Questions to Answer or Avoid if You Are Represented by a Recruiter

By The Intersect Group

Let’s say you’re on an interview for a job opportunity you found yourself. Things are going well. In fact, they are going so well that you’re called back for a second or even third interview and then – oh, happy, happy day!!! – you’re offered the job and the hiring manager asks you what your salary needs are.

Do you answer the question?

Yes. (And you say something along the lines of: “Now that we have gone through X interviews and you understand my qualifications and the value I bring to your organization, I want to be paid market value. Therefore, I request a salary between $X and $X.”)

But now let’s change the scenario a bit: you registered with a recruiting company and you’re interviewing with that company’s client. Do you answer the question?


(Well, you do reply to the question, but not in the way you might think. More on this in a moment.)


Job interviews when working with a recruiter are a bit different than interviews for positions you find yourself

Here’s why:

When a recruiting company’s client hires the company to find someone to fill a position, the client and the recruiting company’s representatives discuss the job thoroughly. The recruiter asks the client what the requirements are as well as what their “perfect” candidate looks like in regards to background and skills.

They also discuss what the client intends to offer the chosen candidate in terms of salary and benefits. They provide a range and the recruiter will relay that range to you before the recruiter even submits your qualifications to the client. (You may decide the salary is too low and decline the opportunity.)

In other words…

You wouldn’t be AT the interview unless both you and the hiring manager already knew – and accepted – the salary range!

So the interviewer probably won’t even ask you for your preferred salary.

But if they do? The best answer you can give: “I have discussed this with my recruiter and I believe they have discussed this with you already. If they haven’t, I am more than happy to chat with them again to make sure they are in alignment with you.”

You really shouldn’t try to negotiate with the hiring manager on your own. Why? The recruiter was hired by the company to fill the position. It’s just bad form to negotiate on your own. You could, of course – it is a free country. But because the recruiter and the hiring manager more than likely already discussed a salary range, negotiating on your own can really rub the hiring manager the wrong way: you could jeopardize your candidacy!

What’s more, the hiring manager knows you should negotiate with your recruiter. And even if the hiring manager appears to be okay with this, they know you’ve just gone rogue and that tells them something that’s not very attractive: you’re not above breaking the rules when it suits you.


Recruiters WILL negotiate strongly on your behalf

Recruiters will negotiate your salary with the hiring manager on your behalf. They WANT to get you the best package possible.

The salary question is one of two you should avoid if represented by a recruiter

Here is the other:

“Why don’t you apply with us on your own?”

We mentioned above that it can make you look bad if you start to negotiate your salary on your own with a hiring manager if you’re represented by a recruiter.  This question from an interviewer also shows bad form.

Here’s why: the recruiter has been engaged by the company to find a new employee. Both parties signed a contract. The recruiter/recruiting company has spent money and time to find you. If you take the company’s hiring manager up on their offer, you have just about almost ensured that the recruiter won’t be compensated for their effort should you be hired.

A question that’s perfectly Ok to ask if you’re represented by a recruiter

Why did you hire a recruiter to fill this position?

Companies generally hire recruiters to find people for hard-to-fill positions. It’s fine to ask the company why it hired a recruiter/recruiting company. It actually shows your interest in learning more about how the company works. It can also help you ascertain how hard it’s been for the company to fill the position, which is good information to know when you and your recruiter start the negotiation process with the company.

More questions to ask the hiring manager

Your recruiter probably already filled you in on many of these below, but it’s certainly OK to ask them yourself during an interview because they will give you more insight into how you can show the hiring manager that you’re the right candidate for the position.

In fact, you should ask these types of questions in all job interviews!

  • Why is this position open?
  • How long has it been open?
  • Why has it been open so long? (If that’s the case.)
  • Why did you ask the recruiter to bring me in for an interview?

Contact us and let us help you connect with great employers

The type of positions for which The Intersect Group recruits for our clients often are the ones they find hard to fill. If you’d like to be considered for these positions – which usually come with terrific salaries and employee benefits – check out our current job openings and follow instructions to apply.

If you don’t find anything today that suits your background, skills and interests, please check back often. Our clients are always asking us to find great people for top-notch career opportunities which means we add new jobs to our website daily.