30 Key Questions to Qualify the Job Order

Just like a golfer tees up the ball to optimize their drive for distance and accuracy – a Recruiter needs to prepare thoroughly before embarking on a candidate Search, to maximize the chances for a successful outcome.

Proper qualification of a new requirement or job order is both a critical part of the recruiting process and great opportunity to further cement the relationship with your Client.
Too many Recruiters scurry off at the sniff of a requirement from a new Client and start blasting away without having much of a clue as to the nature of the requirement or their chances of success.

The questions that you ask at the outset of each assignment are instrumental in the successful execution of the Search/Contract placement. Therefore, it is critical to schedule a meeting or conference call for every new position with your Client as part of your Recruiting Process.

Personally, once I have scheduled the meeting or call, I will also invite any associates who will be involved in the Search, including Sourcers, Recruiters, Account Managers and sometimes even a friendly Techy.

Executed correctly, you will not only save yourself a great deal of time and effort – but you will also set yourself apart from the competition by the demonstration of your comprehensive and professional approach.

The first order of the day is to determine to level of urgency attached to filling the position. This line of questions will allow you to assess the real opportunity for you/your Agency and prioritize resources and efforts accordingly. Don’t be tempted to skip ahead. ( Frankly, if the Client has been looking for 6 months, interviewed 30 candidates from 9 different agencies and “can afford to wait for the right candidate” – my level of interest is going to plummet and I’ll wrap things up quickly from here.) With this information – you should be in a good position to measure the opportunity for a deal/placement and continue your questioning accordingly.

  1. How long have you been looking to fill this position?
  2. How many people have you interviewed for this position?
  3. What are the consequences of this position remaining unfilled? (This is a killer question for determining level of urgency!)
  4. If I found you the perfect candidate today, could you interview him tomorrow and have him start on Monday? If not – what are your timescales?
  5. How many companies are currently submitting resumes for this position?” What is your pipeline looking like right now?

Let’s continue and pursue a line of questioning to examine the type of candidate we are looking for from a skills and experience perspective:

  1. What is driving the need for the hiring of this individual (ie: project, replacement, deadline etc.)
  2. Please tell me about the project or projects he would be working on?
  3. Can you elaborate on the business initiatives/problems that the successful candidate would be involved in solving?
  4. What are the “deliverables” for this position over the course of the first year/ duration of the contract?
  5. Please can you give me an overview of the technical skills you are looking for in suitable candidates? What are the “Must Haves” as opposed to the “Nice to Haves”?
  6. Are you seeking candidates with specific domain knowledge? (Healthcare/ Finance/ Technology etc)
  7. Are there any other special skills you are looking for (soft skills, communication/writing etc) Maybe you can tell a little bit about one of your employees who is currently successful in this position? (Continue to probe and look for “hot buttons”)

Now it’s time to add some color to the picture by looking at his work environment:

  1. What size is the team he would be joining?
  2. Would he be reporting directly to you?
  3. What size is the company, (revenue or employees) how many locations etc.?
  4. Can you tell me a little about the culture of the company – and any differentiators that may help us in attracting high quality candidates when we are headhunting? (In other words – how does the Client “sell the opportunity” when he identifies a candidate that he wants to hire?)
  5. What attracted you to the firm?
  6. Are there any opportunities for a flexible work schedule or work from home days?

OK, now let’s get some facts and figures:

  1. What is the ceiling on the compensation for this position? (Client says 90k) …”So Mr Client – if I found the perfect candidate for 100k – would you still be interested in seeing him?
  2. I understand this a Perm/Contract position – correct? (if contract – ask rate and duration) Would you consider contract to hire? (sell the benefits).
  3. Are you open to candidates who need an H1b transfer? Do you sponsor Green Cards?
  4. Do you have a job spec? “Great – what’s your email address – I’ll drop you a line right away so you can send it over”

Now it’s time to determine the hiring process and set expectations:

  1. What kind of turnaround can I expect for feedback on Resumes? (push for same day. Any more than 24 hrs is not good. Great candidates are scarce and will be snapped up).
  2. What is your process for interviewing/hiring? (telescreen/skype/face to face etc).
  3. How many interviews is standard (and with whom)?
  4. Shall I submit resumes to you?
  5. What are the best days/time of day to schedule interviews with you?
  6. Would you consider hiring over Skype (for out of state candidates- means you can broaden the Search)
  7. Confirm your Client’s contact info, job title, address and email. Ask him for his Mobile number “in case I need to get hold of you in a hurry”.
  8. Thank your Client for his/her time!

At this point – confirm with the Client that you have a good understanding of the position and repeat back to him (briefly) the salient points of the conversation so far. Explain briefly YOUR process to the Client and set his expectations on submission of resumes.
If you are SUPREMELY CONFIDENT or have a solid pipeline of candidates in mind already – Ask for some time in his diary next week to set up interviews! (Contingent upon qualified submissions)


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