Contributor: Sher Yen
As head hunters, we throw a gazillion questions to the candidates in order to understand them better, but we are often placed on the interrogation chair too. Let us solve the mystery that you have been pondering by answering the top 10 common questions posed to a head hunter.
1. How did you get my name/number?
Recruiters often get referrals with the promise of not revealing their sources. Other methods include cold calls, connecting through social media such as LinkedIn and Facebook, sharing opportunity through online forums, and networking at events and exhibitions.
2. What is executive search?
In the Asia region, some employees might not be familiar with the term “executive search”. They call them recruiters regardless retainer or contingency firm. An executive search consultant or a head hunter is a person who identifies and approaches suitable candidates employed elsewhere to fill business positions in their clients’ company. Contingencies are committed to their cases, normally handling up to 4 or 5 cases. They spend time understanding the industry, meeting potential candidates face to face, sourcing for the best fit candidate.
3. What is this regarding?
Usually when a recruiter calls up, he or she is presenting a job opportunity. There are times when some candidates would misunderstood thinking the client has selected them when it is only in the preliminary stage. It is also beneficial to share your resume with recruiters to open up other job opportunities in future.
4. Who is your client?
During the first engagement, recruiters are hesitant to reveal the client’s name. Francesca Cohn from BLTrecruiting.com shared, “Usually, it’s because the client doesn’t want irrelevant candidates contacting them. The purpose of engaging a recruiter is to save their time. Once I screen the candidate, then I can assess whether it’s worthwhile providing detailed information about the company and opportunity.”
5. How long has the job been open?
Clients would engage with recruiters when they are unable to fill up the critical positions. Thus, it is normal if a job has been vacant for 4, 5 months. Though the longer a position is vacant, the more likely it is less important.
6. What is the reason for the open position?
There are mainly two possibilities: a new position or replacement. A new position often signifies an expansion of a company, or the need to delegate responsibilities because the existing employee is overwhelmed with work. A replacement is not necessary a bad sign as there are a few likelihoods: existing employee got promoted, there are no capable successor within the company, or an existing employee left for a better opportunity.
7. What is the compensation package?
Dollars and cents are important because we are living in a capitalist society. But other key factors to consider include career growth, exposure and the prospect company’s portfolio and culture. Recruiters are reluctant to share the compensation package for two reasons: one, salary differs with each company, even if they are from the same industry. Two, we advise clients to look into skill sets rather than remuneration, a good candidate always comes with a price.
Common questions by clients
8. Why should a candidate work with a recruiter than to apply directly?
Cohn commented, “It is all about relationships, and often times, the candidates that are referred to me are passively looking. I read a survey once that said more than 50% of the workforce at that time would consider a new position if someone contacted them directly, but would not look for a job online or apply to a job posting. This is what motivates me when I’m direct sourcing.” An executive recruiter is motivated and has the time to cultivate relationships with folks that might not be looking today or would be open for the right opportunity but aren’t actively looking for a new job. And an executive recruiter has no ethical issue with direct sourcing from a competitor.
9. Why would your candidates be of better quality than those that apply directly to us?
Posting job vacancies on job portals would attract more irrelevant applications because it is as simple as a click away. Head hunters are like snipers, we have higher pertinence in getting the right candidate than shuffling through hundreds of resumes. We find out what are the Must Have Nice to Have for the position, source for talents from relevant industries and these are usually passive candidates who are less likely to job hop.
10. What makes you think a headhunted candidate would not join another competitor if he or she is being headhunted again?
Firstly, it creates a bad reputation for the candidate. Secondly, it does not look good in their resume. Thirdly, as executive search firm we emphasize on onboarding program for new hires. This is an essential effort from both employer and employee to increase the retention rate while reducing onboarding failures.