As a recruiter that does both retained and contingent searches, I'm curious how those that have worked on both sides of the business handle the pre-interview candidate prep call.  As a retained recruiter, you are "on the payroll" so to say and are more likely to be acting in a consultative capacity with your client.  I like to think that I'm always acting in consultative way with my contingent clients, however they aren't always as willing to treat our relationship the same way and may not want the kind of feedback a retained relationship allows.  On a contingent search, you are motivated to bring the best candidates to the table but also to ensure that they are dialed-in for the interview so a bad interview doesn't totally derail a deal.  So my question is do you handle those pre-interview candidate prep calls any differently than you would if you were retained?

Views: 852

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

First I would like to address your client relationship comment concerning feedback if I may. First I have been very fortunate to be selective who I work for, and have developed long tern relationships/friendships with my clients and have always shared my thoughts openly with them, never "selling " anyone candidate. I think you need establish you role and how you add value to them as a consulted, telling them up front what to expect and that you are there to represent their best interest in talent acquisition.

As for pre-interview guidance, I always help guide each selected candidate on how to present themselves, skills and experience with effective communication. I want to insure that they can show the client what I saw in them that cause me to select them for the interview in the first place. I will provide what I feel is the strength and weakness of each, along with the pros and cons of hiring each.

Bottomline, I treat it as if I was hiring them for myself, and at the end of the day isn't that what we all should be doing anyway?




We are all retained, and we do prep each candidate, mostly on how best to present the facts about themselves.  I feel that part of our job is to facilitate a high quality exchange of information between candidate and employer, and our prep helps to achieve that.


I don't believe a contingency firm could devote the time and effort to this that a retained firm can.  That is just one of the many value-adds that comes with retained search!


Best wishes,

"I don't believe a contingency firm could devote the time and effort to this that a retained firm can. That is just one of the many value-adds that comes with retained search!"


Well stated Mark!

Hey Mark, I disagree completely that the time does not exist for a contingency based recruiter to properly prep and get a candidate ready for the series of interviews that take place before the offer stage. If the recruiter is not finding time to do this, no matter what kind of recruiter they are, they will be out of business so I think any recruiter who is doing business is making the time to "protect their investment"no matter how that recruiter is paid.


I totally disagree Mark.  How i get paid does not influence how i prep a candidate or how i present a candidate or my interaction with a candidate or with my client. I work both retained and contingent sometimes with the same client on different positions.  Saying that i have to be retained to do the best job with my candidate is in my opinion right up there with saying paid sex is better than a consensual relationship.  Sorry if that sounds harsh but the very idea that any recruiter would treat a candidate differently based on the way they are paid offends me to the roof tops.


A lot of people equate us with whores and maybe that attitude is the reason why.  Value add indeed.


I do not believe Mark is questioning the quality of contingency work verse retained, but the economics of it. I know many contingency recruiters that work as hard as or harder than some retained recruiters.  Please correct me if I am wrong, but in contingency you must deal with more candidates and are trying to beat the other guy to the hire to get paid. Of course you are going to prep to put his best foot forward, we do that. What I think Mark is referring to is the amount of time you can afford to invest in candidate beyond the normal prepping.

As for being whores, I do not think see us at the attorney level yet; and as for paid vs. consensual, I think there is an argument for both sides, as one is a fixed cost and the other is a variable. lol

I totally agree with Jason and Sandra ...  That title  Recruiter has to mean something regardless of the market you serve ...

OK, we can also have the retained vs contingency debate.  I've been recruiting for 27 years -10 mostly contingency, and 17 years retained.  I now put in 3-4 times the effort than I ever could as a contingency recruiter, and that includes having more time to spend with candidates, getting to know them, coach them, etc.  I think a contingency recruiter that has as much time to spend with every candidate as I do, probably doesn't have enough assignments on their desk!  As a contingency recruiter, because you might not fill every spot, I would have had to have 3-6 times as many projects going to make the same money i do now.  Obviously, we can spend more time and get into more depth with candidates.

