You Too Can Control Your Hiring Managers and Make Them Do What You Want

A few years ago, a hiring manager I was working with in Dallas reviewed a slate of my candidates and asked me to set up immediate interviews with two of them. One of the candidates, Dave, was based in Houston. I called Dave, told him the good news, and asked if he could make it up to Dallas. He said he could be there the next day, and I set up the interview.

The following day, Dave dressed for the interview and drove the four plus hours from Houston to Dallas to meet with my hiring manager. He arrived 45 minutes early for the interview, so the receptionist offered him coffee and asked him to wait in reception. Dave waited for 45 minutes, then an additional 25. He politely asked the receptionist if he’d mixed up his meeting time. He hadn’t. The receptionist confirmed the meeting time, and told Dave the hiring manager was running late.

To make a long story short: the interview never happened. To add insult to injury, Dave watched the hiring manager and a colleague walk through the reception area twice as he sat waiting. Dave never received as much as a hello or a nod from the hiring manager, much less a handshake. He called me on his way home to Houston. It’s the last time I ever spoke to him. Dave never answered my call again.

I’d like to say that if I’d known then what I know now, I could have prevented this whole thing, but the truth is these debacles happen to even the best recruiters. However, there are some steps you can take to lower the risk:

Ingratiate Yourself With Your Customer

Let’s be clear: you’re probably better at identifying, engaging, and lassoing stellar talent than your hiring manager, but he or she is better than you at their defined trade. Together, you could make a great team.

To build that team spirit, try to empathize with their pain points and show you understand the negative consequences if the role goes unfilled. Let your hiring manager see that your goal is to help prevent undesirable outcomes from occurring. A little ego stroking will go a long way …

Seriously Leverage Alibis

Have an SLA (service level agreement) in place — if for no other reason than to cover your rear later, if necessary. You need written documentation of what you and your hiring manager agree to, since details of verbal agreements tend to vaporize at crucial moments.

It’s your role as the talent advisor to set out clear steps to the process, establish a cadence to the recruiting procedure, commit to timelines when information will be presented to the hiring manager, and get the hiring manager to commit to his or her own timelines as well.

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For example: once an intake is conducted, a slate of candidates will be presented within 72 hours, after which the hiring manager will provide feedback within 48 hours. Set timelines for phone and face-to-face interviews. Lock in a standard time for feedback after face-to-face interviews, and so on. Adhere to a defined process that is both predictable and repeatable. Set expectations and deliver on your promises, and  encourage your hiring partners to do the same.

Become an Ally to Stakeholders

Effectively aligning with decision makers is critical to recruiting success and your ability to influence hiring managers. Learn to speak the language of your hiring managers and mirror their communication styles. If a hiring manager is expressive, use more descriptive language. If a hiring manager is more tactical, use analytics when summarizing recruiting campaigns. Show them you understand their strategic goals and how recruitment contributes to their success.

The key with all hiring managers is to emphasize that a predictable process means a better experience for all, most importantly the candidate. When the hiring manager is ready to make a selection and extend an offer, a candidate who has been guided through a predictable and well-defined process will be more apt to join the team.

If you set expectations, under promise, and over deliver, hiring managers will be singing your praises in no time. As they talk to other hiring managers in your organization, your credibility and influence will increase, your great reputation will come to precede you and you will be better positioned to take charge of the recruiting and hiring process.

Learn More

Join us on Wednesday, April 5, 2017, at 2 p.m. Eastern time for a free webinar with Monica Ryan of Bloomingdale’s as she presents more information on what recruiting teams can do to manage their hiring managers. Register here.

Joshua Jones is director, talent solutions with ERE Media. He supports conferences and publications focused on human resources, talent acquisition, and talent management. Prior to joining ERE Media, he dedicated nearly seven years as a recruiter and sourcer to tackling hiring challenges for companies and organizations nationwide.

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