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Ask a Recruiter: How do you fully engage hiring managers in the recruiting process?

ask a recruiterHistorically, the responsibility of hiring good candidates has been placed solely with recruiters. This, however, isolates the recruiter and puts the hiring process at risk. How? Even if you, the recruiter, do your best to fill the top of the funnel with qualified people, it’s hiring managers who manage the end of the funnel. If hiring managers don’t follow best practices there, you may end up with bad hires or none at all. Bad or no hires are both time-consuming and cost-ineffective.

This is why our job, as recruiters, is to empower hiring managers. When we realize that we have a common goal and work as a team, that’s when we’re able to fill the seats with the right people.

How can you tell that the hiring process is broken?

I was once interviewed at a large firm and was asked the same thing three times, by three different people, during three different hiring stages. When I asked why this happened, I got the reply: “These are the things they told me to ask.” There was a clear disconnect within the hiring team – and I knew that without even working there.

Behaviours like this can tarnish the candidate experience and cost you good candidates. That’s because hiring managers who are not engaged in the process, slip into bad habits: they’re late to interviews, ask the wrong questions and don’t share their feedback on time. Or, they jump into chats with candidates, instead of having real interviews where they assess skills objectively.

Recruiters to the rescue

Unfortunately, recruiters can’t go back in time and fix things. It’s important to foster team spirit from the very beginning. By ‘beginning’, I mean long before you start interviewing candidates, and even before you publish a job ad. First, you need to figure out what’s needed to achieve what. And then, you can build a process to make this happen.

So, I start by asking hiring managers to write a short mission for the role. This way, the entire hiring team can understand what this role is going to accomplish. We don’t want to hire someone for the sake of hiring.

The next step, is to write down the desirable outcomes for the new hire’s first 12 months. And then we start thinking of the competencies and track records that will help employees reach these outcomes. When we have this in place, we can start building an interview process that will help us assess these skills in candidates. Then, we’re ready to release the role.

This prep work is exactly what engages hiring managers in the recruiting process and gives them a sense of responsibility. They’re actively involved in hiring and provide their input. And that’s helpful for recruiters, too. When I sit down with hiring managers to discuss a role, I learn things I didn’t know. For example, I find out what skills are absolutely necessary and why.

On their part, hiring managers learn to respect the recruiting process. You won’t have to ‘chase’ them to leave interview feedback; they’ll have already provided useful comments because they understand the reasoning behind it.

You won’t have to train hiring managers on interviewing techniques, either. Many of them don’t really like doing interviews (just like candidates don’t like going to interviews) – or don’t know how to do them. But, when you get hiring managers to buy in at the beginning of the process, interviews will flow easily. They’ll know what they’re looking for; they’ll know what they need to ask and how to get the information they want from candidates. And when interviews are done right, hiring managers tend to enjoy them more.

More: Recruiter vs hiring manager: Who is really responsible for hiring?

So, why are hiring managers disengaged?

Sometimes, hiring managers bring past processes that have worked in their previous jobs, thinking that they work universally. While some principles remain the same, there’s no one-stop-shop solution in hiring. You have to build the processes that work for your company and mission specifically.

When hiring managers are not willing to spend the time to build the process together, I try and show them the benefit of closing the right hires. I pay attention to the language I use. I don’t say “I need this”. I say, “We need this”, or even, “You need this”. It’s not about me. It’s about you (the hiring manager) achieving your goals. If you don’t hire the right people, we’ll have to repeat the process again and again. And that’s a huge waste of time for you, too.

Conversely, if we hire the right people, you’ll be able to reach your targets faster. So, let me help you achieve your goals with the right people. After all, that’s the ultimate purpose of hiring.

I think it is important that hiring managers and recruitment teams alike should be made accountable in the right areas of the process to further impact responsibility and execution. I believe the overall headcount goal should sit with the hiring managers, our job as a recruitment function is then to support those objectives being hit. I believe this also encourages a more collaborative approach to hiring rather than dumping things into the talent function and hoping something positive comes out at the other end.

To finish, I always tell hiring teams to value candidates’ time as they would value their own. Experience is incredibly important in the acquisition process and getting people to think like this will result in positive outcomes.

Tom Pyle is the Head of Talent at Pusher. He has more than 10 years of experience supporting the growth of technology companies, with a strong focus on hiring elite level talent and the process that supports this happening.

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