Hiring Managers. There are good ones and there are ones who make life downright painful. Some that you can’t wait to see and others where you see them coming and make a quick detour into the nearest cube. Some that are Facebook friends and others that you send straight to voicemail.
While we can’t wave a magic wand and make every hiring manager your BFF, we do have a few simple tips that have proven to bridge this communication gap.
1. Have a Killer Intake Meeting
You only get one chance to make a first impression. And the impression you need to make is one of confidence, competence and clear communication. (Sorry, the alliteration there was purely accidental.) You need to show up with all of your homework done, a copy of the job spec and your red pen. (Okay, red pen is optional but you’ll see where we’re going with this…) You need to go through that spec line by line and be very, very clear as to what this new hire will be doing, what’s absolutely required and what’s just a nice-to-have.
Ask this question a few times in your intake meetings: “So if the person doesn’t list this skill on their resume, you don’t even want to see the resume, right?” You’ll be amazed at how often that question leads to hemming, hawing and backpedaling. Suddenly, your job spec and requirements list look vastly different. If you don’t leave that meeting 100% confident that you’ll know a perfect candidate when you see them, then you need more time.
Also, ask about all of the unmentionables that you can’t list on a job posting that end up making or breaking the candidate’s chances with the hiring manager (pedigree, job hopping, certs, pro-startup or anti, pro-agency or anti, etc.) that a manager will later use to fall in love with or immediately hate that perfect candidate you found. Personal preferences, pet peeves, you name it… It’s always better to know this stuff sooner rather than later.
Set clear SLA’s. Talk recruiting process, timing, feedback, expectations, etc. Make sure you’re both on the exact same page so there’s no confusion, delays, squabbling or finger-pointing later.
2. Set Up Recurring Weekly Meetings
We’re all extremely busy, but if you don’t set up weekly meetings with your hiring manager, then you’re doing yourself, the hiring team and all of your candidates a big disservice. The best way to really keep the communication channel open and things moving forward is to have this weekly calibration meeting. It keeps you on track with supplying a fresh batch of resumes on a weekly basis and it also keeps your hiring manager on track with resume feedback, phone screen feedback, interview feedback, team updates, etc. Show up with a weekly recap of your candidate pool. Impress your hiring manager. Show that you have everything under control and are working proactively. If you have nothing to talk about and your hiring manager has given you all of the feedback he owes you, then you both get 30 minutes back on your calendar.
If you don’t have these weekly meetings, things drag on. Nothing gets done. Time to fill increases. They start bringing up the A-word (agencies!). You’re out of the loop. Candidates fall by the wayside waiting to hear back. Candidate experience suffers. Everyone starts feeling stressed. Finger pointing begins. People start getting thrown under the bus. We’ve seen it countless times. Just have your weekly meeting and, trust me, everything just works. Rapport and confidence are built. It’s a beautiful thing.
3. Play “Jiminy Cricket” for the First Meeting or Two
The best way to really know what your hiring manager likes and doesn’t like about candidates? Pretend you’re Jiminy Cricket sitting on her shoulder as she reviews that first batch or two of resumes. Sit next to her and ask her to skim out loud… The things you hear will speak volumes.
“XYZ cert? I really like that.”
“Oh no, three jobs in five years… that’s no good.”
“Ooooh. Worked for Acme. That’s a plus.”
You’ll be amazed at all you learn just by listening to her review the resumes out loud. Take notes, fast and furiously. Ask follow-up questions. You will end up saving yourself hours and hours of time sourcing the wrong types of candidates. After 2-3 times of doing this, you’ll be much clearer and be better able to act as your hiring manager’s eyes and ears out there sourcing and screening.
4. Stay Aligned During the Interview Process
Scorecards ensure everyone is speaking the same language.
Once your interview process is planned out, create a scorecard for the position to ensure everyone is evaluating candidates on the same criteria. Your hiring team needs clear documentation and a simple framework for evaluating talent to ensure everyone’s speaking the same language. For more on this, check out our Interview Manifesto.
Close the loop quickly.
Immediate feedback from the hiring managers post interview is essential. With each passing day that goes by, critical information blurs together or is lost entirely, especially when you are interviewing candidates back-to-back. It’s essential to gather feedback within 24 hours of the interview occurring to ensure you gather what’s most impactful.
At the end of the day, the coolest hiring managers are the ones who are happy with your performance because you’re submitting great candidates and closing reqs. Many “nightmare” hiring managers (that others didn’t want to work with) are turned into buddies by following the tips above.
About the Author:
Stacy Zapar is an advisory board member for Take the Interview and an 18-year recruiting veteran.