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The Hiring Manager Conundrum


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Managing relationships with hiring managers is difficult. There's a baton of blame passed between hiring managers, recruiters and applicants as roles in the hiring funnel evolve. We become faced with this question: Who ultimately owns the hiring process and why has this changed?

In this white paper, learn what drives successful hiring through the eyes of hiring managers, recruiters and applicants. End the blame game with hiring managers and improve your recruitment process.

Published in: Recruiting & HR
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The Hiring Manager Conundrum

  1. 1. The Hiring Manager Conundrum by Bill Boorman 2015 © Take the Interview

  2. 2. Introduction Here at Take the Interview, we’ve been thinking a lot recently about how, exactly, today’s hiring funnel actually works and what real recruiting processes really looks like. That’s why we decided to ask the key stakeholders and decision makers on the front lines of for their take on what it takes to survive – and thrive – in today’s increasingly competitive and cutthroat market for top talent. From candidates to hiring managers to recruiters themselves, we wanted to hear first hand what it takes to successfully attract, engage, screen and select the right candidate for the right role the right way. We recently gathered the gamut of these stakeholders together at the Kaplan Education corporate headquarters in New York to discuss some of the biggest issues and most pressing challenges and pervasive issues impacting hiring and recruiting, and what organizations need to do to recruit and retain top talent tomorrow. Since we wanted the conversation to be as open, direct and honest as possible, we swore that we’d keep the identities of this multitude of stakeholders, from CHROs at Fortune 50 employers to agency recruiters to transitioning workers, completely anonymous. Turns out, taking away the fear of taking off the filter rendered some really, really interesting responses. While we concealed the identities associated with these answers, the issues and challenges identified should sound familiar to anyone who’s looked for a job or a candidate lately. That’s why we put together this “slight paper” – in fairness, it’s not really robust enough to be considered a white paper, but it should provide some interesting insights and invaluable resources about how recruiters can improve recruiting efficiency and efficacy – not to mention candidate experience – by improving how recruiters can build relationships, develop partnerships and deliver results to their respective hiring managers and stakeholders. We’re tired of every hearing how recruiting is broken – and the fact is, with unemployment at its lowest level in years and more people finding more jobs than ever before, that might be a somewhat misleading statement to begin with. But that’s not to say there’s not a lot that needs fixing – and as the #TruNewYork conversation revealed, learning to define and drive shared accountability between the hiring managers, applicants and recruiters involved in the hiring process represents a critical first step. The Hiring Manager Conundrum 2015 © Take the Interview 2 take the interviewThe Hiring Manager Conundrum
  3. 3. While each respective stakeholder traditionally and expediently passes the baton of blame instead of accepting real responsibility, this poor experience leads to poor results – and unwanted outcomes – for everyone involved. That’s why this slight paper has some big ideas from the feedback we received in the Big Apple, and some of the solutions that just might help make a big difference in your ability to compete for – and win – the best and the brightest candidates today while retaining and developing internal top talent for tomorrow’s workforce needs. Before we jump into their answers, I’d be remiss to not personally thank each and every one of our individual contributors who got involved and helped inform the outcome of this research. You know who you are, and you know how you helped – and also know how much it’s appreciated. I look forward to continuing the conversation, and hope that this provokes a few thoughts and maybe even some new ideas on how best to manage hiring managers and drive recruiting success while delivering delightful experiences to every stakeholder at every stage of the hiring process. I can’t wait to hear from you, too. Cheers, Bill Boorman Lead Advisor, Take The Interview
 The Hiring Manager Conundrum 2015 © Take the Interview 3 take the interviewThe Hiring Manager Conundrum
  4. 4. Whose Job Is It, Anyway? In a recent presentation by Grant Weinberg, the Director of Talent Acquisition for EMEA at biotech leader Gilead Sciences, Weinberg outlined the changing responsibilities for hiring within his own organization and many other enterprise employers, and the overall impact of this evolution on recruiting, where business as usual seems to be anything but these days. Weinberg revealed a recent pilot program he oversaw at Gilead, shifting ultimate accountability for successfully recruiting and onboarding a candidate to the hiring manager and line of business leadership, while holding talent acquisition responsible for managing the process and focusing primarily ensuring a great experience – and optimal outcomes – for candidates and clients alike. This shift in responsibility, coupled with the hiring managers continued need for recruiters in order to drive the outcomes for which they were ultimately on the line, resulted in significant success simply by making closer collaboration between talent acquisition and their hiring managers inexorably intertwined with their