How Much Should — and Shouldn’t — You Engage Hiring Managers?

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Oct 5, 2022
This article is part of a series called ERE Recruiting Conference Fall 2022.

When you really think about it, it’s a minor miracle that anyone ever gets hired.

There are so many moving pieces that have to align — the req approval, the posting, the timing of the right person seeing the posting and deciding to apply, the chance of the resume catching the eye of the recruiter, passing the screening, making it to the hiring manager, navigating interviews, making an acceptable offer, and then having that offer accepted… There is a lot of room for error in this process.

Even the most efficient, buttoned-up hiring process will struggle to produce timely hiring if all the moving pieces fail to align. The best any recruiting team can do is manage those elements within their control and hope for the best. 

The elephant in the room is the hiring manager. This wild card of a player can be an accelerator or a roadblock, depending on your process, your organization, or their general personality. Many a recruiter has thrown their hands up in despair after hearing the magic words, “I just want to see a few more options.” 

At the ERE Recruiting Conference, coming up in Atlanta on Nov. 7-9, I’ll be moderating a panel discussion, “How Much Should — and Shouldn’t — You Engage Hiring Managers?” A group of TA pros and I will examine questions around what is too little, what is too much, and what is just right when it comes to involving hiring managers in your recruiting activities? And where and when should you engage them?

How organizations handle the role of the hiring manager varies greatly. High-volume retail environments may push all hiring to the local level, with recruiting simply receiving the accepted offer and processing the pre-hire activities after the fact. 

Other high-volume environments may take the hiring manager out of 90% of the process, asking them to focus their time on running the store/team/facility and not worrying about anything but a quick meeting with a prospective employee. 

Still other organizations choose to make the hiring manager the center of the process, while others focus more on a panel approach to minimize the hiring manager’s influence. Centralized recruiting, decentralized recruiting — it’s all up for grabs.

Normally I would link to all sorts of websites or whitepapers that support my statements about hiring, but the reality is there are precious few organizations that are 100% transparent about their process. Oh, they’ll list what the process should look like, or they’ll try to make it seem fairly straightforward, despite candidates complaining about how long it takes or how ridiculously complicated it is. 

Even not-so-famous companies strive to give candidates at least an overview of the process so they know what to expect. But the reality is often very different from what is posted, and much of that boils down to the relationship between the hiring manager and the recruiter.

Ask any recruiter and they will tell you that a hiring manager can make or break a recruitment. To be effective, hiring managers need to be able to articulate what the role is, what skills are needed, what skills can be trained, and what they are looking for in a candidate. The best hiring managers know how to partner with a recruiter to find the best fit for the role. The best recruiters know how to work with a hiring manager to glean the information they need to launch a successful search. 

Where challenges emerge is when the role of the hiring manager is inconsistently defined and/or applied. Too often, the stated process and policy are set aside because of pressure — from the hiring manager, from leadership, from unreasonable metrics, from stress. However, if the process and policy are too strict, the likelihood of workarounds increases exponentially. 

So, what is a hard-working talent acquisition team to do?

Join me and other recruiting professionals at the upcoming ERE Recruiting Conference as we discuss the role of the hiring manager during the recruiting process. We’ll laugh, we’ll cry, we may even swear. [Editor’s note: No swearing allowed! At least, not on stage!] But whatever we do, we will make you think. Hope to see you there! 

This article is part of a series called ERE Recruiting Conference Fall 2022.
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