How do you know if a recruiting agency will be a trusted partner or not?
Short of making reference calls, it’s tough to know. Some agencies think of themselves as salespeople whose job is done when they get paid. These are the people who treat candidates like inventory, and wouldn’t mind replacing your entire recruiting team.
Thankfully, there are a few questions you can ask beforehand that will help you identify a true partner agency.
5 questions to ask to identify a solid HR agency partner
- “How do you get paid?”
This is the most important question. If they answer “we get paid when we start working!”, then run for the hills. You wouldn’t start paying the salary of an employee before you even see their resume, so you shouldn’t trust an agency who wants to bill you before you’ve hired the right one (much less interviewed any).
- “What happens if we don’t like the candidate?”
If they answer in generalities like, “In our ten years of experience, we’ve developed processes and tricks that help us choose the right candidates….” then, once again, run for the hills. Recruiting is both parts art and science. No recruiter can identify the perfect candidate 100 percent of the time. So if they don’t have a warranty process in place that guarantees your investment for the first several months, they probably won’t be a trusted partner.
- “Have you solved my problem before?”
Not every agency can fill massive orders and source 10,000 applicants within a week, and likewise not every agency can fill niche, highly technical roles. Look for a partner that has been there before and can lead the way. If your problem is brand new territory for them, it will be less of a partnership and more of a trial-and-error process.
- “How will you work together with our team?”
Agency recruiters aren’t competitors to your in-house team. A proper partner agency will have several options laid out for working with your team, from sharing sourcing duties, to the ideal interview hand-off process. The best agencies are eager to land the right candidate, and that means using all the resources at their disposal, including in-house HR teams.
- “What happens if we need more than recruiting help?”
Recruitment is only one piece of the puzzle, and working with a recruiter does not by itself constitute a partnership. A true HR partner will be able to come alongside every part of the journey, from creating a strategic hiring and onboarding plan, to recruitment and staffing, to performance management and consulting. In short, a partner is with you every step of the way.
Count the cost
Finding and managing talent is one of the most important tasks in your entire organization. A great partner agency can double or triple your effectiveness. But the wrong choice will cost you. Once you’ve asked these five questions of your potential HR agency, you’ll have a better idea whether you’re dealing with a transactional recruiter, or a true partner.
PS: Need a more concrete method of seeing whether you’re being overcharged for recruitment services? Try our Recruiting Calculator tool for free.