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So your team needs some really strong tech hires, and you’re ready to explore nontraditional staffing options. One trending option is a specialized staffing agency, defined by Business News Daily as “a middleman that eliminates most of the time-consuming hiring process so that business owners can allocate their efforts elsewhere.”

Sounds great, right? But how to start? Where to start? First, slow down—a little. The ancient advice festina lente (“Make haste slowly”)applies here. You need to take the time to find an agency that is the best fit for your needs. To help you do that, here are 12 questions to ask.

Great Hires Start with Asking a Remote Staffing Agency the Right Questions

Ask About Their Clients and Specialties

Bark up the right tree: Make sure to engage the right staffing agency. A staffing agency won’t be of much use if it doesn’t specialize in your industry or in the kinds of positions you need to fill.

1. What is the profile of your longest-standing client?

First, check the agency’s website to see if it lists clients. Consider:

●      Do you recognize the names?

●      Are they well-respected companies that do work similar to yours?

Then, ask about the agency’s longest-standing client(s) and what kind of remote staff they’ve recruited for those clients.

2. What industries do you specialize in?

This is probably the most important question. No matter how good a remote staffing agency is, if they don’t specialize in your industry or in the field for which you are hiring, you should probably keep looking. Remember: You are looking for a great fit—an agency that already has a pool of viable candidates for your open position(s). You don’t want to start the recruiting process from scratch, right? You also don’t want your recruiter to have to start from scratch.

3. Can I speak with your references?

Ask for references. (Bear in mind that references to direct competitors probably won’t be forthcoming.) And go ahead and take the time to check out those references.

  • Find out how satisfied they are with the quality of the candidates / workers the agency sent.
  • Ask about any shortcomings in the agency’s process or candidates.

Find Out About the Candidates

You’ll want to be sure that your staffing agency sends over well-vetted, well-qualified candidates. So be sure to ask:

4. Where do you find your candidates?

Questions to consider: Does the agency rely primarily on sites such as LinkedIn? Does it do its own prospecting and recruiting? And do they have inbound recruitment pipelines that helps good candidates find them?

5. What candidates do you have right now that are available for hire?

An established remote staffing agency should have a sizable talent pool of workers who have been prescreened and who can quickly be vetted with your specific needs in mind. Ask how many workers are in the agency’s pool.

6. How many candidates will you send us for each job?

The answer to this should depend on your needs—particularly how specialized and hard to fill the roles are—but the agency should be able to provide a target number and timeframe. For example, with SalsaMobi you might expect to receive the profiles of 2–4 software engineers within a few days.

Understand Geography and Reach

Are you looking for offshore candidates? Onshore/rural ones? Nearshore? (Not sure? Check out our post 2021 Forecast: 7 Remote Hiring Trends to Watch to learn more about each kind of remote staffing.)

7. What geographies do you have the most experience in?

Some agencies focus exclusively on offshore regions with very low labor costs, such as China, India, and eastern and southern Europe. Others provide “nearshore” candidates from regions with time zones compatible with US workplaces. As Forbes Council Member Steve Taplin writes, explaining some of the benefits of this kind of remote hiring, “Nearshoring destinations typically enjoy high English proficiency and possess a growing pool of young, skilled laborers.”

Do you need to augment your staff with workers who can attend meetings and interact in real time? If so, consider agencies that specialize in nearshore rather than offshore hiring.

8. What do I need to know about each region?

The agency should be able to tell you about important considerations such as cultural differences (especially regarding communication styles), time zones, and holiday schedules. Be sure to be on the same page about your expectations regarding oral and written English-language skills.

Get a Glimpse of the Hiring Process

Before you engage an agency’s services, understand the hiring process. Here are key questions to ask:

9. How do you screen candidates?

A good agency does more than read candidates’ LinkedIn profiles. But what DO they do? Here are some further questions you might ask:

  • Does the agency check references or confirm employment histories?
  • Do they conduct separate technical and cultural interviews?
  • Do they use assessments such as Hackerrank tests?

10. How will the interview process work?

Find out how you will be involved in the interview process. If, like SalsaMobi, the agency you choose conducts multiple screening and vetting interviews before you ever hear of a candidate, you’ll almost certainly still want to conduct your own follow-up interviews to confirm rapport and fit.

11. Do you negotiate the offer or do I?

Chances are good that the agency knows a LOT about compensation for the roles they specialize in staffing and the regions the candidates come from. The staffing agency may negotiate with candidates as part of the vetting process and then present you with a rate appropriate for a candidate’s expertise and experience. It’s a good idea to let your agency know your budget in advance, so they can choose candidates accordingly.

Work with a Remote Staffing Agency

At this point, you will have asked a lot of great questions, so now you’re ready for the nitty-gritty.

12. What does the contract between the employer and staffing agency look like?

A good staffing agency will offer flexible options, such as these:

  • hiring workers on a contract basis for specific projects or periods of time
  • hiring a contingent team member with the option bringing them in house in the future
  • paying a recruiting fee and hiring straight to your in-house team

Want more information? Ready to explore your options? Get in touch now.