Finding The Best Recruiter


Find them and you will find the best people for your team.

Do you know what to look for? How to check that they do what they say they do?

Do you know how to get your recruiter to work harder for you so that you get their best candidates?

Who is the best recruiter for your business?

When you choose a recruiter to work with, you are choosing an organisation to represent YOU and your organisation.

They will be attracting and engaging candidates for your business and be part of your People Plans, a contributor to the growth and success of your business. They are helping you create the right culture in your business.

Do you have an agency on your Preferred Supplier List? Do they deserve to be there?

  • Did you choose them because they offered amazing testimonials from existing clients?
  • Do their consultants have a lot of experience?
  • Do they demonstrate an understanding of business? Of people? Of the demographics of your local area?
  • How do they interview for you?
  • Are they the right person for your business?
  • Do you think they reflect your ethics and values?

If you have a values driven business, it is essential that your external relationships reflect that too.

Interview your recruiter!

There are certain things that you are entitled to ask them, that you should ask them and keep asking them.

Here is a list of the standards to which any self-respecting agency would expect to be held:

Competing for your Business

Working on your job is important to a recruiter, it is an opportunity for them to earn money. Ask them for what you want, and ask them for their advice. These are some things to consider when talking to prospective suppliers of recruitment services

How do they handle:

  • Applicant attraction
  • Candidate interviews
  • Eligibility to work checks
  • GDPR
  • Arranging interviews
  • Managing an offer
  • Fees and rebate/guarantees
  • Post hire support

Ask them their success ratios:

  • Of the CVs they send to their clients – how many are selected for interview?
  • Of the candidates interviewed – how many are offered the job? How many job offers are declined and why?

How many times have they had to replace a candidate or pay a rebate in the last 12 months?

What were the reasons?

Initial Meetings – Client Discovery sessions

How much time are they putting into finding out about what makes your business different? what kind of people you need, what experience, attitude do you need for your business? What kind of culture do you have? Your benefits, flexible working options, parking, what makes your company a great place to work? Have they met you to discuss this?  Who is looking after your account? Do you have a dedicated consultant to work with or do you just have to email your job description to the manager and then get a bundle of CVs from someone you have never spoken to?  Are you happy with the ethics and values of that consultant and that recruitment business?

Applicant Attraction

Do they write an advert using their specialist skills and knowledge of the industry and local area or do they just post your job description straight onto the internet? Do you look at their adverts? Do they accurately and positively profile your organisation and the job? Even an experienced recruiter will find that writing an advert for a business about which they know nothing, will be very difficult. Even harder will be briefing the candidates and shortlisting if they know little about your business.

Candidate Interviewing

Do you know how long they spend interviewing candidates for your jobs? Does it make a difference to you if they meet the candidates? Have they said they will meet them? Are they supplying you with Candidate Profiles? Interview Notes? What percentage of candidates they send you are you inviting in for interview?  Ask your recruiter to talk you through the CVs they have sent you. They should be able to give you a lot of detail about each candidate submitted – ask them about the candidate – ask them to talk you through the CV submissions.

Candidate Experience

Does it matter to you how the candidates are treated by the recruiter representing your business? Are the recruiters from this agency conducting effective interviews? Or just having a “quick chat”? How do you assess how well the recruiter is treating the candidates?  Do the candidates enjoy their interaction with the recruiters? Would they recommend them to others? When you interview candidates from your selected recruiter – do you ask “How did you get on with Jayne at Better People? How would you rate their service?”

Recruiter Evaluation, Communication and Regular Reviews

  • How often do you evaluate their effectiveness?
  • How many of the jobs you give them do they fill?
  • How many CVs do they send you to secure an interview?
  • How many of the candidates booked in for interview fail to turn up?
  • How many interviews for candidates from their organisation convert to an offer from your business?
  • Do you make them part of this evaluation process? How often do you ask them to come in and talk through their results, their success ratios?
  • Do you know what difficulties they are experiencing finding people for you or working with you?   Is there a “work around solution”?
  • Can you train the right person on a particular software rather than insisting on finding people with that experience?
  • Maybe your managers are taking too long to make a decision about a candidate and this means they are losing them to other businesses….
  • Perhaps a lack of flexibility around working hours is affecting the people they can attract into your business.

