8 Questions to Put to a Headhunter Before You Hire Them 

8 Questions to Put to a Headhunter Before You Hire Them 

September 23, 2022 Off By Aldo Thomas

Headhunters are not ordinary recruiters. Rather, they are high-powered employment experts and offer a much more curated service – for an accordingly higher price. If this is to be your first time using a headhunter – such as Eagle Headhunter agency – then here are eight questions you should ask at your first meeting. 

What is Your Fee Structure? 

Money is often a subject that people are embarrassed to discuss, but it shouldn’t be. Just as no candidate would even think of applying for a job that pays too little, nor should you enter into discussions with a headhunter without knowing how much you will be paying and what you will be getting for the money. And, if possible, ensure you have a signed contract before any work is done on your behalf – having the agreement signed for in writing will protect both parties in the event of a dispute. 

Why Should I Hire You? 

Make your headhunter sell themselves to you: if they cannot advocate for their own agency, how can you trust them to advocate for the best candidate – or, in fact, for you to the best candidates? This is a useful way to assess your headhunter’s confidence in themselves and their agency’s processes. 

What Experience Do You Have in My Industry? 

This should follow on from the above question – or, perhaps precede it if you work in a niche industry – in order to narrow down the suitability of the headhunter in finding your perfect employee. Your ideal headhunter will have worked in or alongside your industry for several years, and be completely up-to-date with legislation and advances in the industry. 

How Do You Arrive at a Shortlist of Candidates? 

Understanding how your headhunter begins their search for your perfect employee will help you to decide if they are the right recruiter for your needs. Some recruiters – in fact, most of them – use AI programs to winnow through the sometimes thousands of CVs that arrive in response to job vacancies. While this is an effective resource, it can mean that some candidates, especially those who use unusual words and unconventional phrasing, can have their CV dismissed even though a human would understand that the skills are exactly those being looked for. If you are looking for someone who thinks outside the box, you might prefer a recruiter who keeps a list of candidates, dealing with personal meetings and spending the time to get to understand their strengths in a way that a mere machine cannot. 

How Much Time Do You Spend on Each Candidate? 

This, again, links with the AI software. Before AI programs came along, recruiters would receive hundreds of CVs every day and would give each one anywhere from three to ten seconds’ attention before dismissing them. Not only did this mean that CVs had to be succinct and clearly laid out, tightly tailored to the job, and perfect in almost every aspect, but it also meant that fairly often good candidates with a sloppy CV were ignored. With the help of AI stripping out definite noes, headhunters can now spend more time on each CV that does make it through. 

How Many Candidates Will You Consider? 

Some industries require the best of as wide a pool as possible – call centre employees and sales staff, for example, have widely transferrable skills – while others are more niche, with a fairly small pool of potential candidates from which only the best two or three might be presented as possible interviewees. 

What is Your Process? 

Having the headhunter explain their process, from placing the advertisement or sending personalised emails to the top ten most appropriate candidates can help you to understand how your next top employee will be hired on your behalf, and this process can help you to decide if the headhunter is the right person for your business. 

Do You Understand What I Need from You? 

Your final question: you approve of the headhunter’s way of working, ethics and the fee for services about to be rendered – and now you need to be sure that the headhunter is going to find the right person for the job. They should be able to give you a succinct summary of the job requirements, the salary on offer and even offer you an idea of where they will start the search to meet your needs.