The Only Way To Hire A Recruiter

I’m always on the lookout for a silver bullet to make great recruiter hires! But, I haven’t found one, yet!

I’ve met and been around thousands of recruiters in my career, and most have a few similar traits that make them successful at recruiting, think:

  • Self Motivated
  • Ability to drag information out of an individual
  • No phone fear
  • Quick minded
  • Connector of people
  • Etc.

The reality is, though, no one has really found the secret sauce to hiring great ‘potential’ recruiters.   I say potential because it’s rare I that I hire experienced recruiters.  It’s not that I have a problem with experienced recruiters…wait, I probably do have a problem with experienced recruiters.  Here’s my deal, if you’re a really good recruiter, I shouldn’t be able to afford you. If I can afford you, you’re not a good recruiter.  I like to grow my own.  No recruiting experience, come on in and we’ll show you the ropes.  By the time you end up being really good, I’ll be paying you really well and everyone is happy.

That still leaves me with a better way to find those who, potentially, could be really good at recruiting. There isn’t any ‘recruiter starter’ program at the local community college, and while Enterprise Rent A Car kids have been a good breeding ground, that isn’t perfect either.  Sure, Allegis/Aerotek has used the Fraternity and Sorority route for years, and that has done well for them, but I want something that is more of a sure thing.

And, I think I might have it.

For my next Recruiter hire, I’m going to have the candidates actually recruit someone for their interview process.  Game show style!  Bring in three people we like from a personality standpoint, give them a requisition on a need we have with all the details, and send them home.  First one to come back with a valid candidate that we would want to hire, get’s the job!

I know, I know – you can thank me later – I solved it!

Think about it for a minute.  If the candidate truly wants to recruit they should be able to fumble there way through one requisition to find some candidates that are relatively close.  The reality is, I want to see how they go about it, I want to talk to them once they find the person and ask them a million questions about how they did it, what they would do different, etc. I want to know that they actually want to do this.  My guess is 2/3 of the candidates won’t complete the task and I’m completely fine with that, because I don’t them, and they probably don’t want me!

What do you think?  Would you take on the task?

7 thoughts on “The Only Way To Hire A Recruiter

    • This ‘task’ might be the actual work. Depends on how you want to do it in your organization. For me, I would probably make it actual real assignment. I want to see how they would go about it, knowing nothing. We aren’t trying to launch the space shuttle, we’re trying to find a person. Can you do that or not?


  1. First of all, the article was pretty cool. The line about being able to afford one or not was funny.

    As for the idea of sending them home, letting them fumble their way to a result – interesting.

    Akin to my days in the insurance industry – 1993. First task – draft a list of 100 people we might call.

    I was new to the area…failed miserably. Think I came up with 45/60 names. Not a good start.

    If nothing else, you’ll gather a sense of their comfort with the basics of the role – that’s for sure.

    Initiative is definitely a key in the process. And pushing resumes is not recruiting. As so many do!

  2. Sacko-

    I always tell a prospective recruiter (or ask the recruiter interviewing me) that every recruiter has a sourcing, engagement, or closing secret they believe differentiates them from others – and ask “So what’s yours?”

    Ugh. The answers are usually ugh…

    One brain surgeon told me, “Well, I use the Internet to source” (with an emphasis on “I”).

    So Tim, it’s a great idea but I’d suggest moving a bit upstream first and “test” them with a real example for skill in specific aspects of recruiting.

    • Levy –

      You’re right, but also remember my model – I don’t hire experienced recruiters, so there really wouldn’t be anything for me to test them on. My ‘interview’ test is really a test of how they might go about finding someone when they know nothing about our industry and techniques. My guess is the ones who succeed would ultimately prove out to be decent networkers, at the very least.


      • Damn I need more coffee…

        You’re right – but I’d still like to ask them to come up with fun ways to identify names of people. You know that “kids” these days are also getting pretty darn creative with PromPosals…hey, there’s a pipeline of future recruiters – after all, they are sharing the promposals on social.

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