Eleven questions to ask a human resources consultant before hiring them
Approach hiring a human resources consultant as you would any consultant, be it a financial advisor, a marketing consultant or someone in IT.
As with any investment, it pays dividends to do some research and ask the right questions.
Here are eleven questions that will help you find the right human resources consultant for you and your business.
1. How much experience do you have?
How long have you been working as a human resources consultant? What was your professional experience before becoming a consultant?
Try to find someone with in-depth experience of running a business. Someone who can relate to the pressures that you, as a business-owner, are facing.
2. Who are some of your other clients?
What kind of work have you done for clients like me? Can I call them to ask about your work?
Don’t be wowed by big names and big clients. It may be more beneficial to know that the HR consultant has worked with companies closer to your size and industry as they are more likely to understand your needs.
3. What are your qualifications?
Are you a certified human resources professional (CHRP)?
Be sure to look for an HR consultant who has experience in the area you want to focus on, for example, compensation, workforce planning, hiring, business growth, etc.
4. What services do you offer?
Do you also recruit for your clients? Do you offer coaching? Can you help me with ad hoc projects? Can we bring someone from your office in-house once a week or do you only work remotely?
5. What is your approach to human resources?
Will you make recommendations and then hire an HR person to execute them or will you personally help me implement the HR steps needed to strengthen my business? Will you teach us to do this work for ourselves and become self-sufficient? How long will this take?
Make sure your goals and the timing of them align with those of the consultant and assign (or hire) an employee to work closely with them during the process to learn everything they can.
6. Will you be the only person working with me?
Will I be supported by a team of HR people in your office or will you be the only person available to assist me? Who should I contact with day-to-day questions?
7. With how many clients do you work with at one time?
In other words, do you have enough time to devote to our company to accomplish our goals? Will you return phone calls or emails the same day?
These questions all focus on how much attention the consultant can afford to spend on your needs. In general, you want to have a same-day response to questions or problems – even if they can’t be solved that day, you need to know that someone is at least working on a solution. You may even want to ask former clients about how responsive and attentive they found the HR consultant to be.
8. Will you sign a letter of confidentiality?
Without a doubt, ask any HR consultant to sign a letter of confidentiality. The information they are privy to can be very sensitive and, in order for them to gain your trust, you need to know it is safe in their hands.
9. How will I pay for your services?
Do your fees include travel time and other miscellaneous charges or are those billed separately? How much will I need to pay up-front before the work begins? Will you be charging hourly or will there be a monthly retainer?
There are no set standards when paying for consultants, so before entering into an agreement make sure you fully understand what you’re getting into.
10. What kind of documentation will you give us when the project is completed? Who will own that documentation?
Keeping a paper trail of the work done by an HR consultant achieves several things. Firstly, you will (hopefully) have received many forms and tools to help you carry out the new HR procedures with success, such as an employee handbook, employee files or methods to track vacation. Secondly, you may also have a record of any analyses made of your company (for example, employee surveys or an HR risk assessment) and the recommendations made.
This helps make it very clear what the consultant did (and didn’t) do while working for you. Should any disputes emerge, you’ll will have this to support you.
In general, all work a consultant does for you is your property, so make sure you are clear from the beginning that you want to own everything that comes from the consultation.
11. Can I have it in writing?
Ask the human resources consultant to provide you with a written agreement detailing the services to be provided. Keep it in your files for future reference.
There are many other questions you may wish to ask an HR consultant when trying to find the right one for you and your organization but we hope these eleven questions get you off to a good start.