What Recruiters Really Mean When We Ask You…

As a recruiter, I am responsible for first screens of all candidates. If you are a candidate, this means I’ll be chatting with you about your background and the position to make sure there is a mutual fit. This also means I am responsible for digging for certain pieces of information to make sure you are not only a fit for the position but also a cultural fit and a compensation fit. This is for the benefit of both of us — no one likes to waste their time interviewing for a position that won’t pay what they are looking for or won’t be a fit culturally.

Your Interview Translated: What Recruiters Really Mean

Below you’ll find a sample of common questions recruiters typically ask and what we are really looking for in your answers:

What is/was your motivation for making a move?

We will ask this question about your last few positions at least. We are looking for a pattern — were you let go from every one of them? If so, what was the reasoning? Did you leave your positions? If so, why? Additionally, if you did leave your position(s) on your own and/or are looking now, we want to know what will motivate you to take another position. Is it all about the money, the culture, the product, the location, etc.?

How big was the team you previously worked on and what was your role on the team?

We are looking to assess whether you thrive in large or small teams. We also want to know if you took on a leadership or a follower position within the team.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

We want to know what you are passionate about outside of work. Maybe you like to play basketball and are actually on a company team or in a league in the area. Maybe you enjoy traveling and have that in common with another member of your team. This question is to gauge culture fit.

What is your current compensation and what are your expectations?

This one is straight forward, no hidden meanings here. We need to know what you are looking for and if it is realistic compared with what we can offer. We are also looking for total compensation breakdown including your base, bonus, and any additional incentives (401k match, equity, etc.) The key is to be honest with all your answers. These questions are meant to benefit both sides and ensure there is a fit all around. While it may be awkward and the questions may seem prying it’s even more awkward to get an offer that is nowhere near what you are looking for or leaving a new position after a few months because it is not a cultural fit.

Senior Talent Manager, Engineering
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