10+ essential questions to ask a recruitment agency (2023)

Questions to ask a recruiter

Essential questions to ask a recruitment agency


If you’re looking for an exciting new job, it’s a great idea to use a recruitment agency, because the relationship they build with you and with companies recruiting, can really give you the edge.


So, how does it work? Well, recruitment agencies really get to know you, understanding your skills, experience, personality and how you present yourself, along with the type of job you’re after. They also have relationships with lots of different companies who are looking for candidates but may not openly advertise these roles – so a recruitment agency can give you access to jobs you might not otherwise hear about. They know the roles their clients want to fill and what skills and experience they are looking for in candidates. The recruitment agency is best placed to match you with your ideal job and employer, with the added benefit that they are actually recommending you for the role, if they put you forward for it.


However, there are some essential questions to ask a recruitment agency, which can really set you up for success in your job hunt, and we’re going to go through our top 5+ in this article.



Top 5+ essential questions to ask a recruitment agency


If you type into any search engine “What questions should I ask a recruitment agency?” you’re going to find a ton of answers, some more helpful than others. There are some pretty basic ones, like those questions relating to the tasks, seniority, salary and so on. Below we have listed some questions which we think will be helpful for you in your journey to finding your next great job.


1. What are the specific details and key skills of the job?


This really is top of the list. Every job has a job description (also known as a job specification), outlining what the candidate might expect from the day-to-day tasks, the skills, experience and in some cases the type of personality traits that the company is looking for in a candidate. An idea of salary, holiday allowance and other company benefits are also usually detailed in this document. Reviewing the job description is the first step in determining whether the role is right for you and helps you tailor your CV and cover letter according to the skills, experience and personal attributes that the company is looking for. So, we believe it needs to be top of your list of questions to ask a staffing agency recruiter.


2. What is the company’s recruitment process?


When you’re speaking with a recruitment agency about a role, it is important to ask about the recruitment process, so you’re as well prepared as possible for an interview. For instance, it’s useful to know in advance how many people will be in the interview and what their roles are, so you can think about the types of questions they might ask and how the conversation might go. You may also want to know how many rounds of interviews there will be and what the timescale is between each round. Finding out about skills or competency tests is also useful to know. These insights can help you prepare and also help you decide if you need to follow up.


3. Do I need to make any adjustments to my CV?


If you’re using a recruitment agency to find a job, it’s well worth asking them to check through your CV and cover letter to advise any adjustments you might need to make. Recruitment agencies see many CVs, so are well versed in what makes a good one and will be able to advise you on how to make yours stand out and what to include, so you can highlight the skills that the company is looking for. We think this really is one of the essential questions to ask a recruitment agency.


4. How long has the role been advertised?


Knowing how long a vacancy has been available can be quite revealing. If a vacancy has just gone live, you may be one of the first candidates being put forward. This can be advantageous, as the recruiter might see your CV, interview you and think they’ve hit the jackpot in you, immediately!


If the role has been around for a while, it may be that the recruiter is particularly selective, knows exactly the type of person they are after and hasn’t found them yet. It might also indicate some type of challenge in relation to the role or the selection process, which may be a red flag and is certainly worth exploring with your recruitment agency.


5. Can you tell me about the company culture?


Another of the essential questions to ask a recruitment agency centres on culture. Understanding something of the company culture will help you get a feel for whether you are likely to be a good fit. Some companies have very traditional, formal and hierarchical cultures, others are very flexible and liberal, with a team-based approach. Knowing this in advance will help you work out whether the particular organisational culture will play to your strengths, suit your personality and style of work.


6. What time-scale is the company working to?


It’s always useful to know how long the process is likely to take and when you might hear back. As well as managing your expectations, asking this question may help you work out whether perhaps you need to follow up with the company, or the recruitment agency, if you’ve not heard back when you were expecting to.


