Practice what we preach: Interviewing Recruiters

I've interviewed 100s of recruiters in my career, and taught a lot of recruiters and hiring managers how to interview and select great people. And, most of the time (smile), I practice what I preach.

If you're going to interview a recruiter soon, consider employing some of these situational or scenario-based techniques. I believe they help you predict on-the-job success, and they've served me really well over the years. Here's 3 examples:

  1. Role play with the recruiter. "I'm the hiring manager, you're the recruiter that works with me. Imagine I just opened a new req - one you haven't worked on before. You schedule a meeting with me to understand my target candidate profile and set up our relationship. What do you do to prep for that meeting? What questions would you have for me during the meeting? Let's role play those questions - gather my hiring criteria/requirements right now. [Throw in a few unrealistic requests to see if the recruiter can appropriately push back.] What will you commit to at the end of this meeting? What are the next steps?"
  2. Learn whether the recruiter knows the jobs and profiles they'll recruit for. Give the recruiter a req spec (detailed requirements list) and then give the recruiter 5-7 resumes to review against that req. Ask the recruiter to stack rank the resumes against the req, with the most promising candidate on top, least promising on bottom. Then have the recruiter walk you through their logic. "Why did you put this resume on top? What's on here that makes you think it's the best match? [Walk through the top 2-3 resumes.] What does [term from resume] mean? What do you look for - beyond key words - when evaluating a resume against a req like this? What are some general red flags you look for? What would be the specific red flags for this req? [Walk through the bottom 2-3 resumes.] What did you see on these resumes that made you rank them so low?"
  3. If the recruiter you need to hire will need to build a plan/strategy, then why not ask them to build something for you during the interview? I've had great success giving a recruiter a scenario and asking them to build a strategy that supports a business request for more hires. "The VP you support has just met with you, and asked you to come up with a plan to hire 30 additional people onto her team in 3 months. She needs to see a plan from you by the end of the week. Let's role play - I'm the VP, you're the recruiter. What info do you need from me to build this plan? What's your plan to source, screen, select, and sell these candidates? What are the specific tactics you will employ to generate quality candidates? How many candidates do you think we'll need to interview to make 30 hires? How did you come up with that? Is it realistic to hit this goal? How do you know if it's realistic? Show me - on paper - how you'll present the elements of this plan to your VP so that you build confidence with her that you're an expert. What do you think she'll be most concerned about (risks) and what will you say/do to address those risks?" [You can continue on with this scenario for over 30 minutes by asking for more detail about sourcing strategy, interviewing process, metrics, communication plan, etc.]

These are just 3 examples. What techniques do you use - beyond traditional behavioral interview techniques - to predict on-the-job success for recruiters?