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Things Recruiters Love to Ask and Hate to Hear

The best place to seek interview advice is directly from those who conduct them each day. As such, in order to bring you the some fresh information and an interesting perspective, we asked our recruiters a few questions about interviews. Rather than looking for the standard advice, we dug a bit deeper to help independent contractors understand recruiters' unique methods and experiences that form the interview.

Things Recruiters Ask...


First, we asked recruiters for some of their favourite questions to get a candidate to think outside-the-box. Here are some of the top interview questions for IT contractors:

  • How did you save money, make money, or change a business process that did both in your past job?

  • What is your Achilles heel?

  • What have you brought to the "Project Management" field from your Bachelor Degree in Arts History, Education?

  • What is the one thing that people misunderstand about you?

  • What sets you apart from your peers?

  • Tell me about your biggest failure and how it made you successful in your career?

Things Recruiters Hear -- the Little White Lies...

Next, we set out to learn about some of the fibs they hear most often, and where they tend to be most skeptical about candidates. They pointed out that junior candidates tend to be the bigger culprits, and that is occurs less in the IT industry than others. Regardless, these are the most common little white lies that recruiters hear (though some they didn't learn were lies until it was too late):

  • "I left on good terms." "We had a parting of ways." -- This can be seen as code for "something was brewing, and I was fired/I quit"

  • When asked about weaknesses, most candidates give a canned (bogus!) answer.

  • "All my projects are on-time, on-budget and to scope."

  • Over-exaggerating responsibilities

  • Experience with a specific technology

  • Yes, i am very interested in this role

  • Current salary

  • Why they are looking

...And the Other Stories

Finally, if you want to understand why some recruiters question you or seem like they have little trust, remember that they have seen and heard a lot. Here's what recruiters say are the more extreme lies they've been told:

  • "The candidate said they worked at a company where they have never worked." (These things are easy to verify and destroy your reputation.)

  • "A candidate with a fake resume - entirely fake - showed up for a face-to-face interview with me hoping I'd pass him along to a client."

  • "That the candidate had relocated for a role, when in fact they were commuting 3 hours EACH WAY every single day for a contract.... you can't hide that kind of exhaustion from a client."

  • "A candidate said they couldn't make the interview because someone stole their car ( was a lie)"

  • "They couldn't make the interview as they were "sick" but I later found out they were in another province and didn't want to tell me."

Understanding a person, their background, and what influences who they are is a tactic sales people often use to persuade a client into buying their product. The same is true for IT contractors looking to sell their skills to a recruiter. Hopefully this brief insight into a recruiter's mind gives you one more tactic during your next interview.