Are you recruiting an expert or a manager to a critical role in your organisation? Are you considering getting professional help externally, but have no established recruitment partner? If you don’t know where to start, ask these five questions to make a quick selection of one or two final options to work with on the recruitment. Only after deciding which firm(s) you are considering should you start to negotiate, that is, if you want to contract a recruitment partner based on competence rather than pricing (or desperation).
1. Who is going to work on the delivery?
In many cases, even with rather small recruitment companies, you will have a partner or senior person acting as the sales person going from client to client doing the selling. This person would then brief someone else in the company, usually a more junior person – a recruitment consultant or, if you are unlucky, a person who is fresh out of university. I think you should ask to meet the persons or the team that will work with the delivery and ask from the sales person how the work will be divided in the team.
2. What key deliverables are you committing to?
It happens many times that recruitment companies say that they assure you that they will succeed in recruiting the right person for you. This also goes for recruitment agencies that have a low closing rate in their assignments. Rather than blindly trusting the salesman in front of you, ask him what key deliverables his team will perform in order to maximize the chance of succeeding with the assignment.
3. What do you think will be the challenges you run into in this project? How will you tackle them?
Make sure to ask about what the recruitment consultant thinks will be a challenge/risk in the project and ask him/her how the team will work to tackle that. This will give you an idea of how experienced the recruitment consultant/agency is. It will also give you an idea of how well they know the market in which the specific expert/manager that you are looking for operates.
4. Could you describe the time plan for this project with the specific actions that you plan to take to reach the candidates suitable for the position?
It’s only fair to be presented with a detailed time plan giving you an idea of when you can expect the delivery of candidates and when you can realistically finalize the recruitment. Also asking about how the recruiter will find and contact the majority of the potential candidates in the market is a critical question in selecting your recruitment partner.
5. What is your success rate? In the cases when you have not succeeded, can you explain the reason(s) why you failed?
This is an important question. If the recruitment consultant is honest he/she will tell you that they don’t have a 100% success rate. The most interesting will be to hear the reasons why they have failed to close a case in the past.
If you ask these five questions and get satisfactory replies to all of them, you have already ruled out a vast majority of the less serious recruitment companies out there. What you should do thereafter is to talk to a reference person at a client of the recruitment companies you are thinking of contracting.
What other questions do you think are important to ask? Please share!
If they're local, and you're talking about multiple openings, I'd also suggest a visit to their office. Many of the largest firms have only a single team working an entire city, while some smaller firms actually have 50 people or more just working technology. Online, you can't tell the difference. And don't confuse your need with other divisions (like accounting, healthcare, technology).
Where you office doesn't matter, but verifying someone is who they say they are is also important. Of course, it rarely happens.
Hey Jim - that is a good advice as well. The office tells a bit about the company and how they will be representing you.