You and the recruiter agree upon a target date to make a hire. Realize that there is no “perfect candidate” and no guarantee the Recruiter will find the candidate you want by that date but set a target anyway. Remember that the date is only a target but have the discussion around when you wish to have the position filled. And the goal is to fill the position with the person the most closely meets the guidelines expressed in the candidate profile and best fits the culture in which they will work.
Make sure you and the recruiter know what you want. Develop a “simple” job description and a candidate profile as a guide for you and the Recruiter. Agree that you want to see candidates that meet the guidelines expressed within those documents.
Agree upon a response time (time between receipt of the recommended candidates data and time when you will contact the candidate to arrange an interview). That should usually be 48-72 hours. This and other steps rest upon the premise that the applicants are valuable assets and deserve to be treated like they are priceless.
Not every candidate will be the right candidate and no matter how good the recruiting firm is, they will send candidates that are just not right for the job. In those cases, either the recruiter or the hiring manager should accept the responsibility to notify the candidate that while it seemed right, the hiring manager or hiring organization chose not to move forward with a particular candidate. Again 48 to 72 hours is adequate and it doesn’t really matter which entity contacts the candidate, just so they do.
As the interviews progress keep the recruiter informed of the status of candidates. These candidates are their “life-blood” and likely a lot of work has gone into getting this person to this point. Respect the work and goal of all, all the time.
As each interview ends be sure to tell the candidate and the Recruiter what the next steps are and when to expect them.