What are the most important questions that should be asked when considering working with a recruitment agency?

What are the most important questions that should be asked when considering working with a recruitment agency?


cherrydeck rMILC1PIwM0 unsplash scaled - Your People Partners

Choosing the right recruitment agency to help you in your job search can make a world of difference. There are many agencies out there, and it can be difficult to decide which one to trust.

To make sure you’re working with the right agency, it’s important to ask the right questions. In this blog post, we’ll provide you with the five essential questions you need to ask a recruitment agency before deciding to work with them. By using this guide, you’ll be able to make an informed decision and ensure that you’re working with the right recruitment agency.

1) What are the agency’s core values?

When it comes to choosing a recruitment agency to work with, it’s essential to understand their core values. Most recruitment agencies have their own set of core values. These will inform how they conduct business and the services they provide.

By asking a recruitment agency their core values, you can gain insight into how they operate and if they will be a good fit for you. Some core values that recruitment agencies prioritize include professionalism, integrity, collaboration, and trust. Understanding these values will help you assess if they are aligned with your goals and interests.

For example, if you are looking for a recruitment agency that puts an emphasis on professional relationships, then you should inquire about their policies on communication and feedback. Similarly, if you value integrity in business dealings, you may want to ask about their methods for verifying job candidates.

2) What is the agency’s process for finding candidates?

Finding the right recruitment agency can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Ask the right questions before signing a contract to ensure you’re working with the best agency for your needs. One of the most important questions to ask a recruitment agency is about their process for finding candidates.

Every recruitment agency has its approach to sourcing candidates, so it’s vital to understand the agency’s methods and effectiveness. For example, some agencies may use a more targeted approach to find potential job seekers with the exact skills you need, while others may take a more broad approach and try to fill positions with a wide range of candidates.

You’ll want to ensure that the recruitment agency you’re working with has an approach that works for you and your specific needs.

Always ask if the agency will ensure candidates have ample time to do their due diligence. If they’re surprised you ask this, then they may not be suitable for your company.


This is because they may send CVs to you and your competitors ASAP. This means they may win the race to send the CV first. A part of the recruitment industry is essentially engaged in a race to the bottom.

A ‘spray and pray’ system where they send as many CVs as possible to as many hiring managers, HR teams and business owners. Their fingers are crossed to ensure they’ve done enough that someone who pays a recruitment fee.

Other agencies, including Your People Partners, will not use this type of strategy. We believe that if you’ve partnered with us, we have a duty to you and the candidate to ensure everyone is engaged. You have the first review of all candidates. Only those you don’t want to take further in your hiring process will then be considered for other potential opportunities.

In addition to understanding the recruitment agency’s process for finding candidates, it’s also essential to learn about their methods for interviewing and assessing potential hires. Ask questions about how they screen applicants, what types of background checks they perform, and what kind of feedback they provide on each candidate.

This will help you understand the level of detail and care they put into each applicant and ensure they only send you qualified candidates.

By asking questions about the recruitment agency’s process for finding candidates, you can ensure that you are working with the best fit for your needs and company culture. This will ensure that you get the most qualified applicants for your open positions quickly and easily.

Once they’ve found you some candidates, how much focus do they put on the CV, and how much do they dig that bit deeper? If you would ideally like lots of CVs only and not further expert guidance on optimising your hiring process, you may wish to use the larger recruitment agencies such as Adecco or Michael Page.

3) What kind of support can I expect from the agency?

When you decide to work with a recruitment agency, ask questions about the kind of support you can expect from them. This will help ensure that you have a successful and rewarding relationship with the agency. Here are some key questions to consider when assessing the type of support you can expect from a recruitment agency:

1. Does the agency help you develop your employer brand?

The recruitment agency should be able to provide you with guidance and expertise on how to attract potential new employees. This may include thoughts about employee benefits, where we work with Bristol-based Excellect, for all our partner’s employee benefits.

2. Does the agency offer interview preparation for you or your hiring manager?

It’s important to know what type of support the recruitment agency offers beyond simply submitting CVs for your consideration. Our team provide a fully mapped-out hiring process, including suggested interview stages and questions.

3. Does the agency provide HR support such as employment contracts?

Recruitment agencies should have resources available to help you make things easier when you’re ready to hire. Most larger companies do their own HR, such as making the offer to a new employee and sending the employment contract. Most companies we support are from five to fifty employees. As such, there is no in-house HR person. We will support where needed and have a network of HR professionals with whom we partner, including Colmers HR.

