This scenario has happened many times before.

I apply for a job advert, a recruiter calls me about that job, rejects me at once as a candidate but starts to ask about myself. One of their questions is if I had any interviews of course

I get to tell them that I had, but now they want more details, focusing especially to the name of the company and the reasons I got rejected

And this is where the conundrum arises. I don't have any interest to share the name of the company because in essence they blacklist me (officially from them it's because they don't want to send duplicate applications). Even worse, I don't know how to answer the reasons I got rejected from an interview, because again they might jump into wrong conclusions and exclude me in the future.

When I told one recruiter that the name of the company is confidential, I was told it no longer applies since it was in the past and she coerced me to share it. On the other hand, I didn't share the name of the company with another recruiter and he is longer in touch with me.

I want to keep in touch with the recruiters, but their indiscreet questioning is problematic for me.

So :

How do you respond to a recruiter when they ask you the name of the company that you had an interview and got rejected/you had an interview and still waiting for results?

How do you respond when a recruiter asks about the reasons of an interview rejection?

  • 4
    You're allowing them to twist your arm because you want to "maintain a relationship", but if there's one over-arching truth about recruiters is that there's enough of them that you don't have to take any of their BS. Simply tell them that it's none of their business, and move on. Why stress, or allow yourself to be "coerced" into anything? – AndreiROM Jan 18 '18 at 16:48
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    She "coerced" you!? Are you sure that you are using that word correctly? That's a serious accusation. – Clay07g Jan 18 '18 at 20:23

Recruiters are a dime a dozen. Even within recruitment firms. Just hitup LinkedIn and connect with recruiters in your discipline.

Recruiters have no business knowing what you do outside of interviews they get for you. You're nothing more than a product they're trying to sell to a company. Don't forget that. They ask these questions because they want to both see what companies may be interested in hiring a recruiter to fill some posts as they have a demonstrated rejection which means they've already wasted time interviewing people and they also want to know why people are rejected for specific jobs so they can better qualify their leads for not only a future contract with them but hiring managers in general. Some things become a trend and a recruiter is usually the first to notice it.

They will ignore you if they don't have anything you're a good fit for. Just like any other salesman. They give attention to the most likely client to land them a big check, and work their way down. If they don't have anything for you or there are higher commission jobs they'll just keep you on the backburner.

Edit: For this reason you need to keep the same type of attitude you would have about a salesperson or business. If they're hassling you pressuring you coercing things from you you want to sever that relationship and not shop from there. Make them work for you to earn their paycheck. Don't fall into the product mentality. Edit2: You also don't want to work with someone that tells you confidentiality expires. Their ethics are obviously pretty warped.

  • 8
    Not sure why you got down-voted. This is exactly the attitude I've witnessed in recruiters. The second you're not useful to them they never call you back. If they need you to take a job, they will straight up lie to get you to accept, etc. – AndreiROM Jan 18 '18 at 16:51
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    @AndreiROM No idea and people don't leave comments saying what they disagreed with. – BirdLawExpert Jan 18 '18 at 16:57
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    Same here, recruiters are for profit, they have their best interests in mind, not yours, thereby they don't need to know anything outside of the role they're trying to land you in. What they're trying to do with OP is gather job market metrics so they can increase their throughput, so basically social data mining, so telling them your interview details and posting them on facebook amount to about the same and you wouldn't do that would you? – RandomUs1r Jan 18 '18 at 17:01
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    @AndreiROM - Hang around here long enough and you'll see that 2 or 3 downvotes is the mark of a good answer. Upvotes are nice, but those are the people who agree with you. The people who downvote an answer with a large number of upvotes are the ones who needed to read the answer. – Wesley Long Jan 18 '18 at 17:02
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    It is the recruiters on this site that are down-voting it. :P – Phil M Jan 18 '18 at 17:12

Recruiters work for their client companies to fill their positions. The client company pays them.

They are also in a business where any "leads" might help them to enhance their income. While there are some who are very nice and care about their candidates, there are some with a more impersonal approach.

In any case, they are trained to be more coldly business-like. In your case, the recruiter decided you were not a good enough candidate or fit for the position he/she was trying to fill. So you are rejected. Your value as a candidate-commodity, unless they have other positions that might be a better fit, is not much.

So, they ask about other positions you are looking at. It might suggest a fit for positions they have that might be better for you..... so far, okay. But that's not really what the conversations were focused on, by your description.

Asking about your specific interviews, companies, and people at those companies? This is strictly milking you for valuable "inside" information that will help them to circumvent the standard gauntlet set up to screen people like cold-calling recruiters out.

"I'd like to talk to the person who makes hiring decisions for Accounting professionals" "{Click}"

"I'd like to speak with Bob AccountingManagerGuy, please." "Please hold, I'll transfer you."

If they have information about specific needs or what seems to be exactly what they are looking for, they are more likely to be able to fashion an opening pitch that will grab that person's attention and keep them from hanging up.

This recruiter is mining you for information they can use to get a foot in the door with a new client for new positions.

