Are Managers Satisfied With Your Recruiting?

Recruiters are always complaining that managers don’t cooperate with them. There are many reasons for this, but one of the largest is that recruiters never adjust what they do to better fit with what managers expect or need. It’s easier to adjust if you know what they like and dislike — so the obvious answer is to periodically survey them. As you become more sophisticated in recruiting metrics, you move beyond the standard cost-per-hire measures and start looking at measuring manager satisfaction with the hiring process and their satisfaction with the quality of the applicants and hires you provide. In other words, you eventually need to know:

  • How qualified are the applicants you are presenting to managers?
  • How well are the “new hires” performing on the job after they begin work?
  • How satisfied are managers with the overall hiring process?

If you dislike detailed data gathering, hate complicated statistics, or if you just have too little time or money, you might consider a manager survey as a simple way to gather satisfaction information. Surveying managers isn’t the best way to identify the quality of hire (it’s better to directly compare performance and output), but it is a start. And remember, even if you are producing high-performing “hires” you also need to know if the recruiting process itself is frustrating managers. When To Survey There is no magic formula as to when to survey your managers. If you do it too frequently, managers will get frustrated with having to fill out surveys. If you do it only once a year, you increase the likelihood that you will make a lot of mistakes that could have been corrected if more recent survey data was available. I recommend doing it twice a year, right after your traditional hiring surges (for example, the Christmas season in retail or as new budget funds are released in most firms). If you have the time, you can also do a very small email “pulse survey” to just a few managers every month, in order to get a general idea of how you’re doing. Who To Survey It is a mistake to survey every manager, for several reasons:

  • It is expensive
  • Not all managers do extensive hiring
  • Not all business units are of equal importance
  • Not all jobs and “hires” are of equal importance
  • Managers hate being over-surveyed

Survey Approaches There are several possible approaches to satisfaction surveys, including:

  1. Random survey. Do a random survey of 10 percent of your managers across the board in order to cut down on survey costs.
  2. Survey key managers. I recommend that you do a very narrow survey that focuses in on managers and positions that have the most business impact. I recommend you only select the top 20% of managers that hire for key jobs and that are in key business units. Some organizations also add in any managers that do high volume hiring (even for non-key positions).
  3. Do them all. If you have the resources, you can of course survey every manager.

How To Distribute the Survey There are several basic approaches to distributing any survey. Paper surveys are expensive and the data analysis is a pain in the butt. I recommend using short email surveys with an attachment that can be computer scored. You can also refer managers to an intranet website. This makes the survey easier to score, but it takes some technical knowledge and it also has a much lower response rate than emailed surveys (because it can not be filled out unless you are online). Another approach is to require managers to fill out a survey as a prerequisite for opening up a new requisition or at the time of the offer letter. What To Ask: Sample Questions There is no magic here, other than to keep it short and simple. Here are some questions to select from. Generally, limit your surveys to five questions or fewer. 1. Overall hiring process satisfaction

  • How satisfied are you with the overall hiring process and the recruiting-related services of HR? (on a scale of 1 to 10)
  • How satisfied are you with the recruiters that have served you? (on a scale of 1 to 10)
  • How satisfied are you with the response time and responsiveness of recruiting? (on a scale of 1 to 10)
  • How satisfied are you with the customer service or courtesy of the recruiters serving you? (on a scale of 1 to 10)
  • The aspect of the recruiting process that exceeds my expectations the most is ______________.
  • The aspect of the recruiting process that needs the most improvement is _____________.

2. Satisfaction with candidate (hire quality)

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  • When comparing the qualifications of applicants resumes you have been presented with during the last six months with the resumes of people you hired last year, the qualifications of the applicants this period are a) well below, b) below, c) about the same as, d) above, or e) well above last year’s average.
  • When comparing the qualifications of people that were actually hired during the last six months with those you hired last year, the qualifications of recent hires are a) well below, b) below, c) about the same as, d) above, e) well above last year’s.

3. On-the-job performance questions

  • How satisfied are you with the on-the-job performance of your recent hires during their first six months on the job? (on a scale of 1 to 10)
  • The on-the-job performance of the people hired this year is what percentage above or below the performance of the people that you hired last year?

4. Retention of new hires

  • The retention rates of the people hired this year is a) well below, b) below, c) about the same as, d) above, e) well above the retention rates of the people that you hired last year.
  • How satisfied are you with the retention rates of your recent hires during their first 6 months on the job? (on a scale of 1 to 10)

Some organizations also ask applicants and “finalists” how satisfied they were with the recruiting process in order to determine if they are being treated like potential customers. Other firms also ask recruiters about their satisfaction level. If you really want to fine tune your recruiting process and home in on what’s working and what’s not, you can also ask managers to force rank which element of the hiring process they like the least and which they like the most. Presenting the Results Be careful not to overdo it here. A simple bar graph or two parallel lines on a chart highlighting the difference between this year and last year is sufficient. Be sure to “pretest” the results and your presentation with a financial analyst and a few hiring managers in order to refine and clarify them. If you’re not good at statistics, this step can save you a lot of embarrassment. Conclusion Most recruiters assume they’re doing a good job. I only recommend making that assumption if you like being unemployed. Measure satisfaction directly, because you can’t improve what you don’t measure. It’s also important to periodically measure how well you’re doing in order to keep your budget from getting cut. A survey is a quick, cheap, and easy way to get a general idea of how well you’re doing with managers and in which areas you need to improve. Keep it simple and focus on the key managers and jobs in your firm. Once you get the results, the next step is the hardest…you have to change! Note: is a great website providing some benchmark statistics on hiring metrics you may want to check out. They do not currently maintain any satisfaction statistics, however.

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website and on He lives in Pacifica, California.



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