Can You Build the Perfect Hiring Manager?

We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world’s first perfect hiring manager.  Better than ever before. Better. Stronger. Faster.

If you have a certain instrumental playing in your head, you may have just self-identified your age group.  Don’t worry, HR won’t tell. In fact, they’ll want to make sure you didn’t mean this one.


What makes a perfect hiring manager?

Sorry, it’s not a piece of HR technology or some other shiny new object. At the ERE Expo in San Diego, I caught a panel discussion led by John Vlastelica of Recruiting Toolbox. And to John’s credit, it did not suck. Far from it. Now, fair warning: John hates controversy.

Well if he did, he wouldn’t have picked a hiring manager from a recently CEO-less company. If he really wanted to stir the pot, he would have picked one whose CEO had just cancelled a very popular remote working policy.

Oh, wait. Please welcome our panel of hiring managers.

Hiring Manager Partnerships

We should all have one goal. To find and hire the right talent. Partnering with your team members and with other teams in your organization can help you get there faster.

Yahoo! vice president and hiring manager Eric Stromberg tracks his team’s responsiveness to recruiters. You read that right. There’s a two-way service level agreement and both sides are held accountable. That means you’re working WITH your hiring managers, not just for your hiring managers.

“[We] won’t sacrifice hard work or emotional intelligence. Show us you can learn,” says Julie Szudarek, vice president at Groupon. “People who want to come to a company that’s going through hard times – they’re great candidates.”

It sounds like the soft skills go beyond “X years” of experience and measurable certifications.  People who seek out new challenges and opportunities not necessarily identified by their résumés. That means you need to be able to recognize and assess real talent. And this is coming from corporate executive leadership.

Three areas where hiring managers can help specifically, according to Vlastelica:

  • Sourcing – “Hiring managers finding talent does NOT mean recruiting sucks.” It means you’re networked.
  • Interviewing – Inviting recruiters to shadow in interviews helps them learn the questions and the nuances of what’s most important.
  • Selling – “How do I sell going after passive talent to a hiring manager?” Yahoo! practices req-less (not reckless) recruiting.

“Never stop recruiting, even when you don’t have a requisition.” Sharks never stop swimming, right?

Share – Communicate – Celebrate – Repeat

Like the shark, you can’t stop there. You have to continuously work with your hiring managers to set expectations of the recruiting team as well as the candidates you present. Get them involved on a weekly basis.

  • “Being a hiring manager is a skill. Set your bar higher.”
  • “What’s the cost of a bad hire?”
  • “How do you help recruiting help you?”

Set expectations on process and timelines. When can you depend on feedback? When can the candidate depend on feedback from you?

“I over-communicate with our hiring managers because in the absence of information, they’ll just make stuff up.” said ESPN’s Kristen McKenna, in a separate ERE Expo session.

Let them know that like the rest of the company, they are actually part of the recruiting organization. We are each ambassadors of our company’s employer and talent brands. Instead of feeling like this part of Jerry Maguire, your hiring manager will feel like they’re in this part.

Developing a truly symbiotic relationship is a process of communication. In the end, you all have the same goal in mind for recruiters as well as hiring managers. A culturally and functionally successful hire. Better than ever before.

Better. Stronger. Faster.

What qualities do you think make for the perfect hiring manager?

3 Responses to “Can You Build the Perfect Hiring Manager?”

  1. Samuel Morgenstein

    Great article. In addition, I truly believe that this type of Hiring Manager partnership with Recruitment needs to be supported from the top down – the CEO needs to preach the same gospel…

  2. Great article Bryan. I’m wondering, though, if this isn’t a little like wishing for world peace. The ESPN person said, “…in the absence of information, the hiring manager will make stuff up.” Perhaps with better recruiting infrastructure, recruiter shadowing interviews as mentioned, measurable metrics, etc., there can be a more homogenous result. Still, this all makes me think of a line from West Wing when Bartlett was running for a 2nd term & his opponent said to him “Hmm, crime, gee, I don’t know.” Hmm, perfect hiring manager, gee, I don’t know … I guess we can keep hoping for world peace nonetheless!!!! 🙂

  3. One essential: they hire with an eye on professional and organizational development, gauging what the prospect will be able to grow into as new projects roll out and new goals emerge. (While most hiring managers get forced into a “I needed someone yesterday,” the best managers hire for tomorrow and beyond.)