I have moved around quite a bit – job wise and city wise – over the years so I have a lot of experience working with recruitment agents. In fact a recruitment agent has found me all of my previous jobs and on the whole my experiences have been mixed. I’ve worked with some fantastic agents that really do want to place you in the best role and I’ve met agents that have barely glanced over my CV before recommending me for highly unsuitable roles. Dealing with recruitment agencies can be a mixed bag and it can be a frustrating experience particularly if you are desperate for a new job. Here are a few questions that you can ask the recruitment agent to help you get a sense of how hard they are working to place you in a relevant position and not wasting your time.

1. What type of organisations do you tend to recruit for?

If you have always worked in Insurance and want to stay in Insurance a recruitment agent that only has clients in the hospitality industry is not going to find you a relevant role.

2. Who are your top clients?

This will give you a idea of the organisation you can expect to work in and also the calibre of the agencies clients. If you are used to working for a global organisation you will want to know they have similar clients.

3. How do you select the candidates that go forward for job interviews?

It is useful to know how the agency selects their candidates. Is it solely based on qualifications and experience or do they spend time speaking to the candidate and  finding out a little more than what they can read on the CV? Ultimately you can spend hours speaking to a recruitment agent and they will still select you for a role based only on your experience but at least asking this question will give you a chance to see how they react to it and if their answer is genuine.

4. How will you keep in contact with me and how often should I expect to hear from you?

I have spent my hours chasing recruitment agents for example to find out if my CV was forwarded, if there was any feedback following an interview and if I actually got the job. It can be a nightmare. Again this question will give you an idea about their communication methods.

5. Do you have any positions at the moment that match my preferences (type of role, location, salary, industry etc)?

It is worth asking this question straight away. Why waste your time even registering with them if they don’t have any jobs that you want! There are loads of recruitment agencies and only some of them will be suitable for you.

6. Have you got any feedback on my CV?

What I really mean is: “have definitely read my CV!”

7. How many people are you putting forward for this job?

Once you have been selected for a job this question will give you a sense of what and who you are up against.

8. Which skills make me suitable for this role?

The agent will have spoken to your potential employer about you and your work experience so it is worthwhile finding out what they said to the organisation and what skills they have promoted on your behalf. The answers to this question will also help with your interview prep.

9. Have you placed people with this firm before?

If they have placed people in this organisation before you can ask a lot more questions about the organisation’s culture and what they expect of their employees.

10. If so, can you tell me a few details about their personality type?

I asked this question to a recruitment agent and they said the personalities tend to be quiet and studious. The organisation was an old law firm and they were not a particularly social bunch, in other words not an organisation where I wanted to work. I didn’t go for the interview because it would have been a waste of time and I would have hated working there.

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