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Recruitment done right: How to be a good recruiter


The value once assigned to qualifications and job titles is now ceding ground to the importance of tangible, job-specific skills.

So, as a recruiter, your role now extends beyond merely screening resumes and filling vacancies. Instead, you’re a key player in identifying and engaging with top talent – and in evaluating the unique skills each candidate brings to the table. 

To be successful, you need to make sure you have the right skills, tools, and knowledge to adopt a skills-based approach to hiring and attract the best applicants out there.

In this article, we’ll look into the top qualities every recruiter must have to be successful. We’ll also give you some practical tips on how to level up your recruitment game and design a recruitment process that enables you to hire great people consistently. 

What makes a recruiter stand out? The top 10 qualities of a successful recruiter

So, what are the top qualities every recruiter should have to be successful in attracting and hiring the best talent? Let’s look into the details.

Hint: You can use the list below if you’re looking to hire a skilled recruiter, too.

1. Excellent communication skills

Your communication skills play a central role in your success as a recruiter: On a daily basis, you need to engage with managers, applicants, passive candidates, new hires, and other members of the hiring team. Clear and concise communication fosters transparency and teamwork; plus, it enables you to gain the trust of top talent.

Skills-based hiring is all about communication, too: You need to be able to guide applicants through your hiring process, explain why you value skills above all else, and make sure you can provide a positive candidate experience from start to finish. 

2. Negotiation

Another characteristic that sets apart the best recruiters from the average ones is their ability to negotiate successfully. 

As a recruiter, you’re the messenger between a candidate and a company, so you need to make sure you’re able to understand both parties’ interests, manage expectations, and negotiate conditions that are beneficial to everyone involved.

3. Empathy

Sometimes, the news you need to share with others – be it applicants or managers – won’t always be good, so you need to know how to approach difficult situations with tact and empathy. 

Delivering negative feedback to applicants in a constructive way can make all the difference between leaving a candidate feeling resentful or having them happily reapply for another position in the future. Being empathetic and respectful is essential for that.

4. Cognitive flexibility

Curiosity, open mindedness, and a strong willingness to learn new skills are essential in a field as rapidly changing as recruitment. 

Cognitive flexibility is the ability to switch between different concepts, patterns, and ways of thinking, without being too attached to how things ‘used to be’. It enables you to navigate uncertainty, solve problems in new ways, and learn new technologies and hiring methods.

It also enables you to quickly adapt to changing business requirements or trends in recruitment and is indeed one of the top skills that can improve your career

5. Networking and relationship building

As a recruiter, the relationships you forge serve as the scaffolding for your career. 

Building a strong network extends your reach to top talent and opens doors to new opportunities, for you and for them. Networking isn’t simply about connecting with people on LinkedIn or exchanging business cards at conferences, though: It’s about cultivating meaningful, reciprocal relationships. 

As you sow the seeds of trust and show that you’re willing to give others support and advice, you'll reap the benefits in the form of referrals, a larger talent pool, insider industry knowledge, and skilled candidates who actively reach out to you when looking for new opportunities.

6. Leadership 

In recruitment, leadership isn't about control; it's about inspiring, influencing, and guiding others – and enabling candidates to do their best work and show their skills. You can think of it in terms of serving others and helping everyone achieve their goals.

Your leadership skills will also empower the entire recruitment team to be successful, fostering a culture of collaboration and respect. 

7. Sales skills

Mastering a few key sales techniques allows you to promote the business, engage and recruit active and passive candidates alike, and attract the attention of your most skilled applicants. 

Remember, you’re competing with other recruiters for top talent, so you need to make sure you’re able to sell the opportunity, the company, and even yourself as a trustworthy advisor. 

8. Time management 

Strong organizational skills are a must when you’re hiring for multiple positions at once – and chances are, you’ll be doing that often, especially when working with larger companies. 

Time management, or the ability to prioritize tasks, plan ahead, and stick to a schedule, is crucial for making the most of each workday and balancing the many roles you juggle, from headhunting to interviewing and everything in between. 

Strong time management skills will help you improve your productivity, reduce stress, and ultimately, make better hires.

9. Big-picture thinking

Strategic thinking, or the ability to look at the big picture and make strategic decisions, is essential in recruitment, especially if the organization you’re working for is undergoing a major transformation, such as rapid growth or downsizing.

But even when the waters are calm, big-picture thinking is key, because it enables you to align your recruitment strategy with the organization’s wider goals and identify and address talent gaps before they hinder its performance.

10. Data-analysis skills

If you want to hire applicants for their skills instead of their resumes, you need to know how to actually assess skills – and how to analyze results, too. 

If you’re using a skills testing platform like TestGorilla, your task will be easier, because you’ll be able to instantly compare applicants and identify the most promising talent, but you still need to know how to leverage the data you’re collecting during and after recruitment. 

Knowing how to extract meaningful insights from data enables you to connect performance to assessment results, measure the effectiveness of your recruitment process, do skills-gap analysis, identify trends and problems, and make the best hiring decisions. 

Top 7 tips on how to be a good recruiter 

In this section, you can find some tips on how to improve your recruitment process and find the right candidates each time.

Top seven tips on how to be a good recruiter graphic

1. Build strong professional relationships 

Recruiters will always reject candidates more than they hire them. Sending personalized rejection emails or letters can actually be a good thing when building professional relationships. 

