The economy is booming. Everybody who wants to have a job, has one. Employee loyalty does not exist anymore. People hop from one job to another, hoping to earn a few hundred bucks more each month.

Imagine an average company in this era. Not Google or BP, not Apple or Toyota. Just an average company from IT, automotive, or any other field of economy. Such company struggles greatly to hire new talent. Or to hire anyone. Hence the growth of recruiter profession, hence the number of job openings for recruiters…

Ten years ago, corporations expected a lot of skills from a good candidate for Recruiter job. They should know how to lead the interviews effectively, how to find the right match for the job. They should be strong in cooperation with HR managers. Nowadays, only one skill truly matters–your sourcing abilities. Whether you are able to find the job candidates, and somehow convince them to at least interview for a job with the company.

Man and woman talk in a nice office setting

Needless to say, this situation on an employment market (the problems most companies have with hiring new staff) reflects strongly in the interview questions for recruiters–they will relate mostly to your sourcing abilities.

And while companies often hope for miracle (even the best recruiter in the world won’t find any decent programmer in the city, unless they can match the salary offer of their competitors, the more popular companies), their HR managers do not realize it, and they will still try to hire you for a job of a Recruiter–hoping to see you perform the miracle :).

Let’s have a look at some questions they will ask you in your interview.


Why did you apply for this job?

Try to talk about the value you want to bring to their team–mostly about your ability to find right candidates, and to motivate them (or convince them) to interview with the company.

You can also say that you are skilled in spotting strengths and weaknesses of people, and can match a resume with a job description. You can also say that you specialize in their field of business (IT recruitment, sales recruitment, etc), or that you would like to specialize in this field.

You should not connect your decision with your past. Saying that you apply because you earned your masters in Human Resources would indicate a must–but you want to show your desire to have this job…


What are your favorite candidate sourcing methods?

Try to understand their business before you interview for the job. Good sourcing methods in IT differ from effective sourcing methods in retail store recruitment.

For candidates in demand, such as IT workers, engineers, or other specialists, the most effective ways (in current economic climate) are talent recruitment (in an early age, including hiring undergraduates and students–get them onboard before anyone else does), and headhunting.

I do not suggest you to list ten methods in your answer. Think about the most effective one for their business field, and try to add some creativity to your answer…


What would you do to attract real talent to our job offers?

That’s a million dollar question :). Job seekers are not stupid, and fancy job titles or job descriptions won’t work with high quality people. They check the salary offer, options for career growth, and the package of benefits they’d get with their new employer.

If a company can’t compete with the big guns, it will always struggle to attract the best people. Or even the average one.

Nevertheless, you should show some creativity in your answer. At least give them some ideas, some hope. For example you can say that you will bet on personal approach, and creating relationships with perspective hires (before presenting them the actual job offer).

Or you can say that you would cooperate with HR and branding managers, to create a distinctive and unique image of the company, something people can identify with, something that will motivate them to give your company at least a chance in an interview.

programmer meets with a recruiter in an informal interview, over a cup of coffee

You find yourself in an interview with a job candidate. And they are doing well. What will you do to ensure that they will accept the job offer?

This question results from a commonly observed phenomenon in corporate interviews–candidates eventually reject the offer, or hesitate (mostly because they have other offers on their table, or hope to negotiate better terms of employment–something they can afford in current economic climate).

In my experience, there are a few things you can do to improve the chances of eventually getting the job candidate onboard:

  • Act professionally, and show the highest level of proficiency in leading interviews. They must see that you are serious in what you do.
  • Trying to “sell” the company in an interview, identifying what the candidate looks for in ideal employment, and then convincing them that they can find such an employment in your company.
  • Trying to create a best possible connection with the candidate–when they like you on a personal level, the chances that they will accept the offer are better.
  • Letting some room for salary negotiation, letting them make the first offer.

Show the interviewers that you understand the situation on the employment market, and what it implies for every recruiter who wants to be successful in their efforts.


What is your opinion about referral programs? Do you plan to incorporate them in your work?

This is a tricky question. Referral programs work well when they are unique. When each company has a referral program, however, and pays rewards to existing employees for bringing new people onboard, the entire concept loses its meaning, and becomes ineffective. At least that’s my experience.

You can say that you will talk to HR managers, discuss the existing reward program. You can say that you will also talk to employees, to get their feedback on the program, and whether it motivates them to talk to their friends about the job opportunities in the company. Then you will act accordingly.

But I suggest the following: Ensure the interviewers that you won’t rely only on the referral program. You believe in your recruiting abilities, and you will do your best to find quality people for the company–regardless of the referral program or other things.


Here are three resumes of candidates for mobile app developer position (they show you the resumes). Look at them and pick the best match for the job.

They may show you sample resumes for any position–depending on the field of recruitment you’d do in your new job. It is a test of your knowledge of the field. Before convincing a great candidate to interview with a company, you firstly have to identify such a candidate.

I can not give you much advice in this case. Either you can match a resume with the job, or you can’t. When you are not sure, however, or when profiles are similar, you can say that you would invite all candidates for the interview, and confront them with a practical test of their skills (e.g. a simple or advanced coding exercise, which you can find online).


Other questions you may face in your interview for a job of a Recruiter

  • What is the first, and the last question, you would ask job candidates in an interview?
  • Can you read the non-verbal communication of job candidates? Can you tell if someone is lying to you. If yes, how do you do it?
  • Do you plan to conduct reference check with job applicants?
  • Imagine that you want to headhunt a leading manager, working for one of our top competitors. How would you proceed?
  • What is your experience with LinkedIn? Do you use it as a recruiter? Have you ever recruited someone with the help of LinkedIn?
  • Talk about a hiring process from your last job. What worked well? What didn’t work well? What would you change?
  • Tell us about your biggest failure in recruitment.
  • Tell us about your biggest success as a recruiter.
  • Describe your favorite tools for tracking and following up with candidates. Do you use any software in your work?
  • In your opinion, what is the role of HR managers and executives in the process of recruitment? Should they participate on it?
  • What is the first thing you will do in work if we hire you?
  • Here is one of our job ads (they show you the ad, typically printed). What can we improve about the ad so it will attract more job seekers?
  • Do you consider advertising on job boards as an effective technique for sourcing new candidates? What are your favorite job boards?
  • Tell me about an obstacle you overcame (in your work in HR, or in your personal life).
  • Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision without all information you needed.
  • ….

* Special Tip: If you are not sure how to answer the questions from my list, or experience interview anxiety, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Up to 10 premium answers to basically all tricky questions you may face in your Recruiter job interview will help you streamline your interview preparation, outclass your competitors, and eventually get this great job. Thank you for checking it out!


Final thoughts

Recruitment is easy when economy struggles, and people “fight” for jobs. Or when you work as a recruiter for Google, or other company with outstanding reputation. But in times of economic expansion, finding great people is more an art than a science.

This will be reflected in your interview. Most questions will relate to your sourcing skills. But you will face also other questions in your Recruiter interview, and you should get ready for each one of them. I hope you will manage to do so, and wish you good luck in your interview!


* You can also download a the list of questions in a simple one page long .PDF document, and practice your interview answers anytime later:

interview questions for recruiters, PDF

Or you can continue your preparation with one of the posts below:

Matthew Chulaw
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