How to Better Engage Hiring Managers in your Recruiting Process

One of the most common challenges I hear from the HR professionals I talk with is how to better engage their hiring managers in the recruiting process. The hiring manager is one of the most important stakeholders in the recruiting process, but they are often the hardest to effectively engage in the process. It really isn’t that surprising, since most hiring managers are primarily focused on the operations of their unit and often don’t have a great deal of time to devote to recruiting.

Here are some tips on how to better engage your hiring managers in the recruiting process.

Collaborate with Managers up-front to determine good initial screening questions and criteria

Especially in today’s economy the chances are good that you will receive a flood of applicants to any job you post online. In many processes the recruiter screens the initial applicants and only passes the top candidates on to the manager for feedback. In order to find the best candidates and make sure top candidates don’t slip through the cracks, you should set up some good screening questions and criteria for the recruiter to use.

Some questions can be pulled directly from the job posting you created, which you carefully composed such that it attracted the right type of candidate. For example:

  • Do you have a Bachelors degree?
  • How many years experience do you have in direct sales?
  • Are you willing to travel up to 50%?

Other questions may require deeper analysis and a discussion with the manager about what makes an ideal candidate or who has succeeded in this role in the past. For example:

  • What do you like most about being a salesperson?
  • Please describe your home office equipment and environment (i.e. for a telecommute position)
  • Describe a recent time when you had to respond to a customer issue and what steps you took to solve the problem.

These questions can be asked during an initial phone screen or interview. But many Applicant Tracking Systems are able to streamline the process by asking applicants to answer these questions during their online application. For example, with our ApplicantStack system the recruiter is able to create any number of screening questions to pre-screen job applicants, and even score the responses automatically and “knock-out” applicants who are unqualified.

Make it easy for Managers to review candidates

A few years ago I was the manager at a company that used an Applicant Tracking System to streamline their recruiting process. Everything worked great – recruiters posted jobs online, applicants applied and were pre-screened and scored, and everything was stored in a central database which both the recruiter and manager could access.

The problem was when it came time for me to go in and review applicants to my job, it was so cumbersome that the process would grind to a halt. Each person I had to review took 5-10 clicks to get to their information, the system was sluggish and unresponsive, and it was difficult to submit and view feedback on the candidate. I remember wishing for the “good old days” when I would just get a paper resume on my desk!

Managers are busy just like the rest of us and if you don’t make the review process simple and quick they won’t use it, or it will delay your time to hire.

Here are some questions to ask to make sure your review process is easy for managers to use:

  • How many people will the manager need to review? Will they be receiving every single applicant to your job or only the top candidates that the recruiter sends them?
  • If managers will only be reviewing top candidates, how easy is it for the manager to find and view their information? How many clicks does it take before they are viewing the candidate’s resume. How many clicks to move to the next resume to review?
  • How easy is it for the candidate to submit feedback on a candidate, and view the feedback of others?
  • Does the process require the manager to login to your recruiting system to view candidates, or are you able to send them resumes through email to collect reviews? Many managers don’t want to memorize another login to another system and would greatly prefer to receive candidates via email.

Collect better feedback through forms and questionnaires

Many applicant review processes consist of the recruiter emailing a resume to a manager with the single question “What do you think?” While there’s nothing wrong with this simple approach, there are advantages to collecting more structured feedback from managers through a questionnaire or form.

When you ask somebody what they think of a particular movie, you’ll likely get back a black-or-white answer like “it was great!” or “it was awful”. But if you ask them to rate a movie on a scale of 1-5 on some key criteria (story, acting, music, costumes, etc) you’ll get a much richer review and separation between other movies they may have reviewed.

The same applies to reviewing candidates. When you ask a manager to answer structured questions and provide numeric rating on a candidate, you’ll force them to think broadly about the candidate and not just provide their first-impression.

Ideally if you are going to use manager review forms and questionnaires in your process, you will want to streamline the collection of the data with online questionnaires, ideally in an Applicant Tracking System. And once again, it needs to be easy for the manager to complete the questionnaire or they won’t use it.

In our ApplicantStack system, you can create Manager Feedback Questionnaires and have them asked directly on the page where the manager views the candidate’s resume and other information. For a more information and examples see Faith Bliga’s previous post on Manager Feedback and Interview Evaluations.

Support different levels of involvement from your managers

Finally, every manager will have his or her own style and will likely want a different level of involvement in the recruiting process. Some managers are very “hands-off” and just want the recruiter to find a good candidate for their department with the least amount of work on their part. Others are very “hands-on” and want to see every single candidate that comes in and decide themselves which ones meet the initial qualifications.

As such, you should keep in mind that whatever process you put in place should be flexible enough to accommodate the requests of different hiring managers. For a manager who wants to delegate to the recruiting group, you should be able to send them only top-candidates, already pre-screened, for them to interview. For a manager who wants to be more involved, you should be able to set it up so that person can see all applicants and see everything that’s happening in the system.

If you are implementing an Applicant Tracking System, make sure it has flexible workflow support to allow you to implement these types of different processes efficiently.