A recruiter might get you your next role; yet the higher you go up the corporate ladder, the more specific your qualifications become and the more granular the role a recruiter must have for there to be an appropriate match.

As retained recruiters, we work from narrowly defined specifications for our roles. We’ve been compensated by our clients to find that exact-sized peg to fit into that exact-sized hole.

There may be recruiting assignments that are not retained at the Vice President level and higher, yet if a recruiter is working on a role that’s being presented to you, find the opportunistic time to politely ask some pertinent questions that may better manage your expectations.

Here are questions you could be asking the next time you get that call:

1. What is your relationship with your client?Are you retained for this position, or is it a contingency assignment?

REASON TO ASK: One may not be necessarily better than the other, just recognize that you may be handled differently as a candidate. A retained recruiter will be managing the entire process and will know all aspects of what is going on with the hiring–including where the client is in the interview process timeline. A contingency recruiter may or may not know where they are in the process, as the client’s candidate pool may not come exclusively from that one recruiter.

2. Have you worked with this client before you got this specific assignment?

REASON TO ASK: It gives you the opportunity to garner additional understandings and insights about the company that you may not be able to get if it’s a new client for the recruiter.

3. How long have you had the assignment?

REASON TO ASK: You want to know if the search has been going on a while. Sometimes a search going on for too long could lead to other telling facts; change in direction, unrealistically high level of standards set by the client, candidate turn-downs or it could be something as innocuous as timing or travel issues on the client side. Time to find out and dig deep.

4. How long have you been recruiting in this industry?

REASON TO ASK: Certainly you can find this information from LinkedIn. There are fabulous recruiters who have been doing this job for five minutes and not so fabulous recruiters who’ve been recruiting for decades, yet by hearing the recruiter’s answer it will better prepare your expectations in terms of their nuanced awareness of the industry.

5. What are the reasons this position is open?

REASON TO ASK: This will allow you to better evaluate the role if you know that it’s a new role or if it’s a replacement. (And if it is a replacement how long was the predecessor in the role).  By knowing these insights, you will be able to research the role from a clearer point-of-view.

6. What has your client liked or not liked about the candidates you have presented so far?

REASON TO ASK: If it is not too early in the process, it’s a great question. If properly articulated back to you, it will allow you to better determine if your skill set and background are the right fit (or have the potential to be the right fit) for the presented opportunity.

7. What other roles are you currently working on, as perhaps I can help you get closer to the right candidate for those roles?

REASON TO ASK: It shows that you are not just thinking of yourself, yet are looking for a partnership from a recruiter, that you may in fact know “players” in the industry and that you are willing to help.

When you receive a polite email, an engaging phone call or a thoughtful InMail from a recruiter, we encourage you to respond and ask these questions, as you may develop a relationship, learn something about a new role, help a recruiter and at the very best–get a fabulous new job that will alter your career!