A Students Guide to Interviewing with Third Party Recruiters

Some firms hire a third-party organization to identify a college student whom they can employ. The third-party organization may be recruiting on-campus, advertising the company's requirement at a career festival, screen resumes received by e-mail or on the net, etc. Many colleges have a recruitment center of their own, which works with these job employment agencies and the students. It would be wise for the students to be familiar with the issues related to the functioning of these job employment agencies.

Third-party recruiters are defined as 'agencies, organizations or individuals recruiting candidates for temporary, part-time or full-time employment opportunities other than for their own needs' by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

Third-party recruiters can be classified as follows:

  • Employment agencies: These have a database of prospective employers as well as employees. They charge when a match is made. If you don't find the words 'fee paid' anywhere in the contract, make sure you know who's going to be charged before you sign the agreement.
  • Search Firms: Search firms are those that are paid by an employer to find a candidate to match his specifications.
  • Contract Recruiters: Employers hire them, on a contract basis, to represent them in the recruiting process.
  • Resume Referral Firms: As the name suggests, these firms share their database of resumes with employers. When you send in your resume to be included in this database, make it clear to whom it can be sent and the purpose for which it can be used. A fee may be charged to the employer, the applicant, or both.
Questions to Ask

Being assisted by a third-party recruiter does not mean you can wash your hands off all responsibility. Be aware of what is happening and why things are happening the way they are. After all, it's your job that's at stake. Ask questions about everything that perplexes you, no matter how silly they may sound. Do not be coaxed into signing anything that you haven't understood. Consult a lawyer if necessary.

Listed below are some of the questions that you should know the answers to:

  • In my field of interest, how many vacancies are still to be filled?As far as possible, keep tracks of the numbers of vacancies available. From this information, try and figure out whether your resume is actually being considered for the job or is it merely being stored in a database whose volume the recruitment agency is trying to increase. This happens quite often, as the size of their database is a strong magnet to attract clients to use their assistance.
  • Whom will you pass on this information to?Make it very clear to the recruiting agent that the information you give him is to be shared only with the firms that you want him to share it with. He shall not pass on any of your information to anyone outside of your list of choices, which you have to state in writing.
  • Is there any kind of discrimination between applicants?If you match the specifications, is there any chance of not being selected solely on the grounds of nationality, race, color etc.?
  • Whom is the agent going to charge?Before sealing an agreement, find out whether you have to pay the agent any fee.