Triangle of Trust in Recruitment

triangle of trust

“None of us knows what might happen even the next minute, yet still we go forward. Because we trust. Because we have faith.” – Paulo Coelho

When people try to explain the importance of relationships in business and various other sectors, the ‘triangle of…’ or triangulation is often used as a way to show how each party must work with one another to bring about the desired result.

In education, we talk of the school-student-parent relationship being all-important. In health, we speak of the triangle of care. In business, the term ‘triangle of trust’ is often heard.

And recruitment is no different because it is a there are also 3 parties that build trust between each other. 

In recruitment, the three key parties are: The recruitment consultant, the client, and the candidate. It is only when all the lines of communication are clear and open between all parties that the paths of the recruitment journey will remain direct, unblocked, and ultimately lead to the end goal of a happy client, candidate and consultant.

Trust is important in the recruitment triangle


Trust is a key aspect of this 3-way relationship. When either trust or communication breaks down (or is not firmly established in the first place), then the potential for hiccups along the way is greatly increased, and the damage is done to the relationship.

From a recruitment consultants point of view, it can sometimes feel that the triangle is neither an equal partnership nor a particularly fair one. So, if a candidate fails to show up for the final stage of an interview, the client might see this as being the consultants fault. Similarly, if it transpires that a candidate does not possess a specific skill set, once again the finger of blame will often be pointed at the consultant. Research has 

The situation that the consultant finds themselves in in regards to the client can also be a tricky and complicated one. For instance, within the ‘pod’ of the client, there could be various other people that could impact and influence decisions, whether it’s a line manager, team leader or internal recruiter or HR. They might not even be sure what type of employee they need (permanent or contract).

If the goal posts are moved by either the consultant, candidate or client then the whole thing breaks down. It only takes one person to take a different view or approach to potentially putting a major spanner in the works.

Building trust and communication

building trust

So, what can the consultant do to improve the situation? Well, on one hand, the answer is probably not a lot – the consultant will always be the most vulnerable in the 3-way recruitment relationship. It is the nature of the industry and the nature of the process. However, this doesn’t mean the agent is completely powerless.

It all comes back to the matter of trust again. Trust is achieved when others have faith in you and a firm belief in your ability to do what you have said you will do. It’s about people having confidence in you. With confidence, comes reliance – if you are consistently seen as being reliable. Trust, of course, is something that is earned.

All parties need to contribute to the triangle of trust. The client should do all they can to ensure that the recruitment consultant has all the information, about the role and the company.

The candidate needs to be trusted to be honest about what their skills are and what their motivation is. When trust is established and if things do go sidewards (as they inevitably will from time to time), then long-term damage to the relationship will be less likely to occur.

– Vas Constanti

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