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There's a reason recruiting is the most effective business strategy and most of that reasoning lies in a staffing agency's ability to attract and secure top talent. Businesses thrive when they have more experience and dedicated workers but finding that talent can be daunting. 

A staffing agency will take the pressure off of employers to find talent so business processes can carry on as usual while recruiters work to locate and interview potential new hires. This model makes the hiring process far less stressful for employers and the final outcome is significantly stronger while recruiters have a larger network of professionals to recruit from.

Before your company hires a hiring agency, you need to know that you can trust them to bring you the most skilled candidates out there. But how do you know which hiring agency is the right fit for your company?

We've provided an outline for how to find the best staffing agency for your business needs and what questions you need to ask before you begin a partnership.

Do Your Research

Before you even interview a hiring agency, you need to do some research. There are a vast number of staffing agencies out there and you will want to pick one that works in your specific industry. There is a staffing firm for every profession from education to healthcare to finance to information technology and you shouldn't accidentally waste valuable time calling an engineering staffing agency when you are in need of candidates for an accounting position.

If you do a quick Google search for "Finance hiring agencies near me" you are sure to find a handful of potential partners. Filter through these staffing companies and check out their website, blog, and about page. You can even read some reviews to see how they rate in comparison to the competition.

With this research, you can narrow down your list to two or three potential staffing agencies to hire and then reach out to set up a meeting. When it comes time for the meeting, never just hire the agency right away. You need to ask some questions and get some answers. The company may look great on paper but their responses to your questions will reveal if they will truly make a solid partner.

Retained Search vs Contingent Search

Staffing companies either work on a retained search model or a contingent search model and some companies offer both methods with a flexible staffing strategy. Before you hire a staffing agency, you should know what model you prefer because this will determine how much you pay them and when.

With a retained search, recruiters work on a retainer where you pay them a fee in advance, later about halfway through the process, and finally the last third when the hiring process has been completed. A contingent search is a contingent upon the success of a candidate’s fit for the position so staffing agencies will not be paid until they bring in an attractive new hire. The fees are often partly based on a percentage of the new hire's salary.

Your company may hire multiple staffing agencies to recruit talent if they are working on a contingent model and you will only have to pay the recruiting firm that succeeds in bringing you the best candidate. This competitive model is cheaper which is one of the values of contingent recruiting, but retainer models may benefit your company more if you are looking for a very specialized or higher-up position.

The staffing company that you chose to work with depends on your needs, but you should definitely do a little research beforehand to prepare. If the agency doesn't list which search model they use on their website, then you can always ask agency representatives on the phone or in an initial interview, but always come prepared with your own expectations.

Where Do You Find Talent?

One of the first questions that you should ask a hiring agency is "Where do you find your talent?" Many staffing agencies will use job boards like LinkedIn or Indeed to post your position openings, but if you have already done this, then you might be looking for a little more.

As an employer, you want to find the most experienced and skilled job candidates out there and if the agency only uses the same methods that you have already tried, then they might be attracting a limited pool of candidates from resources that you have already exhausted.

However, it is important to note that the description and title of these job postings is something that recruiters specialize in, so they will be able to create a much more efficient posting than one your company may have come up with on your own. In addition, they will probably move faster in the screening and interviewing process while your company may move slower on your own while you juggle other pressing business matters. 

What often sets a recruitment agency apart in the hiring process, is their access to a broad network of candidates and industry professionals. Recruiters usually have established long-term relationships and connections with qualified talent who may not be browsing on Indeed, but who are open to a new position. These professionals are often of a higher caliber than your average applicant on Indeed or LinkedIn and they may be more of a specific fit to your company.

By asking a recruitment firm where they gather applicants and candidates, you may have a better idea of if they are the right fit for your company. Extensive networks are a top benefit of staffing agencies so you need to be sure that their connections are legitimate.

What do you know about Our Industry and Our Company?

When you first meet with a staffing agency recruiter from a potential hiring partner, you need to ask about their knowledge of your industry and your specific company. As we mentioned before, you should only reach out to staffing agencies that specialize in your industry, but you should still try to gauge their expertise when you meet with them.