standard recruiting processes. With improved quality of hire and lowered cost and time to fill, the results of this program clearly demonstrate the value in reinforcing and strengthening the relationship between talent acquisition and the actual business they support. Another result of bifurcating recruiting responsibility is that recruiters are increasingly seen as an enabler in the process instead of a barrier. By aligning talent acquisition as a true support function dedicated to serving its clients and helping them achieve their hiring performance related KPIs, there’s a greater focus by both parties on getting hiring done, not passing the buck and the blame when it doesn’t - and in those situations, it almost never does. Funny how that works, isn’t it? Next we’re going to take a look at the point of view from recruiters themselves, and some of the most common problems and challenges they encounter when trying to manage hiring managers who lose that focus on hiring and treat recruiting as a secondary concern to other business needs. After all, it’s not their job – it’s the recruiters. This mistaken mindset can prove costly – and have a direct impact on the bottom line, as Weinberg revealed. As he was wrapping up his presentation, Weinberg revealed statistical proof from the pilot program that only reiterated the already overwhelming business case for this change in recruiting responsibilities. The Hiring Manager Conundrum 2015 © Take the Interview 4 take the interviewThe Hiring Manager Conundrum
  5. 5. By concentrating on the cost of open positions and the lost revenue these represented, Weinberg was able to show the P&L implications of his proposed changes to the Board of Directors, who signed off on fundamentally altering the responsibilities and accountabilities associated with talent acquisition throughout the organization. This decision continues to deliver significant dividends for Gilead, with improved hiring performance and recruiting outcomes throughout the business – and a more scalable, sustainable and successful strategy for recruiting and retaining the top talent responsible for driving the organization’s record revenues, stock price and shareholder value. These are pretty hard outcomes for any business to argue. Risk Management Services (RMS) recently adopted a similar approach through an organizational initiative led by Amelia Merrill, whose success steering this program as the VP of Talent Acquisition, HR Operations and Employee Engagement led to her assuming her current role as Chief Human Resources Officer, the head honcho at an organization with over 1200 employees with 10 global offices. Merrill convinced RMS to adopt a hiring manager driven approach to recruiting, largely as a response to the growing demand and competition for qualified talent the organization was increasingly forced to face. By restructuring and reallocating the respective responsibilities of recruiters and hiring managers, RMS was able to adopt a much more candidate-centric approach to hiring, shifting focus from placing a premium on process to having that process defined by the people ultimately driving that process. By being able to focus on proactively engaging and supporting candidates instead of simply supporting the process, recruiters were able to deliver exceptional experiences and ultimately, better candidates, a spike in qualified applicants and a jump in referrals as their reputation for recruiting excellence quickly spread. This wouldn’t be possible if their hiring managers didn’t shoulder responsibility for managing the process and the offer and recruiters stayed stuck more or less acting as disintermediated intermediaries pushing paper, not promoting people. Needless to say, their results have set them apart from their competition and positioned them as an employer of choice – and it’s not only candidates that are taking notice. RMS was recently recognized for its adoption of candidate centered recruiting with its second consecutive Candidate Experience Award, taking top honors in both the US and the UK, the only company to have achieved this. And rightfully so, considering the business and bottom line results RMS has realized as a result of changing its talent acquisition approach. The Hiring Manager Conundrum 2015 © Take the Interview 5 take the interviewThe Hiring Manager Conundrum
  6. 6. Some specific best practices RMS has adopted include things like ensuring hiring managers are accountable for interviewing qualified candidates identified by recruiters the same day they’re submitted, expediting the hiring process while speeding decision making so that candidates receive feedback and notification of next steps or status as quickly as possible. This concierge-like approach to candidates, and providing them with exceptional service and a positive experience irrespective of recruiting outcome, are seen as core organizational competencies; in terms of performance management, hiring even represents a core competency by which RMS evaluates and measures its managers. Each manager has their individual performance measured against specific business KPIs as well as candidate experience scorecards and recruiter feedback, which in turn form a significant component of managers’ overall performance reviews, and consequently, their own career prospects and professional development opportunities. Turns out, when hiring managers have real repercussions associated with recruiting, this forced focus unilaterally leads to improved results and measurable improvements in metrics that really matter – because every candidate is also a potential customer, giving them the best possible experience is just good business. And business, at RMS at least, is very good indeed, with yet another quarter of record