How to Work With a Recruitment Consultant

recruitment consultant


Estimated read time: 3 minutes


In previous articles, we firstly addressed the question of whether or not to use an external human resources consultancy, and then offered some advice to organisations attempting to decide which service provider to select.

This article follows on to put forward some hints on how to get maximum “bang for your buck” in collaborating with your chosen recruitment consultant or firm.


The Briefing


As with so many things in life, the end result is critically dependent upon the thoroughness of the preparation.


With that in mind, it is imperative that the consultant is properly briefed by the organisation regarding its history, its structure and the rationale behind the present vacancy.


A superior recruitment consultant will ask probing questions to ensure that they have a comprehensive understanding of all the relevant issues, and it is crucial for them to know as much about what is not being looked for, as it is to clarify the type of person who is ideal.




It is advisable to seek views on whether or not the advertisement should be badged, or if a “blind” insertion is more likely to arouse curiosity.


The most effective job ads are concise, containing specific parameters about the role, and couched so as to intrigue the reader into finding out more.




In line with the old expression “why have a dog and bark yourself?”, you should insist on providing the consultant with contact details for two types of individuals who will be important in assembling the right talent pool. If you make approaches yourself, there is a real risk of mixed messages creating confusion and ill-feeling in the marketplace.


The first category includes those who are not candidates for the vacancy themselves, but whose knowledge of the sector equips them to recommend people who are. The consultant then sounds out those sources, without revealing who passed on their name.


Secondly, those who could potentially be relevant for the position should also be approached by the recruitment company, maintaining the same anonymity.




One of the biggest challenges in any project involving senior people is getting diaries to match up.


It is therefore vital for your consultant to give you as much warning as possible, so that the meeting to agree shortlisted candidates can be confirmed well in advance, with the date for face-to-face interviews to occur a week or ten days after that decision.


Optimal results are obtained on a “no surprises” basis, enabling people to factor these milestones into their schedules, and thereby avoid delays.


Panel Interviews


An experienced consultant can be worth their weight in gold in preparing interviewers to meet those shortlisted, by drafting questions for panel members to use, as well as making recommendations on other forms of evaluation (such as psychometric testing, assessment centres etc…).


By the time candidates are shortlisted, an HR professional of real calibre will have bent over backwards to build rapport with each person, so that they are across all of the factors impacting on their candidacy. The recruiter’s attention to detail will include orchestrating the housekeeping aspects of the interviews, in addition to ensuring that people can “do their homework” based on all available data.


Moreover, the consultant can contribute tremendously by debriefing each shortlist candidate at the conclusion of their “interrogation” by the panel. This affords interviewees the opportunity to clarify anything which the interviewers may have misconstrued, giving them a second chance to rectify any potential misunderstandings which may have arisen in the heat of the moment.


Reference Checks


Referees often comment that they feel more comfortable in opening up to an independent consultant than they would during a conversation with the potential employer of a person known to them.


Additionally, an HR specialist can put questions in such a way that maximum benefit can be derived from discussions with referees. Your recruiter should be instructed to focus on any concerns raised by candidates’ performance at the shortlist stage.


The experience of a consultant can be highly instructive in “reading between the lines”.


Job Offer


In the final phase of any appointment process, the relationship between candidate and consultant will be close, putting the recruiter in a prime position to facilitate the negotiation of an offer which is advantageous to both employer and employee.


Functioning as an “honest broker”, they can use their understanding of the client and their candidate, to minimise the risk of any last minute hitches.


A true professional will brief a candidate who is about to resign on what to do if a counter offer is made by their current employers. After all, “forewarned is forearmed”.




Once the appointee has commenced in their new capacity, the value of the recruiter can extend right throughout the induction period, to ensure a smooth transition.


When all is said and done, job satisfaction only occurs when reality matches expectations.

Avatar About Jeremy Wurm

Seven years in senior international roles with pharmaceutical multinationals in England and The Netherlands. Two years with Ruston Poole International, a London based healthcare recruitment firm. After nine and a half years overseas, returned to Australia in 1989, subsequently establishing Brooker Consulting, now a joint venture partner of Ruston Poole. Jeremy has recruited over 100 Directors and CEOs for health, human services, not for profit and research organisations. Former Board member and Director of Vision Australia Foundation for 10 years. Memberships include the Institute of Management Consultants, Australian Institute of Company Directors and Disability Professionals Victoria.

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