10 Questions Recruiters Must Know How to Answer

March 29, 2023

by John O. Burdett

Finding and landing top talent is only going to get more difficult. Here are 10 questions that, as a recruiter, you must know how to answer.

Welcome to the reality that top candidates come way better prepared for the interview than does the typical interviewer. Where the interviewee is truly a top candidate both parties are being fully evaluated.

Here are 10 questions that, as a recruiter, you must know how to answer. Although by no means replete, in some ways, the 10 questions outlined are an acid test of how prepared you are for the turbulent talent management path that lies ahead:


  1. As a business, why do you do what you do? Specifically, where and how are you striving for excellence? How are you going about the latter? How will you be different five years from now?
  2. What makes the business special? Specifically, what are you doing to protect/nurture that capability? What concerns you most about what the competition is doing?


  1. How and in what ways is digitalisation changing the way the organisation does business?
  2. Assuming you have built a scorecard for this role, where is the greatest “stretch” demanded to meet future performance goals?
  3. Moving forward, what role-specific leadership competencies define success in this role?


  1. How good a coach is my new “boss?” Does this role build on and extend my core capability: talent, skills, and leadership competencies? Will I continue to grow and develop in this role? How and in what ways?
  2. What constitutes a great team in your organisation? How do you assess team effectiveness? How and in what ways is “team fit” central to hire and promotion decisions?


  1. What are the organisation’s espoused values? How do you live those values?
  2. What culture do you need to succeed tomorrow? How do you measure culture? What are you doing to make tomorrow’s culture come to life in the room today?
  3. How and what ways does the organisation give back? How do you make a difference in people’s lives?

It’s also important to keep in mind that at the very heart of the recruiter-candidate relationship lies trust. A compact that underscores the role of the recruiter as an honest broker: a true professional who is looking out for the best interest of both the organisation and the candidate. Are the questions outlined those the candidate should be asking? What’s the best way to introduce them?

Finally, we face the reality that different generational cohorts will come at the questions outlined in a different way. Look at it this way. For the “boomers” IBM stood for “I’ve been moved.” They drank the Kool-Aid. For generation X IBM stands for “Invest in better management.” This generation needs to feel that the organisation is developing them. For millennials IBM stands for “Inspire a better me.” Purpose, meaning and self-esteem come to the fore. The boomers were striving to create something different. Gen X managers want to be different. They want to stand out. Millennials want to make a difference.

Tomorrow will not be a replay of today. Finding and landing top talent is only going to get more difficult. If your talent acquisition approach amounts to little more than a beauty contest you are putting the business at risk. To mitigate that risk, a robust recruitment process and an investment in preparation for the interview become a twenty-first century leadership imperative.

Although, of necessity, the 10 questions outlined are incomplete, they represent a good place to start thinking about how to make who and how you hire a competitive advantage. Your goal should be nothing less.

This article is an extract from “Great Candidates Ask Great Questions“, © Orxestra® Inc.

John O. Burdett is founder of Orxestra® Inc. He has extensive international experience as a senior executive. As a consultant he has worked in more than 40 countries for organisations that are household names. John has worked on organisation culture for some of the world's largest organisations. His ongoing partnership with TRANSEARCH International means that his thought leading intellectual property, in any one year, supports talent management in many hundreds of organisations around the world. Get in touch with John O. Burdett »

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