revenue growth and more new hires than ever before – further proof of that these outcomes are really two sides of the same recruiting coin. This change, of course, wasn’t easy at first – and managers were understandably upset when this change was rolled out to the organization, as many felt unskilled, untrained or otherwise unable to interview candidates effectively enough to assess competencies while providing meaningful feedback to those candidates or the recruiters they’re working with. The ability to provide timely, valuable and insightful feedback, of course, is critical to refining and reengineering the recruiting process and associated strategies. Those companies that measure hiring managers on their ability to do so have reinforced this core competencies by providing direction, training and support to their hiring managers, which in turn, has improved hiring processes and recruiting outcomes across the board. They say you can’t manage what you can’t measure, but if your managers are measured on hiring performance, turns out, that performance inevitably improves – as does your organization’s ability to attract, engage and recruit top talent. The Hiring Manager Conundrum 2015 © Take the Interview 6 take the interviewThe Hiring Manager Conundrum
  7. 7. In the case of RMS, all hiring managers were provided with ongoing training in interviewing and selection best practices, including establishing and reinforcing company wide standards and best practices around recruiting as part of every manager’s professional development plan and performance criteria. This was underscored by developing consistent benchmarks and standardized scorecards for hiring managers, making recruiters responsible for scoring their relative competence and performance across the entire hiring process, providing an extra incentive for building a deeper relationship and working partnership with their recruiting counterparts. One notable improvement reported as a result of RMS’ strategic change was that by forcing hiring managers to assume the responsibility to personally deliver feedback to candidates and recruiters, their receptiveness to training – and recruiting results – significantly improved, as did the quality of the interviews and feedback provided to candidates after each hiring manager successfully completed the associated coursework. The lesson we can all learn from RMS is that hiring managers aren’t necessarily experts at hiring, and require ongoing training, professional development and accountability for the improved hiring outcomes that come with measurable metrics and actionable analytics associated with recruiting success. We’ll talk about some other ways to overcome some other critical, yet common, hiring manager skills gaps a little later on in the paper, but for now, let’s turn to a company that’s not only one of the world’s largest employers, but also, one of its largest HR technology companies: Oracle. Anne-Marie O’Donnell, Oracle Vice President of EMEA Recruiting, reports she’s taken a more pragmatic approach to hiring at the organization, moving talent acquisition teams from traditional recruiting related tasks like interviewing, offer negotiation and onboarding. Instead, recruiters now focus primarily on more proactive, value-added activities like sourcing, screening, qualifying and submitting candidates instead of spending so much time closely managing those already under consideration. As part of this organizational transformation, Oracle surveyed their recruiting team about their biggest challenges, frustrations or capability gaps in the recruiting process. The most common feedback from the recruiters centered, perhaps unsurprisingly, on the manifold issues they face when working with hiring managers, particularly their almost universal unresponsiveness or extremely slow turnaround in providing feedback on candidates previously presented by the recruiters. The Hiring Manager Conundrum 2015 © Take the Interview 7 take the interviewThe Hiring Manager Conundrum
  8. 8. This feedback loop not only slowed the hiring process significantly, but it often meant losing top talent to competitors who were able to move more quickly in driving hiring decisions and extending offers, which only increased an already obvious business case for improving the timeliness and efficacy by which hiring managers made candidate decisions and deliver feedback. O’Donnell resolved this endemic organizational issue by creating a internal billing system that charged the business unit or hiring team a penalty for every day a vacancy was live in talent acquisition, with these costs coming directly from the stakeholder’s budget as a way to facilitate faster feedback and streamlining recruiting processes and decision making. Moreover, O’Donnell completely overhauled the role of individual recruiters, removing the administrative burden created by tasks like paperwork, scheduling and conducting in person interviews or calculating compensation. Recruiters became accountable solely for finding and presenting candidates for open positions – actually closing those candidates, and requisitions, became the exclusive responsibility of the hiring managers themselves. The Hiring Manager Conundrum 2015 © Take the Interview 8 take the interviewThe Hiring Manager Conundrum Lean Hiring Talent Acquisition Team Members source applicants, prequalify candidates & act as project managers Hiring Managers interview qualified candidates, expedite decision-making & hold ultimate accountability for successful hiring timely & meaningful feedback
