5 essential questions to ask recruiters

When a recruiter contacts you, it’s a cause for celebration. Either you’re an attractive, known quantity, your job application and resume made it through the slush pile, or your referee’s good word about you paid off. Whatever the case, you’re in! The recruiter thinks you might be a good fit for their company. Now it’s time for you to find out whether you’re a good fit for them.

Though there are plenty of things you can ask recruiters about your specific position, here are five essential questions to ask recruiters on a more general level. These questions will help you suss out important facts about your potential job and may even give you an edge in the interview that follows the recruiter’s call or email.

1. Ask about salary and benefits

When a recruiter calls or emails you, expect money talk to crop up somewhere during the conversation. If they don’t ask you about your salary or hourly expectations, you may want to ask them. Here’s an example of when it’s definitely a good idea for you to ask about payment: if they want you to complete a sample or test of some sort.

Depending on what kind of a sample they’re asking for, it may behoove you to ask the recruiter what the job position will offer per annum before you volunteer your time to complete their test. There’s nothing worse than completing a sample and moving up the interview ladder just to find out the job’s compensation is way below what you find acceptable, meaning all your efforts were for naught. On a related note, consider asking if you will be paid for the sample or not.

When the conversation of salary does occur, it’s also wise to inquire about benefits and perks, if there are any. The recruiter likely won’t be able to dish out specifics, but it’s not unreasonable to expect a general overview of what’s included (medical, dental, vacation time, personal days, etc.). In a post on the subject of recruiters, ZipRecruiter makes a good point about this topic, mentioning you should also inquire about peripheral perks like if the job includes bonuses, gym memberships, and public transport discounts. Payment can come in a lot of different forms.

2. How quickly are they looking to fill the position?

You can easily find career guides that encourages interviewees to figure out how fast a company is looking to hire when in discussions with a recruiter. This is a great tip since the entirety of your ability to accept a position may hinge on how soon you’re available. So if the recruiter doesn’t ask when you can start, be sure to ask them how quickly they’re aiming to have the position filled. If you’re not available within the time range the recruiter is hoping for, it’s best to suss that out early on in the process.

3. Find out location requirements

If the job posting or recruiter doesn’t specifically mention location requirements, it’s always a good idea to ask. Since many companies have multiple offices located in different locations and some companies are okay with remote employees, you should pose the location requirement question to help deduce if there’s any leeway to work where you want. After all, if the company is cool with letting you work from home in your pajamas, that’s a big get. Similarly, if a recruiter mentions their company has two offices relatively close to each other, you might want to see if you can work from whichever one offers you a shorter commute. And if the recruiter is talking to you about a job far from your home, then it’s definitely important to figure out all of the above before you start thinking about relocating.

4. Learn about the next steps

By the end of your call or email exchange with a recruiter, you should have a good idea of what the next steps are. If the topic hasn’t come up, though, be sure to ask what you should expect next. Will a hiring manager get in contact with you, should you follow up by a certain date if you don’t hear back from anyone, etc. If you ask and it’s determined that an interview is next in your application process, be sure to ask questions about where and when it’ll be.

5) Ask about interview prep

If you and the recruiter have established an interview will be coming up, consider asking them if there’s anything in particular you should be prepared for or have at the ready. If you ask a recruiter this, it’ll show you’re invested and intent on making the best impression. Recruiters will sometimes reward this inquiry with a nugget of insider knowledge, such as advice about what the hiring manager might ask during the interview, any sorts of samples or portfolio pieces that could prove particularly beneficial, or other tips of that nature. These little snippets of advice can give you a valuable edge, so the more knowledge you’re equipped with, the better.

Bonus Questions

The five aforementioned questions are your bread and butter for squeezing the important info out of a recruiter. However, there are a few other inquiries you might want to address with them.


  • If they contacted you unsolicited: ask them how they got your contact info. Flexjobs.com has a short article that offers up some other good questions to whip out if a recruiter comes at you out of the blue. They suggest asking the recruiter about what they saw in you and what’s been lacking in other candidates, among other things.
  • Is the position new or a backfill? This tip comes courtesy of Biron Clark’s piece for CareerSidekick.com. Clark recommends finding out if the position on offer is brand new or if you’d be filling a void left by somebody else. If the latter, this could lead you to questions about why the previous person left said position, which may help expose any red flags early on.

It’s good to have a list of inquiries like these handy so you’re ready to fire off smart questions the second a recruiter reaches out. From the core items like asking about salary and benefits to the more crafty tips like asking about upcoming interviews and preparatory measures, all of these questions will show you’re sharp and eager to learn more, which is great when striving to impress your recruiter. And above all else, don’t forget to listen carefully to the recruiter in order to synthesize original questions on the fly—that’ll be a big help in keeping your name in the hiring game.