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Ask the Expert: Should we use a pre-search form?

Ask the Expert                                       By Mark Rowbottom


I just spent an hour on the phone with a candidate who looked really good on paper, only to find out at the end that she’d already been submitted to a bunch of other companies by another recruiter. Do you use any pre-screening forms on the front end of your process to prevent stuff like this from happening?


The simple answer is YES!! – we absolutely do use a pre-search form. We use the form for a variety of reasons, and after explaining the reasoning behind it – we believe you will too.


In order to provide great service to our clients, we ask a variety of key questions taking a JO and then do our research on the company. This research can include department size, Org charts, benefits and on ……….


Ironically, when recruiting candidates for our clients we can be less thorough. This is the scenario you fell into when you wasted an hour on a “spent” candidate.  Don’t feel bad – we have all done it before. You said in your question “a candidate who looked really good on paper.” Recruiters tend to get very excited when they think they have a candidate “on the line”.  Asking the tough questions upfront can be a scary proposition, you could “lose the fish”!


Exactly!!! That is the reason to ask them. If candidates are unwilling to reveal information about their search, you should not work with them. However, give them a chance to help you understand their career expectations. We do that with our candidates through the “Advantage Form!”


There are several bonuses with what we call our “Advantage Form.” We encourage the completion of our form as a smart move for our candidates. The Advantages are multiple. The form asks the questions “what is the ideal job, ideal salary, location, benefits and duties? We can learn about their needs and desires in a new company. Remember – it is all about the candidates (and the clients).


Let your candidate know the form will provide you with the information to help you identify the right fit.  Time will be saved by identifying the candidate’s preferences once the form is completed. Explain to them how the form is an in-house tool and is held in confidentiality. Tell them it will take about 15 minutes to complete, and ask them when they will be able to complete it. Finally, promise to call them on that date.


Your form should ask for details describing their search activity. This should include: other recruiters, interviews, job offers, job board listings and related search activities. Start the form with easy factual things to get them started: follow with the “ideal” questions and on a second page ask for references. Limit the form to 6 or 7 key questions.


What you want are the facts in a direct concise form.  While a resume may make a candidate look good – it does not necessarily make the individual a good candidate.

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