5 Questions to Ask the 10th IT Staffing Firm that Calls You Today

by Kristen Long on April 4, 2017




We have talked recently about the challenges facing executive leaders, especially the rapidly evolving landscape of technology. Every IT initiative, from cybersecurity and compliance to big data and business intelligence, has a wider impact on the entire enterprise. There is no question that you have a major responsibility to analyze, strategize, execute and communicate these changes to the whole organization. It can be an overwhelming job that stretches the boundaries of regular office hours. You are busy! So why bother responding to the countless calls and messages you receive daily from sales reps and recruiters who are all looking for more of your time?

Most IT staffing firms deliver a similar solution. They claim to have the technology professionals you need for the IT projects they imagine you are implementing. When you actually have time to check your voicemail, email and LinkedIn messages, most staffing firms sound exactly the same. Reaching for the delete button is almost automatic.

The problem with this universal dismissal is that a genuine IT staffing partner is incredibly valuable. It would mean you no longer have to worry about the impact of the IT talent shortage, increased market demand or federal changes in H1B policies. But when you have little time to sort through the masses of sales emails and voicemails, how do you find the right company? It would be a mistake to make a sporadic decision. Here are five questions to ask the 10th IT staffing firm that calls you today.

What experience does your firm have in staffing for similar IT projects?

It is essential to discover whether a staffing firm has genuine technical knowledge. Without it, it is unlikely that they understand the skillsets of their candidates or the technical environments of their clients. A base-line knowledge of these factors is necessary in being able to successfully fulfill your requirements.

Even if the salesperson or recruiter you are speaking with is newer to the organization, they should have resources at hand that draw upon the company’s history and experience within the industry. On the other hand, you cannot rely on a firm’s decades of history alone to prove they know the industry. Asking this question will confirm that they have stayed innovative and up-to-date, rather than becoming stagnant in their processes and knowledge.

What recruiting trends and challenges are you seeing in the marketplace?

Technical knowledge is essential, but it is only a fraction of the big picture. Recruiters and salespeople alike must have a deep understanding of their own industry, beyond the four walls of their cubicles and offices. What are the major trends and challenges they are seeing in recruitment and talent acquisition? How do those trends impact unemployment rates, shifting employment models, shrinking talent pools, and evolving recruitment tools? How familiar are they with the growing independent IT workforce? And how do all of these trends affect the components of their recruitment process? What steps have they taken to help their clients overcome recruiting challenges and how have they improved or adjusted their search strategy?

Describe a critical project in which your company was instrumental in helping a client reach their goal.

When you are looking for a long-term partnership, you want to avoid staffing firms that appear to have a transactional business model. They are the ones that have little interest in who you are or what your company values. Instead, look for an IT staffing partner that genuinely cares about your initiatives, your culture, and your business goals.

Asking about critical technology projects they have worked on with other clients, particularly ones in which they feel they played an instrumental role, will provide insight into the quality of their client relationships. This question also gives you another glimpse into how tuned in they are to the technology industry. If they recently staffed a large data migration project or an application development initiative for a unique or well-known company, they should have a clear understanding of the project and its technical environment.

Describe what happened in an instance where a candidate didn’t work out.

When a bad hire occurs, everyone loses out. The best IT staffing firms do everything in their power to prevent this from happening, but it is inevitable that the occasional consultant may leave for more money or have the opportunity to be on better technology or perhaps may not meet all areas of your job scope. Exploring how a firm handles those unfortunate instances will provide valuable insight.

You are looking for a firm with a problem-solving approach and a willingness to help identify what factors may have contributed to the resignation or termination. Successfully screening and interviewing a candidate depends upon joint partnership between both the staffing firm and the client, and this collaborative process should be upheld in the instance where a consultant does not work out. Many unsuccessful hires can be prevented by carefully articulating the job responsibilities and exploring the market demand in advance. Ultimately, you want a staffing partner who will help mitigate the costs of a bad hire.

Provide an example of a behavioral interviewing question you ask your candidates.

The interviewing process is an opportunity for a company to differentiate itself from the market. Most IT staffing firms will try to sell you details about their extensive database of candidates, cutting edge CRM or ATS technology, and experienced team of recruiters. But what really stands a company apart is their capacity to consistently deliver talented IT professionals. Without a doubt, the quality of their interviewing process is what enables them to do just that.

The most revealing interview questions are structured around behavioral interviewing. This technique is based on the concept that past performance predicts future performance. While traditional interview questions are still important, they only provide a surface-level understanding of who the candidate is. Asking for an example of a firm’s behavioral interviewing questions will reveal their level of commitment to the quality of their recruitment process. In addition to example questions, find out how else the firm verifies their candidate’s background. An interview is just the first step. Are they screening their social media to ensure their profile aligns with their resume? Will they perform technical screening or background checks on your request?

Responding to the 10th IT Staffing Firm that Calls You

If you are inundated with calls and emails from staffing firms, and you need to quickly discern which one aligns with your goals, these five questions are key. Even if the sales representative does not have all the answers, they should know who to ask or where to look.

At Resource 1, our goal is to help IT professionals and organizations achieve their objectives and represent them in the marketplace with honesty and integrity. We differentiate ourselves on our non-transactional relationships and deep technical expertise. If that is what you are looking for, contact us today.