Why this matters:

One of the key responsibilities of a talent acquisition specialist is sourcing qualified candidates to fill open roles. This calls for a broad range of skills, which may include a combination of research, networking, use of platforms and other tools, and effective outreach techniques. This question will reveal the specialist’s preferred methods and general resourcefulness.

What to listen for:

  • Experience with effective recruiting tools
  • Strong networking and outreach skills
  • A willingness to combine different approaches to being successful

Why this matters:

Sometimes a hire happens on the spot; other times, it can take months or even years to fill a role. Keeping candidates informed is a crucial part of a talent acquisition specialist’s job — it not only sustains their engagement and interest, but also can boost your brand and leave the candidate with a spectacular experience, whether or not they get the job.

What to listen for:

  • Recognition of the importance of the candidate experience
  • Strong tactics for touching base
  • Good interpersonal skills

Why this matters:

It makes sense for a talent acquisition specialist to support part of the onboarding process: for new hires, they are a familiar name and face. If this is part of the role at your company, this question provides insight into a specialist candidate’s effectiveness in making new hires feel warmly welcomed by forming a bridge into your organization.

What to listen for:

  • A desire to welcome new hires into the organization
  • Warm interpersonal skills
  • Strong and clear orientation skills

Why this matters:

The talent pool is vast, and a talent acquisition specialist can easily be torn between two similarly qualified, appealing candidates and have a difficult decision to make. This question will show you how the specialist evaluates skills and cultural fit, future potential, and intangibles such as passion and enthusiasm — all of which are crucial to a specialist’s success.

What to listen for:

  • Strategic balancing of the factors that suggest a good hire — along with why
  • The specialist’s tendency to make a safer or riskier choice
  • The ability to be decisive in a timely way 

Why this matters:

Sometimes a talent acquisition specialist will be responsible for missteps that cost their company a stellar candidate; these might range from a slower-than-ideal hiring pace to a compensation negotiation that falls short. It’s important that the specialist has spent time reflecting on what might have gone wrong, so that they can continue to learn and grow.

What to listen for:

  • Accurate self-awareness and reflection
  • An appetite for learning and growth
  • A willingness to take responsibility

Why this matters:

When a new role opens up, it’s a good idea — and sometimes a necessity — to examine the company’s current workforce for potential candidates who can be promoted from within. A specialist’s answer to this question will tell you how they approach the initial steps of the search process, and why.

What to listen for:

  • Experience with sourcing candidates internally and externally, if that’s important for the role
  • A sense of the pros and cons of sourcing internally vs. externally
  • Sound judgment when it comes to candidate fit

Why this matters:

This question gets to the heart of what a talent acquisition specialist does best, since their job will presumably be to fill open roles at your company. The specialist’s answer will reveal not only how they value and leverage their own skills, but also what they know about your company and industry and how they view success.

What to listen for:

  • Confidence and a track record for success
  • An understanding of your company and your talent needs
  • Approaches to talent acquisition that may be new to your company

Why this matters:

Talent acquisition specialists are paired with managers who will handle new hires. Even if their working styles align, the specialist and manager could have disagreements over their approach to job listings, candidate preferences and selections, interview techniques, and more. This question provides you with insight into how the specialist will handle such conflicts.

What to listen for:

  • Diplomacy and coping tactics for disagreement
  • A sense of when to defer to a hiring manager — and when to stand their ground
  • Examples of previous peaceful and productive conclusions to a conflict

Why this matters:

It’s not easy being a talent acquisition specialist: it’s a high-pressure role that involves an elusive art (intuiting work ethic and potential from a mere conversation) and rigorous discipline (willingness to perform repetitive tasks). This question will reveal why the specialist has chosen this path — and what will keep them motivated through both good times and challenges.

What to listen for:

  • Passion for the role and its end goals
  • Strong motivators
  • A deep sense of meaning
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