4. Does the agency have any particular resources they share with you?

Most don’t do more than get candidates into the top of the ‘funnel’. They provide you with CVs to review for your vacancy whilst also doing the same for many other competing companies. Some recruitment agencies, especially those on a retained partnership basis, do more. They provide additional resources, including training on interview skills.

5. How does the agency handle rejections?

Getting rejected for jobs is a normal part of the job search process, but it can still be demoralizing. It also takes some level of tact and expertise to do this properly and professionally. Most recruiters will just send a message to a candidate to inform them they’ve not been successful.

It’s essential to know how the recruitment agency handles rejections. They’re representing you and your company when they let a candidate know what can be disappointing news. As your representative, we ensure we fully understand your feedback so that when we make the call, the candidate is given practical insights and a reasonable idea as to why they’re not moving forward in your hiring process.

6. What support is provided during the onboarding process?

I’ve yet to meet another recruitment agency that supports you, the hiring manager/line manager, and the new employee during the first six months of their employment. We feel strongly that if you’re going to invest in time, stress and financially, in hiring a new employee, both you and they deserve to learn the secrets of a smoother onboarding process.

By asking these questions, you can ensure that you are working with a recruitment agency that can provide you with the support and guidance needed to succeed in your job search. Knowing what kind of support you can expect from a recruitment agency can give you greater peace of mind as you embark on your career journey.

I fully appreciate you may not need this level of support from your recruitment agency. If this is the case, I’d encourage you to work with larger recruitment agencies such as Reed. The smaller, independent recruiters, such as Adlib Recruitment and Spec Recruitment, are more likely to fit what you may value for your next hiring process.

4) What are the recruitment agency’s fees?

When you’re looking for a recruitment agency to work with, one of the most important questions to ask is about the fees they charge. Knowing how much a recruitment agency charges for their services can help you determine if they are a good fit for your needs and budget.

When it comes to recruitment agency fees, there are two main options: flat rate or percentage based. Flat rate fees mean that the recruitment agency will charge a set amount per successful hire they make. For example, they might charge £3,000 for each candidate placed in a permanent role or £1,000 for each candidate placed in a temporary role.

Percentage-based fees mean that the recruitment agency will take a percentage of the total salary of the successful candidate. This is generally around 15-25% but can vary depending on the job role and the recruitment agency.

It is important to consider the fee structure when looking for a recruitment agency, as it can significantly impact the cost of hiring staff. It is also essential to understand the services included in the fee and if any additional costs may be incurred. Be sure to ask potential recruitment agencies their fee structure before signing up with them.

5) What are the agency’s success rates?

When considering working with a recruitment agency, it is essential to ask about their success rates. Some may consider success as a high percentage of people they have successfully placed into jobs.

However, I would consider asking how many of the people they’ve placed are still happy in their new company after 12 months. This is one of the most important factors when choosing an agency to work with, as it indicates their track record and can give you an idea of their abilities.

Be wary of any agency that won’t provide you with exact numbers. While some agencies may not be able to give you actual figures, they should still be able to provide you with a range or an estimate. If an agency cannot share any data with you, it may be best to look for another option.

Asking about an agency’s success rates is an important part of the process when choosing a recruitment agency to work with. By being diligent in your research and getting specific information, you can ensure that you are working with an agency with a good track record and can help you reach your career goals.

More reading material needed?

author avatar
Helen Sanders Managing Director and Chief People Partner
Was this article helpful?
Picture of Report on iPhone - Your People Partners

How do your recruitment processes stack up?

Curious about whether your existing recruitment and retention processes are helping or hindering your company growth? 

This free 4-min quiz will spot the hiring mistakes and give you implementable strategies to more easily grow your team.


Related Articles

22 May 2024
As a small business owner, you wear many hats – and one of the most important is bringing new talent onboard. An effective onboarding program...
Hiring Essentials
13 March 2024
Attracting the right talent for finance and accounting positions in your company is critical for maintaining accurate and robust financial management. An effective job post...
Hiring Essentials
7 March 2024
Imagine you’re at the helm of your own business with a vision that keeps you up at night, excited for the day ahead. Small business...