There are a number of reasons why registering with a job recruiting or placement agency should be one of your job search strategies. We’ve covered a few of them in earlier articles. But, one thing many job search strategists overlook is that most recruiters have been inside the companies they are recruiting for. They know the decision makers and may have even placed other employees within the company. To put it simply, they know what the employer wants in a new employee.
Before they send you to be interviewed by a potential employer, you should interview the recruiter. By asking them a number of strategic questions, you will be able to make an even better first impression with decision makers and stand out from the other candidates. Most recruiters want you to get the position, so they are generally quite willing to share information with you. Your goal is to know things about the position the other candidates may not and use that information to your advantage.
Ask the recruiter to be honest and say they don’t know when they don’t. Make sure you know if their answers are based on fact, observations or pure conjecture. Pay attention to what they are saying, both verbally and through their body language. A real professional is unlikely to give away too much through body language but even they sometimes say more without speaking than they do with their words.
The five questions we’ve included should be part of your overall job search strategy and provide you with a starting point.
When the recruiter explains the company dress code, be sure to ask for clarification. Ask them what they have seen the employees wearing when they have visited the company in the past and if they were there on a ‘casual’ or ‘dress down’ day. Do they define business casual as white shirts and dress pants, a polo shirt and khakis or sneakers and jeans?
Ask about the hiring official(s) you will be meeting with. It’s always a good job search strategy to see if you can find out whether they are formal in their behavior, quick to laugh or somewhere in between. Ask about any personal quirks or habits they may have. For example, knowing ahead of time that they abhor shaking hands with anyone may save you from a terribly awkward moment.
Ask the recruiter if they have placed anyone within the company before. You might be able to learn a great deal about working conditions, company policies or other insider information that could be used to your benefit. Try to determine if the other placements were in the same department or even with the same immediate supervisor. Evasions and vague answers could be indications that the company may not be a good place to work or that a particular manager is problematic.
Get the names and proper spelling of everyone you are scheduled to meet. Before going on your interview, Google your interviewers. Any personal information you find can tell you a great deal about them. Just be very careful about divulging what you found to the interviewer. Ideally, you are looking for clues about their personality. It can be useful to know they like sports but you might make your interviewer very uncomfortable if you launch into a conversation with, “So, you’re a big Lakers fan…”
Ask the job recruiter to provide you with a detailed job description, if they have one. That way you can review it carefully and be prepared to ask specific questions about things that may be unclear or trouble you. Better to look it over on your own time rather than trying to study it while you sitting in front of an interviewer.
These five questions should help you to develop your own job search strategies and get you started thinking about what you should ask your recruiter. Not all recruiters will be forthcoming with information and some may not have worked with the hiring company before. Get as much information as you can from the recruiter and then go home and do your own research.
Keep in mind; it is up to the hiring manager what the job will entail. Any job specific information you obtain from the recruiter may not match what the employer has in mind. By interviewing your recruiter you will have information to use during the interview and to help you decide if you want to accept the position. Some of the information you will gather should be “kept under your hat” as the saying goes. If you give away that you know too much to an interviewer, they may worry that you are a gossip-monger or know someone within the company when you don’t. Use the information to show your interest in the company and the position.