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I have a background in technology and am currently unemployed and looking for a job. I have a friend, who now works for a recruitment agency, who is trying to fill a position for a client of hers. I’m very unknowledgeable about recruitment agencies, and she came to me with the job opening. I’m not fully clear why I feel uncomfortable, but I think it’s because everything I’ve got in writing so far has been very vague. For example I don’t have an email stating the pay and while I understand it’s a sales position, it’s unclear what I would be selling. The recruitment agent keeps contacting me asking if I have any questions, but shouldn’t I contact the actual company who I would be working for? Should I ask the recruiter for the contact of the hiring manager at the company and direct questions to him? Or is the job of a recruitment agency to act as a liaison between a potential employee and the business?

For example the position is in another city and I don’t want to spend the time or money to travel there unless I’m serious about the position. I asked the recruiter if we could do a phone or skype interview and she said they wanted someone who could see the office so no, but I don’t think she’s in the position to be making decisions on their behalf. I also asked if any travel expenses were covered and she basically said she didn’t think so. It would be much more clear if I talked to the company themselves, wouldn’t it?

On the other hand, a position that combines sales and technology does sound interesting to me.

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    It is certainly fair to know if travel expenses will be paid. A phone interview does not mean you cannot also have an on site interview. – paparazzo Sep 20 '16 at 22:17
  • Sounds fishy that you have so few details about the actual position. – PeteCon Sep 20 '16 at 23:39
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shouldn’t I contact the actual company who I would be working for?

You could ask to do that, but realistically this is what the agent is for. That's her job.

Put together your list of questions you need answered, and give them to her. Tell her that the job intrigues you, but that you need the answers before you will commit to travelling to an interview.

The company likely wants the agent to do this work as well. Imagine if you are a hiring manager and you get calls from dozens of candidates who may or may not even want to interview. Better to let the agent help the process.

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This recruiter sounds... pretty inexperienced (or just bad). Something to keep in mind.

For example the position is in another city and I don’t want to spend the time or money to travel

Note that almost all companies pay interview expenses. They don't reimburse time, as that's... complicated currently (silly physics/reality). But money? That can be done.

I suspect this:

I also asked if any travel expenses were covered and she basically said she didn’t think so

is not true. That would be very unusual if so, particularly in tech. Make sure to get clarity though. "I don't think so" is a really weak response.

If you are unemployed, you have time though, which probably makes it worthwhile to consider. Time is even more precious when you work fulltime and have to use PTO to do interviews.

The recruitment agent keeps contacting me asking if I have any questions, but shouldn’t I contact the actual company who I would be working for? Should I ask the recruiter for the contact of the hiring manager at the company and direct questions to him?

Ask the recruiter. The worst case is that the recruiter doesn't know and makes up something, but most best cases are either the recruiter knows or directs the question to the hiring manager.

I would send the recruiter some questions like:

  • Hey, I am interested in the position but am wanting to get more information. First, can you confirm the company will reimburse interview expenses? Second, what additional information are they willing to provide regarding their product? I am not comfortable traveling for an interview when I do not even know anything about the product I would be selling.

    Let me know when you hear back from the company so we can move forward with next steps!

If your recruiter still gives you no information, you probably are going to be out of luck and have unfortunately hit the "bad recruiter" lottery.

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Wow, you really are new to this.

  1. E-mail stating pay. Like most any professional job, the pay range is set by the hiring manager, but the final number is negotiated according to the skill set of the candidate, and it's put into an offer letter for you to acknowledge before starting. However, you can ask the recruiter for a range. Have you asked? If you haven't asked, I can only shake my head.
  2. Because you are using a recruiter, you don't call the hiring manager or HR directly for anything. The exception cases would be that you're going to an interview and either can't find the place or are delayed. Other than than, everything is handled by the recruiter. That's the recruiter's job.
  3. the position is in another city and I don’t want to spend the time or money to travel there. Now you're being vague. Is that one mile, ten, twenty, fifty, or 500? If it's within an hour's time driving, it is quite reasonable to expect you to furnish your own transportation at your own cost. If you have a problem with that, you're going to have problems getting any job.
  4. Lastly: I asked the recruiter if we could do a phone or skype interview and she said they wanted someone who could see the office so no, but I don’t think she’s in the position to be making decisions on their behalf When it comes down to interviewing, the recruiter's account manager has worked this detail out with the hiring manager and/or HR. An alternate (phone or Skype) interview might be convenient only for you, and you don't want to give the impression that you're difficult to work with.

This has been my experience in 20 yrs of dealing with recruiters as a contract professional.

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    I would say anyone who thinks there is a standard procedure for every interview is very new at this. – Jimmy Bauther Sep 21 '16 at 0:23
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    As someone whom had a seat on both sides of the table I can tell you this much, there is never a Standard procedure on either side of the table. It either went bad, good or something in between. – Raoul Mensink Sep 21 '16 at 12:34

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