1. Who will spearhead the search?
With many other recruitment agencies and search firms the senior consultant will take the details of your requirement 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 you 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. Ask your future recruiters how long they have been in the business? Are they industry experts? Do they appear to have a successful history in the business?
Ask 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. Are you meeting quality candidates?
When you meet the candidates represented by the recruitment agency, do they appear to have the following traits:
- 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?
- Ask the candidate if they were headhunted or “sourced” by the recruitment company? Great candidates have not emailed or posted their resumes all over town.
- 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.
4. At what point are reference checks conducted?
Good recruiters will conduct preliminary reference checks on a candidate before presenting them. 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 previous supervisors, colleagues and subordinates in past and present positions.
5. 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.
6. 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 which required a replacement search, and find out whether they felt well taken care of.