  9. 9. As a result of this change, Oracle has seen success in closing out an exceptionally heavy open req load and managing consistently high volumes of ongoing hiring necessitated at an employer with their relative size, complexity and scale – and this new proactive approach has meant more candidates are getting through the process, and accepting offers, than previously possible under the old model. While RMS, Oracle and Gilead are drastically different companies, with disparate talent needs and recruiting challenges, each success story shares a common theme: lean hiring. Each of these organizations successfully bifurcated the recruiting process, putting talent acquisition on point for all sourcing and everything up to the point of apply, and making the hiring manager responsible for the bulk of the rest of the activities associated with the recruiting process. Could this division of responsibilities of accountability and shared responsibility for outcomes become a best practice that every employer should be adopting? Are these early adopters a sign of things to come or outliers doomed to obsolescence? To get a sense of what the average recruiter, hiring manager or candidate thinks, we asked them for their thoughts on this potential new paradigm for talent acquisition and recruiting. This is what they told us – and without naming names, one thing becomes clear: the need to manage hiring managers, by any means necessary, is necessary to fix what’s broken in recruiting and hiring. What Recruiters Think About Hiring Managers We asked recruiters to provide us candid feedback on what, exactly, their current relationship with hiring managers looks like, and what they think could be done to improve the collaboration and communication with their clients and internal customers. From the answers we received, it seems most recruiters and employers still have quite a ways to go. Just consider these comments. “I only ever hear back when they want to interview. I never know the reason for the rejection.” The Hiring Manager Conundrum 2015 © Take the Interview 9 take the interviewThe Hiring Manager Conundrum
  10. 10. “It’s not uncommon to wait two weeks for feedback on a résumé, and then I’m expected to fix interviews immediately.” “We try to hire blind from very old job specifications. I don’t really know what the hiring managers are looking for, so it becomes a bit of a hit and miss in presenting.” “The first thing I did when I got here was to spend more time with the hiring managers and be more demanding. This caused a rocky relationship for a while, ‘till I took a more collaborative approach. We are in this together- it’s more about education than being demanding and stomping my feet to get things done. I get useful feedback now, which is helpful in improving candidate experience and getting the search right.” “It’s a bit like bowling. I set them up and they knock them down. Last man standing wins. Organizing the hiring managers to be available for an interview or phone screen can be a bit like herding cats.” Wow. Listening to this type of feedback, it’s not hard to sense the animosity and endemic mistrust resulting from the huge divide between recruiters and hiring managers, and the resulting “us vs. them” mentality that was a recurring theme in these and many other conversations. For the most part, this can all be distilled into two fundamental problems: weak processes and poor collaboration. Fixing these problems starts by clearly defining roles, responsibilities and accountabilities for both hiring managers and recruiters throughout the organization; furthermore, employers who make hiring a core competency and successfully tie recruiting outcomes to bigger business issues like revenue growth and performance management quickly solve these problems due to forced collaboration, faster feedback and more streamlined policies and processes. These best-in-class employers are, sadly, the exception rather than the rule, but there are encouraging signs that the tides might be changing along with the rapidly evolving talent acquisition landscape. Surveys repeatedly reiterate the critical importance talent plays in driving business success (they’re every company’s ‘greatest asset,’ as the tired cliché holds), but the hiring manager and recruiter relationship often devalues that asset. The Hiring Manager Conundrum 2015 © Take the Interview 10 take the interviewThe Hiring Manager Conundrum
  11. 11. By forcing recruiters to vacuum deduct job requirements for positions they don’t understand or being provided with any modicum of meaningful feedback, organizations aren’t only alienating talent, but also undercutting their recruiting ROI by not providing recruiters with the basic tools they need to succeed. While hiring managers blame recruiters for not getting what they’re looking for or not submitting enough qualified candidates quickly enough, recruiters similarly feel that they’re being set up for failure by hiring managers to whom they ascribe the exact same shortcomings as their counterparts across the aisle. Funny thing is, when we spoke with applicants, that lack of understanding a role or providing timely feedback was blamed squarely on recruiters, instead, so there seems to be universal agreement about what’s wrong with talent acquisition today, but very little consensus on who’s ultimately responsible for fixing it. The answer is relatively simple: recruiting is everyone’s responsibility. But from a recruiter’s point of view, there are three basic steps every talent practitioner can take to better manage hiring managers and oversee optimal outcomes for recruiting and hiring: 1) Treat every job like a new assignment. Even if you’ve filled the role before, don’t use the same old job description – work with the hiring manager to create a new one, and before even posting it externally, make sure you’ve got a new sourcing strategy built around this new JD.
 Remember: while the duties may sound similar, every job is unique.
