August 4, 2014

Are Busy Hiring Managers Hindering Your Hiring Process?

Overworked BusinessmanWith all the coverage in the press about talent shortages you could be forgiven for thinking that skills scarcity is the only thing that hiring managers have to worry about when trying to hire talent. While there is no doubting the fact that talent shortages are a central reason for modern hiring difficulties, it’s not the only reason. In fact, the second most important barrier to hiring, (and it was a close second followed by a distant third), according to the 2014 McQuaig Global Talent Recruitment Survey is pretty surprising. It’s simply down to a failure to get hiring managers to make time for interviews, and being able to get agreement from hiring managers and stakeholders. Yes, over 50 percent of recruiters said that busy hiring managers were their biggest barrier to getting their job done.

It seems that recruiters and internal HR need to have a set of tactics and strategies to whip hiring managers into shape. And below I have set out three such tactics to help accomplish this:

1. Set realistic expectations from the outset. It’s better to be seen overachieving than underperforming. So, educate hiring managers from the beginning about the marketplace, giving them estimated times to hire based on required skills. Show them how job over-specification could result in small short-lists and longer times to hire, while flexibility in requirements may lead to more candidates sooner. If managers start the hiring process with realistic expectations of available skills in the marketplace, it will be easier to bring them qualified candidates who they will be moved to interview. If they have unrealistic expectations, your short-lists are much more likely to underwhelm, meaning they may disengage from their process.

2. One powerful way to encourage hiring managers is through gamification. Help hiring managers make time for interviews and engage with the process through adopting a gamification approach. Why not turn hiring into a competition using gamification technology and principles, which can be used to encourage specific behavior? Studies show that carrots tend to be more effective than sticks in motivating workers so this has to be a good starting point. Managers can get badges/points for efficient interview scheduling, completion of key forms, etc., and this can go on a leaderboard with the star hiring manager getting a prize.

3. Become a rockstar project manager. During your kick-off meeting, set out the process and timelines and what is needed from the hiring manager and by when. Discuss and agree timelines for the hiring manager reviewing resumes, e.g. within 24 to 72 hours of receiving them. Explain that you need good feedback so you can refine the selection process and locate a better match. You might want to consider agreeing and booking a couple of interview days in the future before their schedule fills up. I’d also recommend that you pre-schedule a weekly meeting, ideally at the same time and day where you can tie up loose ends and capture feedback that hasn’t arrived. Once again, pre-book your interaction time with the manager in advance. You are, in effect, managing the hiring manager and forcing the person to schedule his/her time more effectively. As with any good project, communication is key, so you should ideally send a weekly summary update of progress to the hiring manager and any other stakeholders. Highlight any barriers and suggest any adaptive strategies. This will help you to effectively engage with stakeholders throughout the process.

I’d like to hear about any more methods you use to engage busy hiring managers.

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Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of The Career Cafe: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.