The Key to Consistently Recruiting Effectively: A Form (Seriously)

January 7, 2016

A few years ago, Bersin by Deloitte sought to discover what separated great recruiters from good ones. After some in-depth analysis, what they found was the biggest indicator of a great recruiter is one who consistently builds great relationships with their hiring managers.

Not that the finding is completely surprising to people in the business. Brendan Browne, the head of recruiting at LinkedIn, agreed, and dedicates a significant amount of training to all LinkedIn recruiters on mastering that relationship.

Susan Hailey, head of recruiting at Medidata and formerly head of recruiting at eBay, echoed those thoughts as well, telling LinkedIn “recruiting can come off the rails” if the relationship between recruiters and hiring managers fractures.

So what’s the key to the recruiter-hiring manager relationship? A recruiter doing whatever they can to please the hiring manager, so the relationship is great?

Not at all. Both Hailey and Browne said the key for recruiters to mastering their relationship with hiring managers is establishing themselves as equals in the outset of the process by creating clear expectations for both sides and then both sides holding each other accountable throughout the hire.

And one of the best ways to do that is a simple form.

Why a simple intake form drastically improves the hiring process

In a blog post for LinkedIn, Browne wrote that a critical part of the recruiting-hiring manager relationship is the beginning. There, both sides should hammer out a timeline and agree to expectations in the process.

It’s also the time for the hiring manager to share what they really want in a candidate. And generally it isn’t a list of qualifications – 10 years of experience, an MBA, etc – but instead a type of person with a specific set of skills they need.

The more specific the hiring manager can be here, the more likely the recruiter will be able to get find candidates that they like. If a hiring manager is having tough time doing this, you can ask to describe what great employees in that role already have in common, and use that.

Okay, so where does the form come in?

Well, an intake form forces that conversation. By having clear questions that need to be filled out every time, a recruiter and a hiring manager are forced to create a basic timeline of the process, set expectations and give the recruiter a good sense of the person the hiring manager wants.

Then, throughout the process, both the recruiter and the hiring manager can easily hold each other accountable with the form. Ultimately, it can become the playbook for each hire, which both sides can consult at any time.

And it only takes about 30 minutes to do.

What should the intake form look like?

A great intake form should cover three main areas: what the hiring manager is looking for in the role, the expected timeline of the hire and the expectations for both the hiring manager and the recruiter. Taking them one-by-one:

  • What the hiring manager is looking for in the role

Here, the hiring manager should explain exactly what they are looking for: the skills and personality needed for the role. Also, here the hiring manager should give a range for the compensation package for the role.

  • The basic timeline of the hire

Here’s where LinkedIn data can help. By using LinkedIn’s talent pool reports, once the hiring manager gives you an idea of what they want, you can show them how many people out there fit their requirements. Hopefully, there are plenty, and you can agree to a straightforward timeline that includes the number of interviews and the type of assessments to expect.

However, if the talent pool is too small, the hiring manager can then make a decision. They can either agree to a longer timeline, raise the compensation package to increase demand or drop a few requirements to hit a larger pool. 

  • Set expectations for both the hiring manager and the recruiter

Here is where the recruiter and the hiring manager come together as equals to figure out their roles in the process. The expectations for recruiters should be high – namely, clear communication, high-quality candidates and adhering to a reasonable timeline.

Equally important, the expectations for the hiring manager should be high as well. That means getting back to the recruiter within a business day, conducting interviews in a timely manner and alerting the recruiter immediately if any changes come up.

Tying it all together

A quick parable. In 1935, Boeing built the Model 299, the most sophisticated bomber in the US Army Air Corps. The problem was it was so sophisticated, pilots had trouble flying it and crashes were common.

The solution? A simple verbal checklist. Before they took off, pilots went through a verbal checklist with ground control to ensure everything was set for the flight, and crashes dropped dramatically.

A good intake form is the hiring version of the pilot’s checklist. By filling out the form with your hiring manager before each hire, you drastically cut down on the amount of “crashes”, i.e. miscommunications and derailed hiring processes.

Bottom line, it’s any easy and effective way to master the hiring manager-recruiter relationship. Which, according to the experts, is the most critical part to being a great recruiter.

To make life easier on you, you can download your own free hiring intake form as part of this ebook.

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