4 Unfair Complaints Hiring Managers Make About Recruiters

February 29, 2016

At most companies, hiring is a partnership between a recruiter and a hiring manager. And that means that there’s the potential for both parties to be critical of the other.

On the one hand, the recruiter is the one whose core job is to master the hiring process, whereas for the hiring manager, it is generally a secondary duty. So, the recruiter should take most of the responsibility for how the process unfolds.

However, often hiring managers will make complaints about recruiters that are unfair, as the problem is partially their fault. The main issue with doing that isn’t that the blame is being passed around, but that the crux of the issue isn't fully addressed, meaning that it can’t be fixed.

What are those circumstances, where a hiring manager’s critiques of a recruiter are unfair? Well here’s a list of four common complaints, and when they are unwarranted.

1. “The recruiter doesn’t know what I want.”

This is one of the most common complaints levied by hiring managers about recruiters. But the question is, did the hiring manager really tell the recruiter what they wanted?

Granted, it is the recruiter’s job to set up the intake meeting and get a good idea of what the hiring manager is looking for. But was the hiring manager really clear in that meeting about what they wanted? Did the hiring manager have a definitive idea themselves of what they wanted?

Chances are, if the same hiring manager is having this problem again and again, it might be a problem with their communication skills – not the fault of the recruiting team. 

2. "The recruiter isn’t giving me high-quality candidates."

Another common complaint. But what does a high-quality candidate look like, exactly?

The top minds in the business world have looked to solve this exact problem, and still no one has come up with one universally accepted metric to measure quality-of-hire. That leaves “quality” to be defined almost arbitrarily.

To a recruiter, quality might mean someone with a great resume. To the hiring manager, quality might mean someone who interviews well. Whose to say which one is right?

Hence, it is tough to complain about a recruiter not getting high-quality candidates, when “high quality” is a subjective term. Instead, a recruiter can do the best job they can finding the type of people a hiring manager wants, which goes back to the first point.

3. "The recruiter isn’t getting people fast enough."

This is arguably the most unfair complaint hiring managers make about recruiters.

If all things work perfectly, it generally takes about two months to hire someone. And that can be a lot longer, if the hiring manager wants to hold out for the perfect candidate.

Obviously, hiring managers want the person immediately, because generally the new hire is filling a need that’s immediate. But that’s just not reality, particularly if the hiring manager wants someone excellent.

The recruiter should lay out a timeline at the beginning of the hiring process and explain if it has to be extended, and the reasons why. But hiring managers need to be patient as well and realize that hiring a strong person is not something that can happen overnight.

4. "The recruiter couldn’t close the candidate."

A hiring manager interviews a candidate, likes them and offers them a job. The candidate rejects the offer. If the hiring manager blames the recruiter, they are likely blaming the wrong person.

LinkedIn research reveals a candidate’s interview with the hiring manager will have the most impact on if they take the job or not. So, if the candidate doesn’t take the job, the root cause is often a bad interview experience with the hiring manager, not something the recruiter did.

There can be other reasons too. Maybe the candidate got a better job offer elsewhere, they had something come up in their personal life, or they just changed their mind. Again, none of those are really the fault of the recruiter.

That isn’t to say a recruiter has no say in closing candidates, they definitely play a role (the biggest of which is coaching up hiring managers to provide strong interview experiences). But, more times than not, if a candidate interviews and doesn’t take a job, the blame lies with the hiring manager, not the recruiter.

How to address these issues in a balanced way

The point of this list isn’t for recruiters to show it to their hiring managers and say, “I told you so” or somehow use this to shield themselves of all blame. Instead, the point is to re-emphasize that hiring truly is a partnership, and everything that goes wrong isn’t the recruiter’s fault.

Same goes for fixing problems. Yes, recruiters need to take responsibility for recruiting and the problems that arise, but they can’t fix everything on their own. They need their hiring managers to work with them, or else problems are likely to persist.

Bottom line, if you want your company to get better at hiring, you can’t just look to recruiters. Everyone else at your organization needs to improve as well, particularly your hiring managers.

*Image from The Devil Wears Prada

To receive blog posts like this one straight in your inbox, subscribe to the blog newsletter.