When a recruiter is meeting with you, they are mostly trying to assess whether you are a placeable candidate or not. A placeable candidate is a candidate who will interview well, and take a job if offered. The quality of “placeability” is partly about how in-demand your skills and experience are, and you cannot do very much to influence their perception of this in the meeting. There are a whole lot of other factors influencing placability though, and how you conduct yourself in a meeting with a recruiter can have a huge impact on how much effort they put in to finding you a job.
A big part of placeablity is interviewing well. If you interview well with the recruiter, you will interview well with the line manager. All the standard rules apply. However there a few special recruitment agent questions to watch out for.
Why are you considering leaving/did you leave your current/previous job?This question has a lot of layers to it, and tells the recruiter a lot about you. If you answer that you don’t get on well with your boss, or that you don’t like your company culture, or indeed any negative reason, then the recruiter will assume there is at least a 50/50 chance that the problem lies with you rather than your situation. Your answer will say a lot about your view of the world, you have to avoid sounding negative or naive. Your answer will also give the recruiter some idea of how serious you are about considering other opportunities. If your reason doesn’t seem to make sense, or may be subject to changing circumstances, then your placeability will go down. Finally, if the reason you are leaving your current job would also make you unhappy in the job you are applying for, then obviously your placeability goes way down! Your answer should always be positive, and be focused on the opportunities and experience that you want to get in your next job and can’t get in your current job…even if the core reason is something like your employer closing their doors or cutting staff.
What were your achievements in your previous job/s?You absolutely have to prepare for this question by working out how to articulate your acheivements concisely and clearly. Make it clear how much you contributed individually to any group successes.
What are your salary expectations?This is a tricky question, as you don’t want to over or undersell yourself. The most appropriate answer is to tell the recruiter your current salary…if you are employed then this is your fall-back position and will give them a good indicator of what you would accept. If you are genuinely willing to take a salary cut for a great opportunity then this will raise your placeability…but you should only say so if it is true. If you are expecting an offer more than 10-15% higher than your current salary then this will substantially reduce your placeability unless the circumstances are very exceptional
When can you attend interviews?If you cannot make time for interviews during working hours then this may substantially reduce your placeability. Always be on time for interviews that recruiters set up for you. They are unlikely to give you a second chance, as it reflects very badly on them if their client is kept waiting.