Never Ask a Recruiter for Advice!

never ask a recruiter for advice

I have been a corporate recruiter for over 6 years and have been asked on many occasions by candidates Can you tell me what I did wrong in my interview?Here’s the short of it, “No!”

It’s my nature to want to help people when they ask. However, I’ve learned that coaching candidates on the interview process is not an effective process. Why? Because people will do what they want with the information, and more often than not that equates to nothing! Instead of relying on someone else to fix your problems take control and fix your own!

Reasons you should not ask a recruiter for advice:

First, if you have to ask you already know! If your gut is telling you the interview went bad then you already know you have work to do. The recruiter does not have time to personally coach you on your interviewing skills. You need to take control and identify the issues. Then do your work, work to improve for the next interview.

Second, you’ll come across as lazy! When you call a recruiter and ask “what did I do wrong in the interview?You are sending the message that you need their help to fix your problems, that you cannot identify and solve issues independently. Last I checked the ability to problem solve, be proactive and act independently were all characteristics that employers were seeking. If you already left a poor impression based on your interview don’t make it worse, just move on.

Here is what you can and should do:

  • Take some time to reflect on the interview process and your responses.
  • Identify the potential problems areas
  • Research online job seeker, interviewing and career advice blogs and websites. Learn the information you need to improve on your weak areas.
  • Find a trusted friend or professional contact that would be willing to do a mock interview. Ask that person to provide honest feedback. Having a 3rd party give fresh feedback can help you see what you cannot in yourself.

Taking a more proactive approach to your interviewing process will help you better than asking a recruiter you only met one time for feedback. Take each interview as a learning experience, sure it may have been the “your dream job” but there are other jobs and we cannot reverse the hands of time. We can only go forward and make our next day better!

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About Bonnie Ungaro

Bonnie Ungaro is a certified human resources professional (PHR), and certified social sourcing recruiter (CSSR). She is a corporate recruiter and associate relations coordinator for Centegra Health System; a medium sized health care system in Illinois. In addition to her main responsibilities she manages her company social media for careers. She also enjoys blogging about human resources, life and reality tv on her blog The HR Life. You can connect with Bonnie on Twitter and with Centegra Health System careers on Twitter and on LinkedIn.

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  1. BonnieUngaroAugust 9, 2014 at 6:34 amReply

    interviewingcom thanks for sharing this piece!

  2. igbee35October 13, 2013 at 11:53 amReply

    Unfortunately I think this persons advice is indicative of the type of
    people who gravitate towards working in HR …..superficial, on a power
    kick, add little value and looking for quick and easy ways to write
    people off.  I once worked with an HR person to find engineers with a
    very advanced skill set for a 2 year project and after 3 months of being
    presented with people who would be really really great at selling cars
    but not designing them I insisted  I go through her pile of “discards”. 
    Long story short I found the best people you could hope for in that
    pile and  if I had gone with the folks who were far better at selling
    themselves than at engineering the project would have been a nightmare. 
    In my experience, those are the folks who are only good at networking,
    shifting blame, taking credit, that kind of thing.  Unfortunately HR
    folks really love them.

  3. pyrodiceJuly 19, 2013 at 1:25 amReply

    I feel like you should ask “what could I have done better” in that rare case when they have the courtesy to call you and tell you that they went with someone else.

  4. ryancjcoelhoJune 20, 2013 at 1:59 pmReply

    But isn’t feedback an important part of any process? I do agree “What did I do wrong?” is not the best way to word it. But why can’t someone ask for where they can improve especially if the person that was part of the decision may have some pointers for them next time. I know I get a lot of feedback in my life and it helps me so much!

  5. OnlineRecGeekJune 6, 2013 at 4:39 pmReply

    Whilst I understand that this post was to encourage candidates to do a bit of self assessment, my thoughts is that if they feel they have gone wrong in the interview, they’ve already done some evaluation of the interview and are aware they went somewhere wrong. They may have even done further self assessment and pin pointed where they think they went wrong and could be looking for confirmation. We got to remember that self assessment can sometimes be quite subjective and the recruiter can give an objective bit of feedback. 
    I would think that they would be using their own assessment and that of the recruiter to understand as a whole where they went wrong and then how they can improve.

    • BonnieUngaroJune 6, 2013 at 9:02 pmReply

      OnlineRecGeek very true, I 100% agree. Thank you for bringing this point up.

    • Tibisay BermudezJune 14, 2013 at 11:15 amReply

      OnlineRecGeek I agree with you. As  Recruiter we need to support the candidates in the process from the beginning to the end, not by telling them what to do or what to say, but as we are part of the same process, we can provide them with information on the client style, cultural environment, expectations and managerial style to help them prepare for the interview. After the interview, I closely listen to them, support them and give them feedback. I consider it is part of my job and it is a pleasure for me to do that.

      • BonnieUngaroJune 14, 2013 at 12:09 pmReply

        @Tibisay Bermudez OnlineRecGeek You follow a great process. I’m glad you caught the purpose of the article and didn’t get caught on the “attention getter”. I usually provide advice if asked. Or if a candidate is so bad that I feel embarrassed for them. For example, I just interviewed a candidate that said they’ve interviewed for 10 positions in the last couple of weeks and hasn’t gotten any offers. There were many “red flags” in the interview process. I asked at the end of the interview if he’s be open for advice, he said yes. So I gave him some pointers for interviewing and for improving his credibility and work experience. I like your supportive, collaborative approach to working with candidates thank you for sharing your insightful comments. This has been a good discussion.

