They Shoot Recruiters, Don’t They?


This blog was originally posted on RecruitingBlogs – click here to see all the comments that were posted

Question for corporate recruiters and hiring managers…if a contingent hire goes wrong, which of these is likely to be at fault:

1)      The hiring and selection process?

2)      The onboarding and integration process?

3)      The recruiter who introduced the candidate?

Hands up who answered 3?

I ask this because I was told of a situation recently in which a client decided after 4 weeks that a candidate that had been hired was a bad fit and would have to be released. They asked the recruiter not just for a 100% fee refund but to cover the 4 weeks wages that they had paid too…their justification was ‘well you selected herto which the recruiter had replied ‘no, I presented her…you selected her

At what point, I wonder, does the 3rd part contingency recruiter cease to be responsible for the success of their introduction?

We present candidates who we believe are as close a match as possible to what the client has briefed us to find, yet after this presentation the clients’ processes, over which we have no control and very little input, take over…interview process, selection criteria, offer, pre-joining communication, induction and onboarding, integration…that’s a whole lot of actions where something can go wrong that may influence the new employees ability to fit straight into the role and culture.

And what happens if an employee thinks that the company has misrepresented itself, its culture, its talent development agenda, the scope of the role offered? All these are often cited as reasons that people fail to settle and become disenfranchised early in their employment.

Most recruiters offer a refund/rebate facility and yet many employers feel the need to negotiate these more favourably. Why? This leads to the recruiting process starting from a position of negativity, of risk minimisation, as if you are almost expecting the hire to be unsuccessful. I did have a client once who laid down their terms for a rebate…100% for a 2 month period if the candidate proved to be unsuitable, but if it was the candidate who left, for any reason, then the company expected no rebate as they felt it was their responsibility to represent their business and culture, and the role and expectations, and the recruiter could not influence this.

I’ve rarely found another client willing to share the responsibility, which will, in effect, recognise that the hiring company has a large role to play in whether or not their new member of staff succeeds. Too often when an employee leaves within the first few months it is the recruiter who made the introduction who is held to account, but is this just an easy option? Would the hiring process be any different if the recruiter offered no rebate/refund?

Maybe it’s hard to say ‘How come we couldn’t keep this person, we went through a long interview process, bought them in and got the approval of the team, went through our usual induction programme…where did we go wrong?’ and easier to say ‘where did we get that guy from? Find out what the rebate is and tell them if we get another dud candidate from them then they’re not a supplier anymore’.

I know I can’t speak for all recruiters. I know that there are too many who abdicate their responsibilities of careful matching and selection, of getting to really know their clients and being able to add value to the hiring process, who don’t properly reference and check…yet there are many who do all of these things, and present strong candidates in good faith that their clients have robust hiring and induction processes in place to maximise the success of their new hires.

So I return to my original question of who or what is at fault if your new hire is unsuccessful. How many companies have an inquest when this happens? Supposing it is a direct hire or a referral, what would usually be the reason? And why is this different if the employee was introduced through a 3rd party recruiter?

Do you feel that there are times when we’re justified in saying…

Don’t Shoot, I’m only the Recruiter

3 thoughts on “They Shoot Recruiters, Don’t They?

  1. Ever since I started running my own recruitment company in 1993, I have resisted the notion of rebates, especially in the case of contingency recruitment. To that end, I have never repaid a fee to an employer since.
    I am firmly of the opinion that he who selects the candidate, also has to shoulder the responsibility for their success, or otherwise.
    As a recruiter, my job stops the day my candidate commences employment. It is my responsibility to get him/her there, helping them through the salary negotiation and resignation process, cold feet, and other practical issues. Thereafter I have no influence whatsoever, and can therefore take no responsibility.
    I do however defer a little to the convention. My T&C’s look, to the untrained eye, as if they contain a rebate structure. However, what they state is that a proportion of the fee, if paid in full within 14 days, can be rebated against the full fee for a replacement candidate, if one is recruited to the same position.


    13. In the event that any applicant terminates, or the Client terminates, the engagement within 12 weeks of the specified date upon which such applicant commenced work for the Client and provided:-

    a) that the Client notifies the Company in writing of the termination of engagement within seven days thereof; and
    b) that the Client or any subsidiary or associated company of the Client shall not engage the applicant within twelve months from the date of the termination of the engagement; and
    c) the termination is not due to redundancy; and
    d) all monies due from the Client have been paid in accordance with these terms and conditions.

    THEN the Company shall rebate the Client a proportion of the fee as follows:-

    up to 4 weeks – 100% less £50 Admin. Fee
    5 to 8 weeks – 50%
    9 to 12 weeks – 25%
    thereafter – no rebate

    THIS refund is applicable only to full permanent placements and not to fixed term appointments. The refund will only be given where the Company has replaced the terminated applicant and charged at the standard rate below. The Company will only credit the rebate against the invoice for the replacement candidate.

  2. All excellent points Mervyn and one’s that are close to my heart. Fortunately (or rather I hope NOT fortunately) the subject of rebates has happened to me only twice in my recruitment career to date – the responsibility and where it lies on those specific ones we can debate another day – but I think there is a point to all of this that works in tandem with your post.


    I don’t think recruiters in general are prepared to spend the time educating their clients on the subject of joint responsibility and ownership of the process. The entire interview process is a shared responsibility, from the moment the recruiter talks to the candidate about their client through to the offer management part of the process and even beyond. And we should be clear about this as part of our overall relationship with our client.

    So the thorny subject of rebates should be shared. But it needs to be agreed up front that it is a partnership approach. Many recruiters and clients talk about partnership – here is one sure way to find out how true that holds!

  3. It is unfair to blame the recruiter when the overall recruitment process is (e.g. Onboarding and Induction) is at fault. It is time that people started viewing recruitment more holistically – as the sum of parts that it is.

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