Seven questions to ask when choosing a recruitment company

Need to hire a recruitment agency to source and hire new employees for your business? Read seven questions you need to ask to pick the right one. 

As your company grows, you’ll need to hire more staff – a prospect that may terrify you! Where do you find potential candidates? How do you choose the right CVs? What should you say in a job interview? And what documents do you need to produce for new employees to sign?

Luckily there are professional recruitment agencies out there such as Beacon Legal, a leading recruitment and career consultancy for the legal industry, that can manage the entire process for you – helping you to find and hire the perfect person for your job.

Seven questions to ask when choosing a recruitment company

But if you’ve never used a recruitment agency before, how can you know if they’re any good? And what kind of services should you ask them about?

To help you choose the right recruitment agency for your business, here are seven questions you need to ask.

1) How do you choose the best resumes?

As you know, one of the most exhaustive parts of any recruitment process is going through hundreds of CVs or resumes. And choosing the best ones has become a form of art (especially as it’s easier than ever now to research the best resume practices).

As a result, each CV can look very similar, making finding the gems more difficult.

However, an experienced recruitment agency will have their own methods to analyse resumes and see beyond the fluff to spot the truly great candidates. They can see things that you can’t when scanning CVs and will usually be happy to mention a couple of things they look for to you in order to gain your trust.

2) How important is a cover letter for you?

For many jobs, a cover letter can be more relevant than the resume. It can be a valuable clue to the candidate’s personality, and whether they may potentially be a good fit for your company.

So if your recruitment agency says that a cover letter isn’t significant to your hiring process, be worried!

Ask why they believe this to be true, and decide for yourself whether you think they make a convincing case for their reasons. But do be wary before you hire an agency that places no value on what is a much-valued tool in the recruitment process.

3) How will I pay you?

Before you commit to a recruitment agency, ask what payment system they use (and how much the process will cost you). Some agencies will bill you for a percentage of the new employee’s salary, while others may ask for a retainer – with or without a deposit.

It’s important to be aware of how they bill you before you use their services. Also ask what happens if your new employee decides to leave the job, or if you aren’t happy with the choice after a short period.

Many agencies will agree on restarting the recruitment without any extra fee, but not all of them – so make sure you find out!

4) How do you select your own employees?

Asking how a recruitment company hires their own employees will give you an idea of how they manage the process when they have free reign. Do they use social media to hunt for candidates, for instance?

Also, pay attention to how efficient and happy their staff seem to be while you are in their offices. Human resources experts shouldn’t just be good at hiring talent – they should know how to nuture it and keep employees content too. A happy work environment should count as a big point in their favour.

5) Have you hired for another company in my industry before?

Each industry has its own specific needs from employees – and recruitment methods. So it’s good to know if a recruitment agency has worked for one of your competitors or partners.

It will give you an idea of how much they know about your specific needs and requirements. And if you have a good relationship with the other company, you can always ask for references.

But don’t rule them out completely if they have never hired for your industry before. Ask them about other previous clients and try to identify a name or brand with similar standards. A good recruitment company should usually be able to adapt to different industries when needed.

6) Will you take care of the training process?

Training usually comes as an extra service, so ask about it in advance if you’d like your recruitment agency to be in charge of it.

Many recruitment agencies will just choose the best candidate for you and stop there. Others will guide you up to the formal contracting and support the new employee regarding documentation and relocation (when necessary). And some will take your new employees through any necessary training.

Your contract with the recruitment agency should include as much detail as possible regarding the services included. You will need to know, step by step, what they will do for you, and what they don’t. So you can decide if you want to add something to their list.

7) Will you check the candidates’ references?

You might think that this is obvious, but not all recruitment agencies will be as careful about references as you might wish.

Some of them will say that they are happy with written references. Others that they call each reference before meeting a candidate for an interview. And others will leave it as the last part of the process, only checking up when they’ve identified the perfect candidate for the job.

So make sure you’re clear about how and when they check references, and if you have any specific requests, ensure they are agreed u on before you start the process.

Take your time and hire the right agency

Your business is only as good as the people who work in it. So it’s important to hire employees who won’t just be able to do the work, but will fit in with your organisation’s culture and be happy enough to stay. (After all, you don’t want to go through the hassle and expense of hiring a replacement for them within weeks or months of hiring them.)

And the first step in hiring the right people, is finding the right recruitment agency for the process. So please do make sure you consider and ask these questions before committing.

Good luck!

Sylvia Giltner is a freelance writer for recruitment sites. She helps people to write the perfect resume and land a desirable job. You can find her on