Are you looking to start a career in Recruitment?

So you’re considering entering the exciting and fast-paced recruitment industry. Great! This booklet aims to provide you with all the information you need to help you make the decision. So let’s start at the beginning:

What is Recruitment?

In basic terms, recruitment is a type of sales, the key difference being that you are selling ‘people’ as opposed to a product or service. In simplistic terms it requires selling people to companies and companies to people. The industry is however very diverse and covers different sectors and different levels so the job itself can differ.

The role involves attracting business from client companies by using sales, business development and marketing techniques. This includes building relationships with clients by going out and meeting them, keeping in touch over the telephone and also in writing. It involves getting to know the client companies, what they do, how they operate and the general culture or atmosphere of the workplace. An important attribute for a recruitment consultant is the confidence to contact prospective clients and win their business. If you don’t have enough jobs you won’t hit your targets so the more clients you win the better!

Recruitment consultants are also required to proactively attract candidates by drafting advertising copy and using a wide range of media. The truly successful recruitment consultant will also use their networking ability to find candidates who are only speculatively looking or hadn’t even considered changing jobs. Selling opportunities to candidates is an often overlooked but very important part of the recruitment process, not every candidate is going to automatically use your services. If you don’t have any candidates you won’t make any placements!

When you have found candidates you then have to interview and assess their suitability to relevant roles and arrange meetings with your clients. Recruitment consultants are also involved in negotiating pay and salary rates and finalising arrangements between client and candidate. The sense of satisfaction you receive from placing the right candidate in the right job can be overwhelming.

Why get into Recruitment?

The first and most important reason for wanting to work in Recruitment should be the amount of money you can make. Working towards uncapped commission could see you earning up to 40k in your first year.

The variety of the job role ensures you are not sitting behind your desk all day every day, you are out visiting clients, interviewing candidates and attending events.

Recruitment is also a very empowering career. You run your desk like you would run a business and you will determine your salary, your progression and how successful you become.

Recruitment companies recognise that hard work deserves recognition and so you will find that incentives go beyond just monetary. A lot of firms offer holidays, nights out, lunch, company car schemes and gym memberships to keep you motivated.

The people you work with also make it a fun place to work. Imagine a room full of like-minded individuals who all want to be successful and you have a great working environment. It is true to say that one of the main reasons people enjoy working in recruitment is that they love the environment they work in.

There is of course the buzz you get from filling a vacancy. For many people it isn’t purely about the commission it is also the feeling of satisfaction you get from hitting a target or being top of the company leader board.

All in all, if you are a confident, hard working, money-motivated individual, Recruitment is one of the best careers to get into!

What makes a successful recruitment consultant?

  • Proven track record of success/achievement – this may be in an academic/sporting/ social or work environment
  • Ability to work to targets and under pressure
  • Tenacity and determination
  • Listening skills – important to define needs of your clients and candidates
  • Good communication skills – verbal and written
  • Good telephone manner with excellent rapport building skills
  • Ability to conduct face to face presentations with senior personnel
  • Employers will expect interviewees to research their company, have a basic understanding of the role of a consultant and be prepared to explain why they want to follow a career within recruitment

Types of entry level roles in Recruitment:

Resourcer/Head Hunter

These roles can be an ideal introduction to the industry although some people choose to become an expert and stay within the role. The majority of work involves a one-sided sell to candidates. Your focus will be to source candidates, which can be done by screening advertisement response, searching internet job sites or possibly more proactively by headhunting or networking within the industry. Once sourced, you will be responsible for contacting the candidates to assess their needs and requirements and discuss possible job opportunities.


A Researcher role is the role that most people will take on if they choose to work in the Search recruitment sector. As a researcher you are more likely to only have candidate contact and the primary focus of the role will be researching target companies, mapping out the market and ultimately searching for individuals either you or a consultant can then go on to headhunt. Successful researchers will have strong analytical and organisational skills.

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

The next entry level involves both clients and candidates. It is often referred to as full-cycle recruitment because you will be involved in every stage of the recruitment process. You may be given a growth area or develop existing accounts or both. On a daily basis you will be selling the services of the recruitment company to your clients and negotiating terms of business and learning about their requirements. You will also be sourcing candidates and assessing their suitability for the vacancies you are working on as selling the benefits to them and arranging interviews. As you take on board the training provided, your responsibilities will grow so excellent time management skills will be needed.

Business Developer

Some companies have a dedicated sales team to focus purely on new business development. Your role will be to research potential clients and contact them to negotiate a business relationship. Once relationships have been developed and vacancies acquired, they are usually passed to a team of consultants who will start resourcing candidates for the role. As the day-to-day role is predominantly client contact, confidence and credibility are key as well as the ability to negotiate and build a good rapport.

