Why does a recruitment agency ask so many questions?

Why does a recruitment agency ask so many questions?

Recruitment consultants need to gather a lot of information before they can open a search for their client.

When an employer talks to a recruitment agency the recruiter or recruitment consultant they meet is trying to take what we call a Job Order. This is a set of instructions to perform a piece of recruitment work according to specified requirements. Much recruitment activity fails because the job order is incomplete. In a larger organisation this can be because the recruiter has failed to gather the required information from the hiring manager and in a smaller organisation it can mean that the owner or general manager did not share enough information about the position early in the process.

The Organisation

For the recruitment agency the starting point is what we already know about the work environment and the structure of the organisation. Organizational information to add to this should include:

  • The size of the team the successful candidate would be joining
  • The direct and indirect reporting lines
  • The size of the company, (revenue or employees) and how many locations it has.

After that the recruiter needs to gather specific information about the position which they are hiring for.

The Position

The simplest way for the recruiter to gather the information is to use a standard checklist of questions. Gathering the answers should be considered the ‘kick-off’ point of the recruitment process so it is vital that all the questions are answered.

Below is a list of questions our recruitment consultants use as the basis for the checklist:

  • Why do you need to fill this position?
  • Why are the functions of the job important to the company?
  • What will happen if you are unable to fill the position?

By asking these questions the recruiter will find out how important the job order is to the company and that information will indicate how quickly or slowly they will move through the hiring process.

Other question might be:

  • What is the history of the position?
  • Who is/was in the position – why did they leave?
  • How long have you been looking to fill this position?
  • How many people have applied for this job already and why didn’t you hire them?

The answers to these questions will let the recruiter know what the ‘deal-breakers’ are for the hiring manager.

More basic information is gathered by asking:

  • What type of compensation package are you offering for this job?
  • How flexible are you with the salary range you are willing to consider?
  • Is there a ceiling to the budget (a top-end above which we cannot consider candidates)?
  • If the recruiter finds a candidate that meets all of the requirements how quickly can you hire them?
  • What will happen if this position remains unfilled?

This last one is a killer question to find out how urgent this hiring really is!

The Person

And then questions about the tasks that the person in the position will be required to do:

  • What project or projects will the person be working on?
  • What business initiatives/problems will the successful candidate be involved in solving?
  • What are the “deliverables” for this position over the first three months / six months / year?
  • What are the technical skills you are looking for in suitable candidates?
  • Are there any other special skills you are looking for like soft skills, communication or writing?

The answers to these questions are important to build the ‘person specification’ – this is effectively a detailed description of the person the recruiter is going to search for.

The recruiter should also find out as much as possible about the company culture as this often dominates the kind of people the company will want to hire. All successful recruitment considers the type of person who does well in the particular work environment and who will be a ‘cultural fit’.

The Process

To recruit effectively a recruitment consultant needs to gather information from the hiring manager to be clear on the hiring process and to set expectations.

Everybody involved also needs to understand that the process will fail if the company cannot stick to a timeframe for the various stages: feedback on CVs, interviewing, feedback on interviews and the offer stage. If the hiring manager does not accept that great candidates are scarce and that they have to be managed into the company then this will probably cause the process to fail. The Human Resources Manager usually needs to make a clear schedule that everyone can stick to as this will make recruitment process more likely to be successful.

After the recruiter has gathered all the information needed at the job order stage, they should have a thorough understanding of who the client is looking for and how everyone involved in the process is going to participate.

That is the reason the recruiter asks so many questions!


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