Recruiters Essentials Guides

Recruiting Recruiters


Firstly, you can download a print friendly version of this guide which also contains your Roleplay Assessment scoresheets using the link below.

Download print-friendly PDF

[Click on each of the headings below to expand and read more on that section]

Defining the Role

Before you start placing job adverts and booking interviews take a few moments to create a detailed and accurate description of your new recruits role and your expectations of them.

You will find it much easier to assess whether an applicant is suitable for the role when you have clearly defined what the role will entail. You would be surprised how many businesses start the recruitment process without a clear picture of what a new consultant would do. This is equally important for experienced consultants as it is inexperienced consultants. After all, job descriptions and expectations can differ from business to business.

Some of the most basic questions you should be asking at this point are:

  • What market will they cover?
  • Will they be responsible for temporary, contract or permanent recruitment?
  • Will they have an established client base or be responsible for generating their own clients?
  • Who will they report to?
  • Who will be responsible for their development? (even Experienced Consultants will have development needs)
  • How will I measure their performance?
  • What do I expect them to deliver?

What does ‘good’ look like?

It is important that you clarify what ‘good’ looks like within your business so you can clearly communicate this to your new team member.

  • How will you and your new consultants know if they are successful?
  • How will you measure their success?
  • What support will you be providing to them in their first 6 months to help them achieve this?

Recruitment Process – Graduate/No Experience

The following outlines a two-stage interview process for a graduate or inexperienced recruitment consultant.

Stage One - Skills and Aptitude Assessment


Before the interview ensure you have:

  • A job description
  • The CV of a suitable corresponding candidate
  • Roleplay scenarios
  • Roleplay assessment forms (min. 6)
  • Notepad
  • Pen/pencil

Time: 45-60 minutes

This interview is designed to assess the candidates ability to react to coaching and guidance. The primary assessment tool used within this first interview is roleplay followed by facilitated coaching. It is created to emulate much of the training they should receive if they are successful.

Interview Structure

Part A

Introduction and set an agenda
Brief history of the business and vision for the future
(It is important that you prepare notes for this element to ensure consistency in the message you deliver to each candidate).
Overview of the role of a Recruitment Consultant within your business
Invite questions from the candidate

Ask the candidate:

“How does this compare to your expectations of the role”
“What core skills do you believe will be necessary to succeed?”

Part B

Roleplay 1

[For simplicity from this point the person you are interviewing will be referred to as the “attendee”]

Give the attendee:

  • a brief job specification
  • a CV of a suitable candidate
  • a notepad and pencil/pen

Brief the attendee that they are going to roleplay a phone call to a candidate about the job. The candidate is currently looking for work so this is designed to be a test of listening skills. The attendee should firstly find out what the candidate is looking for and then secondly demonstrate relevance within the job specification.

Make sure they also take notes as if on the phone.
After their first attempt give them feedback as appropriate.
Now coach them through the principles of effective questioning - Open Vs Closed questions and the use of Pain, Impact and Situation based questioning techniques. (Should you need further help with these then please contact us).
Before roleplaying again make sure they have an objective set as to what they are seeking to achieve from the conversation.
Roleplay a second time and again give feedback - did they achieve their objective?
Repeat the process for a third time.

Roleplay 2

Using the same job specification and CV change the roleplay so now they are selling the candidate they have profiled to the client who is recruiting.
Brief the attendee using their notes and the CV that they are now to call the hiring manager and give them a short presentation on the candidate.
After the first attempt give feedback. Before starting the second roleplay ensure they have relevant objectives that are commitment based.

Other roleplays you could consider:

  • Chasing a lead
  • A headhunt call
  • A candidate pulling out of an interview - tomorrow!

Key Measures:

Use a separate score sheet for each of the roleplays (ie. you will need at least 6 score sheets) Look for the rate of improvement from attempt 1 to 2 to 3.

