Working With Difficult Hiring Managers: Key Strategies For Today’s Recruiter Part 2

In Part I of Working With Difficult Hiring Managers, Key Strategies for Today’s Recruiter,” I outlined the challenges recruiters face in supporting challenging and/or abrasive hiring authorities. I also highlighted the importance of regularly and proactively communicating with these individuals as a means of managing expectations and creating an overall communications framework. In Part II of “Working With Difficult Hiring Managers, Key Strategies for Today’s Recruiter,” I’m want to share 3 additional ideas that can really allow any recruiter to more meaningfully engage and work with a difficult hiring authority.

Previously, I shared that Strategy #1 was to Proactively Communicate, and to increase communication quantity and quality. Strategy # 2 is to Leverage Recruiting Data & Metrics:  Numbers don’t lie. If you are working with a really difficult hiring authority (the kind where no candidate is ever the right candidate, even if they meet the criteria inherent to a particular position description), and as the carnage of rejected candidates piles up on your desk, be sure to show the manager how he or she stacks up versus their peers when it comes to recruiting efficiency. You may just find that this yields a productive conversation about steps that you jointly can take to optimize the ratios between candidates identified and interviewed, and offers extended (and there are many aspects of efficiency ratios that can be addressed or highlighted). Your intent is not to put the manager on the defensive, but merely to identify that a very real disparity exists in their hiring process versus that of other managers, as well as to formulate approaches that might help you both yield better results.

Strategy #3 is to Help Them Sell Themselves: I’m always surprised by the number of recruiters who DON’T pointedly ask a hiring manager why someone would want to work for them, or who don’t inquire as to how the hiring manager directly engages or “sells” their opportunity to candidates during interviews. As much as a candidate should be equipped to explain why he or she is right for a given job, it’s always struck me as being incumbent on a hiring manager (and a recruiter) to be able to explain why the candidate should want the job and should want to work for that particular hiring manager. What’s not to love about a hiring manager who can promote the benefits of affiliating with his or her team?

Furthermore, getting a hiring manager to map out selling messages is a great way to promote selling continuity (As Recruiter’s we need to be able to tell a Hiring Manager: When candidates come in to interview, I really hope/need/would appreciate it if you could spend a few minutes describing what great work/awesome people/terrific tools are resident within your organization). The bottom line: We need to be able to teach them to sell. If they seem reluctant, or feel that “selling” the opportunity to a candidate feels unsavory, be sure to let them know that the reason they are losing good candidates is because the smart hiring managers at ABC Competitor are doing a better job of making candidates feel more welcome, desired, appreciated, challenged, set-up for success, etc., etc., etc.).

Strategy #4 is to Give Them An Interview Prep: If you find a highly capable candidate that you believe is a particularly good fit for a position within an area that belongs to a difficult or demanding hiring authority, be sure to prep that manager on why said candidate is special/unique/worth the manager’s time. There have been many occasions where I’ve asked hiring managers to key in on specific discussion topics or skill areas that I know will allow them to get the best insight on a candidate’s background, experience, or potential. And, I don’t hesitate to remind hiring managers that a huge part of my job is to help make “meaningful introductions” between them and really talented people in the marketplace – I’m here to be an advocate – for both parties (and in my estimation this is true regardless of whether you are an in-house recruiter or a 3rd party recruiter).

Likewise, if I feel that a certain line of conversation or discussion might help a candidate to more meaningfully engage or connect with a hiring manager, you better believe that I’m going to take the time to brief the candidate. “But, Paul,” you ask, “Isn’t that leading the witness? Isn’t that giving someone a decided advantage in the interview process?” I don’t think that helping two people have a better dialogue is an affront to the interview process at all. Am I going to tell a candidate EXACTLY what to say? No. Am I going to share insights regarding likely discussion areas?  Absolutely. Again, I’m trying to create meaningful introductions that allow for the best possible dialogue. As I recruiter, I’ve always felt that this was part and parcel of what I’m charged to accomplish.

I will also acknowledge that the suggestions I’ve highlighted in this presentation can be effectively utilized with all hiring managers, not just those who are a bit more challenging to support. And, there’s little doubt that some of my suggestions are more readily deployed by in-house recruiters, while others may be more effectively utilized by 3rd party recruiters. But, regardless of your particular orientation to recruiting, if you are presently dealing with a demanding hiring manager, or if you encounter a difficult hiring authority at some point down the road, it’s worth your time, energy, and effort to formulate approaches that might help you to yield a productive and effective working relationship.

As I always say, there’s nothing better than getting to “Trusted Advisor” status, where you are regarded as being an essential contributor to a hiring manager’s talent acquisition strategy, and believe me, this is far better than the alternative. It takes time and effort to create effective working relationships with challenging hiring authorities, but the long-term payoff (greater recruiting efficiency, happier candidates and hiring authorities, more hires, etc.) is well worth the time invested.

Thanks for taking the time to check out this blog. This is Paul Siker, wishing you ongoing success.

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