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Does Your Manager Have a License to Hire?

Posted by Megan Stollery

02-Jul-2014 15:12:00













There's been a theme running through a number of recruitment presentations at recent conferences, namely that we focus a lot on the in-house recruiters but very little on the hiring managers.

At RecFest Grant Weinberg of Gilead Services showed a list of many of the elements that recruiters are responsible for - process, tools, technology, best practice, metrics - with the hiring manager seldom attracting similar scrutiny. Arguably 'Quality of Hire' is the most important metric of all and is firmly down to the person who makes the final decision, quite often the person who will manage the new recruit too, and that's the hiring manager. Yet it is usually the recruiter and not the manager who is assessed by it.

During the session he asked if you would let an employee drive a company car without first checking that they have a valid licence, a reference to the fact that we recruit to briefs that we haven't properly qualified, and let managers hire without necessarily assessing how well equipped they are for interviewing, selection, articulating and embodying the EVP, and decision making. The hiring managers are the brand ambassadors and champions for attracting top talent - they are the reason people join, and often the reason they leave.

During the RECs Talent Conference Kean August from SAP talked about hiring managers damaging the process if they don't act appropriately "How many times have you seen a manager turn up late to an interview or go ahead not having read the brief or CV properly. No-one want to work for a company where the manager is an idiot"

I think that many in-house recruiters see the manager as a client and hence their own role as that of supplier, whereas the relationship really should be one of partners. The skills and capabilities needed for attraction and hiring are different, and whilst the recruiter may feel adept at both the chances are that the hiring manager may well need help with both.

The ultimate factor in deciding whether or not to accept an offer will be the candidate's perception of the hiring manager, how they came across, how well prepared they were, whether they sold the opportunity and were able to communicate the vision and purpose of both the business and the role. When the recruitment process breaks down it will usually be through a poorly specced brief, inadequate time and effort invested, or a rushed, muddled interview process. Vacancies that remain open too long, and new recruits who don't stay, are two massive pain points for internal recruiters.

But how many recruiters properly assess their managers' capabilities? Pass them fit with a Licence to Hire?

If you don't already then here five things that should be on the checklist...

How far away are they from the process?

Research on the candidate experience indicates that the further the hiring manager is away from the process, the weaker the experience and the greater the opportunity for candidates to gain a negative impression. Get them involved from the very start - a hiring manager who doesn't want to be fully involved may not be best placed to win the candidate over further along the process. To get the best results will require an investment of time and energy, not short cuts and a lack of preparation, so a manger that's time poor will be far less likely to hire successfully. Make sure they have planned ahead, and have scheduled sufficient time to devote to understanding CVs, interviewing thoroughly, and giving feedback.

Do they know what they are looking for?

If you're going to recruit to a brief then it needs to be clear, concise and qualified. The hiring manager needs to have defined not just the skills and capabilities that they think they want but also the purpose and scope of the role, the expectations for a new hire and the potential for advancement and future development that comes with the role. Get them to tell you everything about the role and be prepared to challenge them. Make sure the rationale for creating the new position is robust. If the brief is weak, the position will remain open a lot longer, which in turn will reflect poorly on the recruiter not the manager.

Have they looked at other options?

Some hiring managers need to interview a few people before they can truly get an idea of the type of person they are looking for, and invariably can end up deciding that they have the people they need internally. Make sure they don't! Before looking externally ensure that every internal option has been considered. It could be that someone else in the team is looking for an opportunity to try something different, or to step up and take on a new challenge, and there may be people in other parts of the business with transferable skills. Also consider alumni who may have gained relevant skills and experience since leaving, and get managers to leverage their own networks too Nothing contributes more to a poor experience and negative impression of a business than a manager who halts the process to offer the role to someone they already know.

Get them to sell you the opportunity

Do you know how your hiring manager will come across to interviewees? How they will sell the company, the opportunity or the scope for development? Can they articulate the vision and values, and describe the culture? Are they brand champions and ambassadors? To get the talent you need in a competitive market, and make the business an aspirational employer, you need managers who can do all of this. People who can bring the business story to life and inspire potential recruits. The easiest way to assess suitability is to get your mangers to sell to you! Encourage them to show how they will tell interviewees about the business and role, and sell the company. It will also give you the chance to experience it from the candidates perspective. Also suggest that you sit in on interviews too - most managers will welcome the opportunity to get a second opinion on interviewees.

Set expectations

The hiring manager also needs to know what to expect from the recruiter, so make sure they understand the process from your side too. The technology and routes to market, the timescales and realistic expectation in terms of numbers and quality, are all things they need to be aware of from the outset. Scope out a weekly schedule of realistic targets of applications, shortlist, interview rounds, feedback loop and notice periods so that there are no surprises. If it's a competitive role, which could involve interviews at short notice, or even conducted over the phone or video initially, and feedback and offer decisions to be made quickly, then make sure the manager is aware. A transparent process, with no shocks or surprises, is most likely to get the required buy in and commitment.

How a company goes about recruiting new staff is crucial to it's success and position in the market. Make sure all your hiring operatives are passed fit to hire.