Top 10 Questions To Ask Recruiters: Part 3

Here are the remaining questions to ask a recruiter - from someone who is recruiting opportunistically to further your career.

As we wrap up this series, I cannot stop thinking about all the other questions that are asked of me during the year.  Yes, these are the top 10 questions, but more importantly, there are many more questions that each individual candidate or prospective candidate wants to be answered in their own way.  Many times I will answer questions where the answer will take a candidate down a different path like not making a move, and that’s more than OK.  My goal is not to move everyone who chats with me but rather to be a source of answers that anyone within our field can get addressed.  If that happens, then I am more than satisfied that I have been of assistance to my callers. This is one of the reasons why recruiting opportunistically is ideal for both candidates and firms. 

Here are the last few questions from our top 10 list:  

8.     Are you representing more than one candidate for this particular position I am interested in?  

The answer to this question (unlike most recruiters’ answer) is no.  The average recruiter out there will send at least three qualified candidates for an interview for the same position.  The reason is they want to cover their base. They send out the strongest three candidates they have been speaking with about the position with the hope that one of them will be a good match.  But the recruiter has to be aware that there may be other recruiters also sending out candidates for that same position.  With our recruiting opportunistically, there are no other candidates vying for this position. So, in essence, your only competition is yourself.  As mentioned in earlier blog posts these positions are being created just for you.  If you meet the client’s expected needs, they will create the position for you, which clearly demonstrates you do have an exclusive position with the firm.

9.     If I find a position on my own, am I obligated to compensate you?

Here is the knee-jerk response, especially in my model of recruiting opportunistically: NO!  If you find a position that a recruiter clearly had nothing to do with like assisting you in locating that position, you do not owe the recruiter any fee.  Now for more depth.  There are recruiters that represent both candidates and clients and do get paid by either of them.  The candidates can, and sometimes do, enter into consulting relationships similar to a buyer’s representative in a real estate transaction.  If that is the case, then the terms of the agreement might specify that the relationship is an exclusive one and you may owe a fee.  But this is a minority position.  The firms that most recruiters work with are the ones who pay the recruiting fee.  It is rare for a candidate to hire a recruiter and then pay them.  I can only think of one experience I have had where a candidate asked me to represent them to a firm they had already been working with, and they had not made it a condition of employment that they had to work with me on the compensation package and offer language.  But even here the new firm paid my fee – reduced as it was. 

10.   How do I best prepare for my interview if you are presenting me to a firm that you know so much about?  

The short answer is it should not matter how much a recruiter tells you about a position or a company.  You must do your own due diligence, which needs to consist of much more than just going to the firm’s website.  You should try to find additional information about the firm and the manager that you are interviewing with through outside sources.  You should also prepare a list of questions that you want to know the most about the firm, especially with recruiting opportunistically. Why? When you have your pre-interview call with your recruiter, you can address those questions that you may not have been able to locate an answer for first.

This concludes the top 10 questions I have been asked over the last eleven years of recruiting opportunistically public finance professionals like yourself.  Should you have any questions that you personally want to be addressed, always feel free to reach out to me.


If you would like to discuss your options, please reach out for a confidential conversation at 760-477-1284 or email at [email protected]. He can also be reached on LinkedIn. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter here, which is a compilation of our weekly blogs, so you never miss one. You can find our listing in the “supplier and services” section of the Red Book under the title of “executive recruiting.”

About Harlan Friedman, JD & Founding Member, H. Friedman Search LLC. Harlan is a thirty-year veteran Public Finance Banker turned recruiter who specializes in the placement of all levels Public Finance Bankers, Healthcare Bankers, Municipal Advisors, Compliance Officers, Issuers, and Bond Counsels.