Good recruiters  can tell you what other companies are doing and offering which you may be able to easily offer as well.  Do they know what your future plans are so that they can start to look at attracting candidates for those requirements?  Maybe you are looking for a category of staff who are in short supply in your area, if you discuss this with your recruiter, it may help you with those plans, to decide how flexible you can be about requirements, whether you may need to take on an interim in the short term, or outsource that part of the work, while you recruit for the right people.  Are you encouraging a two- way communication to ensure that they will bring ideas and innovation to you? Or are you keeping them at arms’ length and not talking to them at all? It is usual for recruiters to expect to attend a review meeting with their clients at least once a quarter. Ask to meet the consultant who is working on your jobs – great if the manager wants to come too, but unless they are the ones working on your vacancies, the value of the meeting is reduced.

Organisations that recruit often, will create a Preferred Supplier List to include their selected preferred recruiters. They ask a number of agencies to compete for their business. Sometimes the only criteria for selecting those agencies is that they have a high street presence which seems to suggest they will have many more candidates and that they agree to work for a reduced charge rate.

Asking recruiters to work at a reduced rate is a tricky one. Of course a high volume of jobs to work on from one client, should be worth a discount, but pushing an agency into a much lower rate than they are comfortable with, will only mean that when they have a great candidate with the skills you are looking for and you have them on an 11% fee and they have another client with the same requirements but they are on 16%- guess which organisation gets those good candidates’ CV first? Recruiters are targeted on the amount of money they invoice each month, so it is worth taking that into consideration.  It is reasonable to expect a reduction in fee because if the consultant works with you often, the work is easier as they have an in depth understanding of your needs as they have worked with you many times.

I write about this because I hear about the poor service that companies get from recruiters, I hear business owners, internal recruiters and HR Managers complain about the way agencies work. I hear clients say that candidates have not been interviewed or briefed by the recruiter, know nothing about the job they are interviewing for or the business they are going to.

I hear companies complain about the number of candidate interviews they have booked into their diaries where the candidates don’t show up.

I heard an HR Manager for a big media company say recently that their best Preferred Supplier agency submitted an average of 8 CVs before they secured an interview!  What amazes me is that I don’t hear of other business services where the clients continue to accept such poor service without addressing it or changing supplier!

So –

  • Ask your recruiters what they are going to do for you, ask them to do what you want them to do for you and make sure they are doing it. Agree a level of service that you expect.
  • Talk to them, get to know the person who is actually going to be working on your jobs, who is going to be briefing candidates about your business.
  • Make sure that the organisations you have chosen to bring people into your business are really representing your values, standards and ethics.
  • Ask them to provide the data around their recruitment for you. If they could do better and don’t want to improve, don’t work with them any more! Ask them about their success ratios how many client interviews convert to a placement/offer?
  • Give them the chance to be consultants – ask them about the market, what other businesses are doing, how they think they can improve the recruitment process for you, how they can improve their service for you.
  • Do your part of course- give quick and detailed feedback on CVs submitted, set interview dates quickly, don’t leave a long time between first and second interviews, treat the candidates well and make your job offers quickly.


There are recruiters out there who want to be held to account for doing things properly and will be proud to give you their success ratios, will want to hear what their candidates are saying about them and really want to work hard for their clients and attract the very best people for their client’s businesses.

I am happy to discuss any aspect of this if it will help you secure the right recruiters to work with and tailor your recruitment to suit your bsuiness.

I hope this will help you to make the relationship with your chosen recruiter an effective one, which will help them to bring the very best people into your business to  help you achieve your business growth goals.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.