Good briefs are born from the right questions.

If your consultants are simply going through the motions with clients, ticking off boxes to cover the brief, then they’re leaving themselves exposed.

At the end of the day, your consultants are accountable to the brief they agree. Which is why they need to ask the penetrating questions that iron out exactly what a client wants, needs, and is deliverable their end.

If the client’s demands are incredibly specific then your consultants need to manage their expectations… otherwise the consultant is accountable for promising more than they can deliver.

Clients aren’t paying you thousands of pounds to tick boxes. They want your consultants to understand the delicate nuances of every role and the roadmap of the company – but, they can only answer the questions that are actually asked of them.

Managers can train their teams to ask the difficult questions, but there’s a natural inclination to fall back onto easier conversation. Every now and again, it’s worth evaluating how your team are leading conversations with clients, and think about how their questioning is adding to the relationships.

While every situation is different, here are a few examples of additional questions that can dig a little deeper:

How will this person change your company?

The recruitment process is too focussed on descriptions of what the individuals will be doing, and fails to mention the actual impact the company would like them to have.

When the recruiter understands the “difference” that the candidate will make, both to the company leadership and to their colleagues, it paints a far more detailed picture.

What can you give them?

Job adverts and briefs are too often caught up in what they need from a candidate and forget to mention what they can provide and why a candidate should be interested.

What won’t they be doing?

It might sound strange but it’s a pretty effective way of outlining the actual duties in the role and clearing away the base expectations.

Job descriptions often fail to mention the everyday tasks that are involved, or hint at “additional activities” without clarifying what they might be. Asking what won’t be their responsibility will clarify the boundaries of the role in a much more specific way.

If you had three questions to ask them, what would they be?

This gets to the very crux of why they are being hired, and shows a priority of need in what the client is looking for.

The recruiter can also incorporate these questions into their screening process, and it is pretty important that the recruiter also gets an idea of what “good answers” might sound like first.

The more a recruiter can anticipate of the first stage interview, the more suitable the candidates they source will be.

What would make you reject someone?

Most salesmen will try to stick to a positive line of questioning, but flipping that on its head can sometimes tease out a stronger response.

There can’t be any discrimination involved, of course, but this question will often reveal how the hiring manager sees their ideal hire.