Recruiters and Hiring Managers: Why Can’t They Get Along?

It happens in every industry: when a hiring manager and recruiter pair up to find a new hire, priorities and biases almost instantly collide.

Theoretically these two parties should get along. After all, they share a common goal: find the most qualified person to fill a position as quickly and effectively as possible.

But when push comes to shove, the reality is there’s often tension between these two individuals, in part because of an information gap: the recruiter will never know as much about the open position as the hiring manager. Similarly, the manager rarely understands the recruiter’s process, challenges, or constraints.

Four phases in the hiring process present opportunities for the recruiter and hiring manager to overcome obstacles and work as a unit: the intake, the search, the interview and the close.

1. The Intake

The goal of every intake meeting between a recruiter and a hiring manager is usually two-fold: provide the recruiter with a general understanding of the open position and give the manager an idea of how long it will take to fill the position.

Intake pitfalls — The hiring manager and recruiter both want to quickly find someone to join the team. However, the hiring manager’s expectations and the recruiter’s role outside of the company might lead to misunderstandings. Another challenge is time: when the search for a new team member begins, chances are the role needed to be filled yesterday.

Intake solutions

  • Come prepared. Recruiters should brush up on industry knowledge in advance, know what the hiring manager’s team is doing and what the desired candidate is going to cost.
  • Be honest. Don’t hunt for a candidate who doesn’t exist. Recruiters should develop must-have, nice-to-have, and deal breaker lists with the hiring manager. From there, decide on realistic benchmarks for each step of the recruiting process.
  • Ask for help. Meet with someone from the company’s current team who would be an ideal candidate for the vacant position. Talking to someone who is already seen as a valued team member will add perspective to the search.
  • Collaborate. Discuss the job description until it is completely accurate. The hiring manager might consider recording a two-minute video about the job to give candidates a better sense of the company and the opening than an ad filled with buzzwords ever could.

2. The Search

The search provides an opportunity for the recruiter to shine. Up until this point tasks focus on research and discussions with the hiring manager and the search should allow all that hard work to pay off.

Search pitfalls — New recruiting technologies and social media have dramatically changed the dynamics of how recruiters find candidates. Sites like LinkedIn surface plenty of applicants who seem qualified for the position at first glance, but with some digging many may not be as fitting as they initially appeared. Also, since hiring managers can’t see what goes into a search for candidates, they often ask for a long list of names to make sure the recruiter is doing a good job.

Search solutions

  • Communicate clearly about candidate requirements. The recruiter should welcome feedback from the hiring manager on candidates throughout every stage of the search.
  • Assess objectively. Use an objective measurement to assess potential candidates. For example, recruiting technology company, Gild, provides a platform that helps companies assess developers based on demonstrated skills, not resumes.
  • Expand your network. The hiring manager should provide the recruiter with access to their own network to connect with more potential candidates. If this doesn’t happen in the beginning it could lead you back to square one after a long and unfruitful search.

3. The Interview

The recruiter’s job in the interview is to act as the first line of defense to eliminate candidates who aren’t quite right to save the hiring manager time down the road.

Interview pitfalls — It’s easy for the recruiter and hiring manager to lose touch in this stage of a new hire. Also, the recruiter should research candidates carefully before speaking to the hiring manager, which includes researching backgrounds, even talking to references early in the process and ensuring there are no deal breakers for a potential hire.

Interview solutions

  • Do homework. Look beyond the resume and try to find candidates’ real skills. For example, see how web developers rank with Gild or check out social media experts’ personal Twitter accounts to assess how well demonstrated talents align with position requirements.
  • Communicate. Agreeing on how to describe the position doesn’t just ensure you’re in sync; it’s essential to letting good candidates stand out. If you don’t clearly and consistently communicate the position to prospects, they simply won’t be able to demonstrate their capabilities against the requisition.
  • Work hard. Both parties should be open to searching for new candidates if the hiring manager isn’t happy after the first round of interviews.

4. The Close

The close can be the recruiter’s ultimate chance to demonstrate value to the hiring manager.

Close pitfalls — Even though the recruiter will not directly work with the new hire, or perhaps because of this, candidates often feel more comfortable with the recruiter than the hiring manager. Even if the recruiter develops a strong relationship with the candidate, the candidate will only join the company if he believes in the hiring manager.

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Close solutions

  • Build a relationship. Take notes on the candidates’ career objectives and motivations.
  • Offer more than money. Appeal to the candidate’s values and core drivers.
  • Share. Don’t keep information about the candidate a secret. Give the hiring manager a chance to better understand the candidate.

In the search for a new candidate, clear and consistent communication between the recruiter and the hiring manager is key.

Between searches, recruiters should try to connect with the hiring manager as much as possible. The hiring manager may be hesitant to grab a coffee or lunch when not actively looking for candidates, but recruiters should not be shy about asking.

The more the recruiter and the hiring manager talk, the more open – and effective – their relationship will be in future efforts together.