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A recruiter organized an interview with a company for me. After the interview she wanted to debrief with me.

She asked "on a scale of 1 to 10 how excited and interested are you in the job after having done the interview?".

I'm not a fan of these types of questions and I just said "7 or 8".

She followed up with "what would make you give it a higher number?".

How should I reply to these types of questions when asked by a recruiter or in the interview itself?

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    Which country / culture / industry? I guess it's not Finland. ;-) youtube.com/watch?v=SbXmGgJePsk Nov 9, 2023 at 23:14
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    @jcsahnwaldtReinstateMonica Haha, yeah, same with Czechia. If they asked me I'd probably answer 5 and when they asked why I'd explain that I'm Czech and our excitement meter only goes to 5. Dec 10, 2023 at 19:18

12 Answers 12

58

These sorts of questions don't directly benefit you. Generally it's a good idea to defer them and hoard your information until such time as it does directly benefit you. The recruiter and you do not have the same agenda.

My response would be along the lines of 'Everything looks good so far, I can't put a number on it at this stage, it's too early to tell'.

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  • 4
    Good fallback response if you don't want to use this to refine the recruiter's match or state long-term goals .
    – keshlam
    Nov 9, 2023 at 13:41
  • 36
    And honestly, after 20 years of working in the software field, I wouldn't be able to give a number until I've been employed there for 2 months. There's no way I can set a value after just an interview. All of the problems I have ever had can be summarized in one word: People.
    – Nelson
    Nov 10, 2023 at 6:19
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    @Nelson: 2 months is very generous of you. I would aim a about a year to understand the mechanics of a larger company.
    – WoJ
    Nov 11, 2023 at 16:52
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I see three possible purposes of this question:

  • Evaluate how much you liked the job based on what you learned, i.e. how good a fit it is for what you are looking for.
  • Determine what other offers might be a better fit for you - after all, it's in the recruiter's interest to bring an employer and their future employee in touch, and their chances increase if they understand what makes you accept an offer.
  • Along the same lines, find out what makes for an interesting job offer in the view of applicants, so the recruiter can further optimize their pool of jobs/employers they work for to high-chance opportunities, and maybe tweak their presentation of the jobs they advertise to applicants.

Therefore, only give 10 if you would sign right away and see no chance, not even a desire, for anything to be different. I'd say anything from 7 or maybe 6 upward sounds reasonably interested.

As to stating what might increase your rating, I'd use that opportunity for explaining my wishlist. Who knows, chances are the recruiter does have a job in their list that has some of what you are looking for.

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  • Good point re "oh, then you might also want to interview for..."
    – keshlam
    Nov 9, 2023 at 13:39
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    There is another, more insidious, use of this kind of question - to make you commit vocally to going forward with the job, investing you socially in working harder to get it, and also accepting it even if you might have reservations later. It's a learned/trained negotiation and sales technique. I am noting recruiters using manipulative techniques like this more, and also getting flustered when they apply them inappropriately and they don't work. Nov 10, 2023 at 14:30
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    Add to that "You obviously rate it highly: would you be deterred if the salary wasn't quite what was advertised?" Nov 11, 2023 at 15:46
  • This is just a guess, but I think they want to hear 10. Since this is your own opinion, you'd really not be lying if you say 10. Of course, they would probably then expect you to accept a job offer. I think it's best in an entire interview process to stay as positive as possible, if you want the job. Nov 22, 2023 at 22:38
14

If I had time to think about the question, I would consider that the recruiter is maybe not interested in a literal score out of 10. The recruiter is interested to know how much you like the company and how well you fit the candidacy.

So I would not say the number. I would not immediately say "8/10". I would say something like "It's a pretty good fit, I like it a lot. I can see myself accepting the offer and staying, but I'm also interested to hear how they can adjust X or Y because of A and B".

The numbers thing is a bad question. But nobody is interested in the number. By saying something that's not a number, you get to say something more relevant, which is the information the recruiter is after.

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  • Good point. The number is less important than the rationale. 10/10 is "dream job", so lower is fine. "Well, it isn't Director of Research with unlimited budget and time, after all...*
    – keshlam
    Nov 9, 2023 at 13:38
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    The recruiter is just trying to work out who's more likely to get them their commission. Deliberately giving a qualitative answer ("I could see myself enjoying working there" or whatever) and avoiding a number forces them to engage their brain and think about whether you're their preferred candidate or not, versus just bumping you because you gave an arbitrary "7" and they had another candidate say "8"...
    – mclayton
    Nov 9, 2023 at 20:38
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How to answer the question "on a scale of 1 to 10 how excited are you about this job?" from a recruiter.

A perfect 10 means that you absolutely want this job. A recruiter will be happy to pass this info to the hiring manager in case they want to move you to the next round of interview.

Anything less than 10 means that you don't think this job is a perfect fit for you although you may be still open for further job interviews down the road. But, the recruiter would now think that you will not 100% enjoy working for their company in this position. Thus, as you can guess, the hiring manager will be somewhat reluctant to move you to the next round of interview.