What was the quality of their listening both during the roleplay but also the coaching sessions?
How did they respond to feedback and constructive criticism?

What was the quality of their presentation:
i) verbal skills
ii) planning
iii) matching

The level of final result is only secondary at this time as the primary objective was to assess how the attendee will respond to the coaching. If the attendee responds and improves at a desired rate then you can more accurately predict how they will develop in the business environment and from the training they will receive.

Make sure you accurately record on the score sheet your findings for each attendee to help with easy comparison of results between each person you interview.

Closing the Interview

Finally, give some initial feedback on their performance and then invite questions. Ask the attendee:

“How did you feel you did?”
“What impact has this had on your desire to work as a recruitment consultant?”

Stage Two - Competency-Based Interview and ‘Personality-fit’


Before the interview make sure you have:

  • Prepared a set of competency based questions
  • Competency-based interview score sheet
  • Notepaper
  • Pen/pencil

Time: 30 minutes

Competency-based interviews, sometimes referred to as structured interviews, are interviews where each question is designed to test one or more specific skills. The answer is then matched against pre-decided criteria and marked accordingly.

For example, you may want to test the candidate’s ability to deal with stress by asking:
“How would you generally handle stress?”

You can then seek evidence to support their answer by asking:
“Give me an example of a situation where you worked under pressure.”

Normal interviews, sometimes referred to as unstructured interviews, are essentially a conversation where you ask a few questions without any specific aim in mind other than getting an overall impression of them as an individual. Questions are often fairly random and can sometimes be quite open. For example, “What can you offer my company?” can be used to gather general information about them but does not test any specific skill or competency. In an unstructured interview, the candidate is judged on the general impression that they leave. Unstructured interviews are therefore much more likely to be subjective.

Interviewing a candidate with little or no previous experience as a recruitment consultant the key competencies we would look to test are:

  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Goal Orientation
  • Influence
  • Planning
  • Relationship Building
  • Work Ethic
  • Urgency

[Full competency frameworks for each of these seven competencies along with example questions are included in the full Talent Builder training solution].

Recruitment Process – Experienced

The following outlines a two-stage interview process for an experienced recruitment consultant.

Stage 1 – Skills and Aptitude Assessment

This interview is designed to test the attendees’ ability to think commercially and demonstrate their ‘recruitment brain’ capacity. It combines the use of situational questions and an intray exercise.

Time: 45-60 minutes

Interview Structure

Part A

Introductions and set agenda for interview.
Brief history of your company and vision of the future.
Overview of the role
Invite questions

Part B

Situational Questioning

Example Situational Questions:

A candidate tells you that they have an interview scheduled for a job as a [INSERT JOB TITLE] in three days time. They are very interested in the position and tell you all about what the role involves: It is for a [INSERT RELEVANT SECTOR/INDUSTRY] (exactly the candidates background). They are due to meet with the Managing Director, Bob Smith for the interview. Salary is around the [INSERT A RELEVANT SALARY] with the potential to develop a team around themselves. The agency they are going through has told them they are one of one so looking very promising.

What will you do or say on the call and afterwards?

Whilst sourcing for candidates through Linkedin you speak to a really good Account Manager who tells you that they have just accepted another position, so there is no point in carrying on talking to them.

What will you say next? What are your objectives now you have heard this?

Whilst conducting your business development activity, you speak with a Head of Sales who is currently recruiting for a Senior Sales Manager to be the first person “on the ground” in their new North West office. Although struggling to find the right candidate she does not have time to talk on the phone and wants to email you a job description and get some CVs from you ASAP.

What will you do or say on the call and afterwards?
How will you handle this?

It is a good idea to create 10+ of these questions along with model answers for a Low, Medium and High result. That way during the interview the interviewer can select the 2 or 3 that they feel are the most appropriate. This will also help for you to assess potential training needs of the consultant prior to them joining so that steps can be put in place to address these as soon as possible.

