The unkindest cut of all…is it deserved?

Many times when talent acquisition leaders ask for assistance in coaching their recruiters, they say the awful “O” word—order taker.

They want help transitioning recruiters from order takers to business partners/trusted advisors, etc.

Have I found teams where recruiters are functioning as order takers? Yes.

Are hiring managers happy about that? No

Are recruiters happy about that? No.

So how did we get here?

Poor business partner relationship between hiring manager and recruiter, so

Hiring manager does not see the recruiter as a partner, so

Recruiter does not get the information and support required from the hiring manager, so

Recruiting difficult to do well without critical information, so

Recruiting results disappointing, so

Hiring manager frustration grows, so

Recruiter tries harder to find great candidates, so

Because great candidates are not enough to repair relationships, the business relationship continues to decline, so now return to the first line

And so it goes. 2nd verse, same as the first.

I would like to share one thing you can do to start breaking the cycle above. You’ll be amazed at how quickly it can happen. Of course it takes a little courage (an article about that is coming).

Questions Order-Takers Don't Ask

I’ve got a list of questions that will start to shatter any order-taker image that may be lingering. I've left it in word format so you can modify it. For example, I have these questions included in the form I use with hiring managers when starting a new search.

You can download it here (no email required).

Let me know how it goes.

Views: 425

Comment by Ryan Leary on October 12, 2012 at 10:05am

Hi Katherine,

Great topic for discussion.

I took a look at the questions you have listed on the download. It's a good set of questions, but I have a question back to you. I do not see any questions asking why. By this I mean questioning why specific skills are needed, or why specific background are important. 

I think most recruiters experience pain by only gathering the basic information which is often done so by only asking, "What" questions.

Also I never ask "What" the schedule is of the HM on feedback etc. I give them my expectations. I've found over the years that this control is key to closing more deals quicker.

Any thoughts on this?

Comment by katherine moody on October 12, 2012 at 10:32am

Hi Ryan. thanks for reading!

I didn't include questions about the job, the responsibilities, etc., because I wanted to share a very different set of questions that shatter the order taker image. Hiring managers often expect questions around experience, responsibilities, etc. Those are the What and Why questions that are certainly critical, I totally agree.

I have a very long list of questions and didn't want to imply the list I provided was comprehensive. Hiiring managers begin to see recruiters in a different light when recruiters ask insightful and often un-asked questions.

I like to give expectations about when I would like to hear back as you do. My experience is that when hiring managers don't see the recruiter as a partner, they may agree to a timeline suggested to them but it doesn't mean they will keep it. if I ask "when" and they say  "48 hours", that's the beginning of a commitment made by them. Then if it isn't kept, I have a way to deal with that. If they say 4 weeks, obviously we have a very different conversation.

Lots of ways to help recruiters shed a stereotype they do not deserve. Thanks for your additions!




Comment by Megan Bell on October 15, 2012 at 9:13am

Thanks for the list Katherine!  I found some useful questions that I can ask my Hiring Managers as an internal recruiter too!  I like the categories question and the sitting across from great candidate question - both are the type of questions that don't necessarily involve skill set, but more personality and cultural fit.  

Comment by katherine moody on October 15, 2012 at 9:27am

You're so welcome. Thank you for reading! I do think these are quite appropriate for internal recruiters. I've been in that role myself, so delighted to share! Let me know how it goes.

Comment by Eric Smith on October 15, 2012 at 10:44am


This might be a little off topic, but quite often recruiting functions are not built the right way from the very beginning. Companies don’t plan properly and fail to anticipate their growth needs. This “patch work” often leads to hiring a recruiter here and there, or moving people from other areas in HR into the recruiting function. The result leads to hiring the wrong type of recruiters who are  “order takers” and not trusted advisors. Only after the fact, do companies readdress the issue and look to change their internal recruiting approach.

Just my 2 cents – great conversation.

Comment by katherine moody on October 15, 2012 at 11:07am

Absolutely agree with your comment, Eric. I often find companies where hiring managers have become so unhappy with recruiters that their manager moves the recruiter to a new team; I like your "patch work" phrase. I think companies tend to hire recruiters for skill sets and then move/fire them because they don't know how to create strong business relationships with their hiring managers. But rather than fire "order takers" let's help them become trusted advisors.

Appreciate you taking the time to share your 2 cents!


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