Dear Claudia,

Recently I made a placement for a company I’d never worked with before. The hiring manager interviewed close to 20 candidates before being ‘wowed’ by the finalist, and everything went smoothly from there to get him on board. Another recruiting slam-dunk, right? A month later, I’m not so sure. I spoke with the manager this week and it seems that the new guy isn’t ramping up as fast as he’d like; I check in with the new guy who says he was sold a great opportunity and got a boss who wants to micromanage every detail. After so many interviews I know we aren’t going to find anyone better than the guy who was hired; how do I save this placement and help them both get on with the work at hand?

Negotiator


Dear Negotiator,

So I have a question for you, my friend: when exactly did this hire of yours start to fall apart? Was it at the end when everyone was racing to the altar? Or at the very start, when chemistry was mistaken for real interviewing? Or maybe somewhere in the middle, when assumptions took the place of due-diligence? So many possibilities, so little time. My point is that there’s a lesson in here somewhere, and as the person responsible for making the match it’s probably got your name on it.

It’s a rare and exceptional manager or candidate who enters the interview process with complete clarity, which is why they need recruiters to help them through the minefield of hopes and expectations. We are the advisors who help them explore and separate reality from fantasy; it’s why we debrief everyone after every meeting, and continue to poke and prod and test for the truth until the very last moment when the deal is done and the newbie is sitting in the seat.

It’s time for an in depth chat with your Hiring Manager and New Hire. Review with the manager his original list of Most Important Factors in the selection of a finalist, and identify where his expectations differ from what he thinks he got. In a separate conversation with the new hire, review his list of Most Important Factors for the “perfect” job; where do his expectations differ from reality?

Now compare notes; are the differences reconcilable? Is it a matter of miscommunication, or management style that can be adjusted through awareness? Both parties have made expensive decisions that led to this point; your job is to identify the gap between expectations and reality, and help them understand the pros and cons of other options. For the manager, this means addressing the business cost of re-opening a position; for the new hire, it means the probability that his old job isn’t an option any longer, and it may be a while again before he lands another new one.

I’m guessing that somewhere hidden in that list of expectations you’ll find discussion points that should have been addressed during the interviews; make a note so you can manage this better next time -- but barring any real deal-breakers, I think you stand a good chance of keeping the deal intact.


**

In my day job, I’m the Head of Products for Improved Experience, where we help employers use feedback to measure and manage quality in hiring and retention. Learn more about us here.

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Another great post Claudia! Negotiator, probably the best question to ask yourself is did I challenge the candidate and hiring manager on whether this was a good fit at each step of the hiring process? If you did, then you've done your job.

Also, considering the hiring manager interviewed 20 candidates it makes me wonder if the hiring manager had a clear vision as to what was needed for this role. My guess is that they didn't. It never ceases to amaze me how often hiring managers will initiate a search without having a clear goal in mind.

It sounds like a chemistry issue. And while the manager should adjust their management style to the new hire, that rarely happens. Either your candidate will have to make an adjustment or you will need to find a replacement.
Is there a magic list of discussion points? I ask cause there's a similar discussion regarding disappointment going on over at ERE.
Thanks, Scott - and you make an excellent point about chemistry. Could very well be right, although some of the problem (I'm guessing) lies in getting to a productive level of transparency with all involved. We've all had candidates who simply didn't want to show their cards, meaning discuss the real motivators for seeking a new job; it's the quiet ones you have to worry about in life, right? And I'm pretty sure we've also had our share of Hiring Managers on a management-skills learning curve: oh yes, they have the best of intentions in terms of management style, but when the rubber hits the road they only know how to do, and not how to manage others in the doing. Either one of these is a workable situation, but a more experienced recruiter will have a few more tricks up the sleeve to salvage the deal.

And Maureen - thanks for the direction to ERE, it was also a great (and applicable) discussion!
Hi Maureen!

I think that what Claudia said is the key to the magic list, except it should be done with both parties before, during and after the search process:

" Review with the manager his original list of Most Important Factors in the selection of a finalist, and identify where his expectations differ from what he thinks he got. In a separate conversation with the new hire, review his list of Most Important Factors for the “perfect” job; where do his expectations differ from reality?"

There is a magic list of discussion points, it's just that it's different for everybody.

Maureen Sharib said:
Is there a magic list of discussion points? I ask cause there's a similar discussion regarding disappointment going on over at ERE.
The fact that the hiring manager interviewed 20 candidates for the position speaks VOLUMES as to what might have gone wrong with the situation. That's insane. I can see the recruiter interviewing and screening 20 candidates, but not the hiring manager. Ever! And when I've had hiring managers request more, and more, and more, that's a sure sign to me that it's time to sit down and have the "talk" about resetting expectations. This hire probably didn't have a chance in hell of being successful because the manager might be the type that believes there's always something even bigger than the Hope diamond out there, so lets keep on looking.

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