How to Become an Exceptional Hiring Manager

Jamie Sharp

Writer & Blogger

How does a Hiring Manager fit into the recruitment process?

There is a perception that hiring managers are just there to get the approval to hire and will then pass the baton to the recruiter and get back to what they were doing. If this really is the case, then it is potentially fraught with problems and the recruiter will struggle to provide the right calibre of candidate. (Read here to find out what a hiring manager is.)

If the hiring manager is new to recruiting and thinks it’s not their job to be actively involved, then avoidable problems will occur:

  • Recruiters only have a job description without context
  • Unrealistic expectations around timeline and availability of high-quality candidates aren’t challenged
  • The recruiter’s definition of an excellent candidate may vary from the managers’
  • Lack of effective communication may mean that, though several candidates are interviewed, no-one is hired

However, encouraging the hiring manager to be a partner in the recruitment process will ensure great hiring decisions are made quickly. As, according to Glassdoor research, the length of the interview process has increased to 27.5 days globally, speeding up the process to secure the most talented applicants is more important than ever before.

The hiring manager can add real value in several areas:

  1. Preparation of a detailed job description and person specification that outlines the job function, responsibilities and qualifications for the role. Not only will this help the recruiter source appropriate candidates but will assist people who are interested in the job and assess if they could be a good fit.
  2. Briefing the recruiter on what the position does, what a typical day looks like, why they are recruiting, what are the essential skills and the nice to have skills.
  3. Continuously talking to the recruitment or HR team to answer questions and clarify any grey areas.
  4. Reviewing CVs and identifying candidates who look like a good fit.
  5. Defining with the recruiter the interview strategy and process including the form the interview will take, number of interviews, and who would be involved.
  6. Responsive feedback to move the recruitment process forward.
  7. Adjusting the search strategy if the first round of candidates were unsuitable.

How involved in the hiring process the hiring manager is can impact the effectiveness of the process and how quickly the hiring happens. Supporting the recruitment or HR team will ensure the hiring manager gets the candidate they want and gets them onboard and working rapidly.

5 tips to make you a great hiring manager

As a hiring manager, even a new hiring manager with little hiring experience, there are certain aspects of the process that if handled well will improve the candidate experience and help to guarantee a good outcome for your organisation.

1. Help the recruiter understand the role

If your recruitment partner or HR team will be able to source the right candidate for your role, it makes sense that they understand what you are looking for in your ideal candidate and what you will expect that candidate to do for you.

  • What are the non-negotiable skills and experience?
  • What type of person will fit into the existing team?
  • Is there any industry background that is required?
  • Are there non-negotiable qualifications required?
  • What will a typical day look like?

2. Organisation and preparation

If you are anticipating a need to increase headcount, let your recruiter know as early as possible, even if you don’t want to go ahead for a few months.

The luxury of planning in advance is not always available if someone unexpectedly leaves but have a thorough job spec and a person spec ready for your recruiter so they can begin planning the recruitment and begin sourcing a pool of suitable candidates.

3. Ask better questions and make the candidate feel welcome

Interview questions should challenge the candidate and force them to think on their feet rather than give a straightforward answer to a simple question.

Questions like ‘Tell us about the biggest project you’ve been responsible for’ is a simple question that won’t challenge a good candidate or give you feedback on their ability. Instead, ‘What would you do if presented with X, Y, or Z’ will show their ability to think on their feet and to show their problem-solving skills.

Though tough questioning to uncover a candidate’s skills and attitude are important, it is equally important that they leave the interview thinking this is a nice place to work. A good candidate experience gives a good overall impression of the company and hiring manager.

4. Uphold the organisation and communicate its values

A great hiring manager will talk about the value the organisation offers to its customers and target audience and the role the candidate would have within that organisation to help in delivering to its customers.

Helping a candidate feel that they will be a part of something bigger and will play a part in the organisation’s overall success will differentiate you from other companies that the candidate may be considering.

5. Onboarding

Once you’ve offered the role to your chosen candidate, onboarding them and getting them immersed in the company’s culture will help make them feel part of the team quickly and not like an outsider who must earn their spurs.

New employees need to immediately feel part of a team and a well thought out onboarding process and training can play a significant role in settling a new hire and keeping them for the long haul.

The importance and benefits of a speedy hiring process

If your company can’t make a fast decision when looking to hire top talent, they’ll lose out to the competition and their tardiness may even cost the company money in lost sales, and the costs associated with using contractors.

The demand for talented candidates has increased, but the availability has decreased according to John Sullivan, Professor of Management at San Francisco State University, especially in future critical roles like machine learning, cybersecurity and quantum computing.

Sullivan maintained that the quality of your hires will increase with a speedy hiring process. His six key reasons for hiring quickly are:

  1. Fewer dropouts of in demand candidates
  2. Slow hiring means you’ll be left with average candidates
  3. Fast decision making attracts the best candidates as it reflects your corporate culture
  4. Top candidates will decide quickly
  5. Fast hiring reduces counter bidding by the competition
  6. Top diversity candidates are gone quickly so you need to react to bag them

If you want to attract the best you need to be prepared to speed up your hiring process to match the expectations of the top talent.

3 proven ways to speed up your hiring process

Think ahead and eliminate steps that add time to the hiring process

When you are reviewing CV’s or phone screening applicants, trust your gut and only interview the candidates who deserve an interview rather than bringing in extra ‘possibles’ as well. This will reduce the time you spend interviewing.

Organisation and time management is another important element to eliminating wasteful steps in the hiring process. By putting time aside in your diary to review CV’s, book and carry out interviews and scheduling feedback sessions, you can be sure the whole process runs smoothly and effectively, saving you valuable time and providing a great candidate experience.

Write a clear and relevant job advert

I know, it sounds obvious, but if you want to attract high-end performers who are looking for the right opportunity, this is your first chance to engage with them and impress.

Your advert should accurately describe the role, what’s involved, the skills required, the skills it would be nice to have and some information on the company’s values and culture. If your advert is relevant and eye-catching, you’ll attract the attention of top talent that you’re trying to secure.

Outsource some of the hiring process

Whatever way you look at it, this will cost money, but could offer significant time savings and a reduction in administrative costs.

If outsourcing gives you access to a pool of candidates you may not have attracted, and the services of specialist consultants who might speed up the hiring process for you, then outsourcing may in fact save you money and get you the talent you need.

Hiring is a stressful process because you’re normally hiring to fill a business-critical role. However, if you want that competitive edge that comes from hiring the best of the best, hiring quickly will improve your chances of attracting top talent, which in turn will shorten the onboarding and training required.

Trust your instincts, involve your recruitment partners at every stage and outsource some of the process to external consultants who could end up saving you time and money rather than costing you in your search for the perfect candidate.

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