How to find the best recruitment agency for you – 9 questions you can ask

Business women sitting in a meeting, deciding on what recruitment agency to choose

Choosing a recruitment agency to help you fill your new job openings is an important decision—after all, the candidate will become someone you’ll likely spend a lot of time working with. And while every agency should do their best to match the right candidate to the open role, without due diligence you might find yourself working with an agency who’s not best positioned to help you. Different recruitment agencies have different specialities. Some will focus on industry—from tech to healthcare—while others will focus on type of contract. You’ve also got agencies that specialise in C-level executives, multilingual candidates, or headhunting.

With that in mind, let’s look at 9 questions to ask recruitment agencies you’re interested in working with. These questions can help you find out if the agency is a right fit for you, and can deliver the candidates you are looking for.  This isn’t by any means an exhaustive list, but the agency’s answers should demonstrate their approach to working, and allow you to see if you’re on the same page or not.

What does the agency think is the biggest challenge when it comes to filling the open role(s)? How would they approach this challenge?

This is a good place to start because it encourages the potential recruitment agency to focus on your particular case and provide you with an answer tailored to your open role. This will show you whether or not they have an action plan in place, and how experienced they are at dealing with the search for the perfect candidate. There will inevitably be challenges along the way, so it’s important you know how the agency is planning to circumvent these issues before they arise.

What does the agency know about your industry and this type of role?

As noted, different agencies are good at different things. You don’t necessarily need to go with an agency who focuses on your industry, but it’s worth ensuring they have the required knowledge, especially if the role is particularly technical. You could consider asking what experience the agency has in sourcing candidates for similar roles, and how they’d go about approaching the search.

What type of roles is the agency working on at the moment?

The agency’s answer to this question will give you an insight into how quickly they might be able to help you fill the open role(s): if they’re working on several other similar vacancies, chances are they’ll be able to start conversations with potential candidates immediately. If the roles the agency is currently filling are very different—whether in seniority or industry—that might be a sign that the search will take longer.

What does the agency think is a reasonable benefit package for the role?

Recruitment agencies can help you with so much more than purely sourcing candidates for your open roles. They’re also partners with expert knowledge who can advise on everything from benefits to how much candidates will expect to be paid in the role. Asking this question before deciding which recruitment agency to work with will ensure you’re on the same page, and will show you how much understanding the agency has of the market and standard salaries.

How often will you receive updates on the ongoing search/searches?

Now for more of a practical question: finding candidates for open roles is a high-stakes and a potentially stressful time for many companies, and they want to know they’re in good hands. Part of this boils down to good communication, so ensure you’re asking potential agencies how often you can expect to hear updates. For project recruitment, it’s common to have one or two weekly conversations to discuss feedback on candidates, plan interviews, and coordinate the process with hiring teams—but it’s normal for this number to vary depending on the roles you’re looking to fill. The most important part? That everyone’s on the same page when it comes to frequency of check-ins.

Who will be your dedicated recruiter for the search, and what is their experience level?

This usually boils down to the size of agency you’re considering, and the number of roles you’ve got to fill. It’s important to know if you’ll have a dedicated Account Manager conducting the recruitment process, because this person will represent your brand to potential new hires. You’ll want to ensure you’ve got a good click with this individual, and that you trust them to be your ‘eyes’ in the early stages of the process. The reputation of your company is at stake here, so choose wisely, and ensure you’re comfortable with the potential agency’s response.

What is the average tenure of a recruitment consultant with the agency?

This is a good question to ask if you’re happy with a number of different recruitment agencies, and you’re trying to decide between them. Answers to this question will give you an insight into the agencies’ various work cultures: the more time recruiters spend with the agency, the more likely it is that the company has a healthy culture and employees enjoy working there. This working culture also affects clients, so it’s a good question to really get under the agency’s skin.

What are the agency’s company values?

In a similar vein, it’s important to partner with companies whose values you share. This is particularly key when choosing a recruitment agency, because they’ll be more inclined to find candidates who in turn share similar values. The more aligned your values are, the more likely it is that you’ll have a smooth recruitment process.

Why does the agency want to work on this project?

Finally, motivation matters in all aspects of recruitment. Answers to this question will reflect the time investment and priority level of this agency, and are a good way to differentiate if you can’t decide between two or three different agencies.

At the end of the day, if you put in the effort to find a dedicated recruitment agency who is passionate about finding the right candidate for your open roles, you’ll hopefully be able to build a partnership for the long-term. Over time, the agency will know your company and your needs inside out, and will be able to play a major role in identifying and attracting top talent who’ll grow with your organisation.

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