Common Recruiter Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

By Chris Kolmar
Sep. 22, 2022
Articles In Guide

Find a Job You Really Want In

Across all industries, recruiters play an ever-increasing role in the hiring process. If you are a recruiter or want to become one, then you need to ace your own interview before you can go out and help others do the same.

Key Takeaways:

  • The two main types of recruiters are internal recruiters and external recruiters.

  • Employers ask specific questions to recruiters because they want to know more about you as a recruiter, what your philosophies are, how you handle conflict, and why you want to be a recruiter in the first place.

  • When you are employed as a recruiter, either internally or externally, you’ll be asked about your relationships with hiring managers and candidates.

Common Recruiter Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

What Does a Recruiter Do?

Recruiters are the liaison between companies and job candidates. A recruiter works for the company and seeks out qualified candidates to fill positions. In this way, recruiters make it easier for companies by handling the logistics of communication and outreach.

  • There are two main types of recruiters:

    • Internal recruiters. These recruiters work directly for a specific company and are usually salaried. Internal recruiters can be found in large companies with extensive operations that need positions filled frequently and effectively.

    • External recruiter. A company hires these recruiters from a recruiting firm or as individual consultants. An external recruiter will work with a variety of companies and may specialize in a particular industry and role.

    Both types of recruiters have their benefits. Internal recruiters have the stability and focus of a single organization, while external recruiters have the diversity and freedom of multiple clients. In either case, the recruiters face similar circumstances when it comes to the hiring process.

  • For example, they are always working with hiring managers. The hiring manager is the one who makes the final call on candidates, which makes your relationship with hiring managers crucial. Success depends on excellent communication and analytical skills.

  • As a recruiter, you are continually seeking out and working with candidates as well. Your success equally depends on your targeting and implementation skills, as well as the use of empathy to fully understand and appreciate the candidates you approach.

Why Employers Ask Recruiters Specific Interview Questions

Hiring a recruiter is a commitment and an investment on the part of the employer. They ask questions to ensure they are making the right decision. Employers need to trust the recruiter to deliver high-quality candidates.

To build this trust, an employer will want to know more about you as a recruiter, what your philosophies are, how you handle conflict, and why you want to be a recruiter in the first place. In the process, you, as a recruiter, have the opportunity to highlight your strengths and devotion to the position.

Common Interview Questions an Employer Will Ask a Recruiter

When you’re interviewed for a recruiter position, you will likely face questions about the specific role. Every interview situation will be different, and you are unique as an individual, so use the following questions as a framework on which to develop your own strategy.

  1. How would you deal with a difficult hiring manager? In this question, the employer wants to know how you adapt to different managerial styles. When you explain how you would handle a difficult hiring manager, you reveal your conflict resolution skills.

    You also reveal whether you submit to the manager’s actions or act as a team player who can give polite feedback. A good employer will want you to be able to take a firm stand on your beliefs. They don’t want you to also cater to them; you are there for your expertise.

    “In my first job as a recruiter, I worked with a hiring manager who was very aggressive in finding someone as soon as possible. I explained to him gently that if we were to focus on speed alone, we may hire someone who wouldn’t work out, which would lead to finding someone new later on.”

    Why it works: This is a good answer because it shows the recruiter understands the hiring process and can use empathy to educate the hiring manager. The response also implies how the candidate’s quality should take preference over a speedy acquisition.

  2. How would you deal with a great candidate who doesn’t get the offer? Here is a question that examines how you approach your relationship with a candidate. Although there is the incentive to place as many candidates as possible, a good recruiter does not abandon candidates who don’t get initial offers.

    Show that when you have a great candidate who doesn’t work out, you still will work with that candidate moving forward. The employer should know that it is harmful in the long run to focus solely on placements over candidates.

    “When a candidate doesn’t get the offer, I am honest yet optimistic. First, I contact the candidate as soon as possible out of respect for them. Then I would highlight the candidate’s skills and how they can lead to future opportunities. We will put the past behind us and move forward.”

    Why it works: This is a good answer because, as a recruiter, you want to show that you care about your candidates as individuals. Honesty combined with resilience is an effective approach to rejection. It creates a teachable moment that highlights your ability to act as a steward to the candidate’s progress.

  3. How would you deal with a great candidate who declined an offer? It’s not unusual for a candidate to decline an offer. When this happens, your job as a recruiter should be to follow up with the candidate and find out what happened. Your answer should also examine how you would self-reflect on the situation.

