One of the major strengths of consistent, top billing recruiters is their ability to clearly identify and qualify their client’s “sense of urgency” about filling open jobs. By doing so, these recruiters can focus their time and energy on jobs that justify this level of attention. This focusing of resource allows them to close more jobs and have higher productivity levels than those of average billers. To do this properly, the recruiter must guide the client through a set of qualifying questions:
Why Is This Job Open?
If it's due to growth, find out the basis for the expansion. The answer could provide good selling points for potential candidates, or you may discover that it's just a "trial balloon" with limited long-term backing from the company. Alternatively, if it's a replacement for someone who has left the position, you need to determine if the person was promoted (and is this position a usual stepping-stone for promotion), transferred within the company (and why), or left the company altogether (was the departure voluntary or otherwise?).
If the position is open because of turnover, you need to discuss with the client whether it is a chronic problem for this position, department, or division. The last thing you need is to become involved with an employer that has a turnover problem that cannot be solved by improving their hiring practices.
Remember: Most turnover problems are not the result of a given person’s inability to do the job. Rather, most turnover is due to an inability of well-intentioned people to work together effectively.
How Long has this Position Been Open?
The length of time the position has been open may throw up some gems too. If it’s a newly created position, the client should have a specific start date, at which time the position will be funded within their budget. If it’s an existing position that has been open for a long time, this could indicate one of four different scenarios:
- An unrealistic job spec
- The position is not attractive to potential employees
- It’s not a high priority for the client to fill this positon
- Variations on any and all of the above
How Many Candidates Have They Interviewed?
The number of candidates they have interviewed together with the length of time the position has been open can and often does say volumes about the client’s sense of urgency. For example, if the position has been open for several months and they have not interviewed anyone to date, it may indicate a low sense of urgency or a change in priorities.
On the flip side, if they have interviewed many candidates and the position is still open, it could be an indicator that they lack clearly defined selection criteria, are indecisive, or have yet to find the right person. Once again, it’s critical to properly qualify the job spec to further define and understand the situation to effectively deliver on the client’s needs.
How Many Offers Have They Made?
If the client has interviewed candidates but not made any offers, find out why. It may be that all the candidates interviewed are still in the initial stages of the process and consequently, they have not reached a point where an offer can be made. However, it could also mean they have yet to interview any candidates who are both qualified and interested in the position.
Most importantly, you need to find out if they have issued any offers that were rejected. If so, ask why. If they don’t know, or if you have any doubts about the reasons, ask the client for contact information on each candidate who has rejected an offer. Stress to them the fact that often a candidate will not give a prospective employer the true reason for rejecting an offer, but you might be able to find out.
Is There Anyone Currently in Contention and If So, What is Their Status?
It seems obvious but many recruiters don’t ask because they assume the client would not be giving them the job if they were already serious about a candidate. Many times, the opposite is true especially if you work on a contingent basis. The client may be serious about a candidate but prior to a final decision, want to ensure they’re making the right decision by comparing your candidates with their own FOR FREE!
Therefore, before you proceed, make sure you ask this question, including the status of all internal candidates.
What Other Sources Have They Used, Are They Using, Or Plan to Use to Fill the Job?
This is the final question to ask. Determine if they have or plan to use other recruiters (specifically whom), social media campaigns, employee referrals, company website, or other forms of marketing and sourcing. If they have been using other sources, ask about the results to date.
The answers to these questions, together with developing an effective working relationship with your clients, will allow you to better determine the priority of each job you have on and ensure that you apply the appropriate amount of resources.
Cameron McLennan works within recruitment technology industry. Outside of work, he loves spending time with his family and playing golf.