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A glimpse into the world of a Hiring Manager

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Many posts and articles on LinkedIn focus on the candidate's perspective and experiences in the recruiting process. And rightly so. It is always the candidate that is the weaker party. Because, regardless of what the candidate does, at the end of the day, it is the company that makes the hiring decision. As there always are many candidates applying for one job, it is only natural that we hear of the experiences and opinions of the candidates perhaps more often. But here, I like to reflect on the recruiting process from a hiring manager’s perspective, so we also get "a glimpse" into what is happening on the other side of the table. 


I here use the title hiring manager as a "generic title", meaning the person/s in charge of hiring a new person in a recruiting process, typically the CHRO (or HR-manager, recruiting manager, etc.) Often the future superior of the new employee to be is also involved in the process. Both parties' day-to-day job includes many responsibilities. Therefore, it is worth pointing out that this is a simplified run-through of the work of a "hiring manager", focusing on and restricting itself to the responsibilities, tasks, and actions related to the recruiting process when you are hiring a new person to a company. 


Sometimes hiring managers are talked of as if they only were cold, calculating actors deciding everything in the best interest of the hiring company. Of course, they always try to consider the company's best interest. That is their job. That said, I am confident any hiring manager also keeps in mind the best interest of the candidate. Any other way would be counterproductive for the company. And whatever they may be, cold, calculating actors they are not. That I know from experience and I have a lot of experience! Behind every hiring manager, you will always find a real-life live person, breathing and all. A person with emotions, skills, strengths, weaknesses, values, goals, and responsibilities, just like all of us. Who is doing his/her best to do a good hire, which is often a much more challenging job than is believed by the general public. 


My background is from Executive Search, which is different compared to advertised recruiting. In Executive Search, simply put, the search consultant/researcher first researches the recruiting market and develops a long list of candidates. Then we choose the ones we want to approach and interview. Mind you, nobody in the target group is applying for a job here, so you never know in advance how many persons you must contact. Eventually, we have a shortlist of 4-6 finalist candidates, corresponding to the job profile and interested in the job, which we present for our Client, the hiring manager. He/she interviews the finalist candidates. They are maybe tested, references are checked, and a decision is made. The winning candidate is chosen. Piece of cake. Or is it? It is a long, challenging, and demanding process for all the parties involved, all through the process. And it is never over before it is over.


All finalist candidates are usually excellent alternatives. It is seldom, if ever, an easy choice for the hiring manager. The hiring manager interviews all finalists one or two times, and the two last competing finalists perhaps three times. When the hiring manager finally makes his/her decision, the very candidate he/she would have liked to recruit may unexpectedly withdraw from the process! It happens. When so, it may be difficult or even impossible to return to the other competing finalist not chosen. 2 months may now have passed and nothing!  It does not sound so easy anymore. In the worst case scenario, the whole process must start all over again from the beginning. For all I know, it is not necessarily any easier in advertised recruiting. The same can happen there, too, in the very last step of the process.


Most have taken part in an advertised based recruiting process, so you know the drill from a candidate's perspective. Sometimes it helps to understand the other party better if you try putting yourself in their shoes. So dear reader, I now ask you to imagine being a hiring manager. 
 

Suppose you until now only have been thinking this is a difficult task for a candidate who must compete with perhaps hundreds of other candidates in the recruiting process. In that case, you will now, as a hiring manager, relatively fast find out it may be equally challenging to select the "right" candidate among all the applicants.  Imagine getting 300 job applications in front of you and that it is up to you to make the right recruiting decision. You have limited time at your disposal and have 300 cover letters and 300 CVs to read. 300 alternative candidates. What if you make a wrong choice after having done everything the best way you know how? That would be a disaster for the hiring manager, the company, and the candidate. It happens. We are all human, and we all make mistakes. So, no pressure on you in your new job as a hiring manager!

 

Nowadays, the trend is that there tend to be ever more applicants per recruiting process, on top of which many are not fitting the candidate profile. Why this is so, is difficult to say. Due to technology, it is easier to send in your application for a job. It is also easier for the employer to advertise the job on an ever-growing number of digital media, thereby enabling reaching out to a greater number of people. All it takes for the employer and the candidate to make their "move" is often just a click on the enter button on their PC. Maybe this is the reason for the growing number of applicants. To cope with this, companies have all kind of recruiting software and technology, spiced with Artificial Intelligence, to help them. The bigger the company, the bigger the personnel, the more likely the company depends on recruiting technology in its recruiting processes. Trying to locate, process, analyse information and candidates faster. Screening, testing, assessing, sometimes even automatically selecting candidates. 


Now, dear reader, as our imaginary hiring manager, your job is to decide what recruiting software and technology to use, how and by whom, in your recruiting processes. Not necessarily an easy task. As we all know, no software or technology is 100% infallible, so big mistakes can happen here, too, in the recruiting process. Technology certainly gives us much good, but the more we hand over our recruiting-related decision making to technology, the more we may also increase the risks of a mistake happening. In my mind, we are technology-wise slowly closing in on the border, after which there sometimes is a risk for not seeing the trees for the forest anymore. If things go wrong, it is not the software that is to be blamed. I feel it is always the person who chose the "wrong" software that is responsible for what happens. That would be you, our new hiring manager. I have worked a lot with recruiting databases, so I know it can be challenging. You have my sympathy. That said, it is still your responsibility.


Choosing the right recruiting software, checking the cover letter, CV, professional skillset, references, and employment test results is not enough. The person-to-person chemistry, personal values and professional opinions also matter a great deal. Anyone hiring a person who will become an important colleague for him/her must take this into account. Hiring someone is not quite like marrying someone, but there are similarities. We likely spend more time with our colleagues at work when we are awake than we do with our spouses. So, it is important we get along well and have a good relationship with our work colleagues, both in good times as in stormy weathers. Also, checking the suitability to the company culture and values is important - two crucially essential parameters. 


For a casual onlooker, a recruiting process is slightly like standing beside two chess players and watching their game. It is easy to advise or criticise as an onlooker, but nothing is easy anymore once you are in the game. The same applies here. Dear reader, in your role as an imaginary hiring manager, you may now have realised that being a hiring manager is no easy job at all. In any recruiting process, any candidate does his/her best to get the job he/she wants to land. On the other side of the table sits the hiring manager, who again does his/her best to choose the most suitable candidate available for the job, I am sure. 


Of course, for any candidate, it is disappointing not to get the job you want. Often, there are many excellent candidates, but only one person can be chosen for one job. Here I would like to quote myself: "In my mind, reaching the finalist interviews is a good performance and indicates your professional expertise is appreciated – reaching the second position is an outstanding performance, even though it might not feel like it" - a little comfort, perhaps.


We have all heard of companies with "bad" recruiting practices and bad hiring managers mistreating their candidates. Unfortunately, they do exist - always have, always will - but in my mind, they are a minority. I am 100% certain that the great majority of the hiring managers act in good faith, have only good intentions, and do things the best way they know how. Most hiring managers I had the privilege of meeting during my career were like this.

 

If you want to get more aquainted with the dos and dont's in the work of a hiring manager, I can warmly recommend reading "How to recognise excellence in Executive Search" where I cover also this subject in detail.  You can find teaser pages and reader ratings on the homepage.   

 


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