Many say that recruiters are the key to bringing in talent into an organization. I would argue that hiring managers are the real heroes of the story. Recruiters facilitate recruiting, but the hiring managers make the final decision. Recruiters will bring forward a number of good prospects, but hiring managers have to acquire the skill to close the deal.
There are many aspects to becoming the hero of the talent acquisition story. In keeping with last week’s blog post on expediting the screening process with the 15-minute phone interview, today I’m going to focus on speed and efficiency on the hiring manager’s part. This blog post works for hiring managers with or without a recruitment team.
If you know us over at Caras, you know that we value efficiency but would never compromise quality for the sake of speed. So, no doubt, while I give tips and advice on how to make things quicker and faster, these tips also ensure you’re getting a better way of doing things. A way to get more done in less time – everybody’s dream!
The hiring manager has many jobs in the recruitment cycle, but there are certain things a hiring manager does that provide more value than others. This blog post will talk about the few things a hiring manager can do to fast-track the recruitment process and bring in quality people in the shortest possible time.
Define the selection criteria
Your candidates are only as good as your criteria. I’ve worked on hundreds of positions and the best candidates came in the door in the fastest possible time when my hiring managers knew without a doubt exactly what they wanted in their hire. Of course, part of the responsibility rests with the recruiter too, but hiring managers who consistently hire well ensure they specify, in detail, everything they need in a hire, as well as the things that would be nice-to-haves.
Putting that information into a job description is key. However, it’s equally important to keep that selection criteria front and centre during the interview stage because it’s too easy to rely on the first impression of candidates. Here’s how I’ve seen it play out: hiring manager and recruiter spend hours writing up the perfect job posting. They tee up interviews and the hiring manager starts to meet with people. Hiring manager and recruiter take a liking to someone they meet, and they hire based on how well the person presented in the interview, instead of matching their responses to the selection criteria.
Now, presenting well under stressful situations may well be required for some roles. It’s when presentation skills and a gregarious personality are not a requirement for the job that we get into sticky situations. There’s nothing wrong with extroverted people, but extroverted people need people around them to energize them. When you stick them in a remote working location with minimal interaction with their energizer, the hire, no matter how good, is bound to fail. They simply won’t stick around, or they’ll be disengaged.
Defining the selection criteria is crucial to making a good hiring decision. It’s equally important to remember that selection criteria when making your selection.
Set aside weekly time for activities
If you know me at all, you know that it couldn’t be too long before I started talking about time management. I’m a productivity fiend because of one simple fact that I realized about myself. I am a procrastinator. There’s a misconception that highly productive people don’t procrastinate. In fact, us procrastinators absolutely need to be highly productive in order to get anything done, because if we’re not constantly doing things, we fall into a state of inertia that’s too hard to break out of.
So, my fellow self-aware procrastinators, I can’t stress this point enough. You must schedule recruitment activities into your calendar. It’s the only way you’ll make progress. I know it sounds simple, but I can’t begin to tell you how many hiring managers have told me that getting a person in the door is critical to the success of their team, and then they sit on various recruitment activities for weeks at a time.
If you don’t schedule weekly time in your calendar, recruitment activities will fall to the bottom of your interminable list of to-dos. Block off 2-3 hours per week in your calendar for recruitment activities. And if you’re not hiring at the moment, use that time to build a pipeline of people.
Communicate with the team
Setting aside time in your calendar is a great start, but it’s just the start. You need to fill up that time with meaningful activities. This means you and your team need to be on the same page. By team, I mean the recruitment team. I assumed at the beginning of this post that you have a recruiter helping you. You and your recruiter would have established the interview format and process. Your recruitment team consists of you, your recruiter, anyone else you want the candidate to meet and other stakeholders such as your HR Business Partner (if that person is not the recruiter), your boss, your peers, and your clients.
Part of your weekly activities should include a standing meeting or call with your recruiter. At that meeting, you can both go over your progress from your weekly recruitment activities. I also suggest keeping everyone in the loop on your progress. Hint: that’s something you can ask your recruiter to do for you.
You’ve met a few candidates, you have your selection criteria nailed down, but you can’t decide. So, you schedule another interview, just to be sure. A couple of weeks pass and you finally decide, only to have the candidate pull out of the race. This is not a story; this really happens. The worst is when both your top candidates end up taking other offers because the process was taking too long.
I get it, hiring a person is a big decision. You want to make sure you get someone with the right skills and the right personality to fit perfectly with your existing team. And in fact, the smaller the team, the harder the decision because one bad apple can completely sour the field. Yet, the longer you wait to make a decision, the longer your team suffers and the more revenue you lose (or less time you save).
Your HR Business Partner or recruiter can also double as your accountability partner. When you find yourself struggling to make a decision, pull out your selection criteria and go through each of your top candidates against it. Take 20 minutes to do that and then make a decision. Once you put out an offer, there are still plenty of decision points that may discount the candidate, but at least you’d have taken steps in the right direction.
Trust your instincts
I’m a bit of a unique bird. I make decisions based on my intuition, not analysis. For a long time I thought there was something wrong with me because everything I read said I needed to make data-driven decisions. There was, it seemed, no place for my intuition at all.
Then I discovered that I made the best decisions when I trusted my instincts and followed through. And it was particularly obvious with recruitment decisions. I’ll never forget one time I was recruiting for a VP of Finance position. It had taken us months to find candidates that met our selection criteria and finally we found the perfect person. He went through the process and all the stakeholders liked him. There was only one piece of feedback that came back from everyone: he was a little on the arrogant side. No one said it was a deal-breaker. It was just a consistent piece of feedback that came back to me.
We were about to put an offer together when the hiring manager looked at me and said he was unsure about the candidate. The arrogance issue was noisy enough for the hiring manager to take notice. The only problem was that we had no number 2 candidate. Which meant that if we didn’t proceed with this person, we’d be back to the drawing board. His first inclination was to ignore this feeling he had. It would be easy to ignore because the need for a VP was immediate. I told him to trust his instinct and we went back to the drawing board.
Your instincts tell you something that cannot be defined in words and numbers. The skill you need to master is the one that allows you to quiet all other noise and really listen to what your instinct is trying to tell you. And recruitment is exactly one of those times when you can and should rely on your instincts.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. I’d love to hear your strategies for fast-tracking the recruitment process as a hiring manager. And if you’re a recruiter, how do you help your hiring managers make better and faster decisions. Comment below and let us know.
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