We get asked this from our clients all the time: “ I wish I had the perfect formula for hiring the right kind of recruiter.” For me, there was always that “thing” that made me feel like someone would or wouldn’t be a good fit for the position. In an effort to extract that “thing”, I’ve compiled a list of things that I look for when hiring recruiters.
1. Have they worked for a competitor? And how many competitors? Listen, I know we all want to have someone with experience because that means we don’t have to spend the time training, but more often than not, an agency hopper will end up costing you more in the long run. Sometimes there are very good reasons that someone may have gone from one agency to the next. Consider the agency that they were at, and how long they were at said agencies. Who did they list as a reference there? Was it an owner or manager, or just a coworker? In the end, this person may not be a team player, or may have the “at my old place, we did this” mentality. That is never good for office culture. Oftentimes we put these people on a pedestal and they end up crashing and burning.
2. How does their resume look in terms of previous employment? Were they at their previous jobs long? Did they move up the chain there? You want people who are hungry for advancement. They’ll be starving for the money once they start commissioning! What about clubs or sports that they play? Did they go to college? Look for things that would indicate that this person understands commitment and doesn’t expect the success to come easily. In our line of work, they need to commit to the process and know that success is a result of the hard work they will put in.
3. Stop trying to sell your company. The interview isn’t about how great your agency is; it’s about how well they’ll fit in with your culture. They wouldn’t be there for the interview if they didn’t want the job. Ask a lot of questions, and find out who they are. The more you know, the more you know. And as they tell you about them, don’t feel inclined to jump in and tell them about how your agency can accommodate that. Ask them what they know about your company and the job that they’ll be doing. Have they done their research? Do they know that this job entails countless hours on the phone and hundreds of calls every week?
4. Look for people who are self-aware and emotionally intelligent. Whomever you hire needs to understand their own behaviors and how those behaviors impact a team. Talk with them about their strengths AND weaknesses and how those have impacted teams they’ve worked with in the past in a positive and negative way.
5. Be prepared. Have 10-12 questions that you ask every potential new hire. I’d recommend going back through 10-12 of your top employees and put them through a mock interview. You’ll likely find some common ground with their answers. Then you know what to look for when you go out and interview.
I read an article once, and I believe it was about Zappos, that after 2 weeks on the job, they’d offer new hires $1000 to quit. Seems a little silly, but this is a great approach. It will really help you weed out who is in it to win it and who isn’t cut out for the job. Hey, I’d even recommend doing this at the 2 week, 60 day, 120 day, and 6 month marks. Those are the hardest months to get through and if your recruiters can commit through that, they are likely yours for the long haul.
Please keep in mind, this isn’t an exhaustive list. At the end of the day, you have to trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, it won’t work out in the end.