The recruiter obviously plays an important role in the interview process; the client has hired them to do specialized work. In a recruiter interview, you have to approach things differently, as recruiters have different objectives for the meeting.
Recruiters see multiple candidates compared to the client themselves. The client may see a handful of people during the hiring process; recruiters see up to a dozen a day.
There are two types of recruiter interviews. There’s one in the recruiter’s office, and one out in public – you must be prepared for both of them. If it’s out in public and the recruiter is well known in the marketplace, think about the level of discretion you require. If you want to meet in a public location you might be spotted. You have to respect the fact that others may know who you are meeting with and therefore make assumptions as to what your meeting is about.
If you’re meeting a recruiter in their office, be sure they have your resume in advance of the meeting because it gives them the opportunity to fully review the material so they will address your needs and fully understand your background.
Recruiters are also very tight on time, so they will probably only give you 15 minutes to an hour. The more senior you are, the longer the interviews because they have to get through more material and there’s a larger risk management profile. Spend the same amount of time preparing, making sure that you have a respectful open dialogue and summarize your career and the highlights, within five minutes.
After that, the recruiter will likely ask you direct questions. Don’t be surprised if the recruiter’s questions are very formulaic and it almost seems like they’re following a script because they likely are. They want to make sure that Candidate A is interviewed the same way and is asked the same number and types of questions as Candidate B.
They are very good at ascertaining and perceiving skills within certain areas by the way you answer the question, so don’t be taken aback if the interview ends quickly after a barrage of questions. However, you also have the opportunity to ask the recruiter questions. They usually keep their cards close, but with proper questioning, you should be able to expose a little bit more about the opportunity and the client in the recruiter meeting.