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Recruiter Interview Questions

Position Summary

A recruiter is a specialized position within human resources. While a human resource officer is in charge of administration and policy for the whole company, a recruiter is responsible for policy within the realm of recruitment.

A recruiter is responsible for attracting talent that complements the organization’s current job vacancies. They must be experts about the company they work with in order to hire employees who fit into the company’s culture and communicate the company’s goals to new recruits. In addition, they must be knowledgeable in all aspects of the hiring process from conducting background checks to complying with labor laws.


Recruiter responsibilities may include:

  • Developing job advertisements
  • Conducting interviews
  • Conducting background checks
  • Communicating with management about new hires to gauge efficiency of recruitment plan
  • Constantly networking so that when a position is vacant, it can be filled as soon as possible
  • Staying aware of changes within the company
  • Conducting exit interviews for employees that are terminated
  • Developing company assessment guidelines
  • Developing hiring procedures


Recruiters are expected to hire staff who bring value to the company. In order to hire recruits who will help the company grow, a good recruiter will need to be able to:

  • Network effectively, even when not on the job, in order to fill vacant positions as they come up
  • Be able to communicate with other departments about their hiring needs
  • Develop a recruitment plan
  • Have strong interpersonal skills in order to decide what candidates will be best for the company
  • Have experience with conducting in-person, digital, and phone interviews
  • Be able to maintain professionalism at all times
  • Communicate with new recruits the goal of the company


To gain an entry-level position, candidates typically need at least an associate’s degree in human resources or a related field. Candidates with experience in human resources can substitute their experience for formal education in some circumstances. However, having advanced education in the form of an associate’s or bachelor’s degree will make them more attractive to employers.


Salaries for recruiters range between $72K and $137K with the median being $103K. 

Factors impacting the salary you receive as a recruiter include:

  • Degrees and Training (associate's degree, bachelor's degree, master's degree, specialized certifications such as SHRM, etc.)
  • Years of Experience
  • Location
  • Reporting Structure (seniority of the manager you report to, number of direct reports)
  • Level of Performance - Exceeding Expectations

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Recruiter Interview Questions

Question: What do you feel is the most rewarding part of being a recruiter?

Explanation: This is a general or opening question which the interviewer will ask to kick off the conversation, learn more about you, and collect information they can use during the rest of the interview. Keep in mind that interviews are conversations. This gives you a chance to set the tone and guide the interviewer in a direction in which you are comfortable and feel at ease discussing.

Example: "Without a doubt, the most rewarding part of this job is when I have a successful hire. This provides a good employee for the organization and helps the employee find work they are qualified for and can earn a living doing.  Recruiters are matchmakers who join qualified employees with employers who can use their services and compensate them for what they do."

Question: Can you provide me a description of how you use data to help you identify and screen recruits?

Explanation: The recruiter will ask you this operational question to determine how you do your job. Contemporary recruiting practices are heavily dependent on data. You should be able to describe how you utilize data to identify and screen candidates. You may want to provide examples to illustrate your points.

Example: "Without data, I cannot do my job. Today's employment marketplace is extremely competitive. There are a large number of candidates available, and the challenge is determining which of these would be the best fit for the position for which I am recruiting. Through using applicant-tracking systems and other tools, I am able to narrow the field of candidates to the most qualified, based on their experience and skills. This also accelerates the recruiting process and enables me to quickly fill open positions with the right hire."

Question: Please tell me how you would go about presenting our company to prospective employees.

Explanation: This is yet another operational question seeking to determine how you perform this specific task during the recruitment process. Operational questions are best responded to directly and concisely with little embellishment. You should also anticipate a follow-up question any time you respond to the interviewer.

Example: "There are two sides to the recruitment process. The first is identifying qualified candidates for the job. The second is selling the organization to these candidates so they will take the time to interview and consider the position.  For your company, I would describe your long history and leadership in the industry, the long tenures of the employees who joined the company in the past, the company culture, and the benefits you provide to employees. I would also reference the awards the company has won and its recognition as one of the best employers in both the industry and the local area."

Question: Can you tell me about the relationships you have with your hiring managers?

Explanation: Having close relationships with the hiring managers is critical for a recruiter. This helps them understand the hiring manager's requirements and also helps them when positioning the candidate for the open job. Hiring managers and recruiters work hand in hand to find, screen, and hire the appropriate candidates in as short a time as possible.

Example: "Hiring managers are my customers, so I make sure to develop and maintain a close relationship with them. I work hard to understand their needs as well as their management style and the culture of their organization. I also try to get to know them on a personal level. This enables me to identify candidates I know will be a good fit for the positions they have open and for their organization. It also helps me position the candidate to them in a way they can relate to."

Question: As a recruiter, what weight do you place on a candidate's LinkedIn and Twitter profiles?

Explanation: Online accounts can either boost a candidate's prospects or quickly eliminate them from consideration.  Contemporary recruitment practices demand you have expertise in social media and know how to navigate these platforms when screening candidates. While this may not be the primary consideration when hiring an employee, it can be a tool to quickly confirm your initial impressions or discover issues with the candidate that are not evident on their resume or during an interview.