Obviously, this gives you no benefit, whatsoever. They will say, perhaps, that they are just "networking," but they seem, in this situation, to have no interest in you beyond potential leads they can get from you.

This is part of what I was trained to do as a recruiter. When I got a potential client on the phone, that was great, but I was expected to find out who they knew in other companies. Qualified, heavy-hitting candidates would be great, but a hiring manager or someone with positions to fill? That was pure gold. When talking with candidates, I was expected to try and get names of other candidates, and when I talked to them, I was to try and find out if they could help me to find people with openings or companies that might have openings.


The recruiter is asking you the names of companies because they don't want to waste anyone's time (theirs, yours, or the employer) by submitting your resume to an employer that already rejected you.

They want to know details about your previous interviews so that they can figure out why you weren't a fit. This helps them tailor their search and improve their chances of finding a match for you.

This is all stuff that I would expect from a good recruiter. The bad recruiters are the ones that don't ask any questions and just submit your resume everywhere and anywhere.

  • 3
    You seem to be assuming that they have your best interests at heard. This is .. naive. They land a payday when you are hired for a job. This means that it's in their best interest to pair you with a job that will fit you (good), but it also means lacking an appropriate candidate/job combination, they may very well lie in order to simply get paid (not so good). Knowing that a company is hiring, and convincing them to select their candidate is a big deal for recruiters. So being asked where else you've applied is not so much for their benefit, but theirs. – AndreiROM Jan 18 '18 at 17:48
  • The good recruiters understand that ensuring repeat business means making candidates and employers happy. This aligns your interests with the recruiter's interest. The bad recruiters just try to fill a spot as quickly as possible. When talking to a recruiter, it doesn't take long to figure out how they are operating. – 17 of 26 Jan 18 '18 at 17:54
  • Sadly, I've experienced deception at the hand of "good recruiters" as well. Not the sort of blatant lies that the "bad recruiters" told, but definitely subtle attempts at manipulation, and shocked outrage when the perks they promised failed to materialize on a new job. What you come to realize after a while is that they all lie. Some more boldly than others, but there are no exceptions in my experience. – AndreiROM Jan 18 '18 at 18:01
  • That is unfortunate. I've had my experiences with bad recruiters, but I've also had experiences with fantastic recruiters that I go back to whenever I need to look for a job. – 17 of 26 Jan 18 '18 at 18:34

It sounds as though they want to learn the rejection reasons so that they can either coach you or learn why they sent an unsuitable candidate for a job. With this knowledge, they can target you more effectively.

I don't see a reason not to cooperate with these questions.

  • 2
    From my reading, the recruiter wants to know about interview results for a job they didn't send the candidate for. – fbueckert Jan 18 '18 at 16:29
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    Their reasons are never so innocuous as to help you. More likely they want to find out if a certain company is interviewing so they can contact them and try to sell them on a candidate. – AndreiROM Jan 18 '18 at 16:49
  • It's in the recruiter's best interest to help both candidates and employers as much as they can. It ensures repeat business all around. Good recruiters understand this and act accordingly. – 17 of 26 Jan 18 '18 at 17:08

When asked about past unsuccessful interviews:

  • Say it wasn't a good fit and take that as an opportunity to explain:

    • What you're looking for in a role
    • What you're good at
    • Why that wasn't what you're looking for (but not what you're bad at)

    If you're speaking to them about a specific role you're interested in, you can also bring this back to that role and explain why you're interested, or take it as an opportunity to lead into some questions about the role.

  • Say it was due to some minor mistakes.

    • Maybe you forgot something
    • Maybe you phrased something badly
    • Maybe you said the wrong thing

    I wouldn't go into specifics about the actual mistakes, but you could potentially bring it back to how you've tried to improve on that since you had that interview or emphasise that it's not too common for such mistakes to happen.

  • Say they didn't give a reason.

    You should follow this up with some vague reason related to one of the other reasons (to avoid making it seem like you lack the capacity for self-reflection).

  • Say you were inexperienced (if it was a few years ago, and you're not too far into your career, although I'm guessing this question is more about recent interviews).

    Follow this up with how you've grown and what you've learnt since then.

When asked about company names:

You may just have to accept that some recruiters will not want to work with you if you don't give the names of companies you've recently applied to (presumably since they (a) don't want to send your resume to their client if you've already sent it, and (b) they want to send it to them before telling you who the client is, to avoid having you cut them out by going around them).

But that's not true for all of them.

Whether that means you're willing to accept losing out on a potential opportunity by refusing to give names is something you'll need to decide for yourself, based on how many recruiters there are in your industry and how common the role you're looking for is.

You could try "I don't feel comfortable giving out their names" (if asked why, you could say you're not sure whether the company would like to keep such information confidential - "I'm not sure" opens itself up to persuasion, but you can just resort back to "I don't feel comfortable" if that happens).

You could also, if applicable, say that you haven't had any interviews recently or the interviews were in a different line of work or a different location than what they're recruiting for.

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