How to Talk to a Recruiter

I’ve always found recruiter interviews to be more fraught than prospective
employer interviews.

1. They always ask questions you can’t say no to.
(“Are you interested in taking the next step in your career?”)

2. They immediately want extremely personal information from you. (“So what are you
making?”)

3. And they end the conversation cryptically, almost meaninglessly, as if they are either high-level diplomats at a treaty negotiation or someone you met on Match and had a weird first date with . . . or a high-level diplomat you met on Match (“So now you know a little bit about what I’m looking for. I know a little bit about what you’re looking for. Let’s see how this goes.”) There’s a lot more covert digging and discreet maneuvering going on with a recruiter interview than with a prospective-employer interview.


Recruiters aren’t only looking to help an employer fill a slot. They’re
interested in starting a relationship. They know that this might not be the right fit
but that in the future another job might come along that is. Recruiters look at
their conversations with you as fact-gathering missions. They want to know
about you. But they also want to know about where you work, what kinds of
salaries people make there and the organization’s hierarchical structure. This
information becomes part of the tapestry of intelligence they have on your
industry and who works in it.

So coming to the title of this article, how should you talk to a recruiter?


Don’t be late. It’s fine if it happens, but, really, try to not be late.
Use the recruiter to get information on the hiring manager. Because hiring
managers tend to want someone either exactly like them or the exact opposite.This will be useful if you get to interview with the hiring manager.

Give the recruiter information on your workplace that they can add to their file on
your current employer. This will endear you to them. It’s one of the reasons
they’re meeting with you.


Do not use them just to get a counteroffer. They will know what’s going on and
will never call you again. Give them the real story of your career. Be candid. Tell your actual story. If you’re right for the job, that story’s next chapter will be the job the recruiter is trying to fill.


Don’t bad-mouth your current employer. The recruiter knows and likes people
there, and you will seem small.Totally!

Talk about how you can contribute to the new place, not what the new place will
contribute to your career.


Talk less about your greatest hits and obvious weaknesses and more about the
stuff in between.


Don’t ask about the recruiter’s life or career. The subject is you. It’s OK to seem
self-obsessed during a recruiter interview.

Send a thank-you note to the recruiter.But no gifts. It’s excessive. Like you’re trying to make up for some professional deficiency.


And, really, don’t be late 🙂

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