Your interviews and offer may be coordinated by a company recruiter or human resources representative. If so, the recruiter is usually responsible for the scheduling and logistical aspects of your interview, including reimbursing you for travel or lodging expenses. Recruiters aren’t usually involved in the hiring decision, but they may pass on information about you to those who are. They are also usually the ones who will call you back about your offer and handle negotiations.
Recruiters are often very good at what they do. The vast majority of recruiters are honorable people deserving of your respect and courtesy. Nevertheless, don’t let their friendliness fool you into thinking that their job is to help you; their job is to get you to sign with their company as quickly as possible for as little money as possible. As with headhunters, it’s important to understand the position recruiters are in so you can understand how they behave:
Recruiters may focus on a job’s benefits or perks to draw attention away from negative aspects of a job offer. They generally tell you to come to them with any questions about your offer. This is fine for benefit and salary questions, but ill advised when you have questions about the job itself. The recruiter usually doesn’t know very much about the job you’re being hired to do. When you ask a specific question about the job, the recruiter has little incentive to do the work to find the answer, especially if that answer might cause you to turn down the offer. Instead, the recruiter is likely to give you a vague response along the lines of what he or she thinks you want to hear. When you want straight answers to your questions, it’s best to go directly to the people you’ll be working for. You can also try going directly to your potential manager if you feel the recruiter is being unreasonable with you. This is a somewhat risky strategy - it certainly won’t win you the recruiter’s love - but often the hiring manager has the authority to overrule decisions or restrictions made by the recruiter. Hiring managers are often more willing to be flexible than recruiters. You’re just another applicant to the recruiter, but to the hiring manager, you’re the person he chose to work with.
Once the decision is made to give you an offer, the recruiter’s job is to do anything necessary to get you to accept the offer at the lowest possible salary. A recruiter’s pay is often tied to how many candidates he or she signs. To maneuver you, recruiters sometimes try to play career counselor or advisor by asking you about each of your offers and leading you through a supposedly objective analysis to determine which is the best offer. Not surprisingly, this exercise always leads to the conclusion that the offer from the recruiter’s company is clearly the best choice.
Some recruiters are territorial enough about their candidates that they won’t give you your prospective team’s contact information. To protect against this possibility, collect business cards from your interviewers during your interviews, particularly from your prospective managers. Then you’ll have the necessary information without having to go through the recruiter.