8 Common Recruitment Consultant Interview Questions and Answers

If you are considering a career in recruitment, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear about how challenging the industry can be. But a career in recruitment can be very rewarding and fulfilling. Yes, you must be able to juggle multiple tasks and deal with setbacks but if you are dedicated and passionate about the industry, the rewards can be endless.

Due to the industry’s impressive money-making opportunities, it’s no surprise that it’s become very competitive and overpopulated. So how do you ensure you stand out from the crowd?

Delivering a great interview is key to securing your dream job in recruitment. To help you do so, we've gone beyond providing a simple job description and have prepared a list of case interview questions for a recruiter, as well as some sample answers, to help you prepare for your job interview.

Recruitment Consultant Interview Questions and Answers

1. Why do you want to work in recruitment? What attracted you to this position? What are your motivations?

By asking 'why do you want this job', the interviewer wants to hear lots of genuine motivations which will prove your passion for a career in recruitment.

These motivations may be:

Enjoying meeting new people and helping people to achieve their career goals are great motivations, but it is likely that your interviewer is waiting for you to mention the money. If the money-making potential is one of your main motivations, you should be honest about this. In doing this, you are showing your interviewer one of the key traits for a successful career in recruitment.

Conversely, you should be careful about how much to talk about money as this shouldn’t be your only motivation. You don’t want to come across as some money obsessed monster because who would want to work with one of them?

Nigel Wright’s Associate Director for Commercial & IT, Ben Debnam, believes that a genuine interest in business and politics should be mentioned in response to this question. “If a candidate is genuinely interested in the business world, their transition into the world of recruitment will be easier. Good recruiters are very knowledgeable and need to know what is going on in the surrounding business world as it is likely your market in one way or another”.

2. What do you know about the recruitment industry/the company you are applying for a job with?

It is really important that you have done your research, including researching the company. You should know a fair bit about the recruitment industry and the consulting firm you are applying to work for. By being able to answer this question, you can demonstrate your passion and dedication to both the industry and the company.

The interviewer wants to find out which key points about the company you have picked up on and why. For us at Nigel Wright, our values are important. We want to know that the candidate is aware of our values and identifies with them as they are the foundations of our business.

Associate Director Ben Debnam advises all candidates to take advantage of their own personal networks (including those from a  previous job) when researching the recruitment industry. Speaking to colleagues, friends and family members, is something Ben is expecting to hear about during the interview. “Everyone in life has a sounding board and it is always interesting to hear who candidates have spoken to and why.

This also demonstrates their ability to network and their inquisitive attitude.” Ben would also expect to hear that candidates had utilised social media sites such as LinkedIn to research Nigel Wright.

3. What do you think is key to a successful career in recruitment?

Your interviewer wants to know how you believe your previous experience will lend itself to a career in recruitment. This is your chance to demonstrate your knowledge of recruitment consultant skills as well as the daily tasks which you might face in this role.

According to Nigel Wright’s Associate Director for Finance & Human Resources, Richard Morgan, there are four key ‘ingredients’ for a successful career in recruitment; resilience, work ethic, teachability and identifying with company values. When hiring for his own team, Richard needs to know that the candidate will be able to cope with the workload.

Richard also wants to know that a candidate is resilient and can cope with daily setbacks which are likely in the recruitment industry; “I want the candidate to talk about a time in their life where they have shown resilience or have had to overcome a challenge. This can be either professionally or personally”.

Teachability is also important for Richard; “I need to know that the candidate is willing to learn as this is the only way they are going to be able to progress. Training and development is also a big part of working at Nigel Wright and they need to be willing to participate.” Finally, the candidate should identify with our values. “Our values are key to everything we do as a business. If the candidate doesn’t relate to our values, they simply aren’t going to fit in”.

4. What are your career goals?

Career progression is a big part of the recruitment industry and companies want to know that you are an ambitious and driven individual. “For me, there is no right or wrong answer for this question but be careful about how you deliver your answer because it could be interpreted in different ways.”, said Ben Debnam, Nigel Wright Associate Director.