The staffing company that you choose should have a significant knowledge of the job market and standards for your specific industry and it is okay to quiz them a bit. Ask them what they know about employment trends in your industry and what thought leaders or resources they look to for innovations or new perspectives in the industry.

You should also ask them what they know about your company to see if they did their research. Of course, if you chose to hire this company, then you will definitely have to give them more specific details about what you are looking for, but you want to make sure that this firm is passionate and dedicated to your hiring goals. Ask them if they have worked with companies like yours in the past.

These recruiters will be interviewing your future new hires, so it is perfectly understandable to expect them to be familiar with your company's corporate culture, business practices, and business policies. You will want to ensure that they know your expectations for experienced candidates and what top skills to look for.  

The ideal recruitment service company will answer these questions with flying colors. When you treat the hiring process of an employment agency like the hiring process for a new employee, you are sure to end up with the ideal candidate.

What are your numbers?

Once you are sure that the agency is a reputable firm in your industry, you should ask them about their numbers. This topic may come up earlier when you discuss whether they use a contingent model or a retainer model, but you should come away from the meeting with a clear idea of how much their service will cost with an agreed-upon billing date and what the expected timeline will be.

If your company needs to place talent quickly then you should confirm that the agency will be able to place a strong candidate by the specific deadline. You should also ask them about their efficiency compared to market benchmarks so you can gauge how they measure up.

Ask them what their success rate is for new hires that stick around and how often they have had a new employee quit shortly after being hired. Some staffing agencies merely place candidates as temporary workers and if you want talent for a long-term full-time position then you must make sure that they have experience meeting these standards. 

A reputable staffing firm will provide full transparency with their numbers and offer success stories with references. Don't be afraid to cross-check these statements. You want to ensure that this agency can bring you permanent employees and that their fees and timeline line up with your expectations.

Tell me about your Interview and Screening Process.

You should always ask potential staffing companies about their interview process and screening practices. There might be specific skills and experience measures that you would like the interviewer to cover, so you should see if you expectation align with their recruiting process.

Recruiters filter through hundreds of resumes, so you should be sure that they know what to look for to avoid a bad hire. In this meeting you can ask recruiting representatives for insider knowledge on what they believe makes a great candidate. Some staffing agencies have specific personality tests, skills assessments, or common interview questions that they use, so ask about these.

You should also ask recruiters how quickly they get back to candidates after they apply. A slow recruiting process is one of the top reasons that you can lose candidates and you want to make sure that the agency works quickly. Most agencies call applicants for a brief phone interview before setting up an in-person or zoom interview. Ask about this process to be sure that the agency is trustworthy and timely.

Recruiters are experienced professionals with hiring and screening industry specialization, so they probably know a bit more than you about what makes an ideal candidate at the general level, but you know more about your company. The goal is to make sure that their interview styles and screening processes are solid and match up with your goals. If the staffing firm aligns with your standard then it is more likely that the potential candidates will, as well.

Do you have a Follow-up Process?

While a bad hire isn't ideal, it happens and you need to know what the staffing firm will plan to do if this happens. Ask the agency about their follow-up and follow-through process. Most reputable hiring agencies will offer a refund if the new hire does not work out and many agencies will have a back-up plan for a replacement.

Recruiters also often offer follow-up calls to your company and the new employee to check in and ensure that the hire was a success. Ask the recruiters about their routine follow-up times and create a contract plan in case of an improper candidate fit.

When you meet with a hiring agency you should always be thorough to ensure that they will bring you the most competitive candidates for a strong new hire. If you treat your initial meetings with a recruiting firm as you would treat the interview for a potential candidate, then you are sure to have a positive experience and create a lasting relationship with the right agency. If everything goes well, then you know who to go to for your future recruiting and hiring needs!

For more information about the recruiting and hiring process with a hiring agency, check out our recruitment services.

FirstPRO specializes placing new hires in Accounting & Finance, Information Technology, and Supply Chain, Engineering, & Logistics. Contact us today to set up meeting.