How does a recruiter get a clear job description from their clients?

Before the recruitment process starts, what questions does a recruiter need to ask to get a clear picture of the job description?

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Start with knowing the company - who are they? what do they do? how's business?

Then ask about the team - size? projects? goals? critical missions?

Then find out exactly how this person fits in - duties? immediate goal? role within the group? 3-5 year career plan?

Then you'll need a clear understanding of what happens from the time you've identified someone you feel is a fit until they are happily in the office making their contribution.

If you can not find this out - then you're not really in a position to start talking to candidates about it.

(Though at some point you'll need salary, benefits, etc. too.  This is just a quick list....)

I always ask about 'day to day' activities, not skillsets necessarily, but functional tasks...

What 3-4 things does this person need to know and be able to do on DAY ONE...

what would be "nice to haves" but not critical for this position?

upward mobility / growth opportunities for this position

size of team? how does this person fit into the needs of the group? what type of hole in skills are you trying to fill?

and on the other side of the fence:

client commitment:

If I identify a fantastic candidate, can you setup a phone screen in 24 hours of me sending him/her? Face to face interview 48 hours after that? Offer within a week of that if this person is the right fit?


this is posted at 95k-110k. Just want to make sure that if I find a rockstar at 118k you don't want to speak with them?

making sure you're not the 9th agency to get the job:

how long has this job been open and what activities / channels have you done to fill it? Why do you think those activities weren't successful?

hope that helps!

  • Job description plays a very important role for recruiters and for candidates appearing for interviews in understanding the job clearly. 
  • The job descriptions are always well written in simple language and shared with the recruiters to source profiles.
  • In case if the Job description is not appropriate / not understanding. The recruiters must approach the Client- POC and let him know the situation.
  • The SPOC will in turn discuss it with their internal team / Hiring Manager / Technical teams / Engineering teams and develop a proper JD.
  • The JD must contain Company description, domain, designation offered, years of experience, technologies required, educational qualifications, certifications and other required details.



Read the responses.  They are great and when I first got into recruiting I got the answer to these questions and more.  I work in the legal field and it seems within the last year or so getting a job description is harder than finding the candidate.

I had one firm tell me this is a patent attorney position they should know what a patent attorney does!!  Really?!  I have tried to explain that candidates are not looking to change address they are looking for an opportunity.  Just so I can save everyone some time...I know that if you can't get a good job order you should walk away well if I did that I would be out of work because most of the big firms that will pay a fee are like this.

Any other suggestions out there??

Thanks, Theresa

What I find interesting is a growing "acceptance" for lack of a better word - a laundry list of "required skills" yet no mention of the project or responsiblitities. 

OK, client.  Now that I know what skills you need - how about helping me understand what this person WILL DO with those skills....

As I type this I am quite certain there are thousands of very enthusiastic recruiters reading these long "must have" lists to candidates across the globe.  When asked by the candidate "What does the work entail" they sheepishly continue on....reading through the list of requirements to the "no longer lisltening" potential candidate.

It's funny when I think about it.

Hi Jerry...I must raise my hand as to your above reply.  The reason, those laundry list of skills or even a short list is sometimes all that I have to go on to speak to a candidate.  I do go out to the website and read about the firm to get something to sell to the candidate.  My mentor said I should ask the Partner what brought you to the firm and what keeps you there might be a good way to sell candidates on the growth mode of the firm.

All responses, I agree.

One question I always ask is," What do you want this person to do?", Bottom Line. Always talk with the direct report. The perception of responsibilities, department goals, etc, will be clear.

Too, as the search evolves, I like to continue to ask questions. Sometimes, after presenting a solid candidate, the job description will shift somewhat~always ask questions throughout the process..

Good question and an issue that always causes confusion and frustration for all involved – recruiter, job applicant and employer.

I’ve found one way to get a more functional job description from a client is to write it myself.  Yes, a bold statement, but I've found as a recruiter that if I offered to "tweak" an existing job description, to make it more "clear, powerful and on point" for recruitment purposes – the employer/hiring manager will often accept it. 

However, care must be taken because a Job Description (JD) is formal, official and legal statement that lays out how a job is defined and will (should) be performed.  It will have management and compensation reviews for scope and accuracy.  A proper title, performance specification, pay range and alignment with similar jobs in an organization are standard for most employers. 

Naturally, you cannot alter the JD in such a way that it is not supported by the actual job requirements, level and expectations – but you can make it more succinct and attractive.

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