If you have ever applied for a job, spoken to someone about a job opportunity or been approached by a professional on LinkedIn, you have spoken to a recruiter before.
Based on my experiences and learning from my peers (mainly recruiters and potential hiring candidates), I noticed that while all their missions are to find suitable candidates for an open role, how they are compensated and what to expect during interviews with them is quite different.
Why does it matter to know the differences between them?
I find the hiring process similar to the concept of online dating. Before going on a first date, you would have gathered some background of your date to help you get a sense of what to expect during the date and how to impress them. By the end of the date, if you enjoyed yourself, you would eventually want to know how to secure a second date.
Just like throughout the recruitment, knowing the recruiters will help you to gather sufficient information to set expectations right, impress them and secure a next stage. So, here are the 3 most common types of recruiters that I encountered.
1. Hiring Managers
Hiring Managers are salaried employees and they have other important responsibilities within the company and occasionally hiring employees to fill an open position within their company is only one of them. Generally it's a person from the department in which the employee needs to be hired and acts as the future employee's superior.
An example is a Team Lead who needs to oversee development of projects as their core responsibility but at the same time, when there’s a turnover or an expansion of projects, they will start looking for candidates who will be an ideal team player with competent skill sets.
That is an indication that they have in-depth knowledge about the role that you will interview for. That also means that if you are eventually hired, you will either be working with them or reporting to them, one way or another.
During my interview with them, they are very often interested in technical questions and areas of your professional interests as they are very keen to see how you can fit into their team and how to develop you. In return, the questions you can ask them can be around similar topics (e.g. working style, types of projects, what do they see this role in X number of years, etc).
2. Agency Recruiters
Agency Recruiters are employed by a staffing agency. When their clients (companies) need to fill a position, agency recruiters gather requirements from their clients and sometimes outsource to find quality candidates to fill the role. Then, they can post job listings that are open for the public to apply, they can also search for suitable candidates on LinkedIn or through referral.
They have a full load of positions to fill and are usually paid commission based on jobs filled, which means they want to get it done fast. You are definitely able to speak to more companies through Agency Recruiters as compared to the chance of getting noticed directly by Hiring Managers.
This also means that despite their knowledge of the requirements for the potential candidates, they may not know the working culture or in depth project details of the company that you are applying for. More often than not, Agency Recruiters reach out to many candidates to share the job opportunity, including candidates that do not fit the requirements.
So be mindful if you would like to take 30 to 40 minutes to have a chat with them and realise that the position they are looking for is nowhere near your field of work or study. But that doesn’t mean that they are not worth speaking to. If you ask for a Job Description before the meeting and take a good look at it, you will be able to identify if this job is suitable or enticing enough for you to have an initial chat. Once the Agency Recruiter and you both feel like there is a match, they will put you through to the company (Human Resources Manager or Team Lead) and proceed further with the remaining interviews.
3. In House Recruiters
In House Recruiters are employed by companies to find candidates for the open positions within their company. They are somewhere between Hiring Managers and Agency Recruiters. The difference between in-house recruiters and hiring managers is that their primary job is to recruit for multiple job roles across different departments within the company. Similar to Agency Recruiters, they may have limited technical knowledge on job specific skills and also have a full load of job positions to fill.
They work within the same company as the role they are hiring for so they would be familiar with the company culture and they have a closer relationship with the Team Lead that is looking to hire you which means that they are very clear about the job scope and can answer some (not all) the technical questions that you have for them. They are in both the interest of their company and you, acting as a neutral middleman.
Be prepared before you meet them
There are several benefits of understanding the motivations of the recruiters.
It allows you to evaluate and validate if they are worthy of your time to begin a hiring process, it can be pretty tedious sometimes especially if you’re actively looking for a new role.
If you decide that you are interested in having an initial chat with the recruiter, you are able to get prepared in advance on what topics will be covered or questions that they will be asking you during the meeting.
Set yourself up for success by preparing questions relevant to you based on your current state/needs that the recruiter can help clarify and leave a lasting impression that can help you get to that next interview stage.
Be more than prepared
Of course, you will still need to do your own digging to know more about the person you are speaking to, study about the company in order to ask questions that you are unable to find on the internet and talk about topics to show that you have done your homework before going to an interview as well as show them your enthusiasm about the company.
Product Owner, UX Designer