Getting on the Same Wavelength as the Hiring Manager: 5 Questions Recruiters Must Ask

While it’s certainly not completely accurate to say recruiters and hiring managers are always poles apart in the way they approach hiring, there is some truth to it. Why does this happen when both parties are actually supposed to be allies, gunning for the same goal i.e. hiring the right talent for the right jobs? The answer lies in misaligned expectations. The hiring manager has his/her pulse on the company’s requirements. As the talent acquisition expert, you have your pulse on the market. Often the two sides fail to communicate effectively and the result is a far from smooth partnership, leading to frustrations on both ends. Digest this – while 80% of recruiters believe they have a ‘high’ to ‘very high’ understanding of the job roles they are recruiting for, 61% of hiring managers disagree with this.

The key to a strong recruiter-hiring manager partnership is for both sides to approach hiring like a job interview. Here are five questions the conversation must include:

1. Why this opening?

As a recruiter, unless you know the background, you won’t be able to provide a true and engaging perspective to prospective candidates. And who better to tell the story than the hiring manager? While you may already have drafted a job description before you sit down for this interview with the hiring manager, be sure to ask him/her the real reason behind the job role. If it’s a new role, what market or competitor conditions prompted the requirement? If it’s a replacement, what new skills or personal qualities the hiring manager would like to have as compared to the last candidate that left?

2. Which skills are absolute deal breakers?

A hiring manager’s wish list could go on at infinitum, but as a recruiter, your job is to narrow down the profile into ‘must-have’ and ‘nice-to-have’ requirements. For instance, a mid-senior technical role may demand 7-10 years of relevant work experience as an absolute must, while excellent communication skills may not be a critical requirement for the role. A good recruiter should be able to identify aspects where hiring managers are likely to be flexible and others that are outright deal breakers.

3. What does an ideal candidate profile look like?

Take this interview with your hiring manager as an opportunity to understand who the hiring manager envisions as the ideal candidate for the role. Get examples of good and bad candidates. If time permits, go over a few resumes together, to ensure you are both on the same page in terms of expectations – right from the start.

4. What checkpoints will be used during the hiring journey?

An average interview process could last up to 23 days and through this duration, hiring manager’s expectations could change – the reasons could range from urgency to changing market conditions or something else. Taking stock of the progress on a regular basis is key to both sides staying on the same page. Agree upon some quantifiable checkpoints across the hiring journey. How many meetings/phone screenings are expected, how many resumes are needed for approval, by when do you believe you’ll be able to close this position, and so on.

5. How will the interview process be conducted?

Get end-to-end visibility on how the interview process will proceed to help interviewees prepare. How long will it last, how many people on the interview panel, who covers which part of the interview, who has the final decision making authority? Recruiters today can leverage a variety of tools to ensure the interview process runs smoothly. For instance, Lever’s interview kits help hiring stakeholders easily schedule interviews, provide clear instructions for everyone on the panel, insert a scorecard, and do lots more.

Collaboration happens when there is trust

Trust is a two-way street – recruiters and hiring managers must be able to respect and trust each other to be able to do their jobs well. One of the worst mistakes a hiring manager could make is not allowing the recruiter to lead the recruitment process. Ensuring transparency before and throughout the hiring process is a great way to start building trust in this relationship. Not only will this help both hiring managers and recruiters channel a smooth hiring experience, it can also go a long way in ensuring the career development of new hires.

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