Attn: HR Professionals/Hiring Managers: 5 Questions you should ask when interviewing a new staffing vendor beyond the obvious.

Andrew Izzi
March 29, 2012 — 2,726 views  
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How many years have you been with your company? Will you be my account manager going forward?

Good, local vendors send out tenured Account Managers who are not only selling, but who are also involved directly in the recruitment and selection process. You’re spending your valuable time meeting with the sales rep so I’d suggest you find out if they will actually be involved in the interview process and selection of your potential candidate. If the job order is passed along to a rookie recruiter chances are your meeting was a waste of time--most of the details will be lost in translation! When asking potential clients about their number one frustration with their vendors, 9 out of 10 times they mention high internal turnover from an account management perspective or meeting with who they thought was their account manager then being passed along to someone they never met before. If I sat on your side of the desk I’d want to know who is going to be sending resumes with the limited time I have.

How many clients do you presently service? Do you have 3 client references (not “company references”, you personally as an Account Manager?) 

The staffing industry historically has high internal turnover.  If you can get yourself a seasoned Account Manager that isn’t overloaded with accounts they are managing it can go a long way--you will save yourself a lot of time and money if your Account Manager isn’t turning over every quarter. For every new Account Manager an agency throws at you – there is a learning curve and plenty of time spent helping them to understand what you are looking for and what your companies’ needs are.

If your Account Manager has a proven track record of working with clients for several years, you have a better chance at forming a successful staffing relationship that truly benefits your organization’s hiring needs. If the clients of your Account Manager can supply direct references about your Account Manager’s performance that speaks volumes about what exactly you will be getting with this specific agency.  Remember though, it’s important to get references that your Account Manager directly manages, not the company itself. Every Account Manager is basically running their own small business within their organization.  It doesn’t matter if you are working with the top agency in the area, the recruiting and selection process by your Account Representative is what counts.

I see a lot of big company names on your literature; if they have a staffing need the same time I do how do you split up your recruiter’s time?

You’re not going to like the answer to this question if you’re not a “big spending” client. The honest answer would be—“We are going to put more resources on the jobs that make us more money.” That’s the cold reality of this business. You may want to select a vendor that’s similar in stature to yourself. If you are a small to medium sized business and utilizing a national provider for needs a few times a year – there is a very realistic chance, unfortunately, that you are not a “high priority” client.  Rather than make the easy call out to the household name vendor--it may behoove you to check out a provider that will value your business and put the appropriate resources on it.

Do you work with any of our local competitors currently?

This question isn’t to find out if they know about your industry but rather to find out if those clients are off limits to pull candidates from?  Example: If there are three local 3rd party hospital billing companies in the area and you’re one and they already work with the other two then their candidate pool is going to be pretty narrow.  If this is the case it may not be the best fit for you.

Do you think our salaries are in line with what you’re seeing out there?

 A good seasoned Account Manager should have a good feel for what the market is dictating on the salary end.  If you’re under or over paying and the staffing firm wants the new business, they may be reluctant to ever suggest you aren’t in line.  Chances are they will probably give it their best effort to fill your openings at what rate you suggest—even if it’s near impossible with the salary in place.  If you ask these questions it will make your Account Manager feel as though they are an expert in their respected field therefore allowing them to open up and give you their honest opinion.  In this case, you may be able to get to the bottom of your turnover problem or save some money if you’re over-paying.

Andrew Izzi

Pathfinders, Inc.

I started working with Pathfinders, Inc. as an associate recruiter and eventually moved into an account management/sales role. Now with over 8 years experience here in the recruiting industry I'm a Partner and Director of Sales/Recruiting.