    “If a great candidate declined an offer, I would reach out and ask why. Obviously, they may or may not tell a lot. Regardless, I would try to get an honest impression and thank them for their time. I’d try to understand what happened and use that knowledge to proceed when looking for other candidates.

    Why it works: This answer highlights your awareness and shows the ability to adapt to unexpected changes. What is especially important is to focus on the future and framing the event as a teachable moment.

  4. Why do you want to be a recruiter? Like any other specialized profession, you may be asked what brings you to the job. This is a chance to talk about your passions. Find something that excites you about recruitment and expand upon it.

    “I want to be a recruiter because I love helping others succeed. It brings me satisfaction, knowing that I helped somebody move forward with their career, and this job allows me to experience that every day.”

    Why it works: This is a good answer because it places the focus on your relationships with your candidates. Good relationships with candidates help make for a successful recruiter.

  5. What current recruiting trends interest you the most? The field of recruiting is constantly on the cutting edge of talent acquisition. You need to stay relevant. An employer will want to see what you know about the changes in the industry. As an example, you could mention publications that you keep up to date with.

    “I follow several websites such as Recruiter Today to check in on current trends. I find the ones that revolve around retaining employees in the gig economy the most helpful because more and more candidates seem to be found in this sector.”

    Why it works: By listing publications and talking about a current economic trend, you show that you are aware of these essential factors of the recruiting industry. This answer also highlights your ability to grow, which will make you a better recruiter.

  6. What is your online presence as a recruiter like? An online presence is huge in recruiting. Your employer will want to see you on multiple sites because that means you are casting a wide net. The wider the net, the more candidates and clients you can pull from.

    “I have profiles on several sites, including LinkedIn, Indeed, Twitter, and Instagram. I am constantly updating my content, and I make sure to stay in touch with everyone in my network. This way, if I ever have to reach out, I find it easily because the ice is already broken.”

    Why it works: This answer shows that you use websites and social media in a professional manner. You make sure to stay in touch with your network and use this proactivity to help with future situations.

  7. What is a good candidate and how do you find them? This is a test of your philosophy. Though some qualities of a good candidate may be obvious, such as punctuality and good communication skills, it is still up to you to decide what makes a good candidate. Effectively sum up these qualities in an efficient way.

    When discussing how to find them, try to diversify your outlets. Suitable candidates come from all different places. You want to show that you know that.

    “I believe a good candidate is someone who shows integrity and growth. I look at their experience, and I gauge how they have shown growth. I find these types of candidates through a variety of online platforms as well as in-person networking. I believe having a face to face conservation can tell me a lot more than a resume.”

    Why it works: This answer hits the mark and shows a concern for a candidate’s ability to better themselves. Finding candidates through in-person networking also highlights the ability to read people via body language, which recruiters should do.

  8. How do you use data in the recruitment process? Analytics has a huge impact on contemporary recruiting. Metrics such as quality of hire, cost per hire, time to hire, source of hire, and acceptance rates help recruiters and hiring managers to see patterns of success and failure.

    In your interview, you will want to be fluent in the language of data analysis. Show that you understand that certain metrics can act as great predictors of finding great talent.

    “I keep track of hired candidates and measure how long they stay at each position. I have been able to see that over 90% of my candidates have stayed at their jobs for over six months. In cases where candidates left before six months, I was able to categorize their choices and discovered characteristics that have helped me improve future outcomes.”

    Why it works: This answer shows how you use data to track both your successful and unsuccessful retention. This is good because it highlights your self-evaluation skills.

  9. What do you think the future of recruiting is? This is a great question to bring in some of your personal philosophy and prove that you are invested in the field of recruiting. Use your knowledge of current trends and extrapolate a five- to ten-year model that is unique but reasonable.

    “I believe the future of recruiting lies in effective partnerships with search engines and social media sites. Via data mining, we will be able to not only know when someone is looking for work but what type of person they are and what work would suit them best.”

    Why it works: This answer uses current trends and moves them into the future by marrying two critical online outlets of social media and search engines. An answer like this shows you are both creative and logical.

Other Common Recruiter interview Questions to look out for:

  • Describe your relationship with your last hiring manager?

  • What is the most rewarding aspect of being a recruiter?

  • How would you introduce our company to a candidate?

  • What steps do you take when checking a candidate’s references?

  • Tell me about your recruiting process? How has it changed since you first started?

  • Describe a time in which you hired someone who wasn’t right for the role?

  • What’s your stick rate for new hires?

  • What are come common challenges you have faced when working with a company?

  • What is your favorite tool for keeping in touch with candidates and clients?

  • Do you have any questions for us about our recruiting process?

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Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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