Intray Exercise:

An intray exercise measures the prioritization skills of a potential recruit and their ability to be able to think on their feet.

The following example intray exercise can be simplified or developed according to the level of the individual. The exercise should be timed with the attendee having 5 minutes to read through the contents and then a further 10 minutes to discuss how they would approach the day that has been mapped out for them.

Give your attendee the following:

A selection of 10 – 15 different emails of differing priorities:

  • A client with a request to discuss a new spec
  • A candidate pulling out of an interview tomorrow
  • 6 new CVs from candidates previously profiled
  • Request from a manager for stats by lunchtime
  • Old placement asking to look again


  • Voicemail messages to respond to
  • Linkedin requests

Some of the above will interlink e.g. the Linkedin request could be from someone who is a good match for the new job that has come in and the placement returning to find a new opportunity could be right for the job the candidate is ducking out of attending the interview for etc.

The attendee has to prioritise what they are going to do and then act upon each element.
The interviewer/assessor can then look at prioritization, time management, thinking and to roleplay any calls that need to be made (if the consultant feels they need to use the phone at all!)

Building the intray exercise once will then allow it to be used multiple times. Elements can be added and removed to test different attendees from different backgrounds and levels of experience.

Closing the Interview

Final feedback and then invite open questions on how they felt they did and what impact it has had on their desire to work for you.
Set action plan.

Stage Two - Competency-Based Interview and ‘Personality-fit’

Before the interview make sure you have:

  • Prepared a set of competency based questions
  • Competency-based interview score sheet
  • Notepaper
  • Pen/pencil

Time: 30 minutes

Each business will have it’s own set of competencies that they require in an experienced consultant. However, we would suggest that a candidate with previous experience as a recruitment consultant should be able to demonstrate application of the following:

  • Business Development
  • Commercial Awareness
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Goal Orientation
  • Influence
  • Integrity
  • Planning
  • Relationship Building
  • Situational Empathy
  • Teamwork

Before They Start

If you already have a small office team try to organize a small social event so that they can meet everyone. This will also help to make their first day less daunting and will reduce the possibility of them not turning up for their first day. If it is not possible or practical to arrange a small get together before they start then arranging something within their first week will help them to settle into an already established team.

Keep in contact

Notice periods can feel like a lifetime. Do as much as you can throughout this period of keep their motivation high.

If they are working through a month (or even longer) notice period then ensure that you call them every week to check in with them – but have a reason! For example, check that they have received their contact, ask if they have any specific needs for when they start, etc.

Also, send them a congratulations card to their home address.

Planning Their Start Date

TIP: Choose the best day and time for you. Not when they are first available.

It is not recommended that your new consultant joins you at 9am on a Monday morning as from a practical point of view it will probably be difficult to donate the required amount of time to them and their first experience in your office will probably be a little chaotic.

By picking a slightly later time, such as 10am, or possibly even delaying it until Tuesday you can ensure that you are fully prepared and organized.

If you do have existing team members ensure that they are also aware of the day your new starter will be joining you.

Setting Pre-Start Activities

With so much to complete in their first week there are a few things that your new starter(s) can do before their first day to provide a good foundation for building upon.

Ask your new starter to provide a short 5 minute presentation on one of the following topics (of course add your own question if desired).

  1. Who will their main competitors be within the market they are covering?
  2. Who are the big employers in their market?
  3. What changes could be happening over the next 2 years in their market which will impact on businesses recruitment needs?

Schedule a time for them to give their presentations during the afternoon of their first day.

Also ask them to set up both a Linkedin and a Twitter account if they don’t already have one which you can then tweak during their early days with you.

[Talent Builder clients also receive a complete ‘Recruiters Guide to Social Media’ to pass onto new recruits].

All of this should be completed prior to their first day with you in the office. How well they complete these activities will serve as a good indicator to their commitment levels to their new role, your business and their desire to learn as much as they can about their market.