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Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Recruiter

My husband works in real estate. Much like the recruiting business, there are all sorts of real estate agents: Ambitious, hard-working professionals, as well as part-timers and hobbyists looking to make a couple bucks on the side. When you’re choosing someone to guide you on high-stakes transactions – whether purchasing a home or attracting the best talent – you want to be working with a professional.

Here are some of the hallmarks of recruiting professionals:

Connected to the right people. This sounds obvious, but you want to work someone that already knows your company, as well as its competitors. They have several years of experience working in the same space and have cultivated relationships with the people you want to hire. Candidates respond to people they know and trust. You wouldn’t hire a publicist that doesn’t have relationships with key media sources in your industry. The same is true with recruiters. Generalists from large national staffing firms won’t know your local market or talent pool.

Expertise in your industry. Your recruiter should demonstrate a deep understanding of your business, the roles you’re hiring, plus the skills and tools needed on a daily basis. The questions they ask should give you confidence that they’ll be able to engage candidates and evaluate the difference between excellent and average. They’re able to offer advice on competitive salary ranges based on similar searches they’ve completed.

Represents your company well. You are choosing this person to be the face of your company with candidates. Potential hires will form impressions of your company brand and decide whether they’re interested based on how the recruiter engages with them. You run the risk of turning off top talent if your recruiter strikes the wrong tone, comes of as too pushy or isn’t knowledgeable about your business.

Prioritizes quality over quantity. The purpose of hiring a recruiter is to save you from interviewing candidates that aren’t qualified. They also protect you from the job hoppers, B-players, divas and other types that destroy morale and leave you in a lurch. The number of resumes isn’t important if none of them are good.

Builds strong relationships with candidates. Fire any recruiter that just sends a resume! Make sure they’ve established a rapport with candidates and can tell you:

  • Why they’re qualified for the role
  • Their salary target
  • Why they’d leave their current position

If your recruiter is simply passing along resumes with limited engagement, can you trust them to close your candidate once an offer is on the table?

Proactively manages the hiring process. Have you ever lost a candidate because you deliberated too long? A strong recruiting partner presides across the entire interview process, making sure key decision-makers are involved, gathering feedback, and signaling when candidates might be lost to another offer. They do more than schedule interviews. They perceive obstacles before they become crises and act as air traffic controllers: pulling candidates out of endless feedback loops and bringing them in for a landing.

Has your best interests in mind. They won’t let you overpay for talent. They’ll advice against candidates that are being unreasonable or insincere, even if it means losing a placement.

Wish you had a cheat sheet to summarize everything above? I’m here for you! Download this a list of questions to ensure you hire the best recruiter for your business. Or you can just call me. 😉

Jen Selverian is the Founder & President of Nadexa Group, a recruiting firm that has been connecting companies with top digital and social marketing talent for 10 years. She consults with clients to elevate their hiring process and candidate experience, and is the host of Small Business Speaks, a podcast about the people and ideas behind local businesses. You can email her here.

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