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Recruitment - simple questions with complex meanings

Laura August 22nd, 2014
By Laura

As you can imagine, in recruitment, my job is to ask a lot of questions - to candidates to find out more about their background and what they are looking for, to clients to find out about their business and specific requirements and to all you guys (my network) to find out more about the industry.

One of the biggest areas where I will ask a number of questions is to candidates and these can seem never ending such as tell me about your current position, what KPI's/targets are you working to, why did you chose you current career etc... There is, however, only 3 questions that are important, can have further implications and are consistently asked.

1. Why are you looking for a new role?

Firstly and most obviously, we are simply interested in why you are looking and if the role we are looking to recruit is what you are looking for. There is no point in our client loving your background but you are not remotely interested in joining them.

Secondly, we do have some ulterior motives...recruitment is a risky business and we are trying understand where your risk lies and where your motivation lies. Selfishly and on behalf of our clients, we are looking to find out if there is a risk of you not accepting a position if offered and whether there is anything that your current company can offer to reconsider staying with the company.

For example, you could have an amazing background and be a perfect fit for our company, but you are only looking because you want a slight salary increase - we are going to be concerned that you may stay where you are as it is an easy driver to please.

2. What is your current and/or preferred salary?

As always, plain and simply, we want to know that we are in the right ball park. A good recruiter however will find out what your ideal salary would be but also what your absolute lowest figure you would accept the position on is.

The second part of the question usually causes concern for all candidates and can seem a bit disheartening and feel like you are selling yourself short. When you do answer this question, and hopefully truthfully, please consider the fact that we are not the hiring manager/company HR/MD of our client. We have the best interests of the client however when we are negotiating on your behalf (if you are at offer stage) that's exactly what we are doing....negotiating. We want the best salary for you as there is nothing worse than getting a someone a role who has a sour taste in their mouth from their recruiter.

3. Is the location good for you/are you open for a relocation?

Basically, this questions does mean exactly what it says on the tin. We want to know if you can actually commute or work in the area that the vacancy is based in but this can get tricky if the role requires a relocation.

A good recruiter will delve in to details such as have you relocated before? Do you have a partner and do they work? Do you have children at a critical schooling age? Any hobbies in the local area? and even asking what football team you support as you may have a season ticket for your local team? (this has actually been a sticking point for a few candidates!)

All of these questions are because we realise that relocation is complex and it doesn't just affect your professional life - it affects your family and social life as well. We want to make sure your family, friends and social circle on board - more times than not, this is usually the biggest sticking point.

As recruiters, we are not trying to be intrusive or waste your time, we are actually trying to avoid wasting your time in the long run by ensuring the role/client is of interest.. We are just trying to make sure we understand you fully and what you are looking for.

As recruiters, we are not trying to be intrusive or waste your time, we are actually trying to avoid wasting your time in the long run by ensuring the role/client is of interest..

How to get around these questions? Try and understand your own motivations, drivers and expectations before deciding to leave your current company.

A good recruiter will try and understand all of these areas but then advise you on how to move forward.

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