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Top Questions to Ask Your Potential Recruiting Partner

You interview dozens of talent candidates before extending an offer for hire, running down a long list of questions to make sure the candidate is a good fit for your company. As you consider partnering with a recruiting firm, you should take the same process and time to explore your options and find the right fit.

Not every recruiting firm is equal in their expertise and experience. Get to know your potential partner and assess their compatibility with you by using these questions and tips. Read through to the end to find out the one question you should ask yourself, too.

What does the recruiting firm specialize in?

Dig into the firm’s experience by asking about their track record and successes over time. Researching their past or current clients for the industry, size of the company and stage of the company’s growth they worked with the client in can give you key insights into the organizations they are used to working with. They may have case studies or articles showcasing their work with their clients; read into the depth and breadth of the work the firm completes for the client. You can always ask for a list of positions that they are consistently recruiting for. Decide if their track record has provided results that match your current and/or future needs.

Here’s a few questions to start with:

  1. What are the size and types of companies you typically work with?

  2. Which positions and levels of management are you most experienced in sourcing?

  3. How long has your firm been around?

  4. What are the backgrounds (professional, academic, geographic, personal) of the leaders?

  5. What stage of growth are your partners usually working through?

Discovering the answers to these questions will give you a sense of the natural networks they can tap into, and insights around what their talent and client networks look like.

How does the firm measure their performance?

Ask what specific metrics the firm uses to qualify success for your company. These metrics could range from time-to-fill the position to offer acceptance rate to customer satisfaction scores. Recruiting firms are working to ensure that both the candidate and company partner are having a positive interview experience. If they are going to be an extension of your brand and working on your behalf, these performance metrics may be more important to you than time to fill a position. It is a great sign if the recruiting firm is talking about satisfaction from both the candidates and you, the client partner, as measures of success.

For example, our recruiters at JumpSearch want to make sure the talent acquisition process is positive and productive for both the client and the candidates. We use NPS/CSAT scores for both the client and the candidate to evaluate our success on managing the end-to-end experience for both parties. We believe that a time-to-fill metric is not enough of a success story if the hire doesn’t end up sticking with the company past the first 30 days, or has a less than satisfactory experience with the interview process.

In addition to interviewing your recruiter, research reviews the firm may have received on Glassdoor to see real client feedback or employee feedback. Asking for a client recommendation (just as you would a candidate’s professional reference) is a good idea when you have to make a key partnership decision for your company. Through this discovery process of how the firm defines and measures success, you ultimately want to be able to tell if they align with your company’s objectives and values.

What does the firm’s ideal client look like?

With digging deeper into the firm’s preferences of client partners, you will be able to tell if they have experience working with companies of different sizes, industries, cultures, needs and methods of working- and decide if it aligns with your company’s profile. Use these questions to learn more about their working relationships with clients:

  1. What is your process for understanding the client’s true recruiting needs?

  2. How would you describe your most challenging searches?

  3. How do you communicate with the key decision makers throughout the talent acquisition process?

  4. How does your firm foster an excellent candidate experience?

There are companies of 50 employees, 500 employees and 5,000 employees, and recruiting firms that may be a better fit for each size and the culture that comes with the growth stage the company is facing. Understanding the nuances of certain industries the company is competing in should be in the benefits of working with the recruiting firm you select. Larger scale recruiting firms that can help bring in more resumes might be a better fit for established companies with recruiting processes in place and job descriptions set. Smaller niche recruiting firms would be more helpful in shaping the overall recruiting and interview process for companies that may still be building out their human resources team. Ask what benefits the recruiting firm provides in the partnership to see if they can help you fill gaps in your company’s systems or processes you may have not considered.

One question to ask yourself is…

Can you imagine this firm representing your company and brand effectively? Through your time interviewing your recruiter, staying aware and taking note of the tone, approachability, and professionalism the firm carries with you is important to consider. Trust in a recruiting partner is essential when you are asking them to represent your company to the talent pool and public. Try to view the firm through the candidate’s perspective: are they too salesy?

The more insightful factor to keep in thought is if you feel that the firm has taken its time and diligence to get to know your brand and needs enough to find the right talent fit. Culture is one of the most important strengths that a company owns, and a crucial hire can either level-down or level-up your company’s internal culture. An effective working relationship between a recruiting firm and client is a thorough understanding of the company’s culture and true needs to hire the right people to drive the company forward.

As a start-up company that is positioning itself for hyper-growth, time can be your biggest risk. Partnering with a recruiting firm for your mission-critical and executive roles can expand your access to talent, and save your key decision makers’ time to concentrate on what matters most: operating the business. The time it takes to hire the right recruiting partner may be the investment that brings you back 3x the time and talent to support your company’s growth.

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