Are You Enabling Bad Behavior From Hiring Managers?

I have had a lot of success “training” hiring managers into using proper processes and procedures. That is what we have to do as recruiters…we need to train hiring managers to a certain degree.

I don’t mean giving them training sessions on the illegal questions to ask during interviews. I don’t mean giving them training sessions of any kind.

I mean getting hiring managers to give timely feedback on candidates submitted for their review.

I mean getting the hiring manager to ask contractors if they are interested in converting and roughly for what salary before wanting the job posted or immediately going to an offer (thereby not getting rejections because the contractor is not interested or we can not afford the demanded salary).

I mean getting the hiring manager to know and understand that they can not consider applicants who do not meet the minimum qualifications (if you are a highly audited company with government contractors and such)…and if someone does come to light that we have to change the requirements of the position (for all, not just that one applicant they want to consider).

How is this done? By sticking to the rules and not making exceptions because of one of the following typical reasons:

  • it is a high profile job
  • we need to move quickly
  • this is what the VP wants done

I see many recruiters making exceptions and bending the rules and just “getting things done” for the sake of time and urgency…but then those and other managers expect the same and more. If you are willing to allow a candidate through that does not meet the requirements once…why can’t you do it all of the time? I have seen managers do this again and again.

I even have managers telling me things like, “well this other recruiter let me do this,” when it was something against policy and potentially a major problem if audited by the EEOC or OFCCP. The manager pushed very hard for me to allow them to get away with it again.

That is why we all (as recruiters) must stick to our guns and not flex on processes, procedures, and rules to suit a situation or manager’s demands. I know it is hard to refuse and appear like you are slowing the process, but you need to explain the legal and compliance ramifications. That is why there are policies and procedures…and as recruiters we are held to keeping what we are doing compliant.

How else do we enable bad behavior from hiring managers?

By having service level agreements (SLAs) really only apply to what the recruiters deliver and little to nothing about what hiring managers have to do. I have seen SLAs go into detail how recruiters will review candidates in so many days and will do this, that, and the other thing in X number days. And then see little to nothing listed for what the hiring manager is expected to do. SLAs should be an agreement between both sides regarding what is expected and required of each.

Hiring managers should see in the SLA that they must get back to the recruiter with feedback in X number of days. Their performance reviews (tied to merit increases and bonuses) should have elements about how they are meeting the SLA as a hiring manager. If managers routinely don’t give the recruiters timely feedback, they should get a poor rating in this area and this should affect their pay increases and bonuses. I know my pay increases and bonuses are tied to metrics based on the SLA…but much of it is really under the control of the hiring managers (for example time to fill, when managers are slow to get back to you with feedback and next steps).

Another way we enable hiring managers is also not having a hard cut off date for when a requisition will close if not filled. I know SLAs that say recruiters will have a 60 days average time to fill and yet have requisitions open over a year (my longest was 423 days). I have had managers tell me during discovery calls, “I know this is hard to fill and it may take the whole year to fill it (from February).”

The question becomes, who is doing the work for the year when it is not filled? Is this hiring manager really serious about filling the position (is it a real need) if it can remain open a year?

I think the SLA should include an item that says any requisition that has been open for 6 months and is not in offer status (offer imminent)…will be immediately cancelled as not a real need or due to inactivity (or however you want to phrase it).

Our plates are very full as recruiters and we should be spending our time on jobs that can be filled and not have a desktop of jobs that will be open for a year or more.

Also, if there is a hard stop and the hiring manager will have to get a new requisition approved every six months if it is not filled, then the hiring managers will take filling the job in a timely fashion more seriously. They may even flex on those requirements of the position and move more to preferences. Keeping the process moving with timely feedback will become more critical.

Many hiring managers feel no sense of urgency to fill a job or change the requirements to make them more reasonable, if they are allowed to keep the jobs open a year or more. Things may change if their management, finance, and other approvers see the same managers bringing in the same requisitions every six months because the job is not filled yet. I might even say the limit should be four months, so it has to be done 3 times a year. Four months maximum is reasonable if the expected and average time to fill is 60 days. Four months is twice the 60 day average.

Basically, the point of this article is that we need to start being self aware of what we are doing that is enabling hiring managers to behave badly.


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Eric Putkonen is a public speaker / presenter and he is passionate about recruiting / talent acquisition & retention, culture & employment brand, engagement, and leadership (which affects all of the prior).

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