What do you ask a recruiter?

Questions for Recruiters

You have just waited in line to speak to a recruiter. What do you say when it’s your turn? First, you give the recruiter your resume and let them look it over. You know the recruiter is ready when they look up at you. It takes me about 10-15 seconds to size up a resume. As a recruiter I am going to ask you a few questions about what kind of work you want to do. You need to have some ideas about what kinds of jobs are available in your Engineering Major. Your responses to the recruiter’s questions may determine whether you get an interview with the company.

Should I ask my own questions?

As students, you should also ask some questions. For example, you can always start with, “What are you looking for on my resume?” And, “What courses are important for me to take for your company?” When I am asked this question at the university where I recruit, I tell the students the four most important courses for jobs at our company. Companies often do research jointly with the universities and have special relationships with specific professors. A good question to ask is, “Are there any specific Professors that you know that I should do research with and any research topics that are currently important for your company now?” Your questions may be just as important as the recruiter’s questions toward getting an interview.

Chen Z.

Hi Glenn,

It was nice to hear your lecture “Recruiter Secrets – Your Best Job Search Strategies” at U of M tonight and my curiosity got the best of me and that’s how I ended up on your site. I do have a few questions on some techniques I’ve heard about that maybe you can give me your opinion on. On the career fair day, I’ve seen people bring not only their resumes, but also the specific jobs they’ve applied to online and ask recruiters about them. This way maybe the recruiter will be more likely to forward the resume to the specific department. Second thing I’ve heard is to ask recruiters for an interview at the end of the conversation. The idea is to kinda gauge how the recruiter felt about you during those 10-15 seconds and see how he/she responds.

Thanks for all the advice and GO BLUE!

Glenn Galler


These are both good questions. I think there could be some good reasons to bring actual job descriptions to the career fair. It shows the recruiter that you are very interested in their company and that you have done some research to find specific job openings in the company that are related to your interests. For larger companies, it is very likely the recruiter will not know the specific job opening in the job description. It is also very likely the recruiter will not even know where the job is located or who the hiring manager is for the job. It would take the recruiter a fair amount of time to figure out both of these things. For a smaller company, the recruiter may be able to find out the job and hiring manager easier. It is important to keep in mind that the recruiter is representing many hiring opportunities when they are at the career fair, so you might be reducing your opportunities by directing them to these job descriptions. I would simply use the job descriptions as a way to show the recruiter you are interested in their company. However, I wouldn’t ask the recruiter to try to follow up on these specific job descriptions as that would be too time-consuming for the recruiter.

For your second question, many companies use the career fair to identify students for interviews. Some companies do their interviews during the career fair, some do them over the next few days, and some do them two weeks later using a pre-selection process where they review the candidates they met at the career fair along with submitted resumes. I think it would be “too forward” to ask the recruiter for an interview at the end of the conversation. I think some recruiters would be turned off by this approach. Instead, I think it would be better to ask the recruiter, “Will you be doing interviews on campus because I am very interested in your company.” Or, “I would like to sign up for an interview with your company, can you please tell me how I can do this?” If the recruiter is interested in interviewing you, they will respond better to these two questions.

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