The Most Underdeveloped Character in the Talent Acquisition Script…The Hiring Manager

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How many hours of work and transactional touchpoints go into the very moment a company succeeds in getting a quality candidate to apply to their opening? As my Sevenstep colleague Amy Wrocklage suggested in a recent article,  it can be upwards of 7-10 well-planned touchpoints. And those crucial points of employment branding impressions continue to the applicant intake process and well throughout the recruitment lifecycle.

All of that work – all of that effort – only to have the hiring manager, the very beneficiary of a truly exceptional candidate, forget their lines and ruin the show.

This complex recruiter-hiring manager dynamic is nothing new, but in a rapidly evolving hiring landscape, making it a synergistic one has never been more important. Candidates, especially in this market, are researching what it means to be an employee at a particular company long before they actually submit a formal job application (let alone meet with a hiring manager). They’re conducting web searches, interacting with the company on a multitude of social media platforms, reading about them in the news, and checking online reviews. By the time they actually sit down with a hiring manager, they’ve formed opinions and they’re ready for their assumptions to be confirmed or denied – about the job, about the company, and about the people who work there. The actual live interview with the hiring manager is an incredibly critical touchpoint in the talent acquisition lifecycle. Without a truly great interaction with the hiring manager all of the positive momentum is squandered, and a highly sought-after, skilled candidate can quickly fall out of the applicant funnel.

But there are ways to prevent this from happening, and it all starts with recruiters recognizing that the hiring manager is THE lead actor (or actress) in this story, and giving him or her the right script ahead of time makes all the difference.

Recruiting, and directing a great show.

As a Senior Manager of Client Services at Sevenstep over a large, global RPO engagement, I work with hiring managers of all levels and hiring disciplines and also across multiple regions. My experience has taught me that while every hiring manager has varying needs during the recruitment process, there is a universal way to help them all. To better incorporate hiring managers into a successful hiring process, you need to make them powerful advocates for their opening, the team, and the company.

Here are the top four ways to set hiring managers up to deliver a great performance:

  1. Discuss market expectations. On the front end of a new opening, share your extensive knowledge of the job and candidate market. Educating hiring managers should come first, not after valuable interviews have already taken place. This establishes trust and keeps hiring managers well-educated on the skill sets they can and should expect to see in order to avoid misdirected rejections.
  2. Review their history. Find out when they made their last hire, what their personal hiring experiences have been to-date, and what challenges they’ve had to overcome in the past to find the right talent. Leverage them as your partner by gathering this valuable intel. This will prompt them to recall all of their best and relevant hiring stories and will help them to better recognize good hires when they walk through the door for an interview.
  3. Level with them. If there is a misalignment with any aspect of their approach and the goals they want to achieve, get everyone on the same page. We’re in a highly advanced, highly competitive candidate market; it’s a recruiter’s job to show hiring managers how their old ways won’t help them, and more importantly, what to replace them with. This will also avoid wasted time and efforts that come from hiring techniques that are simply not effective.
  4. Rehearse the lines. Ask them what they plan on asking the candidates and how they will sell the job, company, and growth story. Too many managers feel they can wing it and don’t have a well-thought-out engagement strategy. Make specific suggestions on comments and questions that will support the employment brand of the company as well as screen for the right talent. This will avoid the trap of the “one-way screen” and aid hiring managers in having rich and relevant discussions during their interviews.

Casting great talent is not what it used to be, and such herculean effort is being put into attracting people of all skill levels and experience. Getting a script and stage directions in place with your hiring manager partners can make all the difference in attracting and retaining quality new hires that quite frankly are hard to come by. If you don’t leverage the leading, main actor or actress in your talent acquisition script to tell a compelling and relevant story, the interview experience will surely miss the mark.

Ready. Set. Action!


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