  6. BonnieUngaroJune 6, 2013 at 4:25 pmReply

    susanavello DiscSoc thank you:)

    • susanavelloJune 6, 2013 at 4:40 pmReply

      BonnieUngaro for sure

  7. Scott WeaverJune 5, 2013 at 6:08 pmReply

    Someone remind me why its difficult to take 5 minutes to explain to a candidate why they’re not getting the job? Being “overburdened” as a Recruiter is not the right answer. Additionally, there is huge value added to a candidate in telling them why they didn’t get the job. You may not be able to control what they do with that information, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do your job. 
    For example: Let’s say that Bonnie applies for job X. She is sure that she’s a perfect fit and that the interview went well… but she doesn’t get the job… why? Bonnie would like to know. Is it just that someone was better? Did she lack experience in a way where another candidate had that experience? Sorry Bonnie, I’m not going to tell you because you can’t handle that information. 
    Do you see how ridiculous that sounds? I’m sorry, but this blog post is simply bad advice. There’s no way around it. How you feel and how you should act when doing your job the right way are 2 different things.

    • BonnieUngaroJune 5, 2013 at 6:32 pmReply

      Scott Weaver Hi Scott, Thank you for sharing your view. I do appreciate it. My comments below may better help you understand the perspective I took. I would like to say a very important skill to being a recruiter is exceptional customer service skills. I take pride in providing my applicants, candidates and community members with the best service, they deserve NO LESS. I have never turned someone away when they’ve asked for help and in addition to that I speak at local VAs, community job search groups, schools and centers for our disabled community members on what they can do to win over the recruiters attention.
       I appreciate that you, Marx and Dave shared your differing opinions. The goal of this piece was to help EMPOWER individuals to take control of their own destiny and MAKE IT HAPPEN! 
      Kind Regards, Bonnie Ungaro

  8. DaveJune 5, 2013 at 5:17 pmReply

    Wow.. I lean more to Marx. I’ve been recruiting for 23 years, including stints as Dir HR, corporate roles leading North America recruiting for Fortune 100 and plenty of time on the agency side as well. Maybe you should take you own advice on self reflection as your article reads very condenscendly from a corporate tower. I’ve recruited across most industries, verticals and categories and there are many very talented professionals who don’t interview well, but are rock stars at their subject matter expertise. Maybe this will make more sense when you’ve become better seasoned.

    • BonnieUngaroJune 5, 2013 at 5:34 pmReply

      @Dave thanks for sharing your POV. Did you read my comment below, this may help you better understand the perspective I took when writing the piece. I do appreciate hearing from someone at your experience level! Regards, Bonnie Ungaro

  9. marxJune 4, 2013 at 9:52 pmReply

    I’ve been a recruiter for nearly 2 decades. There’s probably a significant amount of contractors in the US I’ve never seen, but have spoken to several times. I’m stunned that you are a recruiter and have had this experience. Frankly, shame on you for only speaking to your candidate twice. That’s awful that you are not more attentive to detail with your clients (candidates). Whomever groomed or mentored you did a poor job of teaching you the recruiters ethics.

    • interviewingcomJune 5, 2013 at 9:46 amReply

      @marx I appreciate your comment.  Different recruiters have different perspectives, especially when it comes to contract, third party, and internal corporate recruiters and each also has different views on who their clients are (candidates vs employers.)  I don’t think the message Bonnie was trying to send was to discourage candidates, but to provoke them to take a necessary step to do some internal self-assessment first before reaching out, as well as providing tips on how to improve on your own without marring your relationship with a recruiter.  Sadly, many recruiters are over burdened and don’t have time to coach candidates and for many corporate recruiters, they’re the ones making the first cut on candidate selection, so it would behoove a candidate to approach them coming from a place of strength in stating more along the lines, “I know I did not perform well in the interview, if I can correct this or be given another chance to show my (experience, knowledge, etc.) I can.” Versus blindly asking what they did wrong. And, to that point, many corporate recruiters are restricted by legal obligations from HR to not be able to provide that type of feedback to candidates.  Bonnie took a strong tone in her article, but I believe she did this to help get the message across, because candidates do need to know what they’re up against and not every recruiter is willing to hold their hand.  We always strive to bring different points of view to the table at because there are so many gray areas in the interviewing and recruitment process and we’re glad to see that this article is creating a discussion, here and via our social media outlets.  Thanks for your comment!

      • BonnieUngaroJune 5, 2013 at 1:02 pmReply

        interviewingcom Thanks you absolutely got it:)

    • BonnieUngaroJune 5, 2013 at 1:02 pmReply

      @marx Hi thanks for sharing your comment. interviewingcom’s response hit the nail on the head! While I LOVE to share “insider” advice and tips to help job seekers and candidates I’m also a HUGE advocate of personal accountability. People often times experience the greatest and most impactful  growth when they seek the growth internally. Being a proactive, knowledge seeker is healthy in our path to learn, grow and develop. This piece was to help guide people to understand how they hold the power to improve themselves, thus not having to rely on anyone. Thanks again for sharing your POV.

  10. shannonsmedstadJune 4, 2013 at 1:49 pmReply

    BonnieUngaro Nice post on interviewingcom! Happy for you. :)

    • BonnieUngaroJune 4, 2013 at 2:41 pmReply

      shannonsmedstad interviewingcom thanks Shannon! I’m honored to have them share my post:) chitowntexan

    • BonnieUngaroJune 5, 2013 at 1:03 pmReply

      @shannonsmedstad BonnieUngaro interviewingcom thank you Shannon:)

  11. Interviewing.comJune 4, 2013 at 1:07 pmReply

    Whether or not you agree with Bonnie’s recruiter approach to candidates, she states a great point to job seekers for being proactive in self-assessing in order to improve!

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