When we think of botching a big interview opportunity, we tend to think as a job applicant. But whether or not we’ve whiffed as an applicant, as recruiters, we miss the mark every time we lose a candidate due to an unengaged hiring manager. Hire engagement is key.
Considering that indecisive or overly critical hiring managers remain one of the most common hiring process bottlenecks, we’re probably ruining more opportunities than we’d like to think.
It is our responsibility to work side-by-side with hiring managers to see the hiring process through until the very end when finding and hiring the right talent for our organizations. And we have good incentive, too.
Our success as recruiters ultimately depends on engagement from those making the final hiring decisions. We can go through the lengthy process of sourcing and screening candidates, but without hiring managers moving quickly and pulling the trigger, all of our efforts can go to waste.
So to foster the necessary level of engagement from hiring managers, and keep from losing the best candidates, recruiters must take on a more active role.
Keep Hiring Managers on Call for Interviews
The hiring process is all about speed. Obviously, the sooner you fill a position, the sooner your organization is back to running at full capacity. But that’s not all. We’ve found that the longer you wait to schedule an interview, the more candidates you lose.
According to our own data from observing 29,000 candidates for high-volume hourly positions over the course of four months, we found that organizations lose 20 percent of candidates after waiting just three days to schedule an interview. What’s more, is that they keep losing an additional nine percent per day over the next three days.
Survey results from Robert Half paint a similar picture. They show that nearly one-quarter of candidates lose interest in a company if they don’t hear back within a week of the initial interview. Another 46 percent lose interest after one to two weeks from the interview if there’s no status update.
So what does this mean? For starters, it means that we should clearly communicate to hiring managers the importance of moving quickly and maintaining hire engagement.
Nevertheless, the reality is that hiring managers are busy, and may unintentionally drag out the hiring process. Simply telling them to move faster isn’t going to change anything. To truly facilitate this process, recruiters should request that organizations keep their hiring managers on call for interviews during a hiring process to help fulfill their role of delivering high-quality candidates. This would allow interviews to be scheduled immediately, ideally for within the first three days after identifying someone as a good candidate.
While there’s nothing preventing this from happening already, the reason it doesn’t happen often boils down to poor calendar management. Hiring managers have to maintain their daily responsibilities, and it can be difficult to know when they are available if it’s not clearly marked and shared with recruiters.
Fortunately, technology exists to foster collaboration between hiring managers and recruiters. You can encourage hiring managers to use Google Calendar to share their availability and see when they are free for interviews. You can also encourage them to use a service like Calendly so you can easily schedule interviews on their behalf.
As a second option, you can use hire events and fixed interview dates during a recruitment process to get hiring managers to block out a single, larger chunk of time for interviews, instead of scheduling them sporadically. Simply by improving the interview scheduling process, you will help hiring managers get and stay engaged in the hiring process -- and do the same for candidates, too.
Train Hiring Managers for Interview Skills
Another common problem for hiring managers that contributes to the hiring process bottleneck is that many don’t have experience in interviewing. Most hiring managers aren’t prepared by the company for interview skills; they often wing it and do not follow a structured process. For this reason, in many cases, great candidates aren’t hired for some subjective reason that the hiring manager didn’t like.
Ultimately, it’s an organization’s responsibility to train its hiring managers with interview skills. However, recruiters can play a big part in making this a reality, and make their jobs easier in the process.
As such, you can improve hire engagement by developing support materials such as interview guides to accompany official interview training. This will not only help with compliance but also reduce hiring managers’ unconscious biases and ensure that they consistently select the right people for the job. This is much better than, for example, just hiring the people who remind them of themselves.
Data from Google suggests that unstructured interviews can only explain 14 percent of an employee’s performance, whereas structured interviews can explain nearly double that figure (26 percent). Training can, therefore, teach managers how to conduct unbiased interviews and choose candidates that best fit the needs of a given job.
One possible way to get started is to visit Google’s re: Work page for help with how to train interviewers, as well as how to put together a structured interview. But even adding a few simple questions to an online form like Survey Monkey or Typeform can help your hiring managers start to develop the habit and eventually see the importance of such structure.
As a recruiter, you can play a supportive role in convincing organizations to implement both a formal interview training process for hiring managers, as well as a formal interview process itself for potential employees. This will ultimately make the hiring process far more effective and increasing hire engagement.
Get Immediate Feedback
A final key component to consider is getting feedback from the manager to the talent acquisition team. Research conducted by Dr. John Sullivan has shown that the best candidates are off the market within 10 days, so it is imperative that hiring managers provide quick feedback on the candidates they have interviewed. Nevertheless, as you well know, it can often be a major challenge to get them to share this feedback.
To speed up the feedback process, recruiters should shed their lengthy feedback surveys in favor of a simple follow-up question immediately after the interview, such as, “What do you think about that candidate? Do you want to move him forward/reject him?”
This strategy works best for entry-level positions because many candidates are being interviewed, but it can also be used in other cases to better capture and remember a hiring manager’s initial impression of a candidate.
Besides simplifying the dispositioning process, recruiters need to express to organizations that they will be chasing down hiring managers for feedback in order to facilitate rapid hiring. And you shouldn’t be timid; you need to pursue the hiring manager like a salesperson chasing a client.
Being a recruiter is a challenging job, especially considering that we don’t determine our success alone. As recruiters, our success is closely tied to the engagement of our hiring managers, and for that reason, we need to take a more active role in keeping them engaged throughout the hiring process. By working with organizations to keep hiring managers on call, giving them formal interview training, and speeding up the feedback process to maintain hire engagement, we can overcome some of the biggest bottlenecks to both our success and that of our companies.