Not too long ago, we published a blog post: How to Hire a Great Recruiter. It’s a topic that we’ve been thinking about on and off for nearly 16 years and it’s recently resurfaced in a big way as the economy continues to show signs of improvement. Currently, as executives at a leading corporate applicant tracking software provider, we come into contact with hundreds of organizations that are looking for internal recruiting support. Literally, a day doesn’t go by that our team doesn’t get asked to refer a good corporate recruiter.

Unfortunately, too many companies make costly mistakes by not vetting their recruiters properly. This leads to inefficiency, wasted time, wasted resources, diminished status within the corporate hierarchy, etc. It’s not surprising. In recent years, recruiting has gotten more sophisticated. Once closed networks are wide open. Today, it’s less about processing people and more about leveraging technology, relationship building and managing information. Now more than ever, it takes talented corporate recruiters to find talented employees.

So, what’s the fundamental formula for hiring a successful corporate recruiter? Here is a guide that will help distill the characteristics so your organization has the best chance at hiring successful corporate recruiters. These must-have attributes have been developed with the help of an industrial psychologist who administered a series of tests benchmarking top performing corporate recruiters over the past 4 years.  We encourage individual organizations to use this guide as a foundation. We’ve intentionally kept the rationale broad so this guide can be used by a wide variety of organizations.

About this guide

The following is an interview guide for hiring a successful corporate recruiter. The key traits are listed in bold. A list of behavioral interview questions is provided to help screen for each trait. Take a few minutes and reflect on your conversation with the candidate and compare your observations against the high/low probabilities listed after the questions.

Download Your Guide to Hiring a Recruiter

Focus

Every corporate recruiting process is full of iterative tasks that require consistency and focus to complete. With the amount of information created in a corporate recruiting processes, it’s not good enough to just be ‘good with people’ anymore. Successful corporate recruiters must be disciplined, organized and efficient.

Key questions:

 

  • What is your style of work – do you prefer a sustained pace or working in bursts while taking breaks?
  • Where do you waste most of your time (when you do)? Do you get distracted easily?
  • How do you organize your typical day? Describe a typical day. What tools do you use to organize your time?
  • What is the most irritating part of your current / last job- the part you wished you could have delegated? Why? How did you end up handling these tasks?
  • Give me a recent example of a situation you faced that needed your immediate attention. What happened? How did you handle it?
  • How do you prioritize tasks? When do you find time to do those iterative tasks that we all do as  recruiters like search for candidates and post jobs?
High Probability of SuccessLow Probability of Success
Task OrientedSocial Orientation
PurposefulnessFlighty
Need to Complete TasksNeed to Relate
IntenseEasily Distracted
SeriousFrivolous
PreparedWinging it
Need for AchievementDisorganized

Confidence

Recruiting can be a pretty thankless job. Often times, recruiters take the heat when jobs go unfilled whether it’s their fault or not. When jobs do get filled quickly, a recruiter’s job or contract can be in jeopardy. And, in many industries, recruiters face steady diet of rejection that is often due to factors like intense competition, lack of hiring manager respect, etc. As such, successful recruiters must be self-reliant, assertive and highly confident.

Key questions:

  • Please give me an example of a time when you’ve faced a contentious situation at work with a peer or hiring manager and describe how you solved it.
  • How soon could you learn this job, our space, our company well enough to be productive?
  • What kind of criticism have you been given by your managers and peers in previous positions? How appropriate is that feedback?
  • We all have our ups and downs. What typically can pull you out of a “funk”? How to you manage your “attitude adjustments”?
  • What is one of the biggest disappointments you have experienced professional or personally? How did you weather it?
  • Tell me about the most challenging internal customer you’ve ever had and how you were successful in building a working relationship with that person.
  • Rating yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being low and 10 being high, how would the people you work with rate you as a recruiter”?  How would you rate yourself?  Why?
  • How do you prefer to receive critical feedback?
  • Tell me how you deal with a candidate when they reject a job offer? What do you do after a candidate has rejected your offer?
High Probability of SuccessLow Probability of Success
Emotionally SecureInsecure
Self-AssuredNeeds Praise
Even-TemperedEmotional
Believes in his / her abilitiesSelf-doubting
Self-AcceptingSelf-depreciative
Weathers DisappointmentPensive
Optimistic / PositiveNegative / Pessimistic

Resourcefulness

Heavy req-loads, low budgets, lack of modern tools, highly nuanced jobs and unresponsive managers are just a few of the challenges that corporate recruiters face every day. A successful corporate recruiter must be the MacGyver of the company, an independent, uber-resourceful soul able to make use of the most limited resources to solve any problem with little or no support. Additionally, given that recruiting has almost entirely shifted online, recruiters must now be “digitally resourceful”. A notebook and spreadsheet doesn’t cut it anymore. Recruiters have to be technically competent. willing to adopt new technologies and ready to jump into the deep end – head first.

Key questions:

  • Provide an example of a time when management would not allow you to take necessary action, even though you felt it was necessary to do so. (For example, a chance in process.)
  • Have you worked in an organization that did not provide all of the tools to do your job successfully? How did that impact yon and what did you do to overcome it?
  • Give me an example of a time when you were given tasks to accomplish without advance warning or proper tools. What was your approach?
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to learn a new system, process or tool on the “fly”. What was your approach?
  • How would you rate your ability to learn new technical / internet tools. Give me an example of a time you were asked to use a new tool. How fast were you able to come up to speed?
  • What are your three favorite recruiting tools? Describe how you use these tools every day? What do you think are emerging recruiting technologies and why?
  • How do you stay on top of trends and innovations in the recruiting industry? What recruiting centric news do you read? What are you favorite recruiting content websites?
High Probability of SuccessLow Probability of Success
AdaptableStaid
Thinks Well “On the Fly”Inflexible
Need for AutonomyFormulaic
UnconventionalDependent
EntrepreneurialConforming
Tech-SavvyNot Tech Savvy
Intellectually CuriousUninspired

Hiring a successful corporate recruiter is as important as ever. As the economy continues to gain strength, talent will increasingly become harder to attract and hire in nearly every industry.  Hiring a recruiter for their “network,” because they have been a recruiter for a decade or because they have experience at a hot company should take a backseat to looking for the person with the right traits. A successful corporate recruiter will have the focus to be successful in a dynamic environment, the confidence to become productive immediately, and the resourcefulness to get the job done.

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