How to Weed Out the Bad Recruiters

You find yourself in a situation dealing with multiple recruiters during you job search. Generally, this is a good thing because you’ll get a wide range of job opportunities to choose from. However, particularly if you are looking for jobs within the same industry, you are likely to get the same job description from more than one recruiter. This happens all of the time and there are a few ways to approach choosing the best recruiter to represent and support you during your application.

The stakes are high because if you choose the wrong recruiter, it could seriously undermine your chances of getting the job.

Ultimately, you have two goals as a job seeker.

  1. You want to get an interview with the company.
  2. You want the recruiters help preparing for the interview, giving you valuable information, and negotiating the offer.

In the best case scenario, you choose the recruiter who has a strong personal relationship with the hiring manager and a track record of hiring. They know the ins and outs of the company and can add significant value to helping prepare you for the interview process.

In the worst case scenario, you choose the recruiter who just joined the recruitment company 5 months ago and has never successfully made a placement. They have never met the hiring manager and can only give you vague advice that isn’t helpful. They are slow to respond and potentially even screw up your chances of getting the job due to their poor communication skills. You would have been better off applying directly.

Here are a few key questions you can ask each recruiter in order to weed out the good from the bad:

  1. Have you met the hiring manager? Can you tell me about them, what is their personality like? What is their interview style and what are they really looking for?
  2. What is your relationship like with the hiring manager?
  3. Have you ever had anyone interview there before or made any successful placements? What was the interview process like? What are the names of the interviewers and what are their roles?
  4. Can you explain the business model of the company? Who are their clients? How many users do they have?
  5. Can you tell me about the position? Who else is in my team? What are their specific functions and responsibilities?
  6. How is my performance measured on the job?
  7. Why is the job open, is it a new job or a replacement? How long has the position been open?
  8. What is the career path for this role?
  9. What is the companies growth plan over the next couple of years?
  10. Why do you think this is a good opportunity considering my career?

I suspect that a couple of the recruiters won’t even bother getting back to you. The good recruiters will have detailed answers and even likely schedule a phone call or face to face with you to go over every single questions. The best recruiter will answer all of your questions in great detail, clearly have a strong relationship with the hiring manager, and will follow up with you to understand your motivations.

You can even copy and paste these questions and send to all 5 recruiters. You will easily be able to discern who knows their shit, and who is full of shit.

Once you do select a recruiter, be polite and send a follow up email to the others to let them know you have chosen to apply for the job through a different agency.

When you’ve decided on a recruiter then I would simply email the others and let them know as soon as you can. You want to maintain a good relationship with them (or not…) and be polite regardless, so you could say something like:

 “John, thanks for the info on the role. I wanted to let you know that I already received this job description from a different recruiter and had a good conversation with them about the role. I’ve already sent my application for the job through them. I am of course open to any other opportunities you may have and hope to catch up soon and I appreciate your support. Best regards, D”


Japan-based writer, consultant and entrepreneur.

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