 Never, ever start a search without first having a meeting between the recruiter responsible for the requisition and the hiring manager to kick off the search, formulate a strategy and sourcing plan. 2) Before beginning a search, formalize a statement of work between hiring manager and recruiter clearly outlining the accountabilities and responsibilities expected during the course of the search – and a plan of action for what happens if those expectations aren’t met.
 The Hiring Manager Conundrum 2015 © Take the Interview 11 take the interviewThe Hiring Manager Conundrum
  12. 12. Generally, recruiters take responsibility for sourcing, screening and submitting candidates who meet a preapproved standard, and must do so within a preapproved timeframe. Hiring managers, conversely, generally assume responsibility for providing timely feedback, completing each step of the hiring process within a predetermined time frame, and being accountable for driving the selection, offer and onboarding process once a successful candidate is identified. 3) The hiring manager should make a commitment prior to the search – and set aside specific time on their schedules – to provide meaningful feedback on all submissions, and ultimately own passing that feedback directly to recruiters and/or applicants.
 The way feedback is captured and communicated should be fully transparent, tracked throughout the process and be fully visible to all stakeholders to ensure ongoing compliance while providing a way to capture and share this feedback with the hiring and recruiting team. Implementing these small steps at the front of the process can preempt many big issues from arising as the search progresses, eliminating many of the most common sources of friction between hiring managers and talent acquisition organizations while building and strengthening relationships (and trust) between these two functions – which is the long term key to realizing recruiting ROI and ensuring your recruiting strategies are scalable, sustainable and successful. This is an outcome, of course, that both recruiters and hiring managers can agree on. Turns out, no matter how big the divide between these two sides might seem, we’re all on the same team – and are working towards the same goal. See, we’re not so different, after all. The Hiring Manager Conundrum 2015 © Take the Interview 12 take the interviewThe Hiring Manager Conundrum
  13. 13. What Hiring Managers Think About Recruiters While our conversations revealed that recruiters and hiring managers rarely see eye to eye, you wouldn’t know it from the perceptions hiring managers had about working with recruiters, which seemed more or less to mirror the recruiters’ comments. These six hiring manager quotes about what they expect from recruiters – and whether or not those expectations are being met - provide a clear view into just how pervasive and deeply entrenched this problematic disconnect between the two sides has really become within the bigger picture of recruiting and hiring: “We depend on the TA team to save us time. I only want to see suitable people and I want to see no more than three. TA sources and qualifies- they are usually good at that. I have no idea how they do it.” “The problem is that we don't really know what we want until we see it. We have an idea on the skills, but jobs are very much built around people. This means our recruiters have to fix plenty of interviews to get the right one.” “For the past twelve months, hiring has been included in my objectives, including things like time and cost per hire. Whilst I will go to the recruiters for help, mostly we deal with our own recruiting.” “I rely on the recruiters to do all the first round interviews. I have never been trained in interviewing. I wouldn't expect a recruiter to be able to code- hiring is the same for me. They choose who fits, and I choose who I like.” “The recruiters are fine for anything not technical, but once we need someone with tech skills, it’s easier to do it ourselves, which means doing our own marketing and sourcing. We also do a lot of referrals.” “I always want to see six candidates per job because I like to have choices. It’s also our company policy. This sometimes means hiring takes longer than we would like. I know that this is not always easy for our recruiters and they can get The Hiring Manager Conundrum 2015 © Take the Interview 13 take the interviewThe Hiring Manager Conundrum
  14. 14. frustrated with us. I don’t feel our relationship is good, particularly when we decide not to hire.” These types of comments are variations on the same theme that repeatedly arises when discussing recruiting with hiring managers, that when they’re tasked with increased responsibilities and accountabilities related to hiring, they feel overwhelmed and underprepared. Rarely are they equipped with the ability to successfully translate the highly technical, highly nuanced requirements they need in a highly specialized role into the language recruiters really need to proactively discover and engage potential candidates. Similarly, recruiters rarely work to equip hiring managers with the tips and tricks of the talent trade, and both sides tend to silo their expertise instead of share it. The benefits of hiring managers educating recruiters on their business, and recruiters helping educate their managers on talent acquisition best practices are obvious, but are too often overlooked. Sharing this professional expertise is an essential first step in bridging the divide and creating the kind of communication and collaboration critical for landing top talent in today’s increasingly competitive candidate marketplace. Hiring managers need to invest more time in briefing recruiters and giving them the kind of feedback that they can learn from – and improve their efficacy and understanding of their business so that the recruiter can better represent that business to potential candidates while more effectively screening them for highly technical requirements and specialized skills. Recruiters, similarly, must brief their hiring managers on the importance of candidate experience, set realistic expectations and help train their hiring managers on the basics. Many hiring managers we spoke to reported that they felt frustrated by the lack of training or tools they receive for improving their recruiting efficacy, even at organizations where their hiring performance is formally monitored and measured. While hiring manager training seemed widely lacking for many of those we spoke with, the few who did receive the training reported improved outcomes and positive impacts on their hiring skills, with improved metrics and associated analytics at those companies that have made this a core management competency. They also supported receiving informal support and hands-on training from their talent acquisition team, which many ascribed to successfully building a collaborative partnership with the recruiters they work with. The Hiring Manager Conundrum 2015 © Take the Interview 14 take the interviewThe Hiring Manager Conundrum
  15. 15. Even if your organization doesn’t have a formal program, remember that while you might not be an expert on every position you open, you are an expert in sourcing, screening and selection, and you and your hiring manager have a lot to teach other. Here are three top takeaways for hiring managers looking to step up their recruiting game: 1) Hiring is a core management competency, and should be linked directly to key performance indicators (KPIs) and rewards for exceeding these benchmarks. This requires standardizing and formalizing your measurement and feedback processes.
