8 questions to ask a recruitment agency before you hire them

Robert Murray


Sep 18, 2023

Thinking of hiring a recruitment agency? We like to think of ourselves as somewhat experts in this area, so we've collated a list of key questions to ask, which we think are essential before signing on with any agency:

  • Have you placed candidates in similar roles before?

Asking a recruitment agency if they've placed someone in a similar role before is vital, as it indicates their industry knowledge and understanding of specific job requirements. Knowing their past success in similar placements increases the likelihood of finding suitable candidates efficiently. It demonstrates their ability to access a relevant candidate pool and make better matches based on job nuances. Additionally, their familiarity with the market trends and salary expectations can also benefit your future hiring processes. Overall, this question helps assess their capability to tailor their approach, making it easier to identify the right fit for your organisation.

How Oyster would answer:

At Oyster, our consultants all work within their specialism, knowing their industry inside and out. Speaking to sector specialists every day, keeping up to date with the latest market trends, our consultants have a broad and ever-growing network of experienced candidates across the UK and Europe.

  • What is your success rate?

Asking a recruitment agency about their success rate is essential to evaluate their track record in making successful candidate placements. A higher success rate illustrates their effectiveness in matching candidates to job roles, instilling confidence in their capabilities. It allows you to gauge their reliability, credibility, and efficiency in finding suitable candidates promptly. Understanding their success rate helps assess the quality of candidates they provide and their expertise in your specific industry or job sector. This information aids in making informed comparisons with other agencies, guiding your decision-making process to engage the most suitable agency for your hiring needs.

How Oyster would answer:

Oyster have a 100% success rate on all retained assignments. At Oyster ‘Nothing’s Ever Too Much’ as we go that extra mile to ensure we’ve understood your organisations’ culture and needs, in order to find you the perfect fit. With 19 years’ specialist experience, we’ve built our clients’ trust and loyalty, achieving 72% repeat business.

  • How do you charge?

Asking a recruitment agency about their charging structure is crucial to understand the cost implications of their services, plan a suitable budget, and assess their cost-effectiveness. It ensures transparency in the hiring process, enables negotiation opportunities, and allows you to evaluate additional services offered in their packages.

Knowing their fees helps ensure compliance with legal regulations and provides insights into potential refund or replacement policies. Ultimately, understanding their charging model enables you to make informed decisions and establish a productive working relationship with the agency for successful candidate placements.

How Oyster would answer:

At Oyster, we work collaboratively and flexibly with clients, and appreciate a multitude of factors when agreeing our fee. We have a number of payment structures available and tailor them to our clients’ needs, ensuring the ability to maintain cashflow and ensure a speedy and effective completion. We also don’t charge for temporary workers until the day they start their assignment.

  • Do you speak to every candidate before submitting their CV?

Asking a recruitment agency if they speak to every candidate before submitting their CV is crucial to ensure a rigorous candidate screening process. This practice indicates the agency's commitment to presenting only qualified and suitable candidates to the hiring company. By conducting candidate interviews, the agency can assess the candidates' skills, experience, and suitability for the role, improving the chances of finding the best match. It also helps them understand the candidates' motivations, career aspirations, and cultural fit, enhancing the overall quality of the recruitment process. This approach demonstrates the agency's dedication to delivering top-notch candidates and ensures a more efficient and effective hiring experience.

How Oyster would answer:

We meet every single one of our candidates. As we work with specialists all over the country, sometimes we meet them virtually, and other times we meet for a coffee in person.

  • What is your agency’s process of finding suitable candidates?

Asking a recruitment agency about their agency's process of finding suitable candidates is essential to understand their methodology and approach to recruitment. This information allows you to assess their expertise and efficiency in identifying qualified candidates for your specific roles. Understanding their sourcing strategies, candidate screening techniques, and assessment methods helps ensure they are capable of delivering candidates that align with your organisation's needs and culture. It also provides insight into their use of technology, networking, and industry knowledge, enabling you to make an informed decision about partnering with the agency that best meets your hiring requirements.

How Oyster would answer:

As a specialist agency with 19 years’ already under our belt, Oyster have built a large network of experienced candidates. As well as reaching out to our broad database of specialists, we’re also referred candidates on a daily basis via word of mouth, as well as utilising the traditional methods of sourcing, such as social media and job boards, we also host regular networking events at our Mayfair office. We are specialist headhunters and so pro actively take our clients’ requirements to market to source the most qualified and revered talent.

  • Do you understand what the candidate does?

Understanding what the role entails is crucial to ensuring they have a clear understanding of the job requirements and responsibilities. It indicates their level of knowledge about the specific skills, qualifications, and experience needed for the role. A comprehensive understanding of the role enables the agency to effectively screen and match candidates, increasing the likelihood of finding the right fit for your organisation. It also demonstrates their commitment to delivering quality candidates who can contribute positively to your team and align with your business objectives. Overall, this question helps you gauge the agency's ability to meet your hiring needs successfully.

How Oyster would answer:

At Oyster, not only do our consultants go through rigorous training and speak with dozens of specialists on a daily basis, they also often benefit from hands-on work experience with our clients, to ensure they know exactly what the role entails. We also have industry specialists in to present to the team on a regular basis.

  • What are your core values?

Asking a recruitment agency about their core values is essential to understand their guiding principles and beliefs that shape their approach to business. Knowing their core values allows you to assess whether their ethos aligns with your organisation's culture and values. It indicates the agency's commitment to ethical practices, transparency, and client-centricity, which are crucial for building a productive and trustful partnership. Additionally, understanding their core values helps you evaluate their dedication to candidate satisfaction, employee welfare, and long-term relationships with clients. This information aids in making an informed decision about choosing an agency that shares common values and can best represent your company's interests.

How Oyster would answer:

‘Great People Together’: It’s who we are. It’s who you are. It’s what we do… bring great people together to do great things.

‘So, What’s Next?’: It’s not where you are, it’s where you’re going. Never settle. Choose to progress.

‘Astonishingly Good’: Try new things. Push the standard up. Impress everyone, everywhere, every time.

‘Nothing’s Ever Too Much’: Everything with grit and determination. Nothing without honesty and accountability.

  • What support can I expect from the agency

Asking a recruitment agency what support you can expect from them is crucial to understand the level of assistance they will provide throughout the hiring process. Knowing the extent of their support enables you to assess whether they can handle various aspects of recruitment, such as candidate sourcing, screening, interviewing, and onboarding. It helps you determine if they offer personalised solutions tailored to your organisation's specific needs. Additionally, understanding their support services, such as market insights, salary benchmarking, and candidate replacement guarantees, ensures a smoother and more successful recruitment experience, saving you time, effort, and resources in finding the right candidates for your roles.

How Oyster would answer:

As previously touched on, Oyster’s position as leading recruitment specialists gain us insights into the market like none other. Speaking to both passive and active candidates, we relay feedback to clients’ on their reputation in the market, as well as a detailed breakdown of how the role could be made more attractive. This gives our clients’ the information they would need, should they chose to hire without the assistance of agencies in the future.

Now you’re armed with all the information you need to choose the best recruitment agency for you!

If our answers match the level of specialist support you’re seeking, get in touch today.

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Robert Murray

Like most Drama School Graduates, Rob was working in a restaurant when he was approached by Oyster to come in and interview for a job. And thank goodness he decided to swap his dreams of the stage for Recruitment because just 7.5 years later, Rob has skyrocketed from Recruitment Consultant to Director. Can’t do that dancing in a production of Cats. One of Oyster’s most elusive men, you will never find Rob at his desk. Instead, he’ll be everywhere at once, doing the work of five people, with the energy levels of ten.

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