Questions to Ask Your Recruiter

By Klaus Kokott, Partner, Kokott, Wood & Associates, Inc.

Whether you’re a candidate or client, choosing the right recruiter and firm is one of the most critical steps in the job seeking or placement process. With literally thousands of firms to choose from, making the best choice can be a daunting task.

In many respects, two key questions one would ask a recruiter are similar to those a hiring manager might ask of a candidate or what a candidate might ask during an interview. While we could certainly write about numerous other points, let’s focus on two key questions.

Does the recruiter you’re considering have actual industry experience? This is important for the candidate because the recruiter would be able to ask very pertinent questions about their successes or skill sets, helping to uncover some great qualities that a client might find useful. When clients work with recruiters possessing actual industry experience, it means the recruiter will quickly be able to identify the skill sets and aptitudes a candidate must possess in order to succeed in that role. If the recruiter does not have the requisite industry experience and exposure, they’re not prepared to ask the important questions or to understand the candidate responses relative to the job. They’re also likely simply utilizing an Internet-based candidate pool like Monster, locating candidates simply by typing in the client’s job title. Anyone with a monthly subscription and a keyboard can do that. This does not add value. What sort of industry connections or job experience would a recruiter with sales experience in the furniture, auto, pharma or manufacturing world be able to call upon for a Category Manager or VP of Retail Operations search for a large Convenience Store Chain, for example?

How long has the firm’s team of recruiters been working together? What’s the average tenure of the individual recruiters at that firm? Why so much turnover? If you’re a candidate who’s been impacted by our recent economy and has experienced several job changes in a very short time frame, you know all about the questions hiring managers will ask. They’re very valid questions, and they should be asked of a recruiting firm as well. If a change happened once, that’s coincidence. However, if the pattern is repetitive, there are likely other problems lurking underneath. If a hiring manager felt that way about a candidate or a job seeker recognized pervasive employee turnover in a department or with a company in general, is it worth taking the risk? What happens if the candidate must be replaced? Will a recruiter without industry experience be asked to handle that search? Firms with tenured recruiters and team members with long term working relationships approach their candidates and clients with a long term perspective. While the team members may be working on individual assignments, the atmosphere of teamwork means they interconnect with regards to candidates and clients. Clients and candidates benefit because they have a true team working for them. Any department manager knows that new or constantly rotating employees cannot miraculously be corralled to work as a team. It takes lots of time an effort.

Hiring outstanding candidates and searching for a great career opportunity are incredibly important steps for success on both sides of the employment picture. Asking the right questions of your recruiter will prove to be very beneficial in achieving both objectives.

Editor’s Note: Klaus Kokott of Partner, Kokott, Wood & Associates, Inc. will be on hand at The NATSO Show 2013 to provide one-on-one consulting in the Human Library. Appointments for the Human Library can be made by contacting Kimberly Roberts at (703) 739-8573 or – AT


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