28 Great Behavioral Interview Questions to Hire Ace Recruiters

Interview employee relations

Good recruiters — the really effective ones — are genuine talent magnets. They consistently sleuth out top performers whose imagination, expertise, and energy propel your organization forward.

These recruiting aces are a breed apart. They’re proven pros who keep your company top of mind in the talent marketplace. They more than pay for themselves by hiring smartly, quickly, and cost effectively, while helping your employer branding as a great place to work. Recruiting these top-flight recruiters is an art which involves — now wait for it — asking high-yield behavioral interview questions!

Most of us talent acquisition professionals think of ourselves as insightful readers of people.

Hey, our day job is to hire highly effective people! So we’re always looking for ways to enhance our interviewing skills; we want an edge.

Behavioral Questions that Make a Difference

Here are some great behavioral questions that will give you an edge in recruiting ace recruiters. Follow these steps and you’ll attract and hire the best recruiters in the business!

Opening the Interview

  • Tell me about the events that led you to the recruiting profession.
  • Give me an example of your personal and professional goals and how recruiting fits into them.
  • Give me an example of your most rewarding recruiting experience.
  • Tell me about a specific recruiting assignment that was particularly challenging.
  • Give me examples of the circumstances that cause you to consider leaving your current company.
  • Tell me about the situations that have brought out the best in you.
  • Give me examples of conditions in your current position that do not play to your strengths.

Conducting the Interview

  • Walk me through the steps you took recently to identify and attract high-performing candidates.
  • Here’s a blank sheet of paper. Please draw your current organization chart and your place on it.
  • Tell me about the actions you took to recruit a high-level engineering (or sales, or marketing, or finance) executive to your organization.
  • Tell me about a time when social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram didn’t work for you.
  • Tell me about your experiences with LinkedIn … when it worked well for you and when it did not.
  • Tell me about a recent time you prioritized candidates to enable the manager to make an informed hiring decision.
  • Give me an example of a key hire you made who affected the bottom line of the business.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to sell a candidate on the job.
  • Describe a situation when you struggled to support a particularly demanding hiring manager.
  • Tell me about a time you developed a workable relationship with an indecisive manager.
  • Give me specific examples of junior recruiters who’ve grown and developed as a result of your coaching.
  • Walk me through an experience you’ve had when your top candidate received a competing offer that was more money than yours.
  • Describe your biggest recruiting mistake, the impact it had on the business, and what you learned from it.
  • Walk me through the steps you take in checking candidate references.
  • Describe the steps you’ve taken to build a pipeline of promising performers.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to keep a promising candidate interested in your organization even when you didn’t have a specific opportunity for them.

Wrapping up the Interview

  • Tell me how you’ve used the strengths and skills that make you a strong candidate.
  • Give me an example of other opportunities you are considering and where you stand in their hiring process.
  • Give me specific examples of why this opportunity is appealing to you and your level of interest in it.
  • Tell me about something I should know that we haven’t discussed so far.
  • Tell about the combination of your skills, knowledge, and experience that would cause you to hire yourself.

Specifically using behavioral interviewing when considering recruiters will give you an edge over other talent acquisition managers. These are some of my favorite questions to ask recruiters.

Give me examples of great questions other recruiters have asked you.

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  • Jim D’Amico

    Great questions! I believe it benefits everyone involved to conduct a comprehensive interview.
    In my experience I find that 2 skills that often get overlooked in the interview process are the ability to deal with ambiguity and learning agility. Here are some questions I like related to those areas:
    Dealing with ambiguity:
    Describe as specific time when you had to make a decision or take action without all of the information available. Why was it important to act without that information? How comfortable were you with that decision? What was the end result?
    Tell me about a time when it was important to maintain your productivity and quality in spite of significant changes at work. What were the changes? How were they communicated to you? How did you handle the situation? What were the results?
    Learning Agility:
    Tell me specifically about a time when you had to find an innovative solution to a problem. What was the problem? Why didn’t your past experience or education offer a solution? How did you solve the problem? Using what resources?
    Think back to a time when you were better able than others to quickly grasp the underlying essence or structure of complex things and figure out how to apply that information. Describe the situation and how your understanding was different from others. How did you apply the information?

  • http://www.PeopleAssessments.com Tom Janz

    Some great questions from the author and Jim, although I am not quite sure about the “Draw your organizational chart” one. What I don’t see often enough are questions that draw out superlative examples. Phil did ask about “most rewarding recruiting experience and “a challenge that was particularly challenging” and those were great. A lot of the other questions asked about “a time”, and while most candidates will naturally talk about their “best behaviors”, some won’t. A candidate’s “most disappointing effort”, “biggest sale from a new customer”, “largest number of new client contacts with quarter” clearly frame the event to be recalled from the same place on the performance spectrum. It helps to be comparing apples to apples.

  • Gareth Cooper

    Some of those questions are real keepers for sure. Depending on the context of the interviews, I can see myself using a couple in our process.

  • Gareth Cooper

    Some of those questions are real keepers for sure. Depending on the context of the interviews, I can see myself using a couple in our process.

  • Phil Quigley

    Thanks guys for taking the time to check out the blog. As a long time recruiter I’ve tried to share what works for me, recognizing of course that interviewing is an imperfect science ad that we all have favorite practices.

    Tom, you know way more about Behavioral Interviewing than I do, and I’m honored that you took time to provide such great feedback, especially about eliciting superlative examples. And you’re so right about the org chart question…it;s dicey, and I do it only when I have a fair level of trust and confidence with the candidate.

    Jim, I love your questions that open up a dialogue about ambiguity and agility…in fact they’re far better than mine and I’m tempted to use them shamelessly in my next interview! And don’t we all deal with ambiguity just about every day…we never have all the information we need to make decision or take action, so your questions get at the heart of the matter.

    Thanks so much guys…we all rely on gut feel in our interviews, but behavioral questions allow us to “trust, but verify” . Take care and have a great week.

  • Erik_G

    Hey Phil, thanks for the list of interview questions. I’ll have to make use of some of these for my next interview with a recruiter ;). Here’s something useful I found for interviews at http://www.interq.io. I found a few gems using it.

  • Erik_G

    Hey Phil, thanks for the list of interview questions. I’ll have to make use of some of these for my next interview with a recruiter ;). Here’s something useful I found for interviews at http://www.interq.io. I found a few gems using it.