7 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Staffing Agency

When charged with the task of hiring a staffing agency in today’s ever-changing business environment, many companies find it’s no longer a question of whether or not to implement a flexible workforce strategy, but rather which staffing agency or agencies are best to partner with when building and executing that strategy.

Leveraging more than a million survey responses over the last decade, we’ve identified 7 questions to help hiring managers, procurement professionals, and senior HR leaders choose the best staffing agency for their needs.

Question 1: What expertise do you have with recruiting in my industry?

Our research has shown that while an ability to effectively match technical skills and culture fit are critical, it is the staffing agency’s knowledge of your industry that is often most important.3

Does the agency attend your industry events?

Have they filled positions for your competitors?

If they aren’t one of the key contributors to your industry, find an agency that is and partner with them instead.

Question 2: How do you measure your client satisfaction and what is your most recent satisfaction score?​

One of the most reliable indicators of future performance is past performance. Ask staffing agencies to provide you with their most recent client satisfaction score and how they compare to competitors. Don’t just accept 3 testimonials from the staffing agency­­—anyone can find 3 people that love them.

ClearlyRated’s Best of Staffing® is the nation’s only award that recognizes staffing agencies that receive remarkable reviews from their clients. The 2017 Best of Staffing® Client Award winners have all achieved a minimum Net Promoter® Score of 50%.

Question 3: What was your turnover rate for internal staff last year?

Partner with an agency that has low turnover of their internal staff so that you can build a long-lasting relationship. It’s important that your account manager and recruiter know you, your business, and your industry. This is tough to accomplish if they leave the staffing agency.

In a 2012 study conducted with CareerBuilder, we found that 32 percent of staffing agency clients had a different contact at their primary staffing agency that year compared with the previous year.3

The best agencies should have internal turnover significantly less than the most recent industry average of 15 percent.2

Question 4: What is your most recent satisfaction score for your permanent and temporary placed talent?​

A staffing agency with happy people working for them is invaluable. Dissatisfied permanent and temporary employees who are working for you are twice as likely to quit their job early.3 These types of avoidable disruptions are painful and costly for you and your team. Gauge the satisfaction of permanent and temporary employees currently working for a staffing agency by viewing testimonials, reviews, and satisfaction scores.

The industry average Net Promoter® Score for permanent and temporary employees working for a staffing agency is 21%,4 but those who earned ClearlyRated’s 2017 Best of Staffing® Award for talent satisfaction achieved a minimum NPS® of 50%.

Question 5: What current trends and recruiting issues should I be aware of?

Choose a staffing agency you trust as a strategic advisor for your company. Your agency should provide you with useful and enlightening information that makes you smarter, even before you hire them. Did you learn anything new the first time you met with them? If not, continue your search.

Question 6: Do you expect your rates to be higher, lower, or about the same as other agencies we may consider?

Don’t just buy from the staffing agency with the lowest price or markup. It’s important to make an informed decision based on value, and not solely on cost. Our research shows that if your organization makes a bad hiring decision it can cost you up to 4 times more than if you had just hired a staffing agency with expertise in filling the needed position.3

However, if an agency is higher in cost than their competitors, they should be able to explain and illustrate why. Pay for concrete value and true differentiation, not clever marketing or a persuasive sales pitch. Choose a staffing agency that provides you with permanent and temporary employees you can’t necessarily access yourself and invests in training the talent who will be working with you.​

Question 7: What are your expectations of me in this partnership?

A high-performing relationship with a staffing agency won’t happen without your investment of time and resources too. Partner with a staffing agency that you trust enough to allow them the access they need to learn about your business and culture. The success of a partnership is rooted in valuing each person involved—clients, job candidates, and the hired staffing agency. With this commitment in place, hiring a staffing agency and developing your flexible workforce strategy can be a transformational component for your organization’s growth, flexibility, and sustained success.

About this guide

The information above is based on research conducted by ClearlyRated, a professional research firm that administers more staffing agency client and talent satisfaction surveys than any other firm in the world. ClearlyRated’s team reports on satisfaction surveys from more than 1.2 million staffing agency clients and talent each year and the company serves as the American Staffing Association’s exclusive research partner.

2. ClearlyRated and CareerBuilder Research: 2014 Opportunities in Staffing
(Not available online, contact ClearlyRated for the full report)

3. ClearlyRated and CareerBuilder Research: 2013 Opportunities in Staffing
(Not available online, contact ClearlyRated for the full report)

4. ClearlyRated and CareerBuilder Research: 2016 Staffing Advantage Report

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