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Why do head-hunting interviewers ask such strange questions?


We cop a lot of criticism as head hunters and recruitment consultants. Some criticism is justified, some is not. So we thought we’d lift the lid on why we ask the questions we do in an interview to remove some of the mystery, and shine the spotlight on us for once.

While we will always help you with your career choices and offer you advice on where you sit in the market, our fundamental role is to determine whether or not you match the roles we have with our clients.

We ask three questions of any candidate when we are considering them against a role on offer:

  1. Can you do the job?
  2. Will you do the job?
  3. Will you fit the team?

Question: why did you leave your last job?

We want to truly understand what you are looking for in your next role. If you left because you didn’t like the company, the work, the size of the team, the limited career opportunities and so on, then we are not going to offer you an opportunity or a role with similar conditions.

We will also dig deep on this question to understand whether your stated reason for leaving “makes sense.” So when you give us a reason, we ask ourselves: is that consistent with what we know of that company, that type of role and the market place?

We’re also looking for consistency in the way you may make a decision.

Expect more of a grilling if you have many short stints on your resume. Our antenna will be on alert if you leave a company in just on or less than three months, and we know that industry or company is expanding.

Question: what are your salary expectations?

There’s no sinister intent behind this question. We would prefer to understand what you are looking for, so we can negotiate in good faith on your behalf.

Don’t believe what you read all over the net and talk up your salary in the hope that you’ll secure an extraordinary pay rise for your next role.

We have a pretty strong idea about which companies pay well and which ones don’t.  Plus, we do understand market rates for various positions.

We can tell you whether your expectations are realistic, and we understand when you are underpaid in your current role and want more money.

Many of our clients have salary bands – meaning they can only offer salaries within a range. We want to know whether your salary expectations match the range of roles we typically have on offer.

Scenario: we invite you in for one role, but we ask if you are interested in another

Your resume can only tell us so much.

From our discussions in interview we may discover that you are a better fit for another company. If we do not think you are appropriate for one role, based on what you have told us what you want and what our client needs, then we will not put you forward.

If we have other roles that will suit you, we may well talk to you about that role in interview, or call you and discuss it at a later date.

Scenario: We have no decision for the job yet

What applicants should be aware of is that often the decision to appoint or even organize a second interview can take time. For a few reasons:

  • Someone internal appears out of nowhere
  • Someone internal makes a referral for another applicant
  • The business restructures
  • The employer likes you, but is not confident they have seen the best in the market
  • The employer does not have their paperwork in order and forgot to get sign-off (you’d be surprised how often this happens)
  • You are being hired for a newly created role. Often for newly established roles there is less urgency as an employer has less sense of what they are missing out on.
  • The employer wants someone more senior to see you and that person is simply not available

Applicants who wait patiently through the process may just come out on top.

The truth is, we have several methods to our interviewing “madness.”  The question is, are you prepared?

In 1997, Liza Garrido founded Enigma HR with the philosophy: “be ethical; be professional; be friendly and serve your clients well.” Her firm specialises in insurance and accounting placements and she has been assisting professionals in this industry for over 20 years.  Visit here for insurance and accounting jobs today!

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