Case Study: Why Recruiter Training Is So Important


I recently decided to do a survey among 25 of my candidates about their experience with recruiting agencies. Candidates ranged from Hospital CEO’s, CNO’s, Registered Nurses, Allied Health Professionals – management, experienced and new graduates.

Their experiences were also similar, whether they were working with a corporate recruiter, a contingency recruiter or a retained recruiter.

One candidate, an experienced Chief Nursing Officer (CNO), recounted her experiences with a hospital recruiter. The recruiter called her from a referral. She had done no research on her at all. She did not know how highly respected she is nor that she had very impressive experience. The recruiters questioning was basic and simplistic, and it was clear that the recruiter didn’t have any insight into the position aside from the job description provided by the hiring manager.

After talking to this CNO for awhile, the recruiter told the candidate that she probably wasn’t right for the job because she had not previously worked in a hospital of their exact size, and that was a prerequisite for this position. This came after 10 minutes of a basic phone conversation and despite her 20 years of experience, reputation, and solid credentials.

A lack of recruiting skill results causes tremendous inefficiencies and much higher costs for corporations and loss of placement fees for contingency and retained recruiters. Untrained recruiters lose many good candidates and spend too much time screening good candidates out instead of screening the right candidates in. It seems that while unskilled recruiters in a staffing agency do not stay around very long, they seem to do well in corporate recruiting where they do not have to rely on commission and their ratio’s are seldom monitored.

I work mostly in healthcare and find that few healthcare organizations have ever surveyed their applicants on their recruiters behavior and style, whether successful or not at employing them.

Job specifications are too often are standard, were developed years ago and fail to differentiate one job from another. Too often, recruiters do not fully understand the position they are recruiting for, and many recruiters just go through a checklist filled out by a hiring manager (who had also had no recruitment training). That hiring manager may not really know what his or her top performers need to have as core competencies and also lack insight into the talent marketplace.

There are some excellent recruiting tools through technology, websites, and assessment tests that can increase the chances of finding and hiring a successful candidate. However, even these tools cannot replace the success that a skilled recruiter can in creating enthusiasm in a candidate, in finding and overcoming the candidates’ objections and in encouraging the right person for the job to take the job.

The bottom line is that when we treat good candidates poorly, ask the wrong questions questions, fail to understand what motivates them and what they are really seeking, and have untrained recruiters working the phones, we lose good candidates and create a very bad image of the recruiting industry and the organizations that we represent.

Following are six steps to filling job orders more quickly and efficiently:

1. Survey candidates about their experience with your recruiter. Find out what their overall impression of the recruiter was. Ask them if they were asked appropriate questions that they felt would distinguish a qualified candidate from an unqualified candidate. Find out if the recruiter had done any research on their background or qualifications. Get an assessment of their recruiters professionalism. Share each recruiters results with the recruiter and assign a mentor to recruiters to help them develop better skills. This should be connected with each recruiter’s success in closing placements and on how well his or her hires do and how long your recruiters stay in your organization.

2. Make certain that all recruiters have had training in communicating and negotiating with hiring managers. The only time that a position should be presented to a candidate is after a recruiter has discussed the position with the hiring manager in depth. All requirements should be verified and ensure that they are realistic so that a person for the job actually exists. Double-check each requirement for their necessity, as each one will potentially disqualify a good candidate. Requirements that can often be challenged especially years of experience. If the hiring manager asks for five years experience, clarify that someone with four years will not work. Recruiters need to learn how to challenge and how to offer alternative suggestions. The recruiter should have a carefully thought-out list of requirements, competencies, and experience for each position and hiring manager.

3. Recruiters need to truly understand their talent market and pool of candidates and be able to show the facts and figures to hiring managers about what the market is like. How many openings are there for a similar position? Who else is hiring for the same positions? How difficult is it to find qualified people?

4. Sourcing should be primarily from relationships, personal referrals and talent pools that the recruiter has developed over time. By using social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, along with email, texting and other communication tools, recruiters can reduce the number of completely unknown candidates to a minimum.

5. Every recruiter should complete one or more courses in the basics of recruiting. They should be trained and skilled in inquiring about critical areas and getting the information they and the hiring manager will need to select or reject one candidate over another. And, it is essential that they know how to close good candidate and overcome objections. Finding out what candidates really want and then meeting their needs will result in more successful placements.

6. Candidates are annoyed. Good talent is difficult to find and when you do you need to ensure that they come to you. Therefore, trust and building a relationship are essential and this comes from knowledge and skill about how to recruit them. Organizations that implement the right of recruiter training will usually find and place the candidate they need and, even when they don’t place them, will always win their respect and get referrals from them – and for agency recruiters, down the road some of these candidates will become hiring managers and you will be the first person they call.


Nadia Gruzd