Key Questions to Ask Recruiters

As an IT contractor or consultant, your relationships with IT recruiters can have a major impact on your job search journey. Relationships are becoming even more important as contractors are becoming more and more distanced from the hiring managers and clients due to the introduction of Managed Services Providers (MSPs) and Vendor Management Systems (VMSs).

The days of working directly for an enterprise client where you bill them directly have almost disappeared completely. Your best and safest option for finding a job as an IT contractor or consultant in 2022 is to go through an approved vendor. As you might have already experienced, agencies (approved vendor or not) come in all shapes and sizes, and unfortunately, not all operate under the same ethical guidelines. That is why it’s your responsibility to make sure that your best interests are a priority with your recruiter and agency of choice.

Just like recruiters ask questions to vet you, you need to do the same the first time you deal with each agency to make sure that they are ethical and trustworthy. Below is a list of questions you should ask recruiters so that you can learn more about an agency before choosing to work with them.

At A Glance: Question To Ask Recruiters
  • Where did you find my profile?
  • What is your area of specialty as a recruiter?
  • Are you calling me about a job opportunity or to provide a status update?
  • What is your history with the client/hiring manager?
  • Are you the only recruiter working in this role with the client?
  • What is the hiring process for this role?
  • How long has the job you are recruiting for been open?
  • What is the full package being offered and how flexible is the client?
  • What are the next steps in the hiring process?
  • Where did you find my profile?

    If you haven’t heard of the recruiter or agency before and/or if you don’t have your resumé posted online, you’ll want to find out how your contact info surfaced.

    Asking this question could help you position your experience better as you’ll be able to understand what they have seen or read about you so far. It also helps you find out which platform (e.g., Monster/LinkedIn/GitHub) is giving you the most visibility.

    What’s your specialty?

    The tech space can be confusing and frustrating, especially for a non-technical person. When it comes to your career, you’ll want to make sure that you trust recruiters and part of that is working with a recruiter who understands the domain (at least from a high level). A non-technical recruiter won’t be able to explain the client environment and what technologies are must-haves versus nice-to-haves and why. This may be asking their industry or vertical specialty within IT or whether they specialize in contract or full-time placements.

    Is this call regarding a job opportunity or just a status update?

    This will help you market yourself more efficiently, whether it is for a specific role or a general status update. Based on the nature of the call, do you want to take it now or later?

    What is your history with this client or hiring manager? How long have you been working with them?

    You want to be working with recruiters and/or agencies who know the clients and have a successful history because they know the ins and outs of the client environment and hiring process. This can maximize your chances of getting the job by minimizing the surprises at the interview stage.

    Are you the only one working on this role?

    You want to know the competition for the role. If the recruiter or agency you are working with has an “exclusive” order with the client, this will mean that:

    1. They have a really good relationship with the client
    2. They can tell you exactly what the competitive landscape looks like.

    What is the hiring process? Are interview times being booked?

    It is important to assess whether the recruiter or agency knows what you can expect throughout the hiring process. This can inform whether they are actively recruiting or if they are just phishing for a resumé to open doors with. If the timelines are set and clear, do they work for you?

    How long has the job been open?

    Sometimes the client is not sure what they are looking for and they use the interview process as a way to make up their mind. Or they have an internal candidate and they just want to make sure they are making the right choice. A job that has been open for more than 2 months is a red flag!

    What is the full package? How flexible is the client?

    Clients often look to save money by advertising the role at a lower rate than what they’re actually willing to pay. If you genuinely feel your market rate is above the rate mentioned, it would not hurt to ask how flexible the client is willing to be.

    What is next?

    Always make sure that you are clear about the agency’s processes and next steps as it pertains to you. Are they sending your resumé? When should you expect an answer? Can you talk to other recruiters in the same firm? What if you wanted to apply to a different job with the same client that they are sending your resumé to?

    Your conversations with recruiters should not be one-way, it should be a dialogue in which you qualify their client list and their job opportunities and they qualify your skills and “fit” factor.

    So, next time to talk to a recruiter for the first time, make sure to take an extra 2 minutes and ask questions so you can get to know them right at the get-go and avoid any time wasting down the line.

    Are you still waiting for recruiters to find you? Be sure to check out our article on how to get recruiters to notice you on LinkedIn.

    Director of Corporate Development

    Sam Rahbar

    Sam is a seasoned training professional at Jarvis Consulting Group. He is passionate about coaching and talent development as well as emerging technologies.


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