I’ve been fortunate enough to hire many great recruiters at all levels throughout my career: peer level, for my own team, for my client’s recruitment team, and even my own boss! Ironically, while I enjoy doing it, recruiting recruiters has always been one of the toughest roles to fill!

Just like most skilled professions today, competition is fierce for top recruitment talent. The best internal recruiters are already working happily in their jobs with strong retention packages. On the agency side, the best recruiters come with ‘golden handcuffs’ and a book of profitable business that they don’t want to walk away from.

Therefore, hiring a junior recruiter and training them up is often the best (and sometimes only) option you have if you need to staff up your team urgently. However, hiring a junior recruiter is risky business because you can’t rely on their previous recruitment performance to assess how good they really are. Instead, you are 100% hiring on potential with the hope that they will become your next superstar recruiter. Additionally, the stakes are higher because you will be investing a lot of time and resources into training them, so you’re banking on a strong ROI to make it all worth it.

My top 5:

Over the years I’ve sought advice from fellow recruitment managers, researched recruitment blogs, read recruitment management books, and relied on good’ol trial-and-error to figure out what top 5 candidate attributes make a junior recruiter one that you can ‘bank on’. Luckily for you, I’ve shared them below with examples of questions that you can ask during the interview process:

1) Sales Experience

Recruitment is not HR. Recruitment is a marketing and sales job, and even more of a sales job if you’re hiring on the agency side. This is a fundamental requirement so the first thing I do when reviewing a resume is to scan for previous jobs in the sales industry. Aside from the obvious sales jobs such as a Sales Rep or Account Manager, look for previous work history in roles such as a bartender, server, retail associates, cell phone reps, travel consultants, car rental service agents, customer care agents etc. Basically look for any role where they’ve interacted with customers regularly, have been paid on some form of commission (including tips), had to overcome objections, influence and persuade, and have dealt with a lot of rejection.

Interview questions:

  1. Q) What do you love most about a job in sales?
  2. Q) What motivates you? (hint: if you are hiring a junior agency recruiter and they don’t mention MONEY at the top of their list then they’re probably not the right fit)

2) Competitive Streak

In today’s candidate-driven market companies are fighting to attract and hire scarce top talent and as a result our industry has never been more competitive. Whether agency or internal, the best recruiters are the ones who naturally hustle to compete and innately hate to lose. Look for evidence of a competitive streak in a resume such as playing sports or participating in competitions – these can often be found under the ‘Interests/Passions’ section of a resume.

Interview questions:

  1. Q) Would you describe yourself as competitive? And, if so, give me some examples of when you’ve had to compete.
  2. Q) Tell me about the last time that you needed to be competitive at work.

3)  Self-driven

Continuing along the same themes as points 1 & 2 above, recruiters need to be naturally self-driven (a.k.a self-motivated) to succeed our highly competitive, fast-paced, and often frustrating industry.  Motivating your team through the ‘roller coaster’ of ups and downs of recruitment is one of the most important aspects of your role as a manager, however external motivation has its limits. You want to hire those people who are born with the natural drive to be able to push through the relentless rejection and frustration that is part-and-parcel of being a recruiter.

Interview questions:

  1. Q) Tell me about a time when you’ve encountered adversity, and what motivated you to push through?
  2. Q) Would you describe yourself as self-motivated? If so, where do you think your self-motivation originates from? Then ask for some examples of where they’ve demonstrated it.

4) History of Completion

As commented above, recruitment is a challenging profession and you want to hire people who don’t give up easily and stay committed until the job is done. You want to hire people with a solid history of completion. An easy one to assess in a resume is whether the candidate has completed their educational studies and degrees – if courses and degrees are incomplete then this can be a red flag.

Interview questions:

  • What has been the hardest thing you’ve ever successfully completed? What motivated you to get the (job/task/project/course etc) done?
  • Trick question: What was the hardest thing that you weren’t able to complete? Why were you not able to see it through to completion?

5) Smart

I’m not talking about IQ and I don’t mean ‘book smart’. A candidate with a 4.0 GPA won’t necessarily make a good recruiter. If anything, EQ is far more important in recruitment. You need to hire a smart person who can rapidly assess a candidate’s intentions and motivations, think on their feet, and learn quickly – essentially someone who’s ‘street smart’. New challenges and obstacles are presented to recruiters every day, and you need someone smart enough to figure out how to solve them quickly with the resources available to them at the time.

Interview Questions:

  1. Q) Tell me about a time when you had to learn a job quickly without much supervision or guidance.
  2. Q) If you were asked to recruit a role that you didn’t understand, what steps would you take to figure it out?


Hiring a junior recruiter can sometimes be your best (and only) option when looking to grow your recruitment team. If you interview a candidate that ticks all 5 of these boxes, and you’re confident that they’ll be a good team-fit, then make them an offer quickly before your competition does!


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interview tips

In a typical interview scenario, the last 10 – 15 minutes will be (or should be!) reserved for candidates to ‘turn the tables’ and put the interviewers in the ‘hot seat’.

As a candidate, one of the most critical questions you’ll be asked during an interview is “Do you have any questions for us?”. It gives you the chance to impress the interviewer with thoughtful and intelligent questions while clarifying and filling in gaps in your understanding of the role. Your response to this important question can make-or-break your success in an interview so I’ve prepared a cheat sheet to help you land your dreamjob.

In no particular order, here are 10 questions that candidates should be asking in an interview.

Note: you won’t have time to ask every question in this list, so choose the ones that are most relevant and haven’t already been covered during the interview

  1. What is not in the job posting that I should know about this role?

Career site  job postings are often short, incomplete, outdated or don’t tell the full story so this question can fill in the gaps and/or correct any inaccuracies.

  1. What do you love about working in this team, and why do you choose to work here?

This questions gives you authentic insight into the dynamics of the team and the broader company culture.

  1. If applicable: How has the new CFO/CEO/CIO/Leadership change impacted the team and how has the transition been?

This powerful question shows that you’ve done your research and may uncover some important factors to consider when assessing the opportunity.

  1. What are the some of the key short and long-term goals of the organization and how does this role impact them?

It’s good to know where the company is aiming to go, and what your impact (if any) will be to helping them get there.

  1. What are some of the key short-term and long-term challenges that I’ll face in this role?

People are generally motivated by challenge and, if answered authentically, the question will reveal a lot about the role and what you’ll need to do to be successful in it.

  1. What excites you about the future of this organisation?

An open-ended positive question that I love to answer. You’ll learn a lot about what your interviewer values and you’ll gain personal insight into the future of the organization.

  1. What does success look like in this role, and how will I be measured against it?

This question will help you to understand some of the key deliverables of the role and give you insight into how the interviewer defines success.

  1. How would you describe your management style?

As well as evaluating the position and company, it’s equally critical that you are also assessing whether you’ll work well with your boss.

  1. I read about (x) when researching your company, what is your take/opinion on it?

If you’ve uncovered something particularly interesting during your research on the company then this question will give you some good ‘insider’ and potentially revealing insight into the company’s current events.

  1. What does a typical day in this role look like?

This question will help you understand the day-to-day dynamics of the role so that you visualise what it will really be like if you get the job.


Don’t waste the opportunity to make and impression and gain a better understanding of the role by being unprepared when it’s your turn to ask the questions. Pick and choose relevant questions from my cheat sheet to help you land your dreamjob.

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