“If you have a very strict plan for where you want to be in a specified timeframe, this could make you look naïve and almost too driven. Equally, if you aren’t able to discuss any career goals at all, this could make you look demotivated and lazy.” It is important to strike a fine line between the two angles. The important thing is that you are clear about what you want, just be careful how you communicate this to your interviewer.

5. Which other recruitment companies have you applied for jobs with?

You can answer this job interview question in one of two ways depending on your situation: if you have only applied to this one company, be honest about this and explain why. Maybe this company has unique values which you identify with, or maybe you have worked with someone who works for this company who has inspired you to consider your career path.

Whatever your reason, it can only be positive so make sure you talk about it. If you have applied for a role at other recruitment companies, again, you should be honest about this. By applying for multiple roles within the recruitment industry, you are demonstrating your commitment and passion to the recruitment industry.

If a candidate wasn’t already from the recruitment industry and was only speaking to Nigel Wright about a job in recruitment, this would raise concern for Associate Director for Commercial & IT, Ben Debnam. “To me, it would indicate that the candidate wasn’t really that interested or committed to a career in recruitment and this isn’t something we would be interested in.”

Ben also mentioned how he is always interested to hear about how candidates view our culture and values in comparison to other recruitment companies. He wants candidates to be able to point out our unique values, showing they have done their research.

6. How would you go about generating new business?

This consulting question is particularly relevant to Nigel Wright as, unlike other recruitment agencies, we don’t require candidates to have previous recruitment experience. This question helps us gain an idea of their knowledge of the industry and their initiative. We are potentially facing them with an unfamiliar question, and we want to see how they cope on the spot and what they would genuinely do.

For Ben Debnam, this question is more about finding out how candidates might build relationships with new people. “Cold calling isn’t a big part of what we do as a recruitment company, but we do speak to ‘strangers’ on a daily basis. We are 360 recruiters, so we need to know that the candidate understands this and that they are going to be comfortable working in the way that we do.”

Candidates may also benefit from creating a 30-60-90 day plan to show interviewers that they have gone above and beyond in their interview preparation efforts. If a candidate doesn't have previous experience in a similar position, they could instead show their initiative and ask interviewers what they would expect at from consultants at the 30, 60, and 90 day milestones.

7. How would you deal with daily setbacks?

Setbacks are unfortunately an inevitable fact of working in the recruitment industry (and any industry in fact), but how consultants deal with them is key to their success. The interviewer wants to know that you are aware of this reality and that you are resilient in the way you deal with them. They need to know that you will be able to overcome challenges and move forward positively.

When asking this question in an interview, Richard aims to identify how the candidate might cope with Nigel Wright’s management style. Nigel Wright uses constant feedback as a way of helping employees to grow and progress. Richard wants to know that candidates will see feedback in a positive way rather than seeing it as a setback.

8. How do you like to spend your time outside of work?

So, it’s not all about the work. The interviewer will want to know more about the type of person you are and what you enjoy doing in your spare time. Being in recruitment, your interviewer might expect to hear about a particular hobby you are dedicated to or even a childhood hobby which you pursued when you were younger. Being naturally competitive and driven are qualities hiring managers look for in the recruitment industry so it’s important you can demonstrate these. They also want to hear about the challenges you might have faced along the way and how you have overcome them, proving resilience.

Our Associate Director, Richard Morgan, often expands on this question by asking the candidate about their interests in the business world. He wants to know that your can structure your answers and learn and follow commercial topics and news as this is a very important part of recruitment. “Often, relevant news stories can be a great reason to call a client whom you haven’t spoken to in a while. I want to know that the candidate is interested in these topics and isn’t going to have any issues with this aspect of the job”.

After reading the answers to our 8 most common questions for recruiter interview you should now be well prepared for your interview and one step closer to your dream job in recruitment. These recruiter interview questions and answers came from Nigel Wright’s Internal Recruitment Officer & Group Talent Partner Jane Burrage and Directors Ben Debnam and Richard Morgan, so you can trust that you have received the most accurate knowledge and advice from recruitment industry experts.

Join our team

Here at Nigel Wright, we are always looking for driven, ambitious, confident and resilient individuals at all levels, to join our teams. If you are interested in joining our team in Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Teesside and London or any of our other international offices, visit our website to find out more about life at Nigel Wright and to browse our current vacancies.