Recruiting quality candidates is one of the most important responsibilities of a hiring manager. Choosing a qualified recruitment agency whose approach and values complement your own organization can be daunting.

By learning how to choose an agency well, you will develop effective selection criteria that best meets your hiring needs:

1. Who will spearhead the search?

With many other recruitment agencies and search firms, the senior consultant will take the details of your needs and then hand it over to a more junior person to search for suitable candidates. The junior person learns your business second hand; they have not met with you and do not understand your culture or the personalities of the people who comprise your team. The quality of the candidates presented to you becomes compromised at your expense. Ask who will be working your search assignment and identifying potential candidates.

2. How long have they been recruiting?

Recruitment agencies have the reputation of being a high turnover business. Statistics show that the average tenure of a recruiter is anywhere from 18 to 36 months. How long has your prospective recruiter been in the business? Are they industry experts? Do they appear to have a successful history in the business? How many roles they fill in your niche space every month? An answer of between 3 to 6 is realistic. Anything less means they are not successful specialists. Anything more means they may be spreading themselves too thin and not doing quality work.

3. How do they find candidates?

Today, the best talent rarely comes from plastering job postings on every job board possible. When there is a shortage of skilled candidates, top talent is often passive—that is, candidates who are not actively seeking a new job, but are open to new opportunities and could be willing to make a move for the right fit. In these situations, headhunting is the name of the game. A reputable recruitment agency should be doing more than just posting jobs on your behalf—they should be using other avenues to source the best-and-brightest for your role.

4. Are you meeting quality candidates?

When you meet the candidates represented by the recruitment agency:

  • Has the candidate shown steady career progression?
  • Has the candidate jumped around a lot, without credible reasons?
  • Do they have quantifiable accomplishments (i.e. measurable results) or simply vague answers about what their company or department has done?
  • Do they have a strong desire to move?
  • What is their motivation to move?
  • What do they know about your position and company? Often, a recruiter will not take the time to fully explain the opportunity, but will simply say, “Just go have a talk with the employer to learn more.” If this happens, you are not being served well.

5. At what point are reference checks conducted?

Good recruiters will conduct preliminary reference checks on a candidate before presenting them to you. This ensures that you are not wasting your time interviewing someone who may receive a poor reference later in the process. Good references will include those from supervisors, colleagues and subordinates in past and present positions.

6. How do they assess candidates for ‘fit’?

Hiring is not just about finding the right technical skills; your new employee also needs to fit your organization’s unique culture and team dynamics. Finding the right fit leads to better hiring decisions and lower turnover. Is your recruiter relying on gut feeling to assess fit, potentially bringing in unconscious bias, or do they take a more objective approach, such as our Workstyle & Performance Profile assessment?

7. Does your recruiter have the ability to act as a mediator?

In addition to working for you to recruit suitable candidates, the consultant should work to bring candidates’ concerns and reservations back to you and find a compromise that both parties are comfortable with. 15% of all positions filled by recruitment agencies are unsuccessful because the recruiter does not address initial candidate concerns or because they use pressure tactics to get the candidate to accept the offer.

8. What is their guarantee?

Most agencies will provide a replacement guarantee in the event that the hired individual does not work out for some reason. Three months is a typical guarantee period. However, it is difficult to get most firms to concentrate on a replacement search when there is no longer a financial incentive. Ask for references from the agency from companies that required a replacement search, and find out whether they felt well taken care of.

Want to know more about our services and how we can deliver high-quality candidates to you? Contact a branch near you!