Candidates: Are you interviewing and need support?
What could recruiters do if they didn’t spend half their time screening and scheduling applicants? With AI and automation removing many time-consuming tasks from a recruiter’s day, recruiters will find themselves with more time to focus on different parts of the TA organization. They can be especially effective as advisors and coaches to hiring managers; helping them through both the external and internal hiring process and keeping them focused on candidates.
Here are the five distinct phases during the hiring process that recruiters can assist hiring managers with: opening the requisition, screening the applicants, interviewing the candidates, selecting the best, and making the offer.
When opening a requisition, recruiters should set deadline expectations and lay out a map of the hiring process. Deadlines help keep hiring managers focused on hiring, and a process map allows them to see what they should focus on at each phase.
It’s also a good time for recruiters to review EEOC regulations and answer any initial questions hiring managers have around the recruiting process or how your organization successfully hires. Hiring managers should also be reminded of the internal hiring process. This information will provide a solid foundation to build off of when recruiters get to the more ambiguous areas of the hiring process like interviewing and selecting.
This is also the chance to get insight into the position they’re creating. It’s easy for a hiring manager to have a long list of responsibilities and candidate skills. Recruiters can help hiring managers refine that list to the skills necessary for job success, and translate those skills into the job description.This prep phase is also a great time to work on “knockout questions” for candidate screens. These questions, whether implemented in a phone screen or OnDemand interview, can help sort out candidates who don’t meet the skillsets or competencies for the job. Here are a few suggestions:
“Tell me what you know about our company?” The candidate demonstrates they have interest in your organization beyond the job posting.
“What is your desired compensation range?” Allows you to see if the hiring manager and candidate expectations are aligned.
“How have you used this particular software or process?” Gives insight into whether the candidate possesses a must-have skill.
It’s also the best opportunity to establish a communication style and cadence. Recruiters need to develop a communication schedule with hiring managers — such as weekly or daily updates — and whether to check in over the phone, via email, or in person.
While hiring managers aren’t as actively engaged in the screening process, they still have oversight on which candidates to select for interviews. This is the time for recruiters to keep the hiring manager from developing tunnel vision and check their candidate selections. Recruiters can use the screening phase to build trust with a hiring manager by communicating why specific candidates would be good fits.
Your recruiters should also use this time to push back on dispositions and selections. Recruiters can press hiring managers about why they like or dislike candidates and help them reflect on their choices. This compels the hiring manager to consider whether they believe a candidate is a good fit, or if they like them on a personal level.
The next advisory interaction with a hiring manager will likely be during the interviewing phase after recruiters have screened and recommended candidates. They should ensure that the manager’s process is consistent across each interview, and that they aren’t asking the same questions from the phone screen or video interview. This is the time to go over any red flags the candidate might have given off — such as vague or short responses — that deserve more probing. While going over interview topics, review what questions they can and can’t ask and make sure they understand EEOC compliance.
It’s also the right time to gauge their comfort level going into the interview. While a veteran hiring manager may know what they’re doing, a newer manager might not be as equipped for the process. One of the most valuable services your recruiters can provide is training them to keep the interview directed but still conversational.
Your recruiters should coach their hiring managers on developing a focus and objectives for interviews that reveal skills and aptitudes. Interviews without clear objectives can easily turn into a conversation that covers different topics and different information with each different candidate. It’s very hard to compare those candidates objectively and this often leads to biased decisions.
Special care must be taken to properly train hiring managers to interview and assess internal candidates without imposing any bias on the position. It can be very easy for these interviews to go awry as hiring managers may believe they already have all the information about an internal candidate that they would have to ask an external candidate.
Unfortunately, this can lead to an incomplete and unfair interview. Just because an internal candidate has experience with the company, a hiring manager should not assume they know the answer to a particular question. While the internal candidate’s answers may be influenced by their experience with the company, the hiring manager should ask the same questions that they do to external candidates and listen to the answer. This ensures your managers are comparing all prospective candidates fairly against one another, regardless of whether they are internal or external, which can only be achieved when the exact same questions are asked.
One aspect of internal hiring that many hiring managers cringe at dealing with is turning down co-workers. While the situation may be difficult with an internal candidate, the best approach is to always inform all non-hired candidates as expeditiously as possible that you hired another person. Being honest and time-sensitive can help avert potential feelings of resentment from internal co-workers and also be respectful of an external candidate’s job search.
While hiring managers may prominently post the eligibility requirements for your company’s open positions, some applicants will continue to apply without meeting those requirements. It’s not uncommon for internal candidates to believe that the company may sway on some of the position’s eligibility requirements since they already work for the company.
When this happens with external hires, your team can simply mark the application as unqualified and move on to the next. When this happens with an internal application, further care is necessary. Your hiring managers should be getting in contact with the applicant and explaining that they cannot further consider them for the position because they don’t meet the clearly stated eligibility requirements. Again, this will help to keep inner office tension and resentment to a minimum.
When it comes to selecting candidates, recruiters have less influence but can still be an advisor to their hiring manager. They can create the most value by helping hiring managers avoid biased choices or becoming tunnel visioned on a specific candidate. If that candidate drops out or takes another offer, the hiring manager needs to have backup options.
If a hiring manager seems biased towards a candidate, recruiters should check in with them about why they like that candidate. Hiring managers can be biased for any number of reasons: they could have similar life experiences, similar hobbies, or just have a good rapport.
Recruiters can assess for bias by gauging how clearly their hiring manager can articulate — from background info and interview answers — the candidate’s job fit. If they can’t make this statement clear, then there’s a good chance bias is playing a role in their choice.
Your recruiters should also debrief and advise managers after interviews to refocus them on what important skills or traits they saw in a candidate. If the candidate was interviewed in a panel, recruiters can include that panel to provide a more complete candidate picture.
Don’t look for consensus when debriefing an interview panel. Instead find out what about the candidate stood out to each interviewer. When you hire to a consensus, you hire to an average.
When setting up the offer packet, recruiters can coach hiring managers behind the scenes on how to approach the verbal offer and what to discuss outside of salary. When it comes to salary negotiations, it helps the hiring manager to discuss salary in a range instead of a hard number.
This is especially important during the internal hiring process as candidates will already have many of the other benefits the job offers. For external hiring, this is a great time to reinforce your employer value proposition. Recruiters should remind the hiring manager to sell the whole organization (benefits, culture, and office perks) to keep the candidate engaged and interested.
By the time they get to the offer, candidates should be thinking “I want to work here.” At that point, the paperwork is just sealing the deal. If your hiring managers are trying to sell them on the company at the end, they may have missed opportunities earlier in the process.
While coaching hiring managers can be a daunting task, it will make recruiters an invaluable asset to the hiring process. They’ll have a strong impact on hire quality by championing the best candidates and helping hiring managers avoid biased choices. More importantly, they’ll help hiring managers create a great candidate experience by showing candidates that their time and skills are valued.
John Grotegut is the Head of Global Talent at HireVue. He leverages over 18 years of talent building experience to help build HireVue one amazing person at a time.
Morgan Powell is the Recruiting Manager at HireVue. She works with hiring managers at all levels of the organization to source, develop, and select great talent to meet business goals.