What did you think when you read this title?  Did you clap and agree that recruiters have nothing to do with quality of hire?  Did you cringe and think – recruiters need to more focused on quality of hire? More than likely, you are in one of three camps on this subject:

  • Hiring managers make the final decisions on all candidates – recruiters are not responsible for who they choose.
  • Recruiters only introduce candidates and are paid for their network and ability to make introductions.
  • Recruiters are responsible for presenting the best candidates and allowing managers to pick the best from the bunch – of course they influence the quality of hire.

It’s 100% the hiring managers fault!

Last week I came across a post on Facebook within one of the industry groups that I belong to.   The post starts with this title and comment (Names will not be included):


Comment: “When you go buy a car and that car ends up being a lemon is it the salesman’s fault or did the buyer not do their homework? Same concept…. Ownership and accountability, we as recruiters don’t force hiring managers – they willingly hire these people.”

My response to this post was the following: “A good recruiter works with the hiring leader to influence selection and quality of hire.  If all you’re doing is throwing candidates at the manager and hoping someone sticks so you can blame the manager 100% when the candidate fails, you are part of the problem.”

This comment is being met with passion on both sides of the argument.   The vast majority of which focused on recruiters not being responsible at all for the quality of the hire.   Some of the highlighted comments include:

  1. We don’t control and aspects once a hire is made.
  2. What do we as recruiter control? – NOTHING.
  3. We are paid for our network and ability to make introductions.
  4. If they (hiring managers) make the decision, it’s their responsibility.
  5. Should you blame the person who introduced you to your ex-wife?

Its easy to get the point – recruiters have no responsibility beyond presenting the candidates to the hiring manager.  Beyond that, the hiring manager makes the final selection and is responsible for the quality of hire for anyone they choose.   Let’s look at this a little deeper.

SHOULD recruiters be held to quality of hire metrics?

There is no doubt that recruiters cannot take 100% of the blame for poor candidate quality.  The hiring manager makes the final decision.  But can the recruiter INFLUENCE the outcome?   The simple answer is – they better!

Recruiters are responsible for presenting quality candidates.

Too many recruiters are being driven by the wrong reasons.   They are being measured on quantity and not quality.  Since people do what is measured, there is an inherent flaw in many recruiting functions. Recruiters should be presenting 3 (on average) candidates that all meet the minimum bar for the role.   If all three fall below the bar, yet the hiring manager picks one of the three after comparative interviews, they are hiring the BEST of the WORSE.  Didn’t the recruiter affect candidate quality?

Recruiters should provide counsel.

A professional recruiter should provide qualified candidates to the hiring manager.  As the interview process continues and additional information in surfaced on each candidate, the recruiter needs to provide counsel to the hiring manager.  Its OK to tell a hiring manager NOT to hire a specific candidate – even if sourced by the recruiter – as new information comes to light.

Even with the best of intentions, many recruiters won’t help or influence a hiring manager in making candidate decisions.  They don’t like like being blamed for a candidate who fails.  Yet they want accolades for candidates they place that turn into rock stars!

You don’t blame eHarmony for mismatches, so you can’t blame a recruiter.

I have never used eHarmony but know plenty who have. Some of the relationships ended in marriage, and some never got started.   Some even ended in divorce.  “Are you going to sue eHarmony for a failed relationship?” This is one of the comments posted this past week.  Although eHarmony cannot be held liable for a failed relationship, they do take some responsibility and continually adjust their algorithms to increase their success rate.

What would happen if they took the attitude of “its not our fault” if a relationship fails?  They would not make any adjustments and would go bankrupt for not addressing the issue! Professional recruiters constantly look at the results of their candidates and make adjustment to consistently improve.   Although they are not to blame, they sure can and do influence the outcome.

We need to stop looking at this conversation as placing blame.  What we need to look at is how to effectively address the overall problem.

  • Recruiting metrics must to be aligned to quality and not quantity.
  • Recruiters need to consistently measure candidate quality and adjust.
  • Performance needs to be communicated to recruiters after candidate placement
  • Agency recruiters need to balance their commissions with the outcomes – commissions do not drive quality.

Hiring leaders, HR, and recruiters are responsible for candidate quality TOGETHER.  If the hiring manager makes decisions unilaterally, do they trust their HR partner or recruiter?  Should I, as the recruiter, just walk away and blame the manager? Or should I work at developing a relationship where I can begin to lead and influence the manager?


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