So, I would recommend that you are honest in answering this kind of questions.

If you don't think this position is a good fit for you, then you should tell the recruiter that because it will save both you and the company a lot of time. Then, you can spend your time looking for a better position elsewhere.

On the other hand, if you truly like this position and want to continue with the interview process, then tell them your interest for this position is at the perfect 10 level on their scale.


"what would make you give it a higher number?"

Tell them the truth. Tell them what you have in mind.

They will respond in 2 possible ways:

  1. They may fix what you don't like to make the job more attractive to you.
  2. They may just say: "Thanks for your interest in our job. Best wishes with your future job search. Good Bye."

Either way, you will really get what you want.


Note: When you say that you are super excited about the job (perfect 10 on their scale), it does not mean that you are telling them that you are 100% happy about the salary and job benefits because this is not a salary and benefits negotiation yet. Instead, it is only an interview.

This question is only designed to measure your interest in this job and the company.

Usually, the salary and benefits negotiation will come much later after many more interviews with people from this company (if the candidates get that far).

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    As someone on the employer side of the table (and from a culture known as very direct), I would brush of anyone blaring out "10/10" as a totally dishonest brown noser. Since I am not looking for that type, I would pass. It's a job offer, not an epiphany from heaven. We all compromise a little. I do second the recommendation though, it's a great starting point to talk about those compromises and find the best fit.
    – nvoigt
    Nov 9, 2023 at 7:22
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    I would never say 10/10, for multiple reasons. One reason is what if something even better comes up in my job search? Is that now an 11/10? Another reason is that in saying 10/10 I've just foregone any standing regarding negotiating for improvements in anything (money, benefits, work conditions, authority, etc.). Yet another reason is that a perfect ten is a kiss-up, brown-nosing response. A final reason: Perfect is the enemy of good. Perfection is impossible. Employers are looking for candidates who are good enough, and candidates should be looking for an employer who is good enough. Nov 9, 2023 at 8:23
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    @nvoigt I suspect that, given what you said, you wouldn't ask that question in the first place and I agree with you since it's a dumb question. However, in all likelihood who asks expects a 10 to be more confident in moving on to the next steps. Sad, but likely true.
    – nicola
    Nov 9, 2023 at 9:05
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    @DavidHammen From a candidates point of view the perfect "job" is being paid a bucket load of money for zero effort. But from the employers point of view the perfect candidate is one being paid a minimal amount of money for maximum effort. A successful job search aims to balance those two different requirements.
    – Peter M
    Nov 9, 2023 at 14:36
  • There are many reasons to avoid a 10 score despite high enthusiasm, which I suspect is why the industry-standard Net Promoter score treats 9 & 10 as equivalent. More generally, that scale treats 9-10 as positive, 7-8 as neutral, and anything less as negative, which I think is a really good insight as to how people use 1-10 scores in practice. Nov 9, 2023 at 23:24
6

I personally loathe these types of questions. It's a classic case of people wanting to quantify things that can't be quantified, which ultimately means someone is making decisions based on useless data.

I almost always answer that question with something like "the interview went a lot better than I expected" or "I'm more excited about the job than I was before the interview". It's enough of an answer to satisfy most recruiters' need to run through a standard questions list to check for red flags, but it doesn't actually provide any meaningful information that they could use against you later.

On rare occasions I'll have someone press me hard about providing a numerical answer. I'll just ask them to explain what their scale means. What does, say, a "6" mean? What's the difference between a "6" and a "7"? Invariably they'll admit they have no idea what the scale means either, some won't even know whether a "1" or a "10" is the "good" end of the scale. I'll just respond and say that I don't have enough information to answer the question.

For what it's worth, I am an engineer, and recruiters know that we're very analytical people. This response might come across completely differently for a candidate in other fields.

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    Same here. I hate when recruiters ask "One a scale of 1-10, how good are you at {skill}?" Well, I consider 9-10 to be "people who developed the tech", so that's not me. 7-8 to be senior/advanced with 15-20+ years experience, so that's not me either. And 1-3 are so basic that you should probably be a 4 within 6-8 months of professional use. So I usually answer a 6, which is a poor score for anyone who doesn't realize I use basically a logarithmic scale, rather than linear. Because learning a skill is closer to logarithmic than linear as basic skills are far easier to learn than advanced skills. Nov 10, 2023 at 20:09
  • I think the scale above is too tough; 9 means you can do the job asked (in my opinion). I'd think like 90% is A Nov 22, 2023 at 22:39
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I never answer questions asking for 1-10 with only a number. Instead, I give a short summary of my answer, then the number, then a calibration point. (I do this when nurses ask my pain, when people ask me to rate job opportunities, or rate candidates, and a whole pile of other wildly varying situations, for example this answer.) So in your case, perhaps:

I am sure I could do the work, and the money and benefits seem ok, but [I would have a long commute / I was hoping to work for a household name / I'm not sure I could progress to being a [future goal]] there. So maybe an 8? If it was [slight difference] it would be a 9. With 20% more money and [the same thing you already mentioned], a 10.

