Tough Questions Clients Ask (and How to Answer Them)

Getting the decision maker on the phone is your first victory in the journey towards making your fee, but how do you keep them on the phone long enough to convince them to give you the job?

Here’s a run-through of some of the toughest questions clients and prospects will ask you during that crucial first phone call, and how to answer in a way that shows you’re the expert they need to solve their hiring challenges.

"Why are you more expensive than other agencies?"

Everyone’s looking for the best value for their money and that’s why most prospects will try to push you down on cost. When they ask why you’re ‘more expensive’ than other agencies, what they’re really asking is, “What am I getting in return for the extra expense?”.

You and the client already know the answer to this question – you get what you pay for! But it isn’t uncommon for them to put you on the spot with a question like this.

How to answer this question…

If the client is asking about price, they already want to buy, so turn this question into an opportunity to find out (and highlight!) where your competitors are falling short and use this to your advantage. You can say something along the lines of:

It’s great to hear that you work with agencies – you’re obviously taking your recruitment strategy seriously. Who are you working with at the moment and how are you finding working with them?”

If your competitors have agreed to low rates, you can be sure the client won’t be a priority to them. You can then offer a solution to the problems the prospect is facing with other agencies. By doing this, you show the value that you’ll add and justify why your services cost a little extra: Because they’re better.

Read: How to overcome the PSL objection in recruitment. 

"How will you update me on the progress of this hire?"

Of course clients want to know what they are paying for, but it can be tough to strike the right balance between being informative and overloading them with contact to the point that they dread your phone calls.

If a prospect asks you this question, it’s likely they’ve had a bad experience with pushy or aggressive recruiters in the past, so how you answer this could make or break the opportunity.

How to answer this question…

Every client is different, so ask how they’d like to be kept in the loop and respect that. Whether that be regular email updates or a scheduled weekly call - just asking this simple question helps you stand out from the crowd and shows that you actually listen. It’s also great opportunity to demonstrate that you’re flexible and able to work around their needs.

If your CRM has a client login feature (here’s how Firefish Enterprise does this) you can offer this as a bespoke value-add that’s unique to your service. It’s a great way give transparency on the process without badgering the client with calls.

These tools can also highlight the ‘behind the scenes’ work that clients don’t usually see. Such as number of candidates screened for the shortlist, the amount of contact you have with prospects as well as providing insights into how you’re selling their company and role.

"Can you give me a free replacement?"

Avoid offering a free replacement at all costs. You’re a recruiter not a value supermarket - you don’t do buy-one-get-one-free! You’re offering a service and you need to be paid for the hard work that you do.  If you offer a free replacement you are essentially halving your fee by doing twice as much work for the value of one placement. 

This is a question that every recruiter dreads, but don’t worry - here’s how to get round it…


How to answer this question…

To tackle this one, you need to have a solid answer that shows you’re not solely in it to make a quick buck, but you actually care about the outcome.

Explain the measures you put in place to ensure you only send them right-fit candidates who will be fully committed to their role. Highlight the pre-screening process, compliance checks and the lengths you go to in order to assess cultural fit too. Essentially, you do everything possible to ensure the candidate is always a perfect fit for your clients, so anything that happens outside of this is entirely out of your control.

Additionally, you could also offer alternatives to a free replacement. A common alternative is to offer a refund based on how long the candidate worked at the firm, with the amount to be paid back decreasing over a three-month basis. This means if the candidate leaves after two months you retain most of the fee.

If the client isn’t willing to budge and will only accept a free replacement, this is a big red flag! Free replacements are naturally a priority of companies with high attrition rates, which means they’re probably not going to be a very nice place for your candidates to work. Consider walking away and spending your time on better clients!

"Why would a retainer get me a better candidate?"

This is a tough question and for many of us, pitching for retainers is a daunting task that we’d rather just avoid because contingency is our comfort zone and what we know best.

If you’ve taken the plunge to sell a retainer to a prospect only to be faced with this tough question, kudos for taking the plunge and don’t worry – there are ways to

How to answer this question…

Use this question as an opportunity to sell your services and explain the benefits of going retained over contingency. Highlight the services you would provide exclusively on a retained contract so they understand why they’re paying upfront.

It’s logical that one recruiter working 100% of their time on one role will get much better results than ten recruiters juggling that position with various other jobs they’re working at the same time – it’s just a matter of helping the client to understand this.

We know how challenging this question can be to answer, which is why we’ve put together an eBook on how to sell retainers to clients and prospects. Click to download below!

Recruitment Retainers

Sophie Cunningham

Sophie is a Content Marketer here at Firefish! After working as a 360 Recruiter she found her perfect niche here at Firefish writing about recruitment.

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