How to hire a great recruiter

Two men standing in front of a blue wall

4 mins, 53 secs read time

As a recruiter who manages a recruiting team for a company that sells recruiting software, I’m often asked “Wait... what? What do you do?” But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about is the other question I’m often asked: “How do I hire a great recruiter?”

This question has come from startups looking to hire their first-ever recruiter, operations-focused recruiters looking to bring on a technical recruiter, and recruiting managers adding to their teams. Each scenario is a bit different, but here are five tips to help you get started no matter which boat you’re in.

1. Make sure to prioritize your role

We’re used to being in the service position and prioritizing our work based off of other departments’ needs. But when you’re looking to hire a recruiter, this is the time to put your role at the top of the priority list. Prioritizing hiring the recruiter first will obviously allow you to help everyone else faster in the long run.

2. Remember it’s the same as every other role you’ve hired for

When it comes down to it, hiring a recruiter is like hiring for all other roles. There are attributes necessary to do a job well. If you can clearly define those attributes based on what your recruiter needs to accomplish, then you can create a process that tests for those attributes. You’re all set. Easy.

Only this time we have to put ourselves in the position of being both the hiring manager and the recruiter. You have to ask and answer the questions. Personally, I’ve held myself accountable to filling out the same “kick-off worksheet” that I would require from any hiring manager. Don’t assume that the role is well defined in your head. Write it out and make yourself think a little.

I’ve seen very trigger shy recruiters when it comes to adding to their own teams. We tend to be our hardest customers. I’ve also seen recruiters clearly define what they’re looking for. And they know who to hire when they find them.

3. Now for the attributes. What do I look for?

There are specific attributes that will make a candidate a great fit for your company and your team. But, there are also a few things that every good recruiter needs to have. Note: Some of these attributes may seem above and beyond. That's because I’m not trying to help you hire a good recruiter. This is what I feel is necessary for a great recruiter.


It’s the nature of the role that recruiters are supporting business needs. In most growing companies (where recruiters are needed to help them grow), business needs change. Recruiters must switch gears based on the new need without holding on to the past needs.

High integrity/discretion

Recruiters are often required to work with confidential information. A recruiter that you can trust with compensation data can then serve as an advisor internally and make a more confident (hopefully non-negotiable) offer.


Recruiters of the past were administrative support. I truly believe that if you elevate the role of your recruiters and can trust them with insight into the bigger picture of the org, their ability to help the org will amplify.

Motivated by helping others succeed

A great recruiter will dig and listen to others’ needs. More importantly, they will care about the eventual outcome. To me, there is no better motivation beyond truly caring about the success of the hiring managers, the candidates, and the org.

Proactive/sense of urgency

Is there any job where this isn’t important? I’d argue it’s extra important in a good recruiter. If they can act fast, they will keep the hiring manager happy, get the candidate before the competition, and overall help your organization.

4. Give candidates a real work assignment

Personally, I believe assignments are an incredibly valuable tool for all hiring. They should be focused on assessing necessary attributes, as close to real work as possible for the role, and reasonably time consuming. This way, they will both assess what you’re looking for in a very meaningful way, and give the candidate insight into what type of work will be expected of them if they were to end up in the role.

We’ve chosen to give a written take-home assignment that tests communication skills, prospecting skills, sense of urgency, and has components of integrity and adaptability as well.

5. Look at your team for the rest

What unique attributes or values on your team have led you to success? Define this, and try to find others who share those values. For example, we noticed a high level of ambition on our team, which helped everyone collaborate together and push each other to do more together. As a manager, I want new additions to the team to continue to elevate that, not slow us down.

Conversely, find gaps on your team and balance them. If you have a very technical, data-driven team, you may want to find a hire that will balance the soft skills and raise the flexibility or customer focus of your team. Learn from each other and elevate.


So, now you’re ready to go do what you do best: recruit.

When you care about your team, it can be scary to add new team members. But, if you maintain your structured hiring process and keep focused on the attributes, you will have an awesome new member on your team in no time. And remember, there’s an added benefit of being on the other side of the equation: empathy. It’s a great experience for us to be in our hiring managers’ shoes for a bit.

Wondering how you can use kick-off worksheets, scorecard attributes, and a structured hiring process for better hiring results? Check out the Structured Hiring 101 eBook to learn more.

Get the eBook