How to Answer 10 Interview Questions Recruiters Always Ask
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When recruiters screen you, they won’t ask the interview questions that you might be used to from hiring managers. They’re much more interested in your motivation and work history, especially whether or not you have experience that fits their criteria and if you could thrive in the company culture.

The fact of the matter is: recruiters can help get you to where you want to go. Just like with hiring managers, you’ll want to put you best foot forward when speaking with them. If they’re going to market you as a potential candidate or a position, they have to get to know and trust you as a person. Your ability to build a great rapport and connection within a 30 minute meeting is essential.

Most of the time, this screening process will take place over the phone. I have conducted thousands of interviews over the phone and there are typical questions recruiters always ask. Before you set up a phone screen with a recruiter, read on for 10 questions that they always ask and how you can impress them with clear, concise, and compelling answers!

1. What have you accomplished?

This is your chance to highlight your top success stories. These can come from work, scholarships, awards, and recent education. The goal of this question is to assess whether or not you are a high performer, if you have what it takes to progress, and if you are the high potential talent that they need for the position that they are hiring for.

2. What was your rationale behind making certain decisions?

As they get to know more about you, they are going to want to understand your motivations. This may lead them to ask you questions like:

  • What was your reason for joining/leaving a company?
  • What was your rationale behind doing your MBA?
  • What motivates you?

Be honest, but don’t vent to a recruiter. If you’ve been laid off or you faced a difficult situation in your last position, keep it professional. Briefly describe what it was and how you addressed it without going too far into personal details.

3. What do you excel at? 

With this question, the recruiter wants to hear that you have successfully applied the skills you’ll need in this position in your past roles. Impress them by stating percentages or dollar values that quantify the positive impact you had on an organization!

4. Why are you interested in this role?

Sounds pretty standard, right? When you tackle this question, it’s important that you define what impact you would like to make, your career goals, how this position aligns with said goals, and what you can contribute to the company.

5. Why are you interested in this company?

While this question is primarily meant to test the research you have done on the culture, work environment, company, and the products/services offered, the recruiter will also be looking to gage how this opportunity would fit with your overall goals for your career development.

6. Why are you interested in this industry?

This will assess your general curiosity and thirst for knowledge. To nail it, go into the phone screen with some background knowledge on prominent competitors and current market trends.

7. How did you go about figuring out what to do in a certain situation?

This is the closest the recruiter will get to tricky behavioural questions. They may ask you how you went about solving a problem in your last (or current) position, or about your general approach to resolving tough situations. You’ll want to highlight a simple step-by-step process that will give them a better sense of how you think. Limit your answer to around 3 steps for best results!

8. What are you looking for? What’s important to you?

Sometimes a recruiter will ask many variations of what seems like the same question. They do this not because they forgot they asked it, but because they want to see whether or not you’re consistent with your answers. Think about your goals, interests, and values beforehand so that you can stay credible and authentic throughout the screen.

Key message: If this happens to you, avoid saying phrases such as ‘Like I said before…’ or ‘As I said previously…’. It gets in the way of the conversation and could turn off the recruiter.

9. What is your personality type? What are your values?

This type of question has many variations. Who are you? What makes you tick? What stresses you out? How would your friends/ colleagues describe you? What’s important to you in your career?

The recruiter is going to try to construct a personality profile for you so that they can assess your fit with the role and company. A lot of what they conclude will come from how you show up: your vibe, the words you choose, your attitude, and the impression that you’re trying to leave.

As you’re answering, the recruiter will be asking him or herself questions as well. Do I like you? Do I trust you? Do I want to work with you? If we were stuck at an airport together, would I be able to have a conversation with you?

Stand out to them by keeping tabs on your energy level, pausing to structure your answers, and building rapport!

10. Are you clear, concise, and confident?

It takes only 7 seconds for one to form an impression about you. The next thing they form is your ability to communicate effectively. So the best way to put your best foot forward during a phone screen is to prepare beforehand and know what you want to talk about. This can involve getting a better understanding of who you are, what you want, and what you have to offer. Once you know this, you’ll be able to develop a clear, concise and compelling message that will make you shine as a confident candidate.

Have you ever had a phone screen? What are your top tips for others who are about to have one? Let me know in the comments section!


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Diana YK Chan

Diana YK Chan

Diana is a former Recruiter turned Career Coach, Speaker and Trainer at My Marketability. She helps ambitious professionals and executives design the next chapter of their life, navigate transformational changes, and land incredible opportunities with a higher income. She’s an expert at distinguishing people’s unique brand value, mastering their messages and networking with confidence to gain a competitive edge. She’s recognized by JobScan as one of the Top 10 Job Search Experts to follow on LinkedIn.