How To Know If You're Working With The Right Recruiter

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Sourcing a recruiter that fits the brand/becomes a true extension of your brand, brings service after they’ve placed a candidate, and one that stays connected takes time to find.

Also, if you’re coming to the table as the candidate working with a recruiter, there are a few best practices and questions to keep handy in vetting the right person to work with.

So, we’ve compiled some thoughts on working with a recruiter in both settings.

The Client

Know the Recruiter’s Background

  • Understand where they come from and why they can make a difference for you. Just because someone says they have “worked in recruiting” doesn’t make them a one size fits all

  • References - Check a specific reference that will give you insight into the position they will be working to fill for you

    • Bonus: Ask the recruiter to provide references where a position was filled and where a position wasn’t filled. It’s good to understand how they’ve handled different outcomes/instances.


  • Make sure they are digging deep into your company’s culture to understand what makes you different. Do they know the right fit for you as they are sourcing? Can they communicate this back to you with ease?

Fulfilling Self-Imposed Deadlines

  • Oftentimes you’ll find recruiters who over-promise. Thus, hold your recruiter accountable. Make sure they are following up on their deadlines

  • Are they just “billing and filling?” Understand if they are setting the right expectations for your needs

Service After The Sale

  • Do they follow up after a candidate has been placed? This person is an extension of your brand and you want to make sure they communicate your company/brand ideals throughout the process

  • What was the experience from the candidates side? Get an idea from your candidates who work with your recruiter and see what their experience was


The Candidate

If you’re in the seat of working with a recruiter as your intermediary to a hiring manager, there several things to keep in check. Just like from the company side, a recruiter becomes an extension of your personal brand. Make this your checklist for the recruiter you want to work with next:

“Why The Call?”

  • Do they have a reason? Make sure they aren’t just sifting through resumes (i.e. Billing & Filling) to see if you’re interested. Put them to the test and see if they know more about you and your work history

"How Did You Find Me?” 

  • A good recruiter should be using the right tools to source candidates. If they found you through genuine research, this will rise to the top. This is a great first question to ask from your seat for any recruiter

Detailed Questions?

  • Are they asking detailed questions about your background and experience? They should essentially know your resume as well as you do. If they have a key interest in your work experience, they shouldn’t make you repeat your past work experience verbatim

“Can You Explain The Role?” 

  • You’ll want to hear about the role in their words. What does it entail? Can they tell you about the day-to-day? What are the KPIs?

    • Key Questions:

      • Is this position a backfill?

      • Why is the position open?

Are They Helping You Along The Way?

  • How often is a recruiter checking in on your? Are they giving you regular updates and checking in even if there isn’t any major progress or movement? Working with a recruiter who cares more about your personal well-being goes a long way.

Resume Advice - Giving Feedback On The Bad & Good

  • A recruiter that helps you prepare for the position at hand will give you the good, bad, and the ugly. If your recruiter isn’t giving you any feedback — both positive and where improvements can be found, then you’ve got some room to grow

    • One major thought: See if your recruiter can help you with your resume by offering advice on how to “write the best resume” for the position they are working on.

Working with a recruiter from both sides of the coin can take some forethought. Keep these lists in mind the next time you’re on either side working with a recruiter.

Want to catch our podcasts that cover both topics? Check them out here:

5 Things You Should NEVER Say In An Interview

Interviewing for a position you really want can be nerve-racking and cause you to act in abnormal ways. Being on the spot, constantly having to keep composure, answer questions on the fly… all of this is hard and believe us — we know it well. 

So, in preparation for a conversation with your hiring manager or recruiter, your best bet is to not only prepare your professional acumen, but to also prepare your best self. When it comes to promoting the best parts of your personality, work history, awards, and so on, you’re more than likely coming out of the gate swinging. However, in our years of recruiting, we’ve seen some things we want to make sure you can avoid saying/doing. 

The 5 Things

1. “What’s the PTO Policy here?" Maybe save this question for the end of the interview and make sure you position this one with a bit more diplomacy. 

  • The better way to ask: “I’m curious about how the team handles time off with the flow of business at the company. Do most people find time to use their vacation?" This way you’re asking more generally and trying to find the answer by teeing up the hiring manager. 

2. “Is there good work/life balance at the company?” Ugh. This is a tough one. It’s something we all strive for and it’s achieved in fewer instances these days. However, coming across as “I don’t want to work TOO hard” is a bad foot to start on.

  • The better way to ask: “Is this a results-oriented company?" This question will position you as an expert. You’re a goal-oriented person and you’re thinking in that vein. Make sure you’re projecting your own performance is what will be of value to the company/position.

3. “Man… my current employer is terrible.” This is just a non-starter. If you’re in a place where you want to speak negatively about your current employer or previous, just don’t. Find someone who isn’t trying to hire you — like someone at the grocery store…. or your dog. 

  • The better way to say this: Don’t complain. Complaining is a surefire way of getting the call/interview to end quickly. Make sure you pair any shortcomings with potential solutions or opportunities in how YOU would handle things better next time around. 

4. Recruiter: “Do you have any questions for me?” You: "No.” Oh, boy. This is a frustrating one — and one we’ve encountered more than we’d like to say. 

  • The better approach this question: Don’t just flat out say “no.” Instead, go with something to the tune of “You know, I have a list of questions here and you’ve answered all of them throughout our conversation today. If I think of any follow-up questions, I’d love to email them to you, if that’s ok?"

5. Using Profanity. No. Just no. This is a definite non-starter for all of us — and probably every recruiter/hiring manager the world over.

  • The better approach: Just don’t use profanity. Period. Here’s the thing, sometimes hiring managers want to lure you into a false sense of security with them. Don’t fall for it and definitely don’t let your guard down. Also, if you have the mouth of a sailor, maybe try to bring it down a notch before your interview.

For a quick recap of these things, check out our accompanying podcast on these 5 things.