A Clever 5-Step Process for Managing Hiring Manager Expectations

February 10, 2016

Sourcing talent is not for the weak and recruiters have to juggle a lot. Even more, you need to be a master of communication, which can be a real challenge when working with hiring managers who don’t know what type of candidate they need for a job. Until now…

I’m going to teach you the five-step process I use to manage the expectations of hiring managers so we can work better together in finding the right candidate.

Step 1: Create a common language

Asking for the job requirements is one thing, knowing what the hiring manager is really looking for in a candidate is another.

Over the years, I’ve learned that when it comes right down to it, a hiring manager chooses a candidate based on these three things AND in this order of priority:

  1. Personality - Will this candidate mesh well with the rest of the team?
  2. Aptitude - Can the candidate adapt to our way of doing things?
  3. Experience - Will the candidate be able to get up to speed quickly?

As a result of these findings, I built a common language of eight workplace personas that represent the types of value employees provide on the job. [This INC magazine article explains the personas and provides a free quiz a hiring manager can use to determine the personas needed for the job.]

The hiring manager looks at all the requirements for the job and determines which personas are required to do the task well. Then, we review the most popular personas so we can see which are most vital for success. Which leads to...

Step 2: Play, “stuck on an island”

I challenge every hiring manager to choose the five most important responsibilities of the role we are trying to fill. Then I ask,

“If stuck on an island and you could only have a candidate who was strong in three of the eight workplace personas, which personas would matter most?”

In doing so, I force the hiring manager to get mentally clear on what type of candidate will work best. It also automatically sets the expectation we can’t get an employee who is strong in all eight areas. In short, no candidate is perfect. But, some will be more ideal.

Step 3: Keep a poker face

Once we’ve agreed on the top three personas we are looking for in a candidate, I’m able to source, pre-screen, and select a small group of talent to present to the hiring manager. When presenting, I make sure not to show any signs of favoritism. Instead, I focus on showcasing the strengths of each candidate as they relate to the personas we agreed upon.

I also strive to present a candidate that is strongest in each of the top three personas we chose. That way, the hiring manager can get a sense of which persona he or she feels needs to be dominant out of the three needed for the job.

Step 4: Give candidates the playbook

Once the hiring manager has chosen who to interview, I circle back and share with the candidates the top three personas the hiring manager is looking for and coach them to provide quantifiable examples of how they successfully deliver on each one.

This helps the candidates focus their answers so they can feel more confident in the interview. It also makes the interview more productive for the hiring manager.

Step 5: Review and reinforce

As soon as the hiring manager is done with interviews, we get together to discuss how the candidates measured up to the personas needed to do the job well. Usually, a hiring manager will like the personality of one candidate more, but realize another candidate is stronger overall. 

That’s when going back to the process we went through to choose the personas needed for the job come in handy. By reminding the manager no candidate is perfect, BUT some are more ideal based on their personas, managers can find it easier to remove their personal bias and stick to what’s needed.

Of course, I never try to talk a hiring manager out of his or her choice, but it is our job to help them look past their own bias and help them make an informed decision.

Workplace personas = secret weapon for recruiters

Ask any hiring manager who has made a bad hire and they’ll tell you it boiled down to weak fit a/k/a didn’t have the workplace personas needed to do the job the way they needed them to. Using the technique above, you can finally take control of the situation and guide hiring managers through a smarter recruiting and selection process.

P.S. - Do your hiring managers need to be trained in how to provide persona-based job descriptions? Connect with me on LinkedIn or contact me at CAREEREALISM to learn more about how we can help your recruiting efforts.

*Image from Harry Potter

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