Interviewing recruiters all day can provide you with plenty of anecdotes, as you can imagine. There are lots of benefits to meeting recruiters in person, not least, it’s a fantastic way to analyze what the specific trends are in each market, which sectors are performing well versus those which aren’t particularly. In addition to really getting that person’s buy-in and trust.
Hunt the Hunter?
I often get asked; what’s the best way to interview a recruiter?
Interviewing an interviewer has its own challenges a.k.a hunting the hunter?!- so what is the most effective technique to use?
In setting the tone, I believe in being fairly relaxed, I want to see how the recruiter behaves- this is how they will behave in a real work scenario rather than being guarded or hyped up for a formal interview. I want to get to know them, their personal situation, their stresses away from work which can obviously influence them at work! I ask a very open question at the start. “So, why recruitment?”. It’s deliberately ambiguous and enables me to really see broadly what someone is motivated by and what level of passion they have.
I want to know how they win their clients, their candidates. What processes they use, the databases, job boards, techniques used to differentiate from their colleagues and competitors.
Get the evidence
Quantifying the achievements of a recruiter is essential as we could all say something which is fabricated to make ourselves sound better! So, with actual proof of billings in front of me, I get them to talk through not only WHAT they have achieved but HOW they actually did it. I get them to benchmark themselves versus others in the business. Am I talking to the top biller or the bottom of the leader boards?
So what makes you tick?
Let’s talk about motivators and reasons for being on the move. It’s never just about cash, really. Why would someone just move for more money? So probe their reasons, always bring up the fact of counteroffer as if they are good, their current employer won’t want them to leave!
A recruiter is used to asking these questions on a daily basis themselves but it’s so interesting to see how deeply they have thought about their actions/consequences until they are interviewed by me. It can be cathartic and I always suggest to candidates that they reflect on our interview before they meet one of my clients.
To call or not to call, that is the question!
Ask them who DO you want to work for and who DON’T you want to work for. This not only gives you a potential target list to speak to (the Do’s obviously!) but also provides you with proof of their commerciality and competitor knowledge.
Finally, get commitment off them- ask them to call you the next day after they have researched the company/ies you have fully briefed them on. It’s a key indicator of whether someone follows up when they say they will.
The key to a successful interview is probing, being honest, showing integrity, and building trust.
When advising clients, there are companies that use psychometric testing, competency-based questions, and assessment days to establish the right fit. A lot of the time, as interviewers, we use our instinct and judgment. This should never be ignored as even if someone is ticking the right boxes on a test or saying the right thing on a role play, if your gut is telling you this person isn’t right, then learn to listen and trust yourself.
Related: How To Act When Headhunters Call You.