Written by Agnieszka Szczerba Recruiting

How to talk to a hiring manager?

Whether you work as an agency recruiter or as an internal recruiter, the most important success factor in filling the vacancy you have been assigned is the ability to have a factual, in-depth and open conversation with the manager directly hiring the candidate („the hiring manager” or „HM”).

This will usually be the direct supervisor of the person you are looking for.

Many recruiters and HR professionals dislike interviewing HMs. For several reasons.

Firstly - HMs, especially in industries such as IT, healthcare or engineering tend to view the recruitment process in a zero-one manner. Either the candidate meets the "technical" criteria (knowledge and competencies in the domain area), or he doesn't meet them and is then rejected. Even if he/she is a great personality fit, he/she could "improve" in technical competencies in a short time etc. There has to be a "perfect candidate", or we keep looking. We don't look at the fact that due to a constantly unfilled vacancy the team stays after hours, business goals are not met, etc.

Secondly - HM is not a recruiter and does not follow the job market as intensively as you, the recruiter. He does not know as much as you about the current rates of candidates or the availability of particular competencies on the market. If 3 years ago, a JavaScript Angular programmer with 5 years of experience had expectations of EUR 3k and this was a competence that was quite widely available on the market, and today, as a result of the acceleration of digitization due to the pandemic, these are difficult to find specialists and they demand EUR 4 to 5 thousand. "Impossible, after all the market does not change so quickly". Unfortunately, it is changing. Especially in turbulent and uncertain times.

Thirdly - HM is busy. As long as it is not the typical corporate "playing busy” (in the IT industry it mostly isn't) it has a calendar spread out to the minute every day. Even if the recruitment is critical because... the team is sitting after hours, we are incurring costs from an external supplier due to the lack of a given competence "on board", they may move our project to the other side of the world, if we do not recruit a given person, then... "somehow we have managed so far, somehow we will manage".

What to do with all this?

Whether you are an external or internal recruiter, whether you are new to the industry or experienced, I will honestly tell you:

  • HM is not a god. He is a perfectly normal human being. Sometimes distracted, sometimes overtired, but he has similar problems, expectations and work habits as you and me. Don't be afraid of him. Be assertive, factual and talk to HM openly.

  • The HM, whatever the size of the company, actually wants you to help him as much as possible with recruitment. Do as much as possible for him, so that it is left to the HM to make the final decision: to make the candidate an offer or not to make an offer.

  • I've mentioned it before, but I'll say it again: many rejections of candidates on the grounds of "too weak technically" are really a personality mismatch between the two parties.

What actions to take:

  • Whether you are acting as an external or internal recruiter: you must always talk to the HM before you start your search. Otherwise, your actions are a lottery.

  • Ask HM any questions you think candidates will ask you. In a future post, I will publish a list of questions you should ask HMs. On the other hand, don't limit yourself in your questions.

  • If you are an agency recruiter- don't bypass HR and don't look to contact HM outside of HR's knowledge. This can end badly - losing a client. HR doesn't want to be "circumvented". If you were HR, wouldn't you want to either?

  • Always be polite but as assertive as possible. Honest, assertive information about the market will help you become an expert in the eyes of the HM.

Last but not least - talk to the HM not only about recruitment. There are several other topics - the industry you are recruiting for and the market, football (or depending on the geographical area: rugby, basketball, cricket), medicine, weather, and even in the worst-case politics.... :)

Good luck!

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