41 Questions to Ask the Company That Wants to Provide Your Temps

I have compiled a sampling of questions (from my book) to help you when interviewing a staffing service. Naturally, the areas that are most important to you and your company will drive which questions you need to ask.

If you are not in the market for a new staffing service, perhaps you may want to circle back to your present staffing service and clarify certain points with them, if they were not previously discussed.

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  • How long has the staffing service been in business?
  • How many locations does the staffing service have?
  • Is the staffing service a family business or a partnership?
  • How many full-time employees does the staffing service have?
  • What is the staffing service turnover rate internally? (It should be lower than 40%.)
  • How many staffing service representatives handle temp placements?
  • How many clients does each temp placement representative handle?
  • What is the average length of experience for staffing service reps that place temps?
  • Does the staffing service specialize in any certain industries? If so, which ones?
  • How many clients does the staffing service have?
  • How does the staffing service gain new business?
  • Where does the staffing service business expect to be in two years? Five years?
  • Will the staffing service provide three business references in my industry?
  • What is the staffing service’s busy season? Slow season?
  • How does the staffing service increase their temp pool to meet increases in demand?
  • Explain the temp placement process when requests are placed.
  • What is the response time for “same day” temp requests?
  • Explain their “after hours” coverage should there be a new or last minute temp placement request?
  • Do account representatives carry smart phones?
  • Describe one of the staffing service’s toughest temp placement challenges.
  • What are their rates? Are they ever negotiable?
  • What type of satisfaction guarantee is there?
  • If dissatisfied with a temp’s performance, what are the remedies?
  • How often has the staffing service placed temps that were not satisfactory to a client?
  • What are some of the reasons for clients for why they found a temp to be dissatisfactory?
  • How does the staffing service handle ending assignments early when a temp is not performing as expected for a client?
  • What are some of the specific items that the staffing service offer temp coaching in?
  • Does the staffing service coach temps on the challenges unique to temps?
  • How does the staffing service ensure that temps are aware of sexual harassment and discrimination policies in the workplace?
  • How does the staffing service ensure that temps are aware of client technology policies?
  • How does the staffing service ensure that temps adhere to client confidentiality policies?
  • Does the staffing service place “temp to perm”?
  • What are the rates/guarantees for “temp to perm”?
  • Does the staffing service waive their placement fee when a temp goes to perm status, say after 90 days? If not, is that fee negotiable?
  • What percentage of temps does the staffing service place on short-term assignments?
  • What percentage of temps does the staffing service place on long-term assignments?
  • Describe the staffing service’s ideal client.
  • How often does the staffing service typically visit their clients on-site?
  • Why is this staffing service different/better than others?
  • If the staffing service were to pledge five things to a client, what would these be?
  • What is the one benefit clients should know about that this staffing service provides?

Cathy Reilly holds a degree in Business Administration and has worked for more than 20 years in human resources. Her career began in the U.S. Navy and led to work in various industries coast to coast, including financial services in New York City.


6 Comments on “41 Questions to Ask the Company That Wants to Provide Your Temps

  1. Cathy,
    Thanks for posting the questions. I know many managers/recruiters(myself included) who just ask the basic, but I will keep the questions in my file.

  2. Some good questions, but this is like an RFP. When most of the times temps are needed in a hastened status, I am not sure if people will get around to asking these questions.

    I typically utilize the assumption of trust and success for a business to be in business and until proven otherwise, will go with a temp agency that produces results – for me: timeliness and quality. And moreover, it is not about the “temp agency” rather it is the individual that I work with. If he or she is good at what they do, I will use them anywhere and anytime.

    Go Navy.

  3. Thanks, Cathy.
    “What are their rates? Are they ever negotiable?”
    You should also drill down and find out their bill rates and pay rates. That way you can determine what is their temp-perm (without a fee) conversion period. Example: let’s say you have an admin temp with a 56% gross markup. If the agency has a 6 month (without a fee) conversion period, you are in effect paying a 28% fee. If they won’t tell you their margin (and you still feel you need to go with them), then you should insist on a 90 day or less contract-perm time…

    Finally, if you need someone NOW/quickly, you go with who you can get and pay for it. If you have time/bandwidth to plan ahead, you can build up a network of qualified freelancers/independents through Craig’s List, Odesk, Elance, Freelancer.com, etc. who you can call when you need them, and keep the savings….

    Happy New Year,


  4. Having been in staffing for 35 years now and owning my own company for 16 of those years, I want clients who use staffing to understand a little more about “HOW” they will be treated as a client if they so choose to go with a service and you base it strictly on pricing. Large corporations and mom and pops alike do come to a place in the road where the talent they are successful in recruiting, will be prioritzed out to the clients they deem to be “most profitable”, a true business partner and most of all, if they are an exclusive service to the client. “Cheap is…is cheap does”. In an economy where staffing services have taken the blunt of the blows for corporations on state and federal taxes; not to mention workers comp, there are no longer “change” in our margins to allow our industry to “low ball” pricing any longer. I agree, your service should show you their gross margins and I think you will be surprised that some have serviced as well as they have for as long as they have. I have just received my tax notices and during the five years of this recession, I have never passed on the costs to my clients. I either pass on the increases or go out of business. High volume of contingent employees no longer pays the bills due to how UI and WC risks grow at a 4 to 1 ratio right now.
    I strongly suggest you allow your services to make as decent a margin as can afford generate and negotiate “value added services” to justify their pricing. The clients I have I have had for the 16 years in business and I had rather have a valued business partner anyday than to just send people to generate revenue. I believe in quality not quantity and each organization; especially with all the employee friendly laws coming down the pipe, needs to decide how they can work with their services to maximize their bill rates.
    Long term Contingent staffing is going to be huge to my clients this year until our politicians decide our tax structure. I have teamed with my management and as an SPHR professional, I look at the WHOLE picture and what needs to be done for a win-win-win situation.
    My best to you all in your recruiting efforts!

  5. Good list but one to add: For those of us under OFCCP, does the agency comply with the requirements! OFCCP is like the Midas Touch, it will scale down to subcontractors, which could readily apply to your use agency.

  6. Great list. However, I think you need to add: Does the staffing company do background checks on the temps? It’s important for an employer to know that anyone coming into their workplace has been thoroughly vetted and will not present a problem to the workforce or the workplace.

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