, don’t do permanent roles….and vice versa. The reason this question is important is that it should be addressed within the first couple of minutes. If you, as a candidate, have no interest in contract positions, make sure you ask the recruiter immediately whether or not the job is full-time or not.

There’s nothing more frustrating than having a great 30-minute conversation, only to realize a position is a 6-month contract and you’re looking for a full-time role.  Asking this question is an easy way to avoid wasting each other’s time.


  1. What level of positions do you typically recruit on?

Purpose – First things first, the answer to this question is going to be, “it depends,” which is likely both very relevant and true. However, if you ask the question like this, “hey {recruiter name}, you’ve been awesome to work with. What type of positions do you typically recruit on in case I run across someone in my network I want to refer to you?” The first one or two positions they tell you, are going to be their wheelhouse.

This doesn’t mean that just because the recruiter typically works on manager-level roles, they won’t ever have a director-level search. It just gives you an idea of probability, so you know who to stay in touch with continuously.


  1. How do you see our relationship being mutually beneficial moving forward?

Purpose – To be clear, I’ve only been asked this question a handful of times since being a recruiter. It’s a version of the “what can I do to help you?” but very different and here’s why: Approximately 75% of all recruiters in the country make less than 15 permanent placements each year. At the same time, they’ll talk to roughly 1,000 people. Therefore, odds are the recruiter you’re talking to won’t place you.

Related Post: 5 Tips for Working with a Recruiter to Hire Talent ➢



Does that mean you shouldn’t talk to the recruiter? Well, that depends. If the recruiter’s answers to the 4 previous questions align with what you’ve done, and what you’re looking for, you’d be silly not to talk to them.

Obviously making placements is the primary goal of a recruiter. However, there are other ways to have a mutually beneficial relationship with a recruiter…..which is what my next blog will cover.

Till next time!



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