How to Avoid Annoying Your Hiring Managers

Be clear about needs and expectations, build relationships and offer feedback

By Lin Grensing-Pophal July 19, 2017
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Because hiring managers and HR professionals are inextricably linked throughout the recruitment and hiring process, it's important that their relationships are transparent and free from barriers that can, however inadvertently, lead to inefficiencies and lost opportunities.

Sometimes, problems arise because roles aren't clear, or because one party gives the other misinformation. Sometimes issues stem from lack of awareness that issues even exist.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Recruiting Internally and Externally]

Common Disconnects

Ashley Cox, SHRM-CP, is the owner of sproutHR, a Johnson City, Tenn.-based company that works with creative organizations to help them hire, train and lead effective teams. Over the years, she says, the most common pet peeves she's heard from hiring managers are:

  • The hiring process is too long.
  • The hiring process is too complicated.
  • "I don't want to ask every candidate the same questions. Can I ask different ones?"
  • "I don't want to fill out this rating form. Why can't I just tell you who I liked best?"

David Lewis is president and CEO of OperationsInc, an HR outsourcing and consulting firm based in Norwalk, Conn. Lewis says hiring managers' top pet peeves are:

  • Poor candidate flow.
  • Poor candidate quality.
  • Being presented with candidates that are not a good fit.
  • The amount of time it takes to develop a candidate pipeline.
  • Candidates having higher pay expectations than what's being offered.
  • Failing to keep candidates updated on their status to avoid direct calls and e-mails to the hiring manager.

One of the biggest disconnects between HR and hiring managers is that hiring managers often feel that HR doesn't fully understand their needs or the core requirements of the job they're recruiting for. This can happen when job descriptions are not updated, or when they don't accurately reflect the position. From HR's perspective, frustration can occur when hiring managers don't fully understand the steps required to recruit candidates, to evaluate them, and to handle the administrative and compliance-related details of the hiring process.

Crucial Conversations

It's critical that HR representatives become a part of the hiring process at the outset and that they don't take anything for granted. Pulling up an existing job description to create a job posting, without any interaction with the hiring manager, for example, is a recipe for disaster. At the same time, HR needs to ensure that hiring managers understand the steps in the process.

"Many HR professionals do not do a good enough job of explaining the recruiting cycle to hiring managers," said Brandy Shope, corporate director of human resources at HB McClure Company, a commercial and mechanical contractor in Harrisburg, Pa. The employee-owned company has grown from 200 to 500 employees in six years. That type of growth requires close and effective collaboration between HR and hiring managers.

Shope explained what can create frustration for both HR and hiring managers:

  • Hiring managers want to fill open spots quickly and often don't understand the various steps involved. HR has an opportunity to educate hiring managers about the process.
  • Hiring managers discover that candidates don't meet their needs. They have an opportunity to clearly communicate job requirements to their HR partners. That often requires going beyond what's in the job description to having a discussion about the job's core competencies and desired outcomes.

Cox agrees. "We can overcome or avoid many of these pet peeves by educating our hiring managers on the talent acquisition process and the proper steps required to hire the right candidate, legally," she said. "It's one of our greatest responsibilities as HR professionals to help them understand that we must ensure a fair, consistent, legal and effective process for recruiting, interviewing, and hiring top talent."

At the same time, she believes "that it's equally important to listen to our hiring managers' input and take their feedback into consideration. We can ask ourselves, 'Are we creating unnecessary delays or complicating the process? How can we streamline or simplify the process to be more effective? What else can we do to ensure that this process works for our whole team?' "

Best Practice Solutions

Lewis recommended a number of steps that HR professionals and hiring managers can take to minimize barriers and disconnects during the recruitment and hiring process:

  • Set candidate expectations up front and provide regular updates. For instance, HR can keep hiring managers up-to-date in terms of what they're seeing in overall candidate quality. "Telling the hiring manager what is out there and who is showing up before they complain is key," Lewis said.
  • When presenting candidates that aren't a perfect match, be up front. "Tell the manager you are aware the candidate is off-center but wanted to test the requirements productively," he suggested.
  • Screen for compensation to the extent you are able to, and share what you know and don't know. Hiring managers are frequently frustrated when they spend time and effort in the recruitment process and find someone they believe would be a great fit, only to learn that the candidate's salary expectations are too high.
  • Be clear about roles and "to-dos." What will HR be covering? What should hiring managers be doing?
  • When scheduling interviews with hiring managers and other interviewers, take into account all the time needed—from arrival, to meeting with HR, to meeting with the hiring team. Not allowing for activities that can consume time (e.g., completing an application), can throw off the schedule and frustrate hiring managers. 
  • Keep all candidates up to speed on their status and the timing of the process.

As in most business interactions, effective communication is the foundation for successful coordination between HR and hiring managers during the hiring process. To minimize frustration on both sides, being clear about needs and expectations, building relationships, and ensuring timely and transparent feedback can remove barriers.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a freelance writer in Chippewa Falls, Wis.

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