When companies want to fill positions quickly, you would expect to hear back fairly soon after your interview. However, when the recruitment process is long, you would wait a while before following up or deciding to apply elsewhere.


7. How flexible is the business?


Since Covid, many companies have become very flexible in terms of where employees work and how they manage their time. Remote working and flexible hours provide advantages not only to employees, who can enjoy a greater level of freedom as to how they work, but also to the company, which can adapt resources and space availability around employee work patterns. So, naturally employees have now come to expect a level of flexibility, and questions to ask a recruiter might well include whether the job allows for remote working and flexible hours. Whether or not an organisation embraces flexibility, can give you an insight into their culture and whether it’s right for you.


So, if you’ve been wondering “What questions should I ask a recruitment agency?”, hopefully the suggestions above have helped. Now, let’s look at the initial interview with a recruiter …



Top 5+ questions to ask a recruiter in an informational interview


So, now you’ve got an initial interview, you may be wondering what are the types of questions to ask a recruiter? In this section, we’ll give some suggestions to try to help you prepare. We’ll consider those questions to help you be clear on the role and the organisation, impress the recruiter, show your knowledge and demonstrate just how interested you are in the role.


1. What would you say are the greatest challenges of this role?


This is a great question to ask, as it shows you’re thinking about the realities of the role and understanding that it won’t always be plain sailing. From your perspective, this type of question, whether during a phone/online interview or face-to-face, will enable you to really understand some of the difficulties you may face and whether you’re happy about that. It will show the interviewer that you are serious about the role and wish to really get your head around the pros and cons.


2. What is the reporting structure and how does the position fit into the overall structure of the business?


It’s really important that you understand who the position reports into and find out whether you will have the opportunity to meet them, should you be successful in going through to the next stage. Personality is key and you will want to ensure you have a connection and can get on with the individual, just as much as they will you. So, we think this is one of the key questions to ask a recruiter in an informational interview.


Also, understanding how the position fits into the overall organisational structure shows the interviewer that you have an interest in teamwork and an eagerness to understand how you will be contributing to the wider organisation.


3. Is there an induction programme for new starters?


Most organisations will have a standard induction programme to help new staff get to know everyone in the team and what their roles and responsibilities are. This enables new starters to understand the structure, see how their role fits into the team and who they might need to approach about certain elements of their job. Asking about the organisation’s induction policy will help you work out the level of support you will receive to help you settle in.


4. Do you offer a programme of training and development?


This is a great question to ask, as it shows that you’re eager to grow your skills, develop the role and add more value to the business in the long term. It also helps you decide on whether the organisation is right for you, and whether it will give you opportunities to grow and develop your career in the future … or not.


5. How do you measure and review performance?


By asking this question, you are showing that you are professional, reliable, and committed to delivering results for the organisation consistently, over time. In short, it shows you are serious, and commercially minded.


6. Can you give me an idea of the growth and development plans?


This question will help you work out how ambitious the organisation is and whether their plans take them in a direction which excites you. It shows the recruiter that you have commercial acumen, understand the value of planning and are likely considering a long-term commitment to the role. Again, this type of question in an interview shows you are serious.


Finally, if you’re thinking about other questions to ask a recruiter in an informational interview, we think it’s useful to actually flip this on its head and put yourself in the shoes of the recruiter. Knowing what you do of the job specification, what do you think they might they be looking for in a candidate and how can you demonstrate, through your questions, that you have the skills, experience and commercial acumen to do the job well and be an asset to the organisation?


The questions are relevant whether you’re meeting face to face or online. But during a phone interview or during a phone screen interview, you have the advantage of being able to glance at your prepared questions without the interviewer knowing that you’re using notes.


We hope this article has been helpful in guiding you to ask suitable questions of your recruitment agency and an actual recruiter, to find the right job for you and in preparing you for any interviews you might have. Good luck in your job search!


If you have any questions or would like to talk about a specific role please email emma@flexmatters.co.uk or call 07810 541599.

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