The Ultimate L&D Guide to Interviewing Staffing Vendors

So you’ve considered the benefits of staff augmentation, and the allure of adding Extra Hands You Don’t Have to Hold® to your maxed-out training department sounds almost too good to be true. Hmm…skeptical. And rightfully so! As a responsible training manager, you’re often asked to wear many hats, including risk management, vendor manager, and learning leader, all at the same time! When considering a qualified staffing company to fill your training department’s temporary talent needs, it’s important that you ask the right questions to get the right answers!

In the words of Tony Robbins

“It is not that we don’t know the right answers, it is just that we don’t ask the right questions.”

“It is not that we don’t know the right answers, it is just that we don’t ask the right questions.” Click To Tweet

Makes sense, but what should I ask? Well, we’re here to help! We’ve provided a sampling of suggested questions to ask a prospective staffing vendor. Asking these questions will ensure that you find the right fit best suited to your team’s needs based on the four C’s: character, culture, competence, and commitment!

If you find this quick reference list helpful, we encourage you to download the comprehensive list here for free! Included in this list you’ll find more helpful questions, tips, guidance, and things to listen for in the interviewing process to make it as simple, straightforward, and painless as possible. Phew! I feel better already! Good. Let’s dive in!

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  1. Is staff augmentation right for my learning organization? If the staffing company you’re interviewing answers this question with a one-word response that rhymes with “less” and offers no further explanation, you should immediately question their character and whether they have your organization’s best interest at heart. We’ll save you the time by offering this short 8-question quiz to determine if staff aug is the right outsourcing strategy for you — take the quiz!
  2. Can you tell me about a previous challenging client experience? Listen to how the representative tells the story about the difficult situation. Note whether their overall tone is positive, negative, or neutral, and listen closely for the staffing company’s chosen resolution.


  1. What are your core values? This favorite quote of our CHRO (Dana Janssen) says it all! “Culture eats strategy for breakfast!” — Peter Drucker. If the potential staffing company’s core values are not a clear reflection of what is most important to your learning team, then the partnership may be doomed from the start. What’s most important to us at ttcInnovations? Innovation, Quality, Integrity, and Responsiveness —the four core tenants of our company culture!
  2. To what lengths do you go to ensure that your clients’ culture is represented authentically? One of the most important qualities our clients are seeking in both a training and staffing partner is that their unique company culture and messaging are understood and carried out authentically throughout the deliverables our Innovators on Demand® complete. Listen for their onboarding and oversight strategies to ensure that these processes align with your expectations.

Want to see more character and culture-related questions? Download the comprehensive list for free!

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  1. What expertise does your company have in our industry? With over 20,000 staffing companies in the U.S. (American Staffing Association) alone, the options for filling your training department’s temporary talent needs can feel quite overwhelming! But when you narrow this list down to staffing companies that have experience and expertise in the realm of training and development, the list becomes much smaller! Filter that list down even further to staffing agencies that have a background in L&D and specialize in financial institutions, and you get one — ttcInnovations! Our Innovators on Demand® are experts with the specialized skill set and the industry, onboard-ready knowledge needed to be the Extra Hands You Don’t Have to Hold®.

    “You provided TALENTED, SKILLED AND EXPERIENCED EXPERTS who became invaluable members of the learning team.” – Lisa Whitehurst-Wright, Leaning Manager | Bank of America

  2. What’s your internal turnover rate? A staffing company’s ability to attract the right resources for your needs is only half the battle. If their internal turnover rate is high, that’s a sign that they’re likely not taking the time to retain and nurture their resources. As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to ensure that the company you engage with has less than a 40% turnover rate. For transparency’s sake (we believe it’s key!), this year to date, our Innovators on Demand® turnover rate is less than 6%. That’s a number we’re proud to share, as we believe it’s a clear indication of how seriously we take our recruiting process to ensure that our staff aug placements are mutually beneficial to both our Innovators and our clients.


  1. Do you offer a guarantee? While we would recommend reserving this question for later in the discussion once you’re more certain that the staffing company might be a good fit (otherwise, it’s kind of like planning your wedding on the first date), this is a solid question to help identify the level of risk you might be facing. For example, with our Innovators on Demand®, we offer a satisfaction guarantee. If, for any reason, you’re not happy with your placement at any point in their contract, we’ll work with you to identify the areas needing improvement and either upskill that person in a timely fashion or find a replacement within two business days. Some follow-up questions to consider include:
    1. What measures do you take to ensure the candidates are qualified?
    2. Is there a time restriction on when you can request a replacement candidate?
    3. Who will be responsible for addressing and/or mentoring the dissatisfactory placement?
  2. How do you measure client satisfaction? A reliable staffing company will regularly measure client satisfaction and should be open to sharing those performance metrics with you. Listen for direct feedback, client surveys, or internal measurements, as each model offers a different perspective. Their answer will help you determine whether that staffing company will be able to meet your organization’s internal evaluation needs. For example, one of our financial clients measures their vendor performance based on the following metrics…

Want to see more competence and commitment-related questions? Download the comprehensive list for free!

Remember, this is just a start! Be sure to download our comprehensive list for more questions and guidance when interviewing a potential staffing company. Hopefully, these questions will better prepare you when seeking out a qualified staffing partner — one who is the best character, culture, competency, and commitment fit for your learning organization! Our Innovators on Demand® are standing by when you’re ready for some Extra Hands You Don’t Have to Hold®! Contact Debbie today to tap into our talent, on us!

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About the Author:

Jessica is a full-time marketer, life-long storyteller, and constant learner with a passion for marrying strategy with aesthetics. Throughout her career, Jessica has coached hundreds of small businesses on building purpose-driven brands online. She has spoken on stages across the country including Social Media Marketing World, Yellow Co., and San Diego Ad Club – just to name a few, where she has shared her powerhouse marketing mindset and techniques. She joined the ttcInnovations family full-time in 2017 where she now combines her expertise in digital marketing, her impressive background in teaching, and her knowledge as well as a passion for adult learning. Fueled by coffee, she lives in San Diego with her husband and their two pint-sized golden retrievers.

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