Recruitment sectors:


Human Resources

Public Sector
























Supply Chain

Executive Search



How to Prepare for a Recruitment Interview

So you’ve got yourself an interview, well done! But what do you do next? Interviews can be daunting so in order to perform to the best of your ability on the day, you need to do a bit of preparation beforehand. That includes thinking carefully about how you may answer the interview questions.

Aspire Rec2Rec have put together a list of typical questions which you may be asked in a recruitment interview, as well as some useful questions you may want to ask them. Read through the questions, and think about the best way you could answer them. It’s better to come across a question you don’t know how to answer now than in the interview, as you have time to go away and think about it or do some extra research on the company, so take advantage of this. You should be prepared to answer questions on every aspect of your education, career to date and future aspirations.

Typical questions you may be asked:

  • What are your professional and educational qualifications to date?
  • Why do you want to work in recruitment?
  • What skills do you have that will make you a good recruitment consultant?
  • What experience do you have that is relevant to a recruitment role?
  • What motivates you?
  • What are your unique selling points?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years time?
  • What achievements are you most proud of?
  • What have you done in your career that demonstrates initiative?
  • What are your strengths/weaknesses?
  • How would your manager/previous employer describe you?
  • What aspects of your job do you find easiest/hardest?
  • Where would you rank yourself in your current team?
  • What qualities can you bring to a business?
  • How would you prepare to win new business?
  • What do you know about the recruitment marketplace?
  • What is your understanding of the role of a recruitment consultant?
  • When have you worked to targets?
  • How have you faired against those targets?
  • When have you demonstrated resilience?
  • When have you demonstrated persuasive skills?
  • When have you shown a competitive nature?
  • When have you had to deal with a difficult situation?
  • How did you overcome that situation?
  • What else have you done with regards to securing a position within recruitment?

Questions you may wish to ask the interviewer:

About the company

  • Why is the position available?
  • What is the company turnover?
  • What plans for future growth does the company have?
  • Who are your competitors in the market?
  • Are you candidate or client led i.e. do they have more jobs or more candidates?
  • What is the company culture?
  • How is the company structured?
  • Which is the most successful consultant/team and why?
  • How many candidates do you interview per week and how? i.e. face to face/by telephone
  • What is the ratio of candidates interviewed to placed?

About the role

  • What training will I receive?
  • What are the long-term opportunities for progression?
  • What % of my role will be candidate generation and business development?
  • When are trainees generally promoted to consultants?
  • What commission can I earn as a trainee and then as a consultant?
  • What expectations will you have of me in the first three months/six months?
  • How soon will I be interviewing, going on client visits and making placements?
  • How will my performance be measured?

About the team

  • What size is the team in which I would be working?
  • How are the teams structured?
  • Which is the most successful team and why?
  • How competitive are the teams?

Once you’ve asked the employer your questions, always be sure to close the interview at the end! There are several ways in which you can do this:

  • Thank them for taking the time to see you, and if they haven’t already covered it then you can ask:
  • What is the next step from here?
  • When should I expect to hear from you?

Do’s & Don’ts in an interview

But don’t forget, interviews aren’t just about answering the questions well. Here are a few others things you need to consider:


  • Make sure you are well presented – shoes polished, tie tied neatly, top button done up, don’t wear anything revealing
  • Plenty of research prior to the interview
  • Prepare questions you would like to ask at the end of the interview
  • Arrive on time or a few minutes early
  • Shake hands firmly but not too vigorously
  • Sit upright, be alert and attentive
  • Look the interviewer in the eye when you talk and smile as appropriate
  • Answer questions appropriately
  • Listen and keep it concise
  • Wherever possible, avoid answering questions with a simple yes or no. Expand your answers sufficiently to reveal anything which will enhance your suitability for the job but don’t waffle
  • Know your CV and any gaps that may be questioned and reasons for leaving jobs
  • Be honest about other interviews you have had
  • Back up competency based questions with examples
  • Appear to be interested in the opportunity even if you are not. Never shut out an opportunity, it is always better to have more than one choice
  • Show loads of energy and enthusiasm. Remember enthusiasm sells.
  • Thank the interviewer for their time and always remember to close!


  • Lie about your experience
  • Talk negatively about past employers
  • Bore the interviewer with anecdotal stories that have no relevance
  • Be facetious
  • Say any more than is necessary if the interviewer raises political, religious or economical      issues
  • Slouch and appear too relaxed
  • Swear
  • Chew chewing gum
  • Smoke immediately before the interview – the smell can be off-putting
  • Fiddle with anything
  • Look into space/floor and seem uninterested