Top 18 Recruiter Interview Questions (Example Answers Included)

By Mike Simpson

Overall, 54 percent of companies state that they have trouble finding the candidates they need. That’s what makes having the right recruiters onboard so essential. Recruiters are a company’s weapon against talent shortages, working diligently to locate and entice top performers to fill vacant jobs.

Since getting the right recruitment specialist into the job is so ridiculously critical, hiring managers often ask tough interview questions when meeting with potential recruiter candidates. That way, they can separate the so-so job seekers from the exceptional ones with ease.

As a recruiter, you likely know a bit about the hiring process. But that doesn’t mean you should assume you’ll nail every interview. Getting it right takes time, effort, and practice, even if analyzing candidate capabilities is actually part of your day job.

If you want to make sure you shine when you meet with the hiring manager, here’s a look at everything you need to know about recruiter interview questions.

How to Answer Recruiter Interview Questions

Alright, we know that you’re looking forward to the recruiter interview questions, and we promise they are coming. But before we get there, it’s wise to take a quick moment and talk about something else important: interview strategy.

If you don’t know how to answer recruiter interview questions, knowing what you may be asked simply isn’t enough. This is especially true because of the sheer volume of potential questions you could face.

First, you have your classic job interview questions. These include options that aren’t job-specific, including favorites like:

Plus, you have the recruiter-centric questions. Those focus heavily on recruitment-related skills and experience, as that’s all crucial for figuring out if you can handle the challenges of the role.

Since there are hundreds of questions you might encounter, you need a strategy that can work for essentially any of them. Why? Because you can’t practice them all.

With a great strategy, you can come up with great answers while you’re practicing and on the fly. That way, you can handle the expected and unexpected with the same amount of poise.

So, what does a winning strategy look like? Well, to start with, you need to embrace research.

The recruiter job description is an excellent source of information. There, you can learn more about the requirements and duties, making it easier to figure out the hiring manager’s priorities.

After that, you want to check out the company’s website and social media pages. Read the mission and values statements, check out posts that clue you in to the organization’s culture, and learn more about the kinds of roles they need to fill.

Once you’ve got the research handled, it’s time to focus on creating compelling answers. By learning the Tailoring Method, you can make sure your responses are incredibly relevant to the role. It’s all about customization, ensuring you speak to that hiring manager’s unique needs.

Now, if you’re working on behavioral interview questions, you want to take the Tailoring Method up a notch. By combining it with the STAR Method, your answers become engaging stories brimming with powerful insights about your capabilities. This approach really is a one-two punch, giving you a great foundation for any behavioral question you might face.

So, what kind of skills should you cover? Well, it’s best to include a range of relevant hard skills and soft skills. Your technical prowess and personality traits all play a role in your success, so you want to touch on them both.

For example, talk about your experience with using an applicant tracking system (ATS), as well as your attention to detail and analytical mindset. Discuss your written and verbal communication skills, both when it comes to collaborating with team members and communicating with candidates.

Whenever possible, quantify the details. Numbers matter during an interview, as they give the hiring manager glimpses into your capabilities.

MIKE'S TIP: If you’re interviewing for a recruiter job, it’s wise to gather a few key metrics that relate to your success in past positions. After all, hiring success is surprisingly quantifiable, and not being able to discuss the right numbers may cause a hiring manager to question your capabilities. Learn your average time-to-fill, positions filled per month, first-year attrition, cost-per-hire, quality-of-hire, job offer acceptance rate, applications per opening, and similar numbers. That way, when the hiring manager asks – and they probably will ask – you’ll be ready.

Top 3 Recruiter Interview Questions

At this point, you likely have a good idea about what it takes to create a winning strategy. So, that means we can move onto the recruiter interview questions and example answers.

These samples are designed to help you see how you can put the approach above to work. It lets you see the tips in action, giving you a framework for creating your own outstanding responses.

So, with that in mind, here’s a look at the top three recruiter interview questions and example answers.

1. If a company is looking for a specialized skill set, where do you look for candidates?

Recruiters usually have a surprising number of potential sources at their disposal. However, not all recruiters tap anything beyond the traditional options they’ve used for years.

Hiring managers ask this question to see if you’re willing and able to think outside of the box. They want to know that you’ll head out into uncharted – or, at least, lesser-used – territory to find the job seekers they need.

EXAMPLE ANSWER:

“When I need to find a candidate with a specialized skill set, I use a multi-faceted approach. While I want to make sure the job ad is in traditional places, like the company’s career page and major job boards, branching out is also part of the plan.

I find that using social media for recruitment can be incredibly beneficial. Along with LinkedIn and Facebook, I’ll also turn to other popular platforms. Instagram can be a great choice for artistic roles, and YouTube and TikTok can be great options to share details of an opportunity in a video.