Determined candidates appreciate customized messages, so if you show them you care about their career path, your chances of leaving them with a positive impression are much higher – which, in turn, will help you build successful relationships. 

The same goes for nurturing your talent community. Reach out to candidates to find out more about their recently acquired skills or work experience. You can use phone, email, video, or in-person meetings to maintain those relationships during recruitment. 

On top of that, always look for opportunities to expand your network and connect with: 

  • Other recruiters and HR professionals: Building relationships with fellow HR professionals enables you to share knowledge and insights, learn about new trends, and exchange intel about the best tools to support your hiring efforts. Plus, by building trust within your professional community, you increase your chances of receiving personal referrals and recommendations for top talent. 

  • Passive candidates: Connecting with passive candidates helps you build a pool of potential talent for future roles. Even if they're not actively looking, maintaining a relationship keeps your company on top of mind; and, who knows, maybe the next opportunity you have will be sufficiently attractive for them to apply? 

  • Recent graduates: Engaging with recent graduates enables you to tap into a reservoir of fresh talent eager to make their mark. Campus recruitment enables you to make a strong impression, forge meaningful connections, and hire some of the brightest young professionals out there. 

2. Focus on self-improvement 

Professional self-improvement is one of the most important things for any recruiter. You can analyze the effectiveness of job postings or study new marketing techniques that attract candidates. 

To stay ahead of competitors, follow current HR developments and recruiting trends that could help you stand out in a crowded market. There might be new ways to push marketing campaigns to your desired target audience on social media or different techniques to engage with them and build a strong employer brand

There’s no harm in improving your recruiting skills either. Remember that listening and being aware of what candidates need can dramatically change your hiring process. 

3. Dig deeper during interviews 

Interviewing candidates shouldn’t just revolve around their skills and knowledge. You need to decide whether their values align with those of your organization. Consider this: 86% of candidates believe that culture is very important when it comes to finding a job. 

Don’t be afraid to dig deeper and ask questions. Think about their personality traits and how they would collaborate with current team members. 

You could also ask current employees what they value most in the team and then create culture-add interview questions based on their answers. 

4. Build a strong employer brand

Recruiters are essentially company ambassadors that represent their companies during the hiring process. Your actions determine whether candidates would apply for a role or go online to write bad reviews instead.

Consider this: 25% of unhappy candidates will tell people in their personal network not to apply for openings with your company. This can weaken your brand image and make recruiting skilled applicants even more challenging. 

You should always treat candidates fairly and ensure each person has a positive experience. Because, let’s face it, everyone wants to find a job with a respectful company culture and a supportive team. 

5. Create a recruitment funnel

Taking the time to define and map out your recruitment funnel can help you see the hiring process clearly. There are stages to finding and hiring great candidates. You should use this recruitment framework to improve your approach to hiring skilled applicants and expanding your talent pool. 

Being a strong recruiter means you need to identify the best candidates. Hiring the wrong people will cost you and the business time and money: A single bad hire can cost around 30% of their first-year salary; for a salary of $60,000, that’s $20,000. 

6. Improve the candidate experience

If you want to stand out as a recruiter, building a positive candidate experience is a must. The candidate experience is the way your applicants perceive the recruitment process from start to finish, i.e. from seeing your job ad (or receiving an invitation to apply) to receiving an offer or a rejection email. 

According to CareerPlug, 49% of candidates have declined jobs and networking opportunities as the result of a bad candidate experience. So, if you want to attract top talent, it’s easy to see how the candidate experience can make or break your recruitment process. 

7. Embrace the future of hiring

It’s no secret that the traditional hiring system is broken: Resumes, degrees, and even multi-step interview processes cannot guarantee you that the applicant you choose is objectively the best one for the role. 

What’s the best predictor of success then? 

The answer is simple: skills.

We strongly believe that skills-based hiring is the future of employment, because it prioritizes the qualities a candidate brings to the table over traditional markers like degrees or years of experience. This means employers can focus on what really matters, which is whether a candidate can do a good job at the role. 

According to Harvard Business Review, the shift towards skills-based hiring is most noticeable for middle-skill positions, although many companies are starting to adopt skills-based hiring for higher-skill roles, too.

So, if you want to stand out as a recruiter in the eyes of candidates and managers alike, you need to learn to identify the most skilled applicants in your talent pool consistently, reliably, and objectively. 

Skills-testing platforms like TestGorilla enable you to do that without spending hours interviewing each applicant; you simply need to build a skills assessment and ask all candidates to take it. 

The results are objective and bias-free, enabling you to focus only on your most skilled candidates, without relying on resumes or “gut feelings” (because, let’s face it, “gut feelings” is simply another word for biases).

Use TestGorilla to level up your recruitment game and find top talent 

If you want to be among the best recruiters with whom your candidates interact, you can try out skills-based hiring – and for this, TestGorilla is the best platform you can find on the market. 

It features all the tools you need to find and hire high-quality candidates, including skills tests, one-way video interviews, integrations for the most popular ATS platforms, comprehensive anti-cheating measures, and more. 

We take the candidate experience seriously, too: Our tests are super intuitive and user-friendly and you can send updates to your applicants with only a few clicks. Plus, skills tests are the best way to show your candidates that you value their skills above all else – and that you’re committed to building an inclusive and fair hiring culture. 

Sign up for a free demo today to see for yourself how you can transform your hiring process in only a few steps and embrace the future of recruitment. 


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