5 questions to ask to improve your job brief
We reveal the top 5 questions recruiters need to ask their clients when they receive a job brief.

The job brief is one of the most vital assets for any recruiter looking to fill a role. In an ideal world, it should include all the information required to find the right candidates. However, there are instances when a job brief arrives with important details missing and it’s up to the recruiter to fill the gaps.

What are the important questions to ask a client to ensure you can find the best candidate to suit their business needs? We’ve asked recruiters to share their top five. 

Question 1: Why is the role available?

It is useful for a recruiter to know if a client has been unsuccessful in filling the role themselves – why were they unsuccessful and what calibre of candidates did they attract?

Jonathan Ridd, Principal Consultant at Denovo, says most candidates also want to know if a role is new or existing, so it’s important for recruiters to have this information.

“Candidates often ask if the role is a new one as it’s seen as a sign of company growth,” he says. “If it’s an existing role that’s become available because someone has resigned, they’ll usually ask why they left.” 

Question 2: When will interviews begin?

Roadblocks often stand between a recruiter finding the right candidate and an employer being ready to hire them. These can include delayed start dates, hiring freezes or poor communication. 

Ben Wheeler, Director – Queensland of People2People, says delays in the recruitment process sends the wrong message to candidates, so it helps to know when a client will be ready to start interviewing.

“A new role may not have been formally approved internally before we receive a brief, and so the client may not be in a position to begin interviewing candidates immediately,” says Wheeler. “If we find a candidate and the interview continues to be delayed, it doesn’t look good. In the current market, top talent will simply move on to the next company with a smooth recruitment process.”

Question 3: What are the common traits among your top performers?

A job brief often includes a list of required technical skills but can miss the mark on the desirable soft skills.

Ridd often asks clients to list the traits shared by their top performers to identify valuable personality traits. 

“When an employer thinks about the traits that they value most in their top performers, they often say things such as ‘great collaborator’ or ‘takes feedback well’,” he says. “We already assume that their technical skillset is solid, but this question helps to focus on personality traits.”

Wheeler says this question can also shed light on company culture. “If an employer values communication skills, for example, it suggests an open and positive culture,” he says.

Question 4: What are the three essential skill sets?

The best candidates for a job may come from a range of different sectors.

Jacqui Wightman, General Manager – Technology Victoria at Davidson, says that when a client focuses on the non-negotiable skills, they often see that they can easily be transferred from other industries. 

“In a candidate-short market, it’s important to think outside the square,” says Wightman. “If a client can identify their key objectives for the role and the three non-negotiable skills they require, they can often see that these skills exist across many different industries. If they can list the essential skills, their pool of potential candidates becomes much wider.”

Question 5: What are the key employee benefits?

What makes a company a stand-out employer and why would a candidate want to work there? Wightman says this information is often missing from a client brief.

“Job briefs often arrive via a CRM system and can be quite limited in their specifications,” she says. “We need to have an understanding of employee benefits because candidates are not just look for a good job, they are looking for a good employer. We often have to ask clients to include their value proposition, as well as information about their culture and company values.”

Wheeler adds that candidates are looking for key selling points. “We often need to ask clients questions about benefits, such as ‘do you provide parking’, as we know the kinds of questions candidates will ask us,” he says. “It’s often these simple ‘yes or no’ questions that provide the important details.”