 The easiest way to do this is by linking these optimal outcomes to a service level agreement (SLA) with quantifiable outcomes and measurable metrics that are established between talent acquisition and the hiring manager before starting any search. 2) Recruiters need to be responsible for understanding and agreeing to the criteria defined during an intake meeting, and sourcing, qualifying and assessing candidates against this criteria.
 It’s the hiring manager’s responsibility to make sure that they’re able to provide ongoing feedback and direction to the recruiter to refine and optimize their processes, to schedule interviews in a timely manner, and give both the candidate and recruiter timely, consistent feedback and clear next steps at each stage of the hiring process. 3) Hiring managers need to approach recruiting for an open role as an integral part of their job, and must commit to allocating time to brief recruiters, provide feedback, meet with potential candidates and manage the offer process, understanding that recruiting must take a top priority and be treated with the same strategic approach and dedication as any other business project. The Hiring Manager Conundrum 2015 © Take the Interview 15 take the interviewThe Hiring Manager Conundrum
  16. 16. Collaboration between hiring managers and recruiters is one of the most critical components of hiring success. This working relationship and professional partnership is best established by defining roles and responsibilities at the front of the process, and reinforcing, measuring and monitoring these accountabilities throughout each stage of the hiring process. It’s important for hiring managers and recruiters alike to recognize how the job market, and applicant expectations, are changing, and how important it is for the way you communicate with candidates to follow suit. Job roles are becoming increasingly ambiguous and amorphous, which is why it’s essential to invest more time at the front end of the process for establishing a short list of basic and preferred criteria that’s clear to both sides and comprehensive enough to create a sourcing strategy around. While recruiters are often the ones who get the bad rap for bad candidate experience, particularly the feedback “black hole” where no news is old news, but the fact of the matter is the hiring manager often doesn’t provide any feedback for them to provide applicants in the first place. This communications breakdown can be easily solved – and the candidate experience easily improved – by formally agreeing to an established process and timetable for which the entire hiring team must adhere when it comes to providing timely feedback and hiring decisions. What Applicants Think of Hiring You’ve probably noticed by now that there seem to be certain themes that continually recur between every key stakeholder in the hiring process – there’s not a tremendous amount of difference between what hiring managers and recruiters think, even if they arrive at those same ends through drastically different means. Of course, when it comes down to actually making a hire, the opinion that matters the most – and the voice that’s the most essential for recruiters and hiring managers alike to listen to and take into account, is that of the applicant. Because without them, there wouldn’t be hiring managers or recruiters, anyway – and filling a req without applicants or candidates would prove to be a daunting challenge for any employer, no matter how strong their brand might be. Sure, it’s easy to pass the baton of blame internally, and the reasons hiring doesn’t work at an organizations are as varied as the hiring stakeholders who can’t seem to come to any sort of The Hiring Manager Conundrum 2015 © Take the Interview 16 take the interviewThe Hiring Manager Conundrum
  17. 17. consensus other than a tacit acknowledgement that whatever they’re doing isn’t exactly working as expected. But from the outside looking in, none of that really matters to the applicants who continue to be frustrated by poor experiences with employers, and the bad blood that builds can be far more detrimental to a brand than the specious squabbles between the hiring managers and recruiters too busy blaming each other to focus on the most important stakeholder in the process. The importance of candidate experience has been well documented, a highly visible talent topic that’s been covered by every blogger and vendor in the recruiting industry, not least by the annual Candidate Experience Award report, which breaks down the impact of the relationships between recruiters, hiring managers and the candidates each encounters during the hiring process. As the report and the research in assembling this particular paper both suggest, in an age of recruitment automation, personalization is the key to improving candidate experience, with high touch beating high tech every day of the week. At least, that’s what the applicants we asked about the hiring process had to say: “I prefer to speak to the person I will be working for because the recruiters do not really know what the jobs are all about. This is often not possible.” “My big issue is feedback. You rarely hear anything unless they want you to come back. When I put time in to applying or coming for interview then I should hear back.” “The last couple of interviews I had were very different at interview to how the recruiter explained the job to me. This wastes a lot of time.” “Recruiters are all over you when they are trying to get you to send you a resume or apply, then it’s complete radio silence. I always try to get around this by applying directly to the head of department or talking to someone in the team.” “I’m not really looking for a job so I need plenty of information before I’m willing to consider something. Recruiters can rarely give me the information I need.” The Hiring Manager Conundrum 2015 © Take the Interview 17 take the interviewThe Hiring Manager Conundrum
