Find Out What Matters to Your Hiring Managers

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Apr 9, 2019

It’s not just about the candidate. How’s your hiring manager experience?

What do your hiring managers really want to know about a candidate before making a hiring decision? Putting aside the list of competencies, experiences, your recruiting matrix, and anything else collected in an intake session or given to you officially — what is it that they really want to know?

Now take just a moment or two and assess how well you think you’re meeting the needs of that hiring manager.

Many recruiters are intuitively taking the experiences of their hiring managers into account during the recruiting process. In some cases, it’s not so much intuition as it is the fact that they’re worried about a bad “hiring manager satisfaction survey” score. However, it might be time to challenge the norm with regards to how hiring managers are treated and escorted, ushered, pushed, and/or dragged through the recruiting process.

How Do You Align With Hiring Managers?

At CXR we posed this question to a room full of talent acquisition leaders — all of whom have some degree of responsibility for the experience of their candidates and hiring managers. The results put a spotlight on two key areas impacting hiring manager experience: assessing for fit with the hiring manager’s needs and creating Service Level Agreements to help keep the focus on providing a better experience for candidates, hiring managers and recruiters.

Shift Your Competencies to What Hiring Managers Really Want

An easy place for you to start being more intentional and consistent in your drive to delight not only the candidates but also the hiring managers is by taking a closer look at our desired competencies.

I’m talking about grabbing that list of what you think the hiring manager is looking for and comparing it to the actual skills and experiences for the current job opening. Making sure those requirements actually align with what the hiring manager needs in their department might sound like Recruiting 101, but it may surprise you to find out just how far afield or watered down those two become over time.

We asked strategically crafted groups to prioritize the following candidate characteristics by what really matters to their hiring managers.

  • Fit with organizational culture & values
  • Learning agility
  • Personality & motivation aligned to business challenges
  • Potential for higher levels of technical skills within the current role
  • Prior experience in a similar role

While no two groups came up with an identical list, a few key points rose to the top. Nearly all the groups ranked “Prior experience in similar role” as the No. 1 candidate characteristic desired by hiring managers. Two other characteristics rounded out the top three: “Fit with organizational culture & values” and “Potential for higher levels of technical skills within the current role.”

In essence, intuition tells us that our hiring leaders want a person who has the experience they need, the ability to grow, and who will fit well within the team.

While there were no earth-shattering revelations there, the exercise was a strong motivator. It sparked solid conversations about the idea of “measuring for cultural fit” and the typical “lip service” that many recruiters are challenged with in relation to what hiring managers often “feel” or qualities they’ll “know when they see them.”

Turning this in a slightly different direction, I’d challenge you to run this exercise with hourly positions in mind. Then again with technical roles. I suspect that you’ll create a slightly different prioritization list. Taking it one step farther, I would challenge talent teams to take those five candidate characteristics to hiring managers and ask them to prioritize the list for each role, each time. The result would hopefully be, at worst, an interesting conversation at the intake session and, at best, an actionable list of qualities to assess and work towards when building pipelines.

Service-level Agreements Between Recruiters and Hiring Managers

Truly improving the hiring manager experience goes beyond a shift in language and candidate qualities. When asked, many of the recruiting leaders attending a recent colloquium meeting we held had an informal SLA with their hiring managers. Taking the time to consider and document your SLA is an exercise that will impact the experience of your hiring managers and recruiters.

A few SLA organization points to consider (as taken from our members who shared their hiring manager/recruiter SLAs):

  • “This hire is coming to work for you. We will help you lead the process to get them here.” This SLA outlined key responsibilities for each phase of the process: intake; attract & engage; assess; select; hire.
  • “Joint process accountability” with specific deadlines for key phases such as when a search begins, when a recruiter will submit candidates, when a hiring manager will respond to those candidates etc.
  • A list of talent-acquisition commitments alongside a list of hiring manager commitments and the process if any of those commitments are not upheld.
  • After the kickoff/intake, send a follow-up email to outline responsibilities for the recruiter and the manager. Within that email, remind the manager there should be a 24-48 hour turnaround for feedback/updates.

These agreements weren’t created in a vacuum. It took open conversations between talent-acquisition stakeholders and the hiring managers. The successful service-level agreements — those that are making the biggest impact — have measurable standards attached to each key stage. Prioritized competency lists and agreements aside, improving the experience of any talent-acquisition stakeholder ultimately comes down to putting yourself in their shoes. Take the time to talk to your hiring leaders to learn what they really need, then shift your process to meet those needs while providing the best possible delivery to all involved.

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