How to break the traditional hiring manager relationship

Last updated:
July 21, 2021
June 14, 2023
min read
Adrie Smith
hiring manager relationship
Table of contents

You find the perfect candidate, and they’re looking for new opportunities. They send over their CV, and it seems like a great match- the stars, the moon, the planets… they all seem to align to create the ideal recruitment scenario. That is until you try to schedule an interview with the hiring manager.

They’re busy. They’re hard to reach. Their schedule is packed with, well, “more important” things- but hold on a second, weren’t they the person that needed this new hire on their team? Why are you the only one that seems to care?

So what’s the problem?

If recruitment is your core function or part of your job, you’ll know how difficult it can be to get a hold of even the most willing managers. The extent of the difficulty varies from company to company and sometimes even between departments. However, the proverbial hiring manager problem lies within a traditional recruitment model.

In a traditional hiring process, recruiters or the recruitment lead (HR) tend to play the role of order takers. They consult the hiring manager in regards to the function of the role, skills required, and experience level required. Then the recruiter goes off to find a selection of people that fit that description.

In this more traditional model, the hiring manager needs only to consult on the job description and then sit back and wait for the final interview. The bulk of the recruitment responsibility rests on the shoulders of the recruiter. The manager may participate in earlier interviews, but rarely. Despite minimal involvement in the recruitment process, their decision will be the final one on the hire at hand.

The traditional hiring manager stereotype can be difficult to deal with from a recruiter’s perspective. And ultimately, it could be a factor making your business lose out on great talent. How?

  • Delays in scheduling interviews: When the hiring manager’s workflow is preferred, you may be losing precious time to secure a solid interview date with someone with an in-demand skill set. By the time you’re able to schedule an interview, you may be the last one to the post.
  • Lack of engagement: Lack of engagement in the hiring process can create a lot of pressure on the recruiter to find the right selection of candidates, which can feel a little like mind-reading with no manager feedback on the progress. The more pressure a recruiter feels, the less likely they are to be able to present quality talent.
  • Poor preparation: Managers who are disengaged from the process may also come poorly prepared to an interview. They may not be briefed on the candidate profile, be prepared for candidate objection handling, or know how to sell the position to this particular candidate. Any of these inadequacies can leave a candidate feeling that there may be better opportunities out there.

This traditional model doesn’t just impact the success of the actual recruitment process. Lack of engagement in the hiring process and minimal involvement in your talent acquisition strategy can have a negative impact on any recruitment team. In this traditional recruitment model, managers are unlikely to have a lot of knowledge of your recruitment process or access to your hiring tools, like an ATS. With little to no exposure to your process or strategies, expectations can be difficult to manage. And adapting to the workflow of each and every manager can leave your team feeling overwhelmed.

With the sole responsibility of finding the right talent resting with the recruiter, it’s easy to see why burnouts are so common among recruiters.

From traditional to collaborative hiring

Of course, no one wants themselves or their team to feel overwhelmed.

“Consider adding more voices to your hiring process. It’s made such a difference in my company that I’ll never go the Lone Ranger route again.”
William Vanderbloemen, Founder of Vanderbloemen Search Group

The alternative to the traditional model of recruitment is collaborative hiring. In this model, while the recruiter remains the leader in the hiring process- often taking charge of coordinating tasks- team members and hiring managers are substantially more involved and from earlier on. Team members and potential colleagues of the candidate may be tied into evaluating applications and selecting applicants for a phone screening. Managers may be asked to share the vacancy with their network or listen in on the phone screenings.

Remember that one of the biggest challenges of the traditional recruitment model was that recruiters played the role of order takers? This also changes in collaborative hiring. The recruiter becomes more of a coordinator and, well, may give some direction here and there. This is why you need a system that can help the recruiter assign tasks and keep track of who has completed what. Collaborative hiring can easily become dysfunctional hiring if there is no clear overview of what’s going on. This kind of system will lend more control to your core recruitment team to get everyone involved but also keep the ball rolling.

Collaborative hiring looks different in every company, but what has changed is that hiring is a team activity rather than one person’s responsibility. Make sure the foundation of your recruitment process is ready to get everyone involved.

Getting your hiring manager involved

Transitioning from a traditional hiring approach to a collaborative one is not always easy. You may have to handle objections suggesting that hiring should be your responsibility or that there’s just not enough time in their schedule to get involved. The good thing is that there are tons of ways to generate buy-in with your managers. Whether it’s a one-on-one interview training session or sharing hiring statistics with them, there’s no right or wrong way to get your hiring managers engaged in the process.

But even managers with the best intentions can encounter difficulties in getting involved if they don’t have the right systems. One of the biggest objections to overcome with your hiring managers will be that they don’t know your processes and they don’t know how to use your ATS. These two factors really go hand in hand, as often your hiring procedures are attached to the system that you use.

In order to generate genuine engagement from your managers, it’s crucial to have an ATS that has:

1. An easy to use and customizable interface

Introducing a hiring manager into the whole recruitment system when they are not actually a recruiter themselves can take a huge amount of time and effort. And to add an extra layer of complication, they may not be the most tech-savvy professionals either. This can lead to confusion and ultimately make them disengage with the whole process.

This is why it is so important to have an ATS that is user-friendly and intuitive. Systems that are easy to use unsurprisingly experience higher adoption rates. Make sure that this is a top priority when considering an ATS.

2. Clear overviews that you can tailor

Even once your managers get the swing of using your ATS, having too many options can be overwhelming. A hiring manager most likely does not need access to your careers site or the settings in your account- these should be left to the design team and administrator.

This is why you should be able to customize your ATS view according to the role or individual user. By only giving managers access to what they need to complete their part of the recruitment process, you can save a huge amount of time and effort explaining things that simply aren’t relevant to them.

3. Multiple users

One of the preliminary requirements of embracing collaborative hiring should be unlimited users within your ATS. Simply put, if you do not have the seats for more than just the core recruitment team in your ATS, you will be unable to fully include team members in the process. If you do decide to go ahead with limited users, you may be forced to collect information from team members involved in the process and manually reconcile the information on your ATS.

This is why a system with unlimited users on your plan is ideal for collaborative hiring and getting your managers involved.

Breaking the stereotype

Most managers understand the value of getting more involved in the hiring process, which should make the stereotype of the ‘too busy’ manager easy to break. However, some managers may require a little coaxing and encouragement in the form of interview training.

But most importantly, make it easy for them to get involved by introducing them to a system that is simple, clear, and easy to use.

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