Getting upfront and personal…

20th July 2017

As ‘recruiters’, we receive hundreds of CVs every day; whether you are exploring the market, or looking for a better career opportunity out there, it is our job to filter the relevant and most suitable talent for our clients. When we see a profile that on paper appears right it’s our job to question the applicants and probe their application before proceeding to the next steps. Obvious? You would be surprised how many other recruiters don’t carry out this very simple and important process.

Below are just five critical questions we always ask and the reasons why we ask them during an initial screening call.

Q: What is your personal situation?

The reason why we ask this is because your profile might be a great fit for a number of roles we are working on, and some of these roles may be overseas. We need to know if you need visa sponsorship, or if you have a partner, children etc. for logistical reasons. Are your children in education? Would moving overseas whilst they are taking exams be a sensible thing to do? You would be surprised with the amount of people that don’t take these things onto consideration, or even tell their partners they have a job overseas until they get an offer! The more we know about your personal situation, the better it is for us to advise the best possible solution for you. 

Q: What is your current salary package and what were you earning previously?

 We need to get a realistic number to know if you are within the range of our client’s budget. There is no point wasting your time if you are currently earning 50k HKD per month where our client’s budget is only paying 45k. Likewise, if you are underpaid, we would like to help manage and advise you on the market value and get you a role with a reasonable / attractive package. It is our job to negotiate a realistic package for you whilst maintaining the best interests of both our clients and candidates. 

What were you earning previously is also key because a great uplift in the current role doesn’t necessarily mean you are enjoying the job; some people are willing to move for a job which matches the previous salary, where the opportunity is more exciting and potentially has a better career development. Annual holidays, bonuses, and all other soft benefits such as housing allowance, gym membership, medical insurance, etc. generally should be taken into consideration, so letting us know in advance will put you in a better position when we help negotiate your package. It’s common for us to ask this throughout the process, as the interview process for some senior talent can take months and during this time your salary / benefits may have changed.

Q: Can your current company keep you from going?

Some people might be unhappy at where they are due to internal politics or the company structure. Perhaps there is a pressing need to get out immediately, move on and find a better job? In this case, the likelihood of staying at the current company is lower even if they offer you a pay rise. Some people might feel that they have been working in the same company for a couple of years, doing the same routine work and it is time to explore new challenges, hence starting to explore the market. In this case, we will advise candidates to have a chat with their superior to see if they could change accounts, or transfer to another department internally / externally. We want to know if it is the money, the position or other personal reasons that are affecting your decision to move. Frankly speaking, if you are good, you should get a counter offer. We need to know if you are likely to consider this. If you would, then talk to your current agency first, it avoids wasting everyone’s time and stops you burning bridges by using an offer generated to negotiate yourself a better deal where you are. Some people do this, much to their detriment in the long term.

Q: What is the percentage split of work?

We ask this question is because nowadays many companies are becoming more ‘integrated’. i.e. a ‘traditional’ PR agency may be creating and building a brand new digital team. We see the lines are blurring especially in the communication sector. If your portfolio of work is more printed collateral, such as annual reports, literature, posters, banners, etc., you might not be suitable for our client who is looking for a Designer with specialist skills in the digital space such as website, app and social media creative design. Understanding your role and the percentage split of work not only allows us to effectively judge if you are the right candidate for our client, it will also help to assess if we have other roles which need your skills in other related industries that may be more suitable.

Q: Where else do you have interviews at?

If you are interviewing at our client’s direct competitor, this is a great indicator that you are good at what you are do, and the likelihood is that our client wouldn’t want to miss the chance to meet you, and bear the risk of losing you to their competitor. If you are currently interviewing client side for an in-house role, agency side opportunities might not be as attractive to you. We need to know your preferences to know what job you are looking for and assist with highlighting businesses that we feel are attractive to you based on who you are talking to now.

Here at MCG Group, we believe ‘honesty is the best policy’. We want to give you the best advice and provide you with the BEST job options. If we know as much as possible about your situation and the reasons you want to move, it is often easier and quicker for us to position you to our clients. If you would like to have a confidential chat, email me your CV at and let’s talk!


DMCG Network Offices