Questions to Ask a Recruiter when Looking for an Engineering Job

Are you an Engineer and unsure of how a recruiter can add value to your job search? We break down a few key questions to ask a recruiter that can help you navigate the process of working with job search consultants and land your next career move.
Mike Pak | PHM Search | Engineering Recruiters | We Get Engineers
April 29 1 year ago
Questions to Ask Recruiters | Questions to Ask Engineering Recruiters | PHM Search

6 Important Questions to Ask an Engineering Recruiter

Here’s an easy checklist of questions to ask a recruiter to know whether applying for the engineering position you’re considering would be a good investment of your time.

1.  "Can you tell me more about the job?"

A job title and a job description are only good enough to provide you with a general idea of what the engineering job opening entails. It is important to inquire about the corresponding day-to-day duties and responsibilities, as this will allow you to evaluate whether you would have an opportunity to expand your skillset or would need to take on more tasks and duties than you’ve had in the past.

Ultimately, you should search for positions that will help you learn, grow, and advance your career. To gain a better understanding of what the position is about, you can ask specific questions like:

  • “Who will I work with or for in this role?”
  • “What are some specific projects I’ll work on when I start?”
  • “How would employees rate the company culture?”
  • “To be successful, what are your performance expectations in 6 months? In a year?”

It is also a good idea to inquire about specific details like whether the job is full-time, part-time, temporary/contract, freelance or remote, and more.

2.  "How long has the position been open?"

Knowing how long the position has been open will provide you with valuable insights into how the hiring process has been. If the job opening is newly created, you may have the privilege of becoming one of the first candidates interviewed.  However, this could mean a longer hiring process, as many engineering managers like to interview three or four candidates before finalizing the decision.

On the other hand, if the position has been open for a few months, it can signal that either there are some specific challenges associated with the job or the hiring manager is looking for a needle in a haystack.

In either case, you will have more valuable information about the opportunity and perhaps better position your marketable skills when you choose this question to ask an engineering recruiter.

3.  “What are the top skills needed?”

In general, these seem to be the top 10 skills for engineers that most engineering hiring managers look for. However, getting the information about the specific skills needed will help you to quickly determine how well you are qualified for the position, and what skills you might be lacking. It will also help you to decide whether you are really interested in the advertised job posting.

For example, if a software engineering position requires a lot of back-end development, and you would rather work on the front-end portion, you may choose to search for something that works better with your skills and preferences.

4.  “Does the company have a remote work policy?”

Over the past year, remote and flexible work has become a universally accepted work format. If you prefer to work from anywhere, a combination of remote and in-office or flexible work schedules, it’d be wise to ask this question to the recruiter in advance.

If the company offers a remote work policy, reviewing it will provide you with all the necessary details. Many companies say that they are “open” to the idea of remote work, but, if there is no formal policy in place, then the position might not be the best option for you if work flexibility is among your top priorities.

5.  “What is the company culture like?”

Company culture will impact many aspects of your workday, and this is a question you should always ask recruiters. It is important that you are a good fit for the company, and it is equally as important that the company is a good fit for you.

Ask some of the following questions to determine whether the company will be a good match:

  • “Is there a dress code requirement?”
  • “Are there any staff social events and get-togethers?”
  • “Is the company remote-friendly?”
  • “Are employees expected to work late?”
  • “What is the management style like?”
  • “Do they pay or subsidize home office expenses?”
  • “How has COVID affected workload and team morale?”

Knowing how a potential employer treats their people and how they manage onboarding, training, and supporting new employees in our days of uncertainty will help you to feel whether the job is worth pursuing further.

6.  “Do you have a salary range in mind for this position?”

Before you determine whether the particular engineering opening is right for you, it’s important to consider what the compensation or salary range is. We typically advise our engineering candidates to consider a realistic range with a 5-10% increase in their current salary level especially if your skillset is in high demand and you are currently employed.  By letting the recruiter know your target salary, he/she can either give you current market valuations based on your experience and level or keep you in mind for something more suitable in the future.

On the other hand, if the hiring manager’s salary range is higher than you expected, you can use this knowledge to negotiate a better job offer in the future. You can confidently ask for higher compensation if you know that the manager’s range goes well beyond the job opening offer.

How to Choose the Best Engineering Recruiter to Work With

Now, that you have a better understanding of what questions to ask a recruiter, let’s talk about choosing the right engineering recruitment company to work with.

Let’s face it – the job search has changed. Whether you’re new to the workforce or have been building your career for a while, it’s no secret that the key in today’s job market is to embrace the constant change that comes with living in an increasingly interconnected and at times disconnected world.

