How Recruiters Can Tame Frustrating Hiring Managers

Sep 17, 2013

ere-falllogo-facebookAsk a roomful of recruiters if hiring managers can occasionally drive them a bit batty, and hands rise faster than you say black hole.

You know the drill: managers who are unresponsive, unprepared, waste time, and don’t get back to candidates. Or, those who ask illegal questions, or just cringe-worthy ones. Tell me about yourself!

Or they say this: “I need to see 137 more resumes!”

Recruiting Toolbox’s Carmen Hudson, speaking at the ERE conference here in Chicago, gave recruiting leaders some advice on improving the manager/recruiter relationship.

Her suggestions:

Carmen HudsonShame! Yes, shame the hiring manager, she says, smiling. Well, if not shame, at least create some accountability. Hudson, who has held recruiting and sourcing roles at Yahoo, Starbucks, Amazon, and Microsoft, suggests you:

  • Make sure you set expectations up front. Recruiters and managers should each commit to do certain things by a certain date. If those dates need to change, no problem.
  • Create a buddy system. Pair someone, perhaps a junior person, up with the hiring manager. One benefit of this is that if one of the two can’t show for an appointment, the interview is covered.
  • Keep score. Don’t accept managers not showing up to interviews — document it. “Not showing up is the ultimate disrespect,” Hudson says.
  • Pre-schedule interviews. Know that they’re going to happen on, say, the first Wednesday of every month.
  • Hold pre-interview meetings. At a company Hudson is consulting for, managers are asked to meet with recruiters to discuss not just the jobs needing to be filled, but also to make sure everyone’s on the same page with the assessment criteria, the importance of the candidate experience, and to make sure the task of selling the job and the company will be done.
  • Candidate debriefs. This is a meeting, perhaps on the phone, to discuss how things went, post-interview.

There’s more. Hudson suggests you shadow interviewers. You’ll be shocked, she says, at what you’ll find going on in an interview, like the company asking people to provide a joke as part of their interview. “Nuts,” Hudson says.

Job descriptions may need to be rewritten, too. They may be boring, and ask for a lot of stuff a candidate doesn’t really need to have to do the job well. “Your employer brand is in the hands of your interviewers,” she says. Like a bad experience at a coffee shop, a bad experience during an interview will only spread the bad word to others.

She says to ask managers: how would you want your best friend to be treated if he or she were to interview here?

Some of her other suggestions:

  • Make sure you check out Glassdoor, she says, to see what people are saying about your company. But, she warns: try to manipulate the results, and candidates will see through it.
  • Give “white glove” treatment to people coming from employee referrals.
  • Talk to new hires — not just company veterans. They’re hypersensitive to what’s going well and what’s not, and what surprised them about the company (e.g., they were told they’d work on the newest technology and ended up not). This can be very valuable in crafting a value proposition and selling candidates on your company.
  • Ask questions you want answers to — not questions that will subtly lead to answers you want. For example, if you’re hiring a sports editor and want to know someone’s favorite team, ask. But try to don’t find it out by asking, “where’d you grow up?”
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