One of the toughest jobs to interview for is a recruitment consultant. You are all too aware that your interviewer is an expert when it comes to reading people. He knows all of the tricks candidates use to talk their way into a job…every single one of them. So what does it take to ace an interview to be a recruitment consultant? Preparation is key. Make sure you know how to answer these 10 common questions.
1. Why recruitment?
This question is designed to test your suitability for the position. Your answer should focus on your desire to help both candidates and employers achieve success. You also want to illustrate your ability to sense which candidate would be a good fit for each employer. The wrong answer? “Well, I’ve been to a lot of interviews, so I thought I’d give it a try from the other side of the table.”
2. How would you handle a candidate who was clearly unqualified?
Your interviewer is trying to find out whether you can focus on the needs of the employer without humiliating the candidate. You don’t want to send the employer candidates who are clearly unsuitable, but you want to try to preserve the applicant’s confidence, too. One way to answer the question is something like this: “I know the company quite well, and I just don’t think you’d be a good fit for each other. I’ll look through all of our other open positions and see if there’s a better match. In the meantime, you may want to consider doing X (something that provides either further credentials or additional experience)."
3. How would you handle a candidate you wouldn’t want to refer to any of your clients?
The important thing to remember is that the client is the one who foots the bill. You never want to demoralise an applicant, but you can’t waste the client’s time by sending them candidates you know you wouldn’t hire yourself. So this question is designed to determine whether you can diplomatically turn down an unsuitable candidate. There are several ways you can answer this question, but a solid backup is always, “We don’t have anything that’s a good fit right now, but we’ll hang on to your resume and give you a call as soon as something pops up.”
4. What was your most challenging position to fill, and why? What was the result?
Your interviewer wants to know that you’ve actually done the job and are able to handle any bumps in the road. You should be ready to talk about a less-than-ideal job that you were able to sell to a candidate by focusing on the (truthful!) positives.
5. What was your most challenging candidate, and why? What was the result?
Some candidates think they’re much better qualified than they are. With this question, your interviewer is trying to find out how you’ve handled those candidates in the past. This is different from “what would you do?”, because it’s looking for specific examples of what you’ve done in the past.
6. Why are you looking for a new position?
The objective of this question is to make sure you’re running toward something and not from it. Bad reasons are not getting along with your boss/colleagues or not being successful. Good reasons are wanting to specialise in a certain field, work for a particular company because of their reputation for excellence, etc.
7. Tell me about the most successful recruiter at your current/previous firm.
The purpose of this question is to find out whether you know what it takes to be successful as a recruitment consultant. Wrong answers are anything to do with luck, family connections, or being the boss’s favourite. Good answers highlight the specific skills and characteristics that make that recruiter so extraordinary.
8. What’s it like on the other side of the table? What’s the difference between being a recruiter and being a candidate?
The interviewer wants to know if you can transfer the things you’ve learned from being a recruiter to your position as a candidate. What recruiter competencies make you shine as a candidate? Conversely, what’s completely different about being a candidate instead of a recruiter? Any answer that illustrates a realistic understanding of the recruitment and hiring process should be fine. This question is just another way of making sure you know what you’re doing.
9. How would you handle a situation where an employer that relies on psychometric testing wants to hire a candidate you believe would be a poor fit?
This question is designed to draw out your understanding of the different factors that contribute to success. Your answer should demonstrate your ability to explain why it’s a bad idea to hire based on just one dimension…as well as your ability to do so diplomatically.
10. Let’s do a role play. Pretend you’re a recruiter trying to find out if I’m qualified for the position I hold now. What questions would you ask?
It is designed to learn more about both your technical competence and your overall suitability for the job. Do you know which questions to ask? Are you intimidated by interviewing someone for a job they already have? If you’re nervous, how do you compensate? Your interviewer is looking for proof that you know the job, that you can think on your feet, and you know how to handle yourself in high-pressure situations.
Don’t feel bad if you’re nervous about interviewing for a job as a recruitment consultant. Being on the other side of the table is almost guaranteed to be strange. But your interviewer knows that. Your job isn’t to prove that you interview perfectly as a candidate; it’s designed to ferret out whether you have the skills and personality to shine as a recruiter.
Have you ever been in this position? How did it work out let us know in the comments section below…
This article was first published in October 2014.