Employers have long ago traded print ads for LinkedIn job slots, video interviews, and AI-driven applicant selection and screening technologies.  Engineers have more resources now than ever before to land their dream roles. With that said, only about 2% of job seekers are invited to an interview based on their online application.

Don’t get us wrong – we’re all for being able to research a company, scope out existing employees, and apply all in one place, but what happens when the application process starts to feel less personal?

Why Use an Engineering Recruiter?

Choosing to work with a recruiter can help you adapt to today’s evolving career and digital landscape.  Working with a search consultant that specializes in engineering or your industry can assure that they understand what you do technically as this will enhance your fit for job opportunities presented to you.

Just like with dating, using a knowledgeable engineering-specific recruiter could be the difference between swiping at random and hoping for the best, versus having a trained professional do the matchmaking for you based on mutual interests between you and your potential job match. After all, wouldn’t you agree that the more informed the decision, the better the odds of success?

No matter your situation, a good recruiter will ensure that you’re equipped with the guidance you need to make a clear decision about your next move in your career path.

 4 Questions to Ask to Find the Best Engineering Recruiter

Below you can find four simple questions to ask yourself to find a recruiter that will make your engineering job search easier.

1.  What does the recruiter actually know about what I do?

Most recruiters are generalists, meaning they will look for candidates across a broad spectrum of skills and industries.  If you’re going to work with a recruiter, it’s best that they specialize in your discipline or at least have a good understanding of your technical pedigree, education, projects, and the industry that you work in.

The best engineering recruiters will have deep expertise in specific technical skills you possess as well as the types of projects or duties you perform so that they can best align a job and its’ parameters with what you bring to the table.  Prepare to ask questions about how long they have been recruiting engineers like you, what they know about your industry, and at least some common technical domain knowledge in your field.

2.  “Do you know what am I looking for?”

With such a small percentage of online job applicants that actually make it to the job interview process, it’s easy to feel like the time you invest in curating a resume to a specific role or filling out a company’s application could be wasted. In this stage, it’s crucial to find someone who can answer your questions objectively and offer insight into whether or not the role at hand suits your needs.

Find a recruiter whose approach prioritizes authentic, transparent and personalized communications. This will assure that they understand your goals and objectives for both your career desires and what you want out of working with the recruiter.  Here are some questions to get a sense of whether the recruiter is someone you want to partner with:

  • Do you feel like your questions are being answered?
  • Does the consultant have a good understanding of the things you need in your next career change?
  • Are they spending the time to get to know you and coach you through each step of the recruitment cycle?
  • How long do they take to get back to you or give you constructive feedback?

Make sure that your career confidant is taking the time to answer your high-priority questions so you can feel confident about committing to the recruitment relationship.

3.  “How will I know if I’m qualified for this role?”

Did you know that engineering employers often share with recruitment agencies their exact expectations beyond just a job description of the role they’re looking to fill? Ask the recruiter this question to take the guesswork out of trying to assess where your qualifications rank or if you honestly have a shot at the job.  By being realistic and open about your skills and experience can quickly determine whether this is something investing more of your time with.

Make sure that the recruiter you choose to work with acts as an informed resource partner to tell you what the company is really looking for and how to leverage your particular professional experience to make you a front-runner in the selection process!

4.  “How will this benefit me?”

If you’ve ever been through the interview process and wondered at any point in time, “What’s next?”, then a good recruiter can very likely help you. The best recruiters are experienced in bringing two parties together and evaluating the potential fit based on both client and candidate needs.  These recruiters have years of experience in your specific industry, are updated on current trends, and have a direct line to hiring managers to assure that you will get noticed and work in your best interests.

From the beginning of your journey, you should feel like the recruiter helping you with your search is making it their mission to provide you with personalized coaching and a career advisory approach, regardless of the outcome. The key to successful recruitment is open, honest, and collaborative communications.  If you’re not “feeling” it then move on to find a recruiter that will work with you for today and tomorrow.

Achieve Your Next Career Milestone with PHM Search

At the end of the day, choosing the right questions to ask an engineering recruiter and working with the right recruitment professional should solidify three things: your professional growth trajectory, your candidacy for a particular role, and the partnership that you feel working in tandem with a recruitment consultant.  It also is worth noting that they have experience working with engineers like you and in the industries, you are interested in.  You wouldn't go to a family physician to get your tooth pulled so why would you trust your career journey with someone who doesn't specialize in you?

At PHM Search, we’ve been “getting” and continue to “get” engineers for countless industries and clients.  By focusing on you, taking the time to nurture our candidate relationships, and continually learning about what you do and why drives us to help you find that next great career challenge! If you're open to exploring new engineering opportunities on a confidential basis, take a look at our Candidate Services page to find out if we’re right for each other.



Mike Pak | PHM Search | Engineering Recruiters | We Get Engineers