How recruiters handle indecisive clients

By GSR2R Admin | 6th October 2022

5 ways successful recruiters handle indecisive clients

As an experienced recruiter, we know how frustrating it can be to have to deal with indecisive clients. Your goal, as a recruiter, is to match clients and candidates successfully and to make a profit in doing so.  The best matches you encounter will be engaging, want to give you information, know what they want, be committed, and make decisions and treat you like a recruitment partner – all making them a joy to work with.

And then there are the clients who aren’t committed, don’t seem to know what they want and keep changing the goalposts.

The scenario is usually pretty much the same – you’ve met the client and established a great working relationship. You’ve agreed the job spec and criteria for selection suggested interview questions and got the green light on terms. You put your time and hard work into the role, get a great list of potential candidates in your talent pipeline, and you know that anyone of them would be perfect for the job. You are proud of your work. It’s almost in the bag. You can virtually see yourself punching the air as you get a successful placement. And then it all comes crashing down.

What’s gone wrong? Well, it’s usually one of five reasons. Here, we look at what those reasons are, and what you can do to deal with them if they arise.

  1. Are Your Terms Causing Confusion?

If you are finding several clients are being indecisive, it’s a good step to first check your terms.

When did you last talk about terms? Has the client changed their mind about your terms? This can happen and they don’t tell you, you need to ask the question!

If someone is doing it cheaper you might need to remind the client why you are worth your terms.

Are they clear and transparent? Might this be the source of confusion and, consequently, your client’s indecisiveness? It’s a good idea when drawing up the terms to avoid the overuse of legal jargon – stick to plain English to keep things clear. If you suspect your client will want to change the scope, write this into the terms so that it’s clear from the start what they can expect before extra costs are added. This really will help avoid any problematic situations at a later date if the client turns out to chop and change their minds every five minutes. A transparent approach to the terms that explains exactly what the client will be getting from your service will enable them to commit more readily and avoid indecision.

  1. Are You Dealing with the Right Person?

The client you’ve spoken to might be a great character and easy to get on with, but are they the right person to be handling the recruitment process?

Often, recruitment is something seen by senior management as of secondary importance and is passed over to a member of staff who isn’t qualified to handle it successfully and is not aware of the intricacies of the job role they are recruiting for.  This can inevitably lead to confusion and uncertainty, with the client either making poor decisions that need to be rectified later or having to go back to their employer for confirmation regularly, holding up the whole process. If you find yourself in the position where you don’t think the person you are speaking to has the knowledge or authority to be handling the recruitment process, it’s best to establish who the decision–maker is in the organisation and aim to deal with them directly.

  1. Is This a Brand-New Role?

If the role your client is recruiting to is a newly created one, it’s more than likely that things could change in the development stages.

Where there are no set guidelines in existence for the job spec and the company are not 100% sure exactly what they are looking for, sometimes it’s only when you start to pull together the interview questions and job spec details that things become apparent. So, for this one, be guided by the client and understand that things will almost inevitably change as the client gets a better grip of their requirements during the process. Remember that the key to success is to have a customer service mindset. The people you are dealing with are human after all, and therefore prone to changing their minds. They are not deliberately fickle to annoy you, and in the case of a new role sometimes you can only see the way forward once you’ve eliminated the things you don’t want. Of course, it helps if they have had thorough internal discussions before they come to you, but you can stop this one head–on by ensuring that before you go any further after an initial meeting, the client has an agreed job spec from the decision–makers within their organisation.

  1. Is Miscommunication to Blame?

“I do believe that even a simple misunderstanding can ruin everything.” — Unknown

It’s a fact that miscommunication can scupper your chances of success –  so, it’s good practice to ensure that you are crystal clear in what you are offering the client, and be sure they understand your offer. Failure to communicate clearly could result in them taking much longer to reach a decision! It’s also worth clarifying with your client exactly what they need. Listening to them will help you gauge their requirements and advise accordingly, avoiding unnecessary delays and misunderstandings down the line. Verbalising their requirements will also assist the client in pinning down exactly what they want.  So, make time to talk to them, and be absolutely sure both sides know what is required and what is being offered.

  1. Are They Wasting Your Time?

Do you get the impression your client is just fishing?

If the client is taking a long time to make a decision, asking many questions and not seeming to move forward on anything, it could be that they are just trying to get free industry information. While you are providing this information and your professional knowledge, but not earning a fee, it’s a waste of your time.

To combat this, you may want to consider asking for a small fee upfront to determine their commitment and to stop you wasting your time.

 Where Could You Go from here?

Your recruitment success relies on your clients and on you being able to fulfil their needs. There are actions you can take to help minimise delays and indecisiveness, asking the tough questions to get clarity will save your time. Always use your initial contact meeting to establish some ground rules and clarify as much as possible after all you are the expert. If you suspect it’s early days for them, it might be better to offer them the option of keeping in touch but waiting to formalise your services any further until they have clarified exactly what they want. Walking away from a role can show the client how seriously you take your service.

This saves you wasting your time (and them wasting theirs). Asking the right questions and really listening to the clients ‘responses will reduce the chance of you spending time compiling candidate questions, drawing up terms and arranging interviews only to find the client pulls the rug from under your feet at the last minute by rejecting your candidates and wanting to start over again. Remember, working with clients can be stressful, but it should also be a rewarding experience, so remain open–minded and willing to take the time to listen to them.


Sometimes that’s all it takes to ensure you build great relationships where the client feels valued, and you can avoid the client being indecisive!



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