There are phrases through our language that follow a common thread, from the cobbler’s shoeless children to the admonishment ‘physician, heal thyself’. The things we do for others are often the most challenging to do for ourselves.

When it comes time to recruit your next recruitment professional, then, how can we take what we know best and apply it to the task at hand?

As with any recruitment project, it starts with a deep understanding of the role itself. To identify a great recruiter, we have to know what it takes to be a great recruiter. Any decent recruiter can place a perfectly qualified candidate in an open position. Great recruiters know how to really connect with top talent to get them excited about becoming a part of the company's vision. That’s a big difference, so it pays to sharpen focus on what differentiates good from great. Below, let’s look at four characteristics that are hallmarks of industry-leading staffing professionals, along with some interview questions to help identify those attributes in the candidates you’re evaluating.

Top Qualities of Great Recruiters: 

Highly Organized

Every job is a busy one, but staffing professionals face a constant barrage of tasks ranging from big-picture to details, strategic to administrative, and a slate of priorities that are always in flux and often conflicting. To deal with all of this, a recruiter needs a highly-developed sense of organization, an orientation to process, and the ability to shut out ‘noise’. They must have the ability to keep track of their priorities, and tools or methods that help them do that. The tools themselves aren’t the important part – a cloud-based auto-syncing calendar is not necessarily better than a handwritten to-do list; what matters is that the important things get done. Tracking is also key: knowing where one’s effort produces the greatest result is fundamental to being efficient.

Interview Questions:

  • Tell me about your recruiting process. How has it changed since you first started?
  • How do you measure your recruiting performance? What steps do you take when you’re falling short of your goals
  • Walk me through last week. Tell me how you planned your activities, and how the schedule worked out?

Current and Knowledgeable

Sure, every great employee ‘knows their stuff’, but a staffing professional has to cover several bases. They need to know their own industry: trends and important developments in the staffing and recruitment space. They also need to know the company they’re recruiting for, perhaps more intimately than any other person on staff. To effectively bring on the talent that will take the company where it needs to go, they need to know where it is that the company’s going. Great recruiters need to be familiar with and competent using online sources for candidates (LinkedIn, clearly, but other social media as well), and also their company’s employer brand and reputation (Glassdoor and the like). They must be tech savvy, able to use the automation tools available to them.

Interview Questions:

  • How do you stay informed about the recruiting industry? What is the most interesting recruiting trend you've seen lately?
  • Tell me about a change taking place in staffing. How are (or will) these changes affect the way you do your job?
  • Tell me a little bit about how you keep on top of what’s going on with the hiring managers you work with, and their teams?

Relationship Builders

In today’s staffing context, the candidate experience is paramount. While there will (almost) always be applicants for every open position, recruiting is about identifying and attracting the best. It takes more than an open job to attract those candidates. Part of that is logistical – keeping in touch with candidates, maintaining communication through the process, working with hiring managers to create a smooth and seamless interview experience from beginning to end. But in the big picture, it all comes down to relationships. A great recruiter has a highly developed ability to foster strong working relationships with candidates and hiring managers, and a sincere interest in doing that. Everything else flows from that foundation.

Interview Questions:

  • Describe your relationship with your last three hiring managers.
  • Tell me how you developed a relationship with the most difficult hiring manager you had to work with? How about the most challenging candidate?
  • What do you think is the most rewarding aspect of being a recruiter?
  • Give me an example of a time that your ability to notice someone’s feelings or concerns allowed you to proactively address an issue.

Able to Sell

In some respects, recruiting has more in common with sales as a profession than it does with other HR roles. The commonality? We both deal with current and prospective employees. Much of the similarity ends there. A great recruiter understands the importance of outreach, just as a salesperson understands how much hinges on their cold calls. Great recruiters can sell the opportunity when there’s a good fit – not just the job, but the organization as a whole; it’s culture and values. There’s selling to be done on the other side, too: great recruiters are comfortable dealing with objections from hiring managers about candidates that are less obvious slam-dunks; the diamonds in the rough that ultimately prove to be some of the best performers.

Interview Questions:

  • How would you introduce our company to a candidate?
  • Tell me about a time one of your candidates didn't get the job.
  • Describe a time when a top candidate rejected a job offer.
  • Describe the process you use to develop an understanding of your customer's viewpoints and needs.

Your candidates may come from a staffing background, but there are potential high performers who bring a wide variety of other experience as well. Focus on the transferable skills, and if you can find someone who’s off the charts in these four characteristics, you may just have found your next TA leader.

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Aspiring Full-Stack Human Being. Marketer.