Talent Acquisition

Why Do Recruitment Consultants Ask Such Crazy Questions?

We cop criticism as recruitment consultants – some of which is justified. So we thought we’d shine the spotlight on ourselves and explain why we ask the questions we do in interviews.

What salary are you expecting?

There’s nothing sinister behind this question. We want to understand what you are looking for so we can negotiate on your behalf.

Please don’t believe what you read and be tempted to talk up your salary hoping that you’ll score an extraordinary pay increase next role. We have a strong idea about the companies that pay well and the ones that don’t. Be warned some clients ask us to verify your salary claims with your salary-slip.

We know market rates. We know good candidates. We can tell you whether your expectations are realistic. We’ll also understand if you say you are underpaid in your current role and want more money.

Some clients have salary bands. This means they can only offer salaries within a particular range.  When we ask what you’re after, we want to know whether your salary expectations match the range of roles we have on offer.

More on salaries at the Top 5 Buying Signals in Job interviews.

Why did you leave your last job?

Fundamentally our role is to determine whether you match the roles we have with our clients.  You’d be surprised how many people forget this.

We ask three questions of any candidate when we are considering them against a role on offer:

– Can you do the job?
– Will you do the job?
– Will you fit the team?

We ask why you have left your roles for a few reasons.

We want to truly comprehend what you are looking for in your next role. If you left because you didn’t like the company, the work, the size of the team, the limited career opportunities and so on, then what we are about to say makes common sense.

We are not going to offer you an opportunity or a role with similar conditions.

We’ll also delve deep into this question to understand whether your stated reason for leaving “makes sense.” We ask ourselves if the reason you give is consistent with what we know of that company, that type of role, and the marketplace.

You can expect more of grilling if you have many short stints on your resume.  Plus our antennas are alert if you leave a company in less than three months, and we know that the industry or company is expanding.

More on leaving your job at So You Want to Leave a Job You Hate.

We invite you in for one role, but we ask if you are interested in another.

We will often do this.

From our discussions in an interview, we may discover that you are a better fit for another company. If we do not think you are appropriate for one role, based on what you have told us what you want – and what our client needs then we will not put you forward to that client.

If we have other roles that will suit you, we may well talk to you about that role in the interview, or call you and discuss it at a later date.

No, this has nothing to do with the old bait and switch.

Why do you take so long to call?

This isn’t a question we ask, but a question we’ve heard asked of us.
Often the decision to appoint someone or even organize a second interview can take time. This is for a few reasons:

– someone internal appears out of nowhere
– someone internal makes a referral for another applicant
– the business restructures
– the employer likes you but is not confident they have seen the best in the market
– the employer does not have their paperwork in order and forgot to get sign-off.
– the employer wants someone more senior to see you and that person is simply not available
– you are being hired for a newly created role.

If an employer is hiring for a role they have already established, then they have a more tangible sense of the opportunity cost or the cost of lost productivity. Often for newly established roles, there is less urgency as an employer has less sense of what they are missing out on.

Now to turn the tables on the recruiter, check out Interview Questions for Recruiters.

Author: In 1997 Liza Garrido founded Enigma HR with the philosophy: “be ethical; be professional; be friendly and serve your clients well.” Her firm specializes in insurance and accounting placements and she has been assisting professionals in this industry for over 20 years. Visit our website:

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