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The 12 Reasons Why Recruiters Ask Questions

by | Nov 13, 2015 | Recruiter Training, Top Echelon Blog

We as recruiters ask questions to find out where we are in our selling sequence. Those questions need to be open-ended. I always think of the Rudyard Kipling poem when I think of open-ended questions:

I have six honest serving men
They taught me all I knew
I call them What and Where and When
And How and Why and Who.

The only reason to make a statement is to prepare the way for asking a question. Never make a statement without following it with a question. The questioner controls the direction of the conversation.

Below are the 12 reasons why recruiters ask questions:

  1. We ask questions to gain and maintain control.
  2. We ask questions to indicate the broad areas the hiring managers are interested in where we might be of service, and then we ask more questions to isolate the narrow area that is our best opportunity to serve them, and then we ask more questions to pinpoint the exact service we can render.
  3. We ask questions to get the minor YESs that will start the stream of minor agreements that will swell into the major river of acceptance of our proposition.
  4. We ask questions to arouse and direct emotions towards working with us.
  5. We ask questions to isolate objections.
  6. We ask questions to answer objections.
  7. We ask questions to determine the benefits that the prospect will buy (our services, expertise, and candidates).
  8. We ask questions to acknowledge a fact. If we say it, they can doubt it. If they say it, it is true.
  9. We ask questions that will confirm that (a) they are going ahead, and (b) we should now go on to the next step in our selling sequence.
  10. We ask questions to help our clients and candidates rationalize decisions that they want to make, but need a nudge in that direction.
  11. We ask questions that close the transaction, whether it’s the small closes along the way (such as when to set up the interview) or the final one of start date and salary.
  12. We ask questions to solicit their help. People love to be cast in the advisory role. We use this desire to “help” to our advantage.

When encountering objections, don’t use questions that will set up an adversarial relationship between you and the hiring manager. Rather, use questions that will enable you to qualify the objection as real or imagined. Make sure that the real objection has been uncovered. If we are attacking the wrong objection, no matter how compelling our arguments and selling points may be, we will lose.


When we hear generalizations, we can’t let them pass unchallenged. We need to drill down and investigate them. We can question them by reflecting those statements back with a question mark at the end. Think of this precision model when dealing with generalizations:

They say, “Too much, too many, too expensive.”
We say, “Compared to what?”

They say, “People are greedy.”
We say, “Who or what or which specifically?”

They say, “Offensive football players should attack the defense.”
We say, “How specifically?”

They say, “Should, shouldn’t, must, can’t…”
We say, “What would happen if . . . ? What causes or prevents . . . ?”

They say, “All recruiters are self-serving.”
We say, “All recruiters are self-serving?”

Deal with objections and then move on

Remember again “The 4% Rule” that governs our success. Ninety-six percent (96%) of the companies out there simply don’t need us. They can be nice to us. They can be responsive to us. They can even give us job orders and clear our fees, but they lack what we must have. They lack real URGENCY. And so, we need to thank these employers (i.e., time wasters), wish them the best, and move on.

In the immortal words of inventor Thomas Edison, when asked about his seemingly futile quest to invent the light bulb:

“I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”

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Bob Marshall of TBMG International, founder of The Marshall Plan, has an extensive background in the recruiting industry as a recruiter, manager, vice president, president, consultant, and trainer. In 2015, Marshall is celebrating his 35th year in the recruiting business. He can be reached at or at 770.898.5550. Marshall’s website is

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