How that equates to paying for sex, I'll leave to Sandra - she brought it up!! 

Mark that's just your style ... I know Recruiters who never meet their candidates and bill just as much as Recruiters who spend an hour or 2  interviewing a candidate ... Its all about your game you either know this business to make a great living or you don't...  


Some recruiters are detail hogs ... other recruiters know exactly in 15-30  minutes what they need to hear from that candidate including closing them on a role ... In the end you are either doing your job to present a closed candidate or you're not regardless of the time spent ... 

It's totally questioning the quality of work of contingency to say that a contingency recruiter does not have or will not take the time to prep a candidate as well as they would if they were on retainer.  Bullcrap!!!!


Candidate prep in my popcorn stand happens when a candidate is contacted whether i talk to 20 or 2.  Candidate prep happens when i am setting up an interview.  Candidate prep happens when i debrief a candidate after an interview.  There are thousands of contingency recruiters who do not just throw shit at the wall and hope some sticks.  I can invest all the time in the world to get any candidate as well prepared for an interview whether i got paid up front to do it; or i have to produce to get paid.  On contingency i have skin in the game to earn what i get paid by successful efforts which by god means my candidate better be as well prepared if not better prepared than those that come from a reatined firm or another contingency firm. 

 In fact i would submit to all of you that contingency recruiters may in many cases spend more time prepping a candidate because there may be more candidates in the loop if there are several contingency firms working on a listing.  The competition my friends is not who slaps it against the wall first, it's who can bring the best and most well prepared candidate to the table. 


The only time i prefer a retainer is when it is a very difficult search for a purple squirrel candidate that my client knows may take 3 to 6 months to fill.  The value add of a retainer is that the search time takes longer to even find a candidate so the retainer covers the focus of  time that can not be devoted to that kind of search.


It's my take that good contingency recruiters hit a search faster and harder because there is competition involved to FIND the candidate but a retainer or lack of same has no impact on the time spent to prep a candidate for an interview or interact with that candidate.  I have boxed the ears off of some good retained recruiters because i asked to compete with them on a few searches.  I got my candidate there not only first but more than prepped and ready while the retained group was still dicking around justifying their upfront payment.  My candidate ended up being so much better than those produced by the retained firm that the client was willing to pay my full fee in spite of having paid a retainer.  The retained firm didn't get their second payment because my candidate was already in the loop, interviewed and an offer was being prepared by the time the retained firm got their resumes in the loop.  That client quit paying retainers when they found out that a good contingency recruiter will bring a candidate to the table many times faster than a retained search and the quality of the informed candidate was in fact as good or better than what they saw two weeks later from the retained firm.   The retained firm was happy they got 10K for their efforts.  I was happy i got paid for filling the spot.  The client was happy they made a good hire and learned about good contingency recruiters.


There is certainly a place for both retained and contingent but it has zero to do with the time or dedication to give 110% of time and information to that candidate and that client so both have as much information as it is possible to provide.


As to paid vs. consensual.  It would seem that would depend on whether fixed cost without emotional involvement is your preference.  My stud horse doesn't give a damn either.  He gets paid for the act not what that baby horse looks like when it hits the ground.  He's on retainer.  :)


Mark I agree, the amount time for interviewing a candidate several times, written assignments given to them, review, rate and evaluate, then produce written reports on each along with a comparison spreadsheet takes a  great deal of time alone. I could never afford to invest that much time without a retainer. With that said, the level I work at, (as I assume you do also) requires more in-depth screening then a staff or mid-level position would. I am just saying,

There is a misconception that contingency recruiting is somehow a lesser sport than retained recruiting. We do both. Since contingency recruiters are paid on successful hire, and are paid if the candidate 'sticks', it is an insult to think that contingency recruiters shave on the service, or candidate prep and debrief in any way. 


Reply to Discussion



All the recruiting news you see here, delivered straight to your inbox.

Just enter your e-mail address below


RecruitingBlogs on Twitter

© 2024   All Rights Reserved   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Service