Why are you looking for a new role? What happened with the last role you were in to prompt a move? Why the gap in employment? What sort of income are you looking to replace? What are your references going to say about you?
Talk about personal questions!
These are tough questions to ask. They are tough questions to answer.
Maybe you were just laid off and don’t really want to talk about it. Maybe you were fired for cause and don’t want to talk about it. Maybe your boss was a jerk and you don’t really want to talk about it. Maybe you know you were grossly underpaid and don’t want to mention anything about income.
As someone who has been in the recruiting world for more than 20 years, I can tell you that I have seen a lot of changes. How or if these questions are asked, whether people will answer them or not, and whether clients care as much about the answers as they once did or not.
20 years ago and today, it still comes down to trust. If you are looking for a job, to share information, you need to trust that the recruiter you are speaking to will be able to help you. You may decide to share information that the recruiter can help you “package” better. You may trust the recruiter to offer advice and insight into how to go about looking for a role if any of these things may be standing in your way. You may trust that the recruiter knows the market and will have some empathy towards the fact that you were underpaid.
If you are the recruiter, you should trust that the person you are speaking to will be as honest as they are comfortable being. You may not be able to ask all of your questions, and you need to be okay with that. The person is likely feeling vulnerable, and then we start asking questions that make everyone feel even more vulnerable. As recruiters, we would be wise to build more trust first and see if it is required to go deeper before diving in.
These are difficult times for so many people. Be sensitive to the fact that none of us – even industry veterans – have never seen anything like this in the world of hiring. We would be wise to take a beat, show one another more patience and grace, and work toward building trust.