How Much Does Your Recruiter Really Know About Your Job?

March 19, 2024

Working with a recruitment agency can be tremendously powerful, but only if they actually understand the job that you’re hiring for. Here’s what to expect in an intake call to see if your recruiter knows their stuff—or if they’re just blowing smoke. 

Let’s say you’re a hiring manager. Maybe you’re growing so fast, and hiring so much talent, that HR can’t keep up. Maybe you’ve had roles sitting open for weeks, or months. HR tells you that “there just hasn’t been the right quality of applicants.” Or maybe you had a job offer to a candidate who declined at the last minute, leaving you scrambling. Maybe you have a confidential search, where you need discrete representation in the marketplace as you go to hire.

Quite often these roads lead to using a recruitment firm for support. In fact, these situations are the times when a recruitment firm is most powerful as a tool. When the hire is tough, or urgent, or confidential. When you need to see results now. 

You call the recruitment agency, tell them a little bit about your hiring needs, and they eagerly take on the job. “We absolutely fill roles in that area,” they say. Or, just as commonly: “We have a huge bench of candidates for this exact role waiting to go.” They ask you some questions during the intake call.

Then, you sit back and see what rolls in. If you’ve chosen the right recruiter, with real expertise in the job function (e.g. IT, or sales, or supply chain), you’ll start to see profiles within about a week. Every candidate is worth interviewing. You book interviews, start the process, and feel confident. But sometimes, if you’re unlucky, you might find that the candidates are way off base. They might forward a logistics specialist for a strategic procurement job. The results might be no different than if you just post the job on a job board and see what rolled in. Even worse, you might see no candidates at all. 

If you tap a recruitment agency and you don’t get the results that you want, it’s likely that they aren’t a true specialist. In other words, they don’t actually understand the job that you’re calling them about. They might have “a database,” but they don’t have the deep network of live candidates that comes from working the same sorts of roles day after day. People who are actively looking for jobs, or better, passive candidates who aren’t applying to job boards. They don’t have a deep understanding of the skillsets required. They don’t understand your company’s true organizational culture and needs, beyond putting a butt in a seat, or they don’t care. They don’t have the expertise necessary to give you market intelligence about how many candidates are actually out there, what their salary expectations are, or why the job might have been sitting open. 

Today, we want to highlight a crucial and informative moment in this whole process. It’s a moment that’ll clue you in to whether the recruiter actually understands your needs, or if they’re just blowing smoke: that initial intake call.

Sometimes, you can just tell if a recruiter knows what they’re talking about or not. But we want to give some examples of questions that you should expect from that initial intake call.

First, there are the questions that any recruiter should ask, whether they’re a generalist or a specialist.

Some of these general questions include:

  • What’s the job title and level?
  • Why is the role open? 
  • What’s the location? Is it in-office, remote or Hybrid? What’s the workplace culture like?
  • What’s the salary range for the role? What additional compensation do you have in place (e.g. vacation, bonuses, stock allowances, training opportunities)?
  • Who does this role report to?
  • What’s your timeline for hiring in the role? Can you walk me through the process on your end?  

But the info shouldn’t shouldn’t stop there. A true specialist will get deep into the weeds to deeply understand the skills required, as well as your organizational challenges, strategy and needs.

At Argentus, we specialize in supply chain and procurement, so here are some real-life examples of questions that our consultants will ask:

Examples of Procurement and Supply Chain-Specific Questions: 

  • Tell me about your supply chain (industry specific). How does it work? If you use contract manufacturing, how do you get the product to the distribution phase? If you manufacture in-house, do you manage your own logistics, or do you use a 3rd party logistics provider? How would you describe your level of supply chain maturity?
  • If you manufacture, tell me about your manufacturing sites. 
  • For procurement roles: what category or categories will this individual work in (e.g. raw materials, or indirect categories)? Will this person be managing day-to-day transactions and POs, or sourcing new suppliers from end-to-end? How active will they be in developing strategies for the categories managed? 
  • For procurement roles: tell me more about your procurement organization. Do you have a centre-led or category management framework?
  • Do you have an established Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP) or Integrated Business Planning (IBP) process? If so, how does this role fit into that process? 
  • For inventory roles: tell me about your logistics and distribution network. Does this person manage LTL, FTL, air, ocean, rail, or a mix? Do you have a freight forwarder in place? If you’re importing and exporting, will this person manage the customs clearance process?
  • For roles that include inventory and supply planning: How many SKUs will this person be managing? What are the main focuses for your inventory position, and what are common disruptions?
  • For demand planning roles: tell me about how this individual feeds into the S&OP or IBP process? Which time horizons will this individual be forecasting? Weekly, monthly, yearly? How many SKUs?
  • For warehousing leadership roles: Tell me about the size of the warehouse in square feet. What is the shift schedule like? Is it a unionized environment, or a non-unionized environment? 
  • What systems is your organization using (for example ERP systems), and what level of expertise is this candidate expected to have?
  • How does your supply chain feed into your brand story? For example, in terms of sustainability or supplier diversity. Do you have any initiatives in this area?
  • How do you project future growth in this role? What can candidates expect? 
  • What challenges have you seen in recruiting so far? How close have you come to offers with other candidates, and if they didn’t accept, could you speak about why? 
  • Can you identify any direct competitors whom you would love to see candidates from?

The difference should be clear.

If you call us, we won’t ask all these questions of course. They’re highly specific to various supply chain disciplines, and we don’t want to take up too much of your time. But hopefully it gives you a sense of the level of detail you should expect from a recruiter.

These questions lead to the kind of granular familiarity that allows a recruiter to truly represent you in the marketplace. To not just be a clearing-house for resumes, but a consultant who can actually get candidates excited about a job—while ensuring that they can actually perform. 

These questions are specific to our realm of supply chain management and procurement, but they exist for every other corporate-level discipline as well, be it IT, sales, healthcare, etc. 

And if you call a recruiter about a supply chain or procurement role, and they don’t ask these kinds of questions? 

Run in the other direction. 

As a boutique recruiter specialized entirely within supply chain management and procurement, Argentus has built an unparalleled network of talent within Canada. We specialize in helping companies overcome these gaps.

As mentioned above, we go above and beyond to deeply understand your organization and needs and close the hire. So reach out to explore whether we can augment your existing hiring efforts! Call 416 364 9919 or send an email to


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