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  • Writer's pictureMarcus

Hiring Managers: Pain Point or Value for Recruiters

During my career, I participated in probably hundreds of hiring briefings and thousands of job interviews. I always tried to be a service provider, a coach, and an advisor for my partners from the business, the hiring managers.

Over the years I experienced everything, most of them were engaged, empathetic, and very good in the managerial role. But also a lot of them struggled with an important part of this role: recruiting new team members. Many of them were open to learning but some of them refused to take advice.

These days I found a very interesting post from Ian Alexander on RecruitingBlogs: "Hiring Manager Interview Performance is Key to Recruiting Experience" Looking back I cannot agree more with Ian. Looking through the eyes of candidates, recruiters are an inevitable hurdle before they can speak with "the real folks", the hiring managers. The one's who really understand them and can value their achievements and experience.

Knowing this, it's a "no-brainer" that Talent Acquisition and HR must empower their internal customers to perform best when it comes to interviewing (and assessments and every other selection step they are part of).

If you are in the job as long as I am you have seen everything:

Unprepared managers, who read the CVs five minutes before the interview, asking stupid, repeating questions, having no idea about the companies mission, vision and values, being rude and miserable hosts, forgetting basic rules of human behavior or - and this happens more than you might expect - inform you 10 minutes prior to the interview that they have to save the world and cannot be there. Very often these guys are the ones blaming HR for "not delivering"...

It is our task to ensure that our hiring managers are ready to rock every single interview in the best way possible. How can we do that?

Here are some recommendations:

Offer training, guides, and checklists

If your hiring manager is willing to learn, offer training and preparation support. Give them checklists and build guides, helping them to gain psychological safety (and to avoid arrogance, the "knower" behavior). Developing this material is some work at the beginning but it's worth your time and effort. This will help not only the hiring managers but also yourself. Don't forget to review this stuff from time to time.

Especially company culture and behavior should be covered but also some operational stuff such as interview techniques etc. Speak with your colleagues responsible for leadership development, maybe it could be included in their training infrastructure.

Ideally, this should be done before they have positions to fill but let's be realistic: You should be able to run a "fast track" training when an open position pops up. So prepare a "Quickie" that you can use out of the box.

Execute an effective hiring briefing

It starts way before the interviews. Listen carefully to your hiring managers, ask the right questions, clarify obstacles. If you do that you will get a very good impression of upcoming challenges during the process. Most of the managers are thankful if you challenge and help them describe the role, find critical points in their ideal of the new position holder. Very important: Make sure that they block time for the coming interviews and that they understand that it is crucial to fill the position successfully. Find an agreement on a roadmap and on the critical key attributes you want to focus on when you select.

Discuss hiring manager reviews of screened CVs

Understand why candidates were selected so that you can build an interview strategy with your hiring managers to dig deeper into what is not obvious. Agree on a script: who speaks about what and how long.

Know your internal customer

...and prepare yourself to be the balancing factor. Usually, you are pretty aware of the personality type which will be at your side during the interview. Adjust your interview presence to complement your "partner in crime".

Plan and execute meetings professionally

Make sure that the hiring manager and you have enough time before the interview starts. Ideally, enable them to calm down from the heat of the last meeting and focus on the upcoming dialogue. How you do that? Example: Block your manager at 1 am and invite the candidate for 1:10 am. It will reduce the stress level for you and your hiring manager - promised.

You are in the driver's seat. Make sure that the meeting works as designed, that you get the information you need in the time that was planned. Could be tricky because many managers tend to speak more than they should but it is your job to avoid this.

As long as the candidate is not rude run the meeting as planned. I heard about interviews which were ended after some minutes because the candidate "was not what we expected". Well, it's a challenge to do this without damaging your employer brand. You will be remembered as arrogant, rude, and many more negative attributes. Make sure that everyone involved understands it.

Don't forget: The person in front of you was ready to change her or his life for you. Often they traveled, invested time and money for this opportunity. Call me old-fashioned but this is not the way I want to be treated so I don't treat others like this. Sure, also my time is precious but for me, it's a question of respect to listen to the candidate's story to the end. Karma is a bitch that will hurt you when you don't expect it...never forget this ;-)

Review the selection process and follow up

Discuss your performance and what to improve, to reduce or to add in the next interview - best to do it on the same day when your memory is fresh. Be brave enough to address "no-go's" and mistakes clearly!

Some things will never change

I am mature enough to know that you are not able to change every bad hiring manager to be better. If you have the pleasure to work with such an extraordinary human being it's up to you to reduce the damage as much as possible. Working with these toxic colleagues is and will be a pain and you will be not always in the position to stand-up against it without risking your job. Choose your battle. Try to avoid sending innocent candidates into blood bathes and if this is normal: run. Far and fast.

What are your thoughts about it or your experiences with this? Do I miss something to improve the interview performance for hiring managers? Happy to learn from you!

Thanks to Ian for bringing this up!

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