From my recruiting days, one question a particularly disgruntled candidate asked, stayed with me. ‘Why are you asking me all of these questions?’. At the time I explained it was to qualify whether he was suitable for the position, to which he responded, ‘well I’ve applied for it so just send my CV to wherever it is I have applied to’. Clearly missing the point of the value recruitment companies add to the recruitment process.
So why do recruitment consultants ask all these questions and what value do candidates get out of a pre-screen?
CVs can be notoriously misleading. Whether that is because the creator has used some creative license mixed with a splash of arrogance, or they have completely undersold themselves and their achievements, understanding your capabilities as a candidate is a key part of a recruitment consultants role.
A good recruitment consultant will be probing, not looking to catch you out, but investigating all aspects of your experience and achievements to discover everything possible. It may be their client is looking for one specific skill, which you may well possess but it is not on your CV. How will a recruiter know your true relevance to a position without asking you questions?
A recruitment consultant is held accountable by their clients (amongst other things) by the quality of candidates they provide. If they put a candidate forward to interview who has a great CV, but in an interview it all turns out to be utter gibberish, this will not only reflect badly on the candidate, but it will undermine the credibility of the recruiting company and their abilities to fulfil the client’s needs.
A recruitment consultant needs to be able to not only find a good CV, but also find out whether you’re a strong candidate. The pre-screening mechanism helps spot embellishments and flesh out actual capabilities.
Let’s take a cynical view, ‘recruitment consultants are only interested in money’. With that in mind, why would they waste their time asking you these questions if it wasn’t going to help them make money? How does that affect you? They make money when they place people in jobs. Simple.
Not everybody is a professional CV writer, so it is completely comprehensible a vital piece of information may be missing.
If you get a role based on the perceived strength of your CV and are quickly found out, leaving a role after a short amount of time due to your incompetence will not reflect well on you as a candidate and you will be left looking for another role in no time.
For those candidates who are underselling themselves, spending the time to discuss your experience and discover your true qualities will help you land, not only the job at the right level but also the salary you deserve.
It will save you a lot of time. If a recruitment consultant goes through all of your experience and into more depth than you do on your CV, they will be able to correctly represent you to their clients and place you into a position which best matches your true skill-set.
Tip: If a recruitment consultant tells you, ‘you are absolutely perfect for a role’ before asking you anything about your CV, they will be the ones who send you to lots of irrelevant interviews.
Now, this one can be tricky to completely decipher over the phone, but an initial pre-screen will generally give the recruitment consultant a pretty good indication as to your personality and preferences. Questions such as, ‘what do/don’t you like about your current company/role’ is generally because they’re trying to ensure the company they’re recruiting for is going to be a suitable fit for both you and their client.
Do you want to join a business where you’re unhappy? Surely joining a business full of like-minded individuals where you are happy is important?
Let’s take the cynical approach again, ‘recruitment consultants are only bothered about money’. With that being the case, if consultants give you a great service and place you into a role you’re happy in, who will you use again in the future? The best-case scenario is that they will place you in a position you love, you will love and trust their service and you will become a client.
The less cynical, and more accurate fact is that the vast majority of recruitment consultants do care about their candidates. I have seen consultants pay candidates out of their own pockets when there have been pay issues which are not the fault of the candidate. They have absolutely no obligation to do that, but they did because they care about their candidates. They want to place them into jobs they will be happy with.
There are numerous recruitment companies out there, with lots of potential roles, how do you know who to go with? How do you know which role is genuinely right for you? Which one should you commit to?
Don’t waste your time going for roles which aren’t going to be right for you. Take time to gain a commitment that the recruitment consultant you’re speaking to is best placed to help you and will put you forward for the right positions. Furthermore, by investing time in a recruitment consultant, they’re much more likely to represent you with conviction to a client of theirs, increasing your chances of landing your dream next role.
As it has already been touched upon, recruitment is theoretically a simple process which can go wrong at any point. Making sure they can effectively represent you and limit the possibilities of anything turning sour, they need you to be committed to both them and the role. And hey, they don’t make commission unless they place you so if you’re not committed, they don’t make commission, which is all they care about after all...
A good recruitment company will be able to advise whether they’re best placed to help and can give you career advice. Never be afraid to ask a consultant questions, whether it is advice on the current market or even how likely are they to place you? How does your CV compare to others? Etc.
The best consultants are experts in their markets, part of the process of understanding a market is speaking with candidates to know exactly what is going on in their industry. Another reason is that by giving advice, they’re helping to create a higher quality candidate for the future.
If you’re a candidate and have somebody on the other end of the phone who specialises in placing candidates like yourself, surely it is a no-brainer not to tap into their knowledge.
Checking your salary is right at your current business and keeping your ear to the ground on what new opportunities may be available to ensure your career is on the best track possible, are just two of the many ways in which recruiters can add value to you. To find out the others, you’ll have to give us a call today!
It is absolutely the recruiter’s responsibility to discover whether you are suitable for a position. It is their job to not only look out for the candidate and help them in their job search but that must be balanced with providing the client with a value-adding service, where they are going to receive the best candidate for their money. To do this, a recruiter needs to delve deeper into your experience.
Don’t think for one minute a recruiter doesn’t get grilled about candidates they put forward to clients, they do. If they haven’t found out the answers from you (the candidate) this will not only discredit them as recruiters, but it will also lower your chances of getting that position.
Many, not all, but a high percentage of potential pitfalls can be highlighted during a telephone pre-screen, both for the candidate and the recruitment consultant. Job searching can be very time consuming and expensive (travelling to interviews, taking time off work, etc), investing time in a pre-screen is an important part of the recruitment process.
If I had the chance to answer my old candidate’s question again, I could either send him a link to this, or I could tell them by not going through a pre-screen and understanding their abilities and motivations, starting a process would be a waste of both of our times.