  18. 18. “My experience is that managers rarely know how to interview, and often seem rushed or not interested after I have made the effort. I feel like the recruiters are on my side, but the managers see things as a bit of an inconvenience.” Listening to the applicants themselves, it’s readily apparent that much of their frustration comes from investing a significant amount of time into researching, applying and even interviewing for jobs, only to hear minimal feedback, although in most cases, candidates likely hear nothing at all save perhaps some form letter or automated e-mail. This obvious inequality is only exacerbated by the fact that recruiters rarely set expectations or clearly communicate timelines, leaving candidates mostly at the mercy of a mostly broken hiring process. But the more we look at what everyone wants and needs out of that hiring process, it becomes clear that these are largely universal and consistent drivers for candidates, hiring managers and recruiters alike. Everyone wants a realistic overview of the job, a clear understanding of the role and responsibilities, consistent communication, meaningful feedback and as quick and painless a process as possible. Period. It became quite clear from the conversations we had with applicants that they want more than just a template job description or some corporate copy on a careers site before deciding to actually apply for a role; instead, they wanted insight and access into the people responsible for overseeing the hiring process, but reported that they had no desire to communicate or engage with recruiters over anything unrelated to the process of becoming an employee or receiving feedback or status on an outstanding application. More than being able to connect with hiring stakeholders, the applicants we spoke to reported that they’d rather connect and engage with their potential colleagues and coworkers, particularly possible teammates or hiring managers, not to get some sort of inside track but instead figure out whether or not a position was worth even applying to or not, often using these conversations to voluntarily opt out of the process. These informal inquiries are becoming more common, and add a new layer of responsibility on the hiring manager and his team when it comes to recruiting. This is something that every talent acquisition department should coordinate, support and manage, turning these cold inquiries into warm candidates by taking the lead in anticipating to and responding to these self-screens. The Hiring Manager Conundrum 2015 © Take the Interview 18 take the interviewThe Hiring Manager Conundrum
  19. 19. Many organizations do a great job with this by utilizing features like live chat, video content, blogging and social media marketing to show the real people and tell the real stories behind careers at that company. Job descriptions have evolved from static, one dimensional documents into dynamic, socially integrated and search optimized integrated marketing campaigns which attract and engage applicants across the multitude of career and content related channels out there. No matter what platform your talent team is targeting, make sure these job descriptions and associated employer brand collateral provide passive candidates and active applicants alike enough insight and information into your organization to determine whether or not they should bother applying or trying to connect with a recruiter. Having the wrong candidates self-select out is just as important as reeling the right ones in. With the applicant’s point of view in mind, here are three ways candidates think that hiring managers and recruiters alike could improve the hiring process and make recruiting a little less painful: 1) Establishing clearly defined expectations and providing every applicant with a service level agreement so that they know what process to expect, and when to expect it, for every position posted. 2) Establishing hiring and selection processes with fair, clear criteria that’s consistently applied while also providing candidates with value added resources, like interviewing tips or insights about company culture, and help empower them to become stronger candidates. 3) Ditching the boilerplates and bullet points and turning job descriptions into compelling content. Place an emphasis on communicating with candidates, and step up content creation from the hiring team as well as increasing opportunities for potential applicants to engage with the hiring stakeholders and potential future coworkers and colleagues. The Hiring Manager Conundrum 2015 © Take the Interview 19 take the interviewThe Hiring Manager Conundrum
