13. Can you clear your schedule for an interview?
You have the right to say you need at least 48 hours’ notice before an interview. If an interview is arranged during working hours, it’s okay to stress that you may not be able to accommodate the client. You want to work for a company that understands you have a commitment to your current employer and can’t just drop everything for an interview. If a company can’t understand that, you don’t want to work for them.
Recruiters may feel they work for their clients, and that their clients are their employers, but that’s a short-sighted view. Candidates are the key to their success, and they should not suggest anything to a candidate that could affect a current position. Candidates should be accommodated and treated in the same way as clients. When a recruiter expects you to go to extremes to accommodate an employer, they are not acting in your best interests.
You shouldn’t have to feel that you have to be available at any time for an interview, or that if you have any conditions, it may be taken as a sign that you don’t want the job enough. If a recruiter focuses on sacrifices you need to make to remain in consideration for an open position, they are setting you up.
If they can get you to believe you have a tentative and fragile hold on the spot, you will be prepared to do whatever it takes to try and please a future employer, often at your own expense. You are placed at a disadvantage, and the needs of the client are being elevated above yours.
14. Are you available for a practice interview?
Be wary if a recruiter wants to conduct a practice interview with you before your real interview with a client. At this practice interview, they may want to tell you exactly how to answer the questions the client is likely to ask. If you need the help and request it, that’s another story. But nobody should tell you what you should say at a job interview. You shouldn’t feel pressured to answer questions the way a recruiter feels they should be answered.
Maybe you go for the practice interview and ask about the career path for someone applying for this entry level role. The recruiter advises you to steer clear of this question. If the client doesn’t want to hear this question, it’s probably because there is no career path. It’s a perfectly reasonable question to ask, but the client has probably suggested to the recruiter that it’s a stable job without any real prospects for advancement.
If a recruiter says you must have a practice interview or they will drop you and go to the next candidate, you can be sure they are not operating in your best interests. In normal life, you would probably be horrified by this manipulative behavior, but somehow in the recruiting world, you’re often made to feel you’re a loser when you fail to do what a recruiter wants.
There is nothing wrong if recruiters want to make suggestions if it’s in the interests of the candidate. They may bring up questions the hiring manager will ask and suggest suitable answers. A recruiter may also suggest a resume change that will increase the odds of a client responding positively.
15. Do you realize you’re not a strong candidate?
Poorly trained recruiters will often use intimidation and fear tactics. They may try to lower your expectations so you take the first job you’re offered. They talk about how difficult it will be to place you because of your background, and that you’ll be lucky if they can get you an interview.
If other candidates are in a much better position than you because of skills and experience, they shouldn’t tell you that. When a recruiter starts telling you about what a weak candidate you are, this is a mean, manipulative approach. If they’re destroying your confidence, you don’t have to stand for it. Don’t believe them when they tell you there are tons of other people who could do the job if you don’t want it.
Tell recruiters who use these tactics that if somebody meets you and doesn’t want to hire you, that’s fine. If they don’t think you can be placed, you’re wasting your time and theirs. This may call their bluff and prevent you from accepting the wrong job or taking a salary lower than what you deserve. In their minds, they may think they’re helping you be realistic.
It’s worth your while to continue to look for a recruiter who believes there is a job out there for you and that your background or lack of formal experience does not preclude you from finding a good one. A good recruiter will help you to appear to clients in the best possible light. If you lack formal work experience, they should help you to make your informal skills and experience count for you.
16. What are your monthly expenses?
Your current financial situation is of no concern of your recruiter. If you tell a recruiter you are running low on funds, it may be passed on, and employers will be able to use this information to their negotiating advantage. If you pass on this information, it’s much more likely to hurt you than help you.
A recruiter should not require a bank statement from you as proof of your current salary. If a recruiter does request it, make sure you delete any other details that reveal your financial situation. This is none of the recruiter’s business. How you choose to spend your salary is entirely up to you and has nothing to do with your job application. It’s not up to a recruiter to worry if you are living within your means.
All a future employer needs to know is that you’re qualified for the job and your salary requirement fits their pay scale. As long as they know what salary you expect, they definitely do not need to know whether it will cover your living expenses or anything else of that nature. They can either make you a realistic salary offer or hire somebody else.
Many professional recruiters would not dream of requesting your financial details. They are aware that this information is as private as their clients’ payroll information. Some U.S. cities have even banned the practice of asking for past salaries of job applicants. Requesting personal financial details goes far beyond what’s acceptable to any professional recruiter. The best professional recruiters won’t tolerate being asked by their clients to pry into a candidate’s finances.
17. Can you tell me more about yourself and your living circumstances?
If asked to reveal personal details, you may want to touch briefly on your interests, hobbies and pastimes. Recruiters don’t need to know whether you’re living with your boyfriend, family, husband or partner. They do not need to know if your parents are helping you financially. Also off-limits are your sexual orientation, your religion or your socioeconomic background.
Your age also has nothing to do with your suitability for a position. Recruiters can extrapolate that anyway from your resume, but it’s rude for them to ask. You don’t need to provide this information for them to determine whether you’re qualified for the job. It implies your age could influence an employer’s decision.
Don’t send out desperate signals by over-sharing, even if a recruiter seems to want to know. This is particularly true if they keep telling you to trust them. Emotional aspects of your personal life, such as a divorce or a loss, are private.
Don’t feel forced to speak about family problems or break-ups. It’s no business of the recruiter if you are a single mom with an abusive ex-husband. You can state you’re a single mom to make it clear that certain working hours are better for you. Some recruiters enjoy prying at personal details, but many consider extremely unprofessional and won’t ask for this information. They should only ask you questions directly related to the position.
18. How long have you been job-hunting?
Why would a recruiter want to know this? For the same reason real estate agents want to know how long a house has been on the market. The longer it has been standing, the more desperate the owner becomes. Many recruiters assume you’re desperate if you’ve been looking for a job for a long time.
Being asked this question can feel like a trap. You don’t want to make the recruiter think you’ve been looking forever and no one is interested in you. How should you answer? You could say you’ve been very selective about the right job or you made the conscious decision to take some time off.
Maybe you’ve been busy consulting since you left your last job. It doesn’t matter exactly how you got paid. It is nobody’s business but yours. The recruiter should not have power over you because you’ve been job-hunting for months. They should not be able to pressure you into any job or a lower salary.
You have to realize you are talented and capable and even if you haven’t been employed for a while. It can often take months to find the right job, and this does not mean you should be undervalued. If you know your value, your confidence won’t be undermined by an unprofessional recruiter and inappropriate questions. You will stick to your guns and continue pushing for the best job with a salary you deserve.