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Subpar hiring managers can be common. What do you do?

The point of this article isn’t to knock hiring managers. Oftentimes they are very busy, accountable to their own P&L and other factors, and recruiting/talent acquisition — while ideally, it would be a primary focus for them — isn’t, because other priorities rise up.

So when we say “subpar hiring managers,” we don’t mean at their overall job. They might be great at core tenets of their job. We mean it in the sense of “Not involved in the recruiting process as much as they could be.”

These hiring managers tend to:

  • Under-communicate
  • Not offer context on the role
  • Not make themselves available for interview windows
  • Generally seem to make the process harder as opposed to easier

If you encounter — or consistently work with — a hiring manager like this, what can you do?

High-Level Solutions
Work to build the relationship: Obvious advice, yes. But here’s what we mean. Go out of your way to try and deal with the hiring manager. Understand what they like — the composition of their family, sports teams, interests, hobbies, passions. Engage with them around those topics. Take them to coffee or drinks. Explain that you want to make their teams super high-performing; you want their team to be among the best and most bonus’ed in the company. Be their ally.
Psychologically, this can be a challenge. If your role is rooted in HR — which does not face revenue — and their role is tied to P&L, they might view their work as more important than yours, and not make time for you. Keep trying. Everything around work is about relationships. Keep building those relationships.

Tactical Solutions
Focus your initial meetings with them: They are busy. They don’t want their time wasted, as their time feels tight as it is. So simplify the initial meetings. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Why do you need this role?
  • What are the three main skills you need?
  • What was lacking in this function before?
  • What type of person do you think works best in your current team?
  • Where do you see the role evolving to in 3-5 years?

Get those answers quickly, write down the answers, and get out.
Now prepare a one-pager: The one-pager will run down everything you discussed and include a sample job description and plan for posting the job. Give them right of first refusal/edits. If it’s very similar to the quick meeting you had, you won’t get a lot of pushback typically. Now you can commence a search.

The most obvious thing of all
Bring them good candidates: If you constantly bring them subpar candidates (in their eyes), they won’t respect you long-term and may even undercut or run end-arounds on you on future placements. That’s unfortunately fact at most organizations.
But “bring them good candidates” is the top rung of the recruiting ladder, right? Everyone is trying to get there and no one does it perfectly.
We have a little bit of a hack.
Most hiring managers want to know that the candidate:

  • Can do the job now, i.e. hit the ground running
  • Isn’t lying about past experience or qualifications

As roles become more technical in the form of coding languages, personalization suites, advanced data, and more … these things become harder to screen for by recruiters and hiring managers who have been thinking one way about their industry for years. They just don’t know what a true personalization expert might look like.
But you can outsource that function to a technical expert.

The expert knows what questions to ask, and knows how to determine how much, well, BS is coming back from the candidate.

Here’s what this does, subtly: now you’re changing the dynamic of your relationship with the hiring manager. Consider this example.
Candidate A went to Stanford, worked at Oracle, and led a big data project.
Candidate B went to a mid-level school, worked at some high-growth companies, and also led data projects.

When the technical expert comes in for interviews, he realizes “A” was just a member of that data team. He lead nothing. He has some skills but not the full suite — and he’s never run a team.

Now, if you present “A” and “B” to a hiring manager, a lot are going to favor “A” — brand-name school, brand-name company, all boxes being checked.
When you present and say “B” is better, you have real reasons (data!) and background from a technical expert for saying why “B” is better.

You just brought the hiring manager a better candidate, and he/she respects your opinion and process more.

Tons of aspects of the recruiting function are outsourced everyday throughout the entire ecosystem. Outsourcing the technical expertise piece makes perfect sense in terms of bolstering the hiring manager-recruiting relationship.

Here’s how we help

Ryan Leary

Ryan Leary
Ryan helps create the processes, ideas and innovation that drives RecruitingDaily. He’s our in-house expert for anything related to sourcing, tools or technology. A lead generation and brand buzz building machine, he has built superior funnel systems for some of the industries top HR Tech and Recruitment brands. He is a veteran to the online community and a partner here at RecruitingDaily.