Five Questions You Must Ask Your Hiring Manager

April 19, 2012

And other great passive talent tips from Betfair's Rachel Riddington

How do you set yourself up for success with passive candidates? You start by asking your hiring managers five key questions that quickly elevate your understanding of the role and the type of person who will be successful in it, according to Rachel Riddington, a sourcing and research consultant with Betfair, who enjoyed InMail response rates north of 50 percent last year.

[caption id="attachment_4349" align="alignright" width="293"]Rachel Riddington Rachel Riddington, research and sourcing consultant at UK-based Betfair[/caption]

Welcome to Part III of our interview series on best practices in passive candidate recruiting. Read on to discover the tips and tricks that consistently increase the Betfair team's odds of getting a response from passive talent.

Tell us about Betfair and the types of talent you hire.

Betfair is one of Europe's top internet companies. We're enjoying fantastic growth, and we need top talent to support that growth. We're an interesting organization because we fit in the gaming and internet sectors, and our trading platform means we also share skill sets with such industries as Financial Services. Our talent needs are diverse and often very niche.

Why does your company focus on recruiting passive candidates?

Active candidates are only about 20 percent of the talent pool, and we want to see 100 percent of the talent pool!

At the senior level, all of our recruiting is based on passive candidates. At more junior levels, it's probably more than we understand, because many of the passive candidates we approach now show up as active applicants later on.

Are there any best practices that you learned the hard way?

The biggest mistake I've made is being too general: candidates then feel like they're getting spammed and don't respond. I've learned that there are no short cuts: I need to take the time to understand what someone does and what they'd be appropriate for.

What specific questions do you ask hiring managers when working on a new req?

1) "What type of personality are you looking for?" In addition to technical skills, I need to understand the personality types desired. The role may be heavy on client interaction, or visionary insights, or overnight shifts: I have to spend time uncovering these things.

2) "In which organizations or sectors can I expect to find this talent?" Asking hiring managers for search input is a useful starting point. When applicable I make sure to clarify what "competitors" means, because Betfair spans a variety of sectors and has competitors in each.

3) "What do you think about this profile?" I try to review profiles with hiring managers throughout the process in order to understand what they like and what they don't like. Often it's more difficult for them to articulate what they don't like, so profiles are a good way to drill down on that.

4) "Who do you know whom you'd like to hire?" It's amazing how many times recruiters get through three-fourths of the process and the hiring manager asks why they haven't spoken to XYZ person. It's critical to ask up front, and even if it's not possible to get the candidate on board now, it's a relationship worth building.

5) "What's the sales story?" Beyond the role, I need to know what the team is doing that makes the role exciting. I need details to help sell candidates on why they would join us versus a competitor.

How do you go about pipelining talent?

First, I try to build such a strong relationship with hiring managers that I have an idea what they have coming in six months' time.

Next, I focus on building long-term relationships with candidates, so that when the timing is right, I am already in dialogue with them. I try to build my network of candidates across multiple areas, and often many end up serving as networking resources, information sources, and even future clients.

Last, I support my online work with face-to-face time. I send InMails, but I also make phone calls. I'll note certain events on my calendar to touch base in person, and will meet with as many people as possible during conferences.

What InMail messaging has been most successful for you?

Personalization is key. Rather than writing, "We're looking for this," my message is, "I want to talk to you, not just for a role today, but also for the future."

While I try very hard to make sure that I approach people in the right areas, if I'm not 100 percent sure, I will keep the InMail more general, so that it is appropriate for them regardless. Sure, I'll send 30 InMails in one go, but I will try very hard to have candidates feel like I am contacting them alone as opposed to 30 people.

How does your passive candidate recruiting strategy differ depending on seniority of position to fill?

There is more depth to the process at more senior levels. It's sometimes not possible to call every candidate on the phone when recruiting for 50 jobs at a time, so email suffices. With senior candidates though, I aim to speak with each one, whether or not they are a good fit. I also try to do a detailed phone interview before I put anyone in front of a team member.

Betfair key takeaways

 Do you have a best practice to share? Tweet your thoughts with the hashtag #passivetalent. We want to hear from you!