Look beyond the Resume: 4 Secret Attributes that Predict Success when Hiring Recruiters

  By Kathleen Kurke  |    Sunday November 12, 2018

Category: Columns, Expert Advice


There’s endless debate whether we should look to hire recruiters with recruiting experience. Or, not. 

I’ve made many hires in each category with mixed results. What I’ve learned is that ‘previous recruiting experience’, or any other specific set of experiences, is not a reliable predictor of success.  


There are 4 specific attributes that have consistently predicted success in my many hires over the years, and I’m sharing them with you. These are the attributes predicted success far more than any recruiting or non-recruiting experience: 

• Strong measurement/tracking orientation

• Comfort with repetitive tasks

• Coachability

• Curiosity


Look for these attributes in your next hire:


Strong Measurement/Tracking Orientation

We’re in a business where counting matters. We count our cash-in, we count our placements and we should be counting our send-outs, job orders and the numbers of assignments it takes to get there. 

I’m not expecting to hire a person who’s experienced in counting these specific types of business activities and outcomes in their previous jobs. But, I DO want to hire someone who’s used to, and comfortable with, counting and tracking their progress on the incremental steps along the journey to success. 

So few businesses are able to articulate the daily activates that lead to the business’s ultimate success that I don’t expect most people to be able to share examples from their past jobs. Often, the most predictive examples of a personal measurement and/or tracking orientation are found in their personal or hobby life, eg playing a musical instrument, playing a sport or mastering a new skill. 

Here’s a sample question to uncover where and if a person has a strong measurement/tracking orientation.

“We’re in a business where we can regularly track the daily and weekly activities which add up to success. Tell me about something you’ve done in your life, personal or professional, where you counted and tracked the smaller pieces that added up to success or failure.” OR

“Pick a success from your past, personal or professional. How did you measure your progress along the way? How did you know you had reached your goal?”

Rule out folks who attribute their previous successes to ‘hard work’ or ‘luck’. You’re looking for folks that understand you hit big goals when you roll up success in a list of smaller goals. 

Rule in folks that have counted and/or tracked their progress toward success. You’re looking for experience counting the number of miles they used to run when training for a marathon, or folks that save regularly to have a certain amount of money in the bank by the holidays, or folks that have committed to knit a certain number of rows every night to get a sweater done by a certain date. 

People that know how to take a big goal and break it down to what they can do NOW to move closer to the goal are more likely to take responsibility and accountability for today’s actions. And, tomorrow’s actions. And, each of the days between now and when they reach their goals. 

Comfort with Repetitive Tasks as a foundation for success

We connect with a variety of characters in our business and there’s no end to the stories we hear when we’re on the phone. But, when it comes right down to it, there are some activities we do over and over and over. We connect with many people. Every day. For some people, the variety in the people we connect with every day creates energy and anticipation. Others make call after call and are crushed by the ‘sameness’ of picking up the phone for call after call. 

We’re looking for folks who have enjoyed successes in their life that were based on consistently performing a repetitive task. Might have been daily flute practice so they could play in the orchestra or it might be hitting a specific number of buckets of balls every week to keep their handicap at a certain level.  These are the folks that have already settled into a pattern creating success by doing the same task over and over. These are the folks who will already be comfortable with the repetitive components of our business. 

Here’s a sample question to uncover where and if a person has a comfort with repetitive tasks as a component of their success. 

“In our business, we make a lot of calls and we talk to a lot of different people. Tell me about an experience in your background, personal or professional, where you’ve had to do something over and over again. What was the good news and bad news about that experience?”

Rule in folks that can identify that there are repetitive tasks as the foundation of most successes and can see the value of those respective tasks because they create the foundation of most successes. 

Rule out folks that declare their dislike, disrespect or disdain for repetitive tasks. 


We’re in a business where we’re (ideally) always learning, and we want everybody on our team to be continuous learners, also. And asking a person about coachability is akin to asking someone about their commitment to some unalienable right. Regardless of their truth, they’re likely to say ‘yes’, so we need to build a role play scenario into your interview process. 

Here’s how to build a ‘coachability’ role place scenario into your selection process. 

Let your recruiter candidate know you’re going to give them a chance to try on a part of the business, eg a marketing script or a recruiting script. 

Ask them to dial your phone and deliver the script. 

Ask them, “are you open to coaching”?

Provide straightforward, direct suggestions about 1 or 2 specific aspects of how they delivered a script, eg volume, speed of delivery, tone, suggested questions to ask, etc. Important that you limit your feedback to 1 or 2 specific points because your intention here is to evaluate their ability to change behavior as a result of your feedback, so you want your feedback to be straightforward and behavioral, so they can adjust their behavior. 

Suggest that they repeat the exercise. Your sequence is role play/feedback/repeat role play.

You’re looking for ANY change in behavior. You’re not expecting they’ll be perfect; you’re looking for them to incorporate the feedback and do something different in their 2nd time reading the script. 

The topic of the role play doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’re structuring a scenario where your recruiter candidate will have a chance to listen your feedback, incorporate your feedback and change their behavior because of your feedback. 

Rule in the people that acknowledge your feedback, incorporate your feedback by changing their behavior for the next round. 

Rule out the people that get defensive. 


Ours is a business of questions. We need to ask clients and candidates a lot of questions to understand their needs and wants. So, we need to hire people naturally inclined to ask questions and want to know more.

In every interview with a prospect recruiter, build in time to ask: “What would you like to know from me”?

You’re looking for someone who’s eager to ask questions about what success looks like in your organization, what success looks like for clients or candidates, about challenges and roadblocks. 

Rule out people with no questions. If they’re not asking questions before they get the job, they’re not going to ask enough questions once they start the job.


As recruiting firm owners, we know we’ll always need to be interviewing to hire, whether we’re fueling growth or replacing/anticipating staff terminations. Paying attention to these 4 attributes when you evaluate candidates can increase your comfort level in making hires. 



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