30 Client Questions That Will Save You Time and Make You Money

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Apr 25, 2013

Just like a golfer tees up the ball to optimize their drive for distance and accuracy, a Recruiter needs to prepare thoroughly before embarking on a candidate search, to maximize the chances for a successful outcome.

Proper qualification of a new requirement or job order is both a critical part of the recruiting process and great opportunity to further cement the relationship with your client. I’ve seen too many recruiters scurry off at the sniff of a new job order and start blasting away without having much of a clue as to the nature of the requirement or their chances of success.

I have worked with a multitude of recruiters and account managers in my 20 years in the industry in the UK and the USA. Most recently, I was the managing director of Kforce’s Silicon Valley Technology Practice. Everyone has their own recruiting processes and some people choose to fly by the seat of their pants. I am, however, a big fan of checklists and thought I would share one of my favorites. I hope you find it beneficial, You can even follow the link at the bottom of the page to my website and download it as a PDF.

Who To Invite

Marcus Edwardes
Marcus Edwardes

I have always made a habit of scheduling a meeting or conference call with my client at the outset of any new assignment — contract or permanent. Once I have scheduled the meeting or call, I will also invite any associates who will be involved in the search to join by conference call, including sourcers, recruiters, account managers and sometimes even a friendly techie. (This really helps with “buy-in” if you are sharing the responsibilities for the search)

5 To Assess the Value

The first set of questions will allow you to properly assess the value of the opportunity and prioritize resources and efforts accordingly. (Or walk away). Don’t underestimate the power of these questions — they’ll save you a great deal of time and wasted effort in the long run, and you will also set yourself apart from the competition by demonstrating your comprehensive and professional approach.

  1. How long have you been looking to fill this position?
  2. How many people have you interviewed for this position?
  3. What are the consequences of this position remaining unfilled? (This is a killer question for determining level of urgency)
  4. If I found you the perfect candidate today, could you interview him tomorrow and have him start on Monday? If not, what are your timescales?
  5. How many companies are currently submitting resumes for this position? What is your pipeline looking like right now?

Once armed with this information, you will in a good position to measure the business opportunity (for you) and continue your questioning accordingly. If your interest is waning already (client has strong pipeline or urgency is low), be honest with your client about your priorities. Better to wrap the meeting up now and save everyone some time than make promises you can’t keep.

Next, Candidate Type

Let’s continue and pursue a line of questioning to examine the type of candidate we are seeking, from a skills and experience perspective:

  1. What is driving the need for the hiring of this individual (project, replacement, deadline etc.)
  2. Please tell me about the project or projects the candidate will work on?
  3. Can you elaborate on the business initiatives/problems the successful candidate will be involved in solving?
  4. What are the “deliverables” for this position over the course of the first year/ duration of the contract?
  5. Please, can you give me an overview of the technical skills you are looking for in suitable candidates? What are the “must haves” as opposed to the “nice to haves?” To what depth must they understand the “must haves?”
  6. Are you seeking candidates with specific domain knowledge? (Healthcare/ finance/ technology, etc.)
  7. Are there any other special skills you are looking for (soft skills, communication/writing, etc.) Maybe you can tell a little bit about one of your employees who is currently successful in this position? (Continue to probe and look for “hot buttons.”)

Work Environment Questions

Now let’s add some color to the picture by looking at the work environment:

  1. What size is the team he would be joining?
  2. Would he be reporting directly to you?
  3. What size is the company (revenue or employees)? How many locations etc.?
  4. Can you tell me a little about the culture of the company, and any differentiators that may help us in attracting high quality candidates when we are headhunting? (In other words, how does the client “sell the opportunity” when he identifies a candidate he wants to hire?)
  5. What attracted you to the firm?
  6. Are there any opportunities for a flexible work schedule or work from home days?

Now, the Facts and Figures

OK, now let’s get some facts and figures:

  1. What is the ceiling on the compensation/rate for this position? (Client says $90k: “So Mr Client, if I found the perfect candidate for $100k would you still be interested in seeing the resume?”
  2. I understand this a Perm/Contract position – correct? (If contract – ask rate and duration) Would you consider contract to hire? (Sell the benefits.)
  3. Are you open to candidates who need an H1b transfer? Do you sponsor green cards?
  4. Do you have a job spec? “Great – what’s your email address – I’ll drop you a line right away so you can send it over.”

Setting Expectations

Now it’s time to determine the hiring process and set expectations:

  1. What kind of turnaround can I expect for feedback on resumes? (Push for same day. Any more than 24 hours is not good. Great candidates are scarce and will be snapped up.)
  2. What is your process for interviewing/hiring? (Telescreen/Skype/face-to-face, etc).
  3. How many interviews are standard (and with whom)?
  4. Shall I submit resumes to you?
  5. What are the best days/time of day to schedule interviews with you?
  6. Would you consider hiring over Skype (for out of state candidates —  means you can broaden the search)
  7. Confirm your client’s contact info, job title, address and email. Ask  for a mobile number “in case I need to get hold of you in a hurry.”
  8. Thank your client for their time!

Summary Approach

In conclusion I advise the following approach:

  • Confirm with the client that you have a good understanding of the position and repeat back the salient points of the conversation so far.
  • Explain briefly your recruiting process, and set your client’s expectations on submission of resumes.
  • Confirm the client’s commitment to swift feedback on submissions.
  • If you are supremely confident or have a solid pipeline of candidates – ask for some time in his calendar next week to set up interviews!