I’ve also found that niche job boards are incredibly effective, as well as connecting with local chapters of professional organizations. Certain forums are also underutilized resources, particularly options like Stack Overflow and GitHub if you’re looking for tech skills.

Ultimately, I’m open to any resource that speaks to the target audience, which, in this case, is candidates with specific capabilities. That openness is part of what makes me effective, as I’m always willing to try something new to secure the talent a company needs.”

2. When a candidate doesn’t get the job, how do you let them know?

Just because a candidate didn’t land this job doesn’t mean the company doesn’t want them to stay in the talent pool. Many second- or third-place finishers could be great additions to the team; they just happened to get outdone by a different candidate.

Hiring managers want to know that you’re going to maintain positive relationships with all job seekers, including those who don’t get an offer. After all, applicants in this group are 80 percent more likely to try for a position again if their experience was positive.

Since how you deliver the bad news is their final impression of the hiring process, hiring managers favor recruiters who can get this step right. That’s why they ask this question.

EXAMPLE ANSWER:

“During my time as a recruiter, I’ve found that personalized communication is often a differentiator. It can help a company stand apart from the competition, making the organization a more attractive option to candidates.

Whenever a job seeker isn’t selected, I reach out – either by email or by phone – and let them know personally. I focus on showcasing my appreciation for their time and effort, and I also offer them feedback whenever I have it available.

I find that using that approach keeps the candidate engaged and leaves them with a positive final impression. They are more likely to feel valued even though they were selected, increasing the odds that they’ll remain in the talent pipeline.”

3. What steps do you take to stay on top of recruitment trends?

Every field changes over time. Hiring managers want to know that their recruiters will stay on top of new developments, both in the world of recruitment and when it comes to candidate preferences.

EXAMPLE ANSWER:

“Staying on top of recruitment trends is always a priority for me, and I use a range of resources to ensure I stay informed. Along with trade publications and networking events, I also find following thought leaders on social media valuable. They typically talk about what’s on the horizon, giving me a chance to prepare for what the future may hold.

However, I don’t stop there. I also make an effort to gather feedback from candidates who go through various hiring processes. This helps me understand how their needs or preferences may be changing, allowing me to get the inside scoop on how I can be more effective moving forward.”

15 More Recruiter Interview Questions

Here are 15 more recruiter interview questions you might encounter when you meet with a hiring manager:

    1. What trait is most important for recruiters? Why do you think that one matters most?
    2. Have you ever recommended a candidate who didn’t have all of the skills or experience listed in the job ad? If so, what motivated you to recommend them for the position?
    3. What part of recruiting do you find to be the most rewarding? What about the most challenging part?
    4. Can you share an example of a time where a candidate rejected a job offer? How did you react, and what did you learn from that experience?
    5. What steps do you take to help a company achieve its diversity goals?
    6. Tell me how you use data to help recruit top-tier professionals.
    7. What is your average time-to-fill rate? What about your new hire retention rate?
    8. How would you make our company stand out as an employer of choice when discussing our opportunities with candidates?
    9. What steps do you take to build and maintain your professional brand?
    10. What’s the most difficult position you’ve ever had to fill? How did you go about finding a candidate for it?
    11. Tell me about a time where you struggled to fill a job.
    12. What steps do you take to create a robust, reliable talent pipeline?
    13. Can you tell me about a time where you worked with a hiring manager that was particularly hard to please? How did you approach the situation, and what was the outcome?
    14. Tell me about a time where you had to fill an unattractive job. Were you able to find a candidate and, if so, did they stay long-term?
    15. Which applicant tracking systems are you familiar with? Do you have a favorite ATS?

5 Good Questions to Ask at the End of a Recruiter Interview

When your interview is drawing to a close, you usually get a chance to ask the hiring manager at least a couple of questions before everything wraps up. This is a great chance to not only express your enthusiasm for the position – as smart questions make you seem especially engaged and excited – but also gather some important details.

It’s crucial to have at least a couple of questions ready. In some cases, you’ll discover something you want to learn during the interview process. However, it still doesn’t hurt to have a few options in your back pocket, ensuring you have something to ask when the time comes.

If you don’t know what you should ask the hiring manager, here are five great questions for the end of your recruiter interview.

    1. What is the biggest recruitment challenge this company is facing?
    2. Which ATS systems and other recruitment technologies does your company use?
    3. What do your most successful recruiters have in common?
    4. How many jobs will this position need to fill each month? Of those, how many are specialty or involve hard-to-find skill sets?
    5. What metrics do you use to gauge a recruiter’s success in the role?

Putting It All Together

Ultimately, recruiters tend to have a bit of a leg up with it comes to interviewing, as they usually have a decent amount of experience with it. However, that doesn’t mean going the extra mile isn’t important. Use the tips above to your advantage. That way, when it comes time to tackle recruiter interview questions, you’ll be ready to stand out from the competition.

Good luck!

About The Author

Mike Simpson

Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com. His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan, Penn State, Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page.