I believe that every sales professional’s worst nightmare is ending up a mis-hire.  That fear prevents many from even listening to a recruiter.  Rather than miss out on a career changing position, I’d like to share a few tips that can help you detect when a recruiter (or hiring manager) isn’t looking out for your best interests.


Do they start with a discovery call or a sales pitch?

Recruiting done right is a collaborative process.  Are they giving you an opportunity to ask questions and present your skills or taking you into their well-versed talk track? Honestly, the majority of people a recruiter speaks with for an opportunity aren’t a fit.  How will they know if they’re doing all the talking?


Do they know the opportunity?

How can a recruiter possibly guide you through an interview process if they haven’t invested the time to get to know their client.  If it’s a newer relationship for the recruiter, do they point out the gaps in their knowledge or “wing it”?


Are they trying to find the right fit or make a placement?

Do your objections fall on deaf ears? Are they vetting you as thoroughly as you’re vetting them? For a position to work out long-term it takes a match in 3 domains – Can Do (do you have the skillset?), Will Do (is this a role that you relish?) & Fit (does your style and long-term goals match the company’s?).  A recruiter going for the kill isn’t worried about your career or their client’s bottom line.  In fact, there are probably questions they don’t want you to ask.


Are the stories lining up?

Does their story about the opportunity align with your prospective employers? If it doesn’t, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the opportunity won’t be a great fit.  It does mean that you should be wary of the recruiter’s advice.  After all, there are great companies being represented by recruiters who oversell every opportunity.


Do they have multiple examples of long-term clients?

Some recruiters move from one opening to the next in what I call transactional hell.  They’re intent on putting butts in seats and filling openings.  Many of them even believe they’re doing the right thing.  On the other end of the spectrum are the best of the profession.  They are focused on solving their clients’ talent related issues and finding their candidates a great fit.  This is a lot harder to do, requires more time and initially results in fewer hires.

In short, when vetting a recruiter, use what the author of the Four Agreements Don Miguel Ruiz calls the Fifth Agreement.  Be skeptical and ask questions.  This goes beyond asking the 5 questions listed above.  Ask yourself the following question.  “Do I trust that this recruiter has my best interests in mind?”  If they don’t, know that you are on your own when trying to determine if an opportunity is a great fit.