Example: "I regularly use social media as one of the criteria to screen candidates. While this is not the primary criteria, it is helpful to either confirm or contradict my initial impression of a candidate and discover things about their personal life which may impact their effectiveness as an employee. If I discover something disturbing on the candidate's social media platform, I confront them about this before bringing them in for an interview. In most cases, it is not an issue, but on several occasions, it has prevented me from recommending a candidate who would have been a bad hire."

Question: How do you tell candidates they didn't get the job, and what other steps do you take with them?

Explanation: Delivering bad news is always difficult for anybody, and it is a regular part of a recruiter's job. Unfortunately, you can't offer the job to everyone, nor should you. The key is describing how you go about doing this in a compassionate but effective manner. You should also be able to describe what steps you take if the candidate was qualified and may be considered for a future position with the organization.

Example: "One part of my job that I don't enjoy is telling qualified candidates that they did not get the position. I always try to do this in a compassionate manner and explain that while they were qualified for the job, another candidate was a better fit. I also point out any issues which I believe they should address in order to have a better chance of being hired for the next position they apply to. If I am very impressed by the candidate, I encourage them to stay in touch and keep their file handy in case additional positions within the organization become available. I try to maintain a pipeline of qualified candidates for this purpose."

Question: How do you stay current on trends and developments within the recruiting industry?

Explanation: Staying current with developments and trends within any industry or profession is critical in today's economy. Things move very quickly, so recruiters must stay on top of their game to remain relevant and be effective in the competitive employment market. Having a specific professional development plan and sources of information for this is part of your job. You should be able to easily describe how you go about doing this.

Example: "I spend a great deal of time outside of work staying current with the HR and employment industry. Things change so quickly in this profession, so I would fall behind if I didn't do this. Some of the techniques I use include reading relevant blogs, developing a network of fellow recruiters on LinkedIn and staying in touch with them, being a member of SHRM, and reading industry publications. I also attend conferences several times a year to learn about new recruitment techniques."

Question: What metrics do you use to determine the quality of a hire?

Explanation: Recruiters are often evaluated based on the quality of the people they recommend for hire. As a recruiter, you should maintain your own set of metrics to determine if the candidates you recommend were appropriate and do well in their job. Doing this will help you refine your recruiting techniques to increase the quality of hires and decrease bad hires who don't work out.

Example: "I am constantly tracking the success of the candidates I have recommended for hire. The metrics I use for this are their longevity with the organization, retention rates, and how often they are promoted or recognized by the organization. I create graphs that illustrate this information so I can quickly determine if I am doing my job correctly. If a candidate doesn't work out, I review the files and notes I made when interviewing them to see what I missed and what I can do better next time."

Question: What is your retention rate for the employees you have recruited who were hired?

Explanation: This is a direct question in which the interviewer is seeking to determine your success as a recruiter. It is also a follow-up question to the previous question since you mentioned retention rates in your last answer. You should always anticipate follow-up questions during an interview. If you mention a particular item or issue in one of your answers, you can expect the interviewer to ask a follow-up question to dig deeper into the topic. Keep this in mind when answering the interviewer's questions.

Example: "I am very aware of the retention rates of the employees I recommend to the organization. This is one of the metrics both I and my previous employers use to evaluate my success in this profession. While other factors can affect retention rates, my recommendation is probably the most critical one. Currently, my retention rate is trending over 80%. If I were to eliminate other factors that influence an employee's decision to stay with the company, I believe the rate would be closer to 90%."

Question: Have you ever experienced a premier prospect rejecting a job offer? If so, what did you learn from it?"

Explanation: This is a behavioral question. Behavioral questions seek to understand how you would react to a specific situation or incident. The best way to respond to behavioral questions is by using the STAR framework. State the Situation, describe the Task you are attempting to accomplish followed by the Actions you took, and then tell the interviewer about the Results you achieved.

Example: "Unfortunately, I have experienced losing a premier candidate to another organization. This recently occurred when I was recruiting for an executive-level position. I was trying to convince a prospect from a competitive company to join our organization. I took a great deal of time describing the benefits we would offer, the culture we promote, the amount of responsibility and recognition the candidate could expect, and the opportunities for advancement within the organization. The one thing I missed was the candidate was very focused on titles. They ended up taking a position with a competing company for the same job but with a more prestigious title attached to it. What I learned was to inquire about every aspect of the candidate's requirements for the job to determine what is the most important feature for them."

Additional Recruiter Interview Questions

  • What industries have you recruited for? Which was the easiest? Which was the most difficult?

  • Was there ever a time you weren’t able to fill a job vacancy? What did you do?

  • Describe the recruitment process. What strategies would you implement to ensure the process goes smoothly?

  • During the recruitment process, how do you stay organized? How do you keep track of your candidates?

  • What type of recruitment software are you familiar with?

  • How do you use data to analyze your recruiting process?

A word of warning when using question lists.

Question lists offer a convenient way to start practicing for your interview. Unfortunately, they do little to recreate actual interview pressure. In a real interview you’ll never know what’s coming, and that’s what makes interviews so stressful.

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