There is one other thing to consider. If this recruiter works for you -- is trying to find a job for you -- then when you provide feedback, it is for the purpose of finding you a great job. You can be clear with such a person about what you liked and didn't like so that they can adjust the kinds of opportunities they bring to you. If the recruiter works for the company, and is your first point of contact with the company, and will not bring you other jobs, is just co-ordinating this one, then everything they ask you is an interview question. When you answer these questions you're negotiating. That wouldn't change my answer. If I LOVED the job and wanted it very much I would say so. I wouldn't act cool and disinterested in the hope of getting more money. I negotiate very openly and clearly (and once got a place to triple the money they were offering because I told them it sounded amazing and wonderful but I couldn't possibly do it for that and they asked what I could do it for, and they said ok) but I understand that other people don't. So consider the possibility that you are still answering interview questions and are in a negotiation, in the case of a company-specific recruiter.

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In homage to an old idiom: if you don't have 10 to say, say nothing at all.

In other words, answer 10 if at whatever time this question is asked you want to be seriously considered.

If you're still unsure, I agree with @kilisi answer 100%; you waffle is a judicious, professional manner indicating you still need more information or want to get further into the process.

1

Questions like this aren't designed to measure your interest. They're designed to measure your commitment to the job opportunity, and put you in a position where the recruiter can later shame you over having questionably integrity if you pull back.

Let's say that you've asked for a $100,000 salary - a nice round number - and prior to this "scale of 1 to 10" question, the recruiter has stated that the client would be okay with that. But now, following "1 to 10", the recruiter comes back and says that the company is only willing to pay $85,000 (which might have been the true number all along). Now, if you start pulling back, the recruiter can say, "But you said your willingness to take this job was a TEN!" The recruiter has been trained to know that there are a lot of candidates who will take the $85,000 at this point just to not feel as if they've broken a promise. It's a hustle.

As one of the other answers here has stated, it's best to defer answering this question as it is induced conversation designed to give the recruiter some leverage over you. When you hear questions like this, just reflect on the fact that such a recruiter really isn't concerned with making sure you're the best candidate for the job, or the job is the best one for you. They're concerned with getting their 10% commission by any means necessary.

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    If they changed the salary, I'd say "the ten was based on the salary given".... no shame there Nov 22, 2023 at 22:40
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If this question is coming from a random 3rd party recruiter - can either be honest or give some non-specific answer such as "I'm definitely excited".

If this question is coming from a hiring manager or in house - lie and add spice. "I love what you guys are doing and would love to be a part of that! hovering around a high 9".

It's annoying but a lot of tech companies have this world view that jobs are supposed to be this passionate experience, and if you aren't completely buying in you aren't valuable as an employee. You CAN still be a great employee without being some corporate zealot, but there's no point in you trying to explain that to them.

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Either it's a 10 or you ask questions instead of giving a number. Any other answer can be used against you.

Giving a 7 or 8 just tells them to defer you for someone who gives a 10. It is completely performative theatrics, but such theatrics are sometimes required to bypass these kinds of 'passion-oriented' rubbish hiring practices. Bad hiring practices are everywhere, and the only stick someone will get for them will be when they can't find anyone who can effectively do the job, not even someone who can do the required theatrics.

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If you are even mildly interested in getting the job, just say 10. It will make a good impression with the recruiter (which in turn will make a good impression with the company), which will raise your chances.

You're not hooked to a polygraph while giving the answer (and the question is pretty dumb anyway), so "embellishing" the truth a little bit won't do any harm.

-1

"Why are you asking me bullshit questions?"

Followed up by: "How does any answer I give help you in getting me this or any other position?"

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    -1: Communication, including communication with recruiters, is normally intended as cooperation, and I include bullshit questions in that. So I would expect an answer to even a bullshit question to at least be not be uncongenial. Nov 10, 2023 at 10:46
  • In any job, communication is usually considered a major skill to have for talking with management, coworkers, and/or clients. Having an adversarial or vulgar communication style, especially when perceived as unprovoked, will only get you dropped from consideration. Don't shoot yourself in the foot simply because your recruiter is badly trained or is following poor procedures they had nothing to do with creating. Nov 10, 2023 at 20:14
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    @OmarandLorraine my time, and I presume, the recruiter’s time, is valuable. Too valuable to waste on inanities.
    – Dale M
    Nov 10, 2023 at 20:41
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    @DaleM has made a reasonable point. If Bob is interviewing Alice for a job with Carol, Alice and Carol both need to feel than Bob is going to do a good job. If Bob acts like a total dork (e.g. asking to many stupid questions), Alice may decide to try for some other job with a competent recruiter. Nov 11, 2023 at 22:32
  • Sadly, dealing with recruiters is a necessary part of job-hunting in a number of industries. I live in a moderately small city, and if I piss off all the recruiters in town with comments like this, I'll end up unable to find work. If you live in a large city, you might be able to get away with this; but why would you risk it? There's every chance that that same recruiter will be the one to find you your next dream job. Nov 12, 2023 at 0:01

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