  20. 20. The Hiring Process: Who Owns What? Who has ultimate ownership for the hiring process within an organization is pretty much the million dollar question of talent acquisition. After speaking with dozens of recruiters and hundreds of job seekers and hiring manager, we’ve come to the conclusion that the recruiting process is owned by talent acquisition team members acting as project managers, with responsibility for: 1) Creating a service level agreement and coordinating a hiring plan and strategy with the hiring manager at the start of the recruiting process. Make sure to include the people, tasks, resources and timeline required for a successful search, and be as explicit as possible when including these variables in any SLA. 2) Creating a custom job description, having the hiring manager approve and review this description prior to posting; create a list of minimum requirements, identify potential sources of hire or sourcing strategies and create the content necessary to support these campaigns. 3) Sourcing applicants, prequalifying all candidates and submitting write ups and recommendations of those screens prior to a hiring manager interview; oversee technology and tools like video recruiting and ensure these are being appropriately leveraged by candidates and the hiring team. 4) Support hiring managers as needed; if you identify an area of potential improvement, be proactive in providing training. Remember: they might be responsible for the outcome of the process, but their success is incumbent on your support. 5) Measuring, reporting and monitoring hiring manager performance against the mutually agreed KPIs defined in the SLA and against associated business benchmarks. The Hiring Manager Conundrum 2015 © Take the Interview 20 take the interviewThe Hiring Manager Conundrum
  21. 21. 6) Manage the disposition process, and only submit viable candidates who you’ve talked to and can justify why they’re a good fit for the job prior to submitting them to a hiring manager for consideration. 7) Debriefing with the hiring manager and new hire after onboarding and a successful conclusion to a search. The hiring manager, as mentioned, ultimately owns the outcome of the hiring process. This means that they’re also ultimately responsible for: 1) Reviewing, agreeing to and committing to delivering on the terms outlined in the initial SLA. 2) Providing timely and meaningful feedback to both the talent acquisition team and all candidates presented, whether or not they’re the candidate who’s ultimately selected. They’ve put in time to interview for your role, and deserve a little bit of yours in return. The hiring manager owns the outcome and takes responsibility for: 1) Agreeing and committing to work to the SLA. 2) Providing timely and meaningful feedback to the talent acquisition team and applicants in the process beyond presentation. 3) The hiring manager is responsible for interviewing, selecting and presenting an offer to a candidate – the recruiter more or less hands off hiring responsibility when the manager agrees to see a slate of candidates a recruiter has submitted, turning to talent acquisition for support as needed
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  22. 22. Our Conclusion Collaboration and communication between hiring managers and the talent acquisition team are critical to hiring success. These outcomes are only achieved when accountability and responsibility is shared between recruiters and hiring managers, and work is distributed so that talent acquisition owns and manages the process, provides training and support for hiring managers and effectively establish the parameters and KPIs associated with a search through the implementation of an SLA at the beginning of the process. Talent acquisition today requires recruiters take a project management approach to hiring, providing support, organization, infrastructure and backend operations to the stakeholders ultimately responsible for driving the hiring process. Organizations who have adopted this approach, such as the employers already outlined in this paper, have seen significant success, with improvements in both hiring performance and stakeholder satisfaction. Every stakeholder has very similar needs, and while it’s easy to concentrate on technology and tools as the silver bullet for hiring success, but the truth is that even incremental improvements require a much more human touch. This is good news for any organization, because this means that you don’t have to be Google or Facebook to adopt a cutting edge, inclusive and effective hiring process that attracts the best talent to your organization. We’ve talked to a lot of these stakeholders, and they agree: in the business of recruiting, it really all comes down to people – no matter what process or product your organization happens to be using. - Bill
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  23. 23. About the Author Bill Boorman is a lead advisor to Take the Interview and other innovative technology companies. He has been based in and around recruiting for the past 35 years. He currently divides his time between advising tech startups, hosting #Tru (the recruiting unconference) events across the globe and implementing hiring strategy at global organizations such as Oracle, Hard Rock Cafe, Naspers, KPMG and the BBC. Known as “the one in the hat”, he is a regular speaker at conferences around the world. The Hiring Manager Conundrum 2015 © Take the Interview 23 take the interviewThe Hiring Manager Conundrum