Hiring managers often get a bad rap. Sometimes, it’s for deserved reasons, like neglecting to inform an interviewee that they’ve been rejected from the process. Other times, it’s for things they can’t control, such as the overall duration of the hiring process, which has more to do with the company's policies and less to do with the individual hiring manager at hand.
Recruiting often makes candidates feel like they’re at odds with hiring managers. They might feel like they aren’t getting fair consideration, simply because there is a lack of transparency in the process. They might even feel like they need to game the psychology of the people judging them in order to get a leg up.
As a job seeker, it’s important to understand the process from the hiring manager’s perspective. You'll be able to better communicate with them, you'll understand and be less frustrated by the process, and you can learn to partner rather than pit yourself against the people on the other end of the table.
Here are three things to remember about the job of a hiring manager.
They want to like you
Hiring managers want to like you. A lot. They want your hard skills and your interpersonal abilities to be a strong fit for their team. They want to enjoy speaking with you and easily imagine you as a quality co-worker. Because if you check all those boxes, their decision is easy and they can fill the gap in their team.
So while it’s on them to read your resume and cover letter, check out your background, and do a proper interview, it’s on you to know what they need and try to communicate that you fit that mold.
Companies often go into the hiring process unsure of what the perfect hire looks like. By analyzing the job description, industry, company culture, team composition, and even asking about the person who previously filled the role, you can find out how to market yourself as the perfect candidate.
And if you do all this in an honest and eager way, you’ll make it easier for a hiring manager to like you. And, consciously or subconsciously, they may even appreciate the effort you put into presenting yourself as a relevant, qualified candidate.
They need to nitpick
Hiring is hard.
You first start with a gigantic pile of resumes that need to be whittled down to a dozen or two dozen candidates. These candidates are only qualified on paper, so you need to do a quick phone screen with each one to find out if they’re the real deal. But for that many candidates, the time adds up and you end up spending hours of your own time, or the time of a member of your team, doing a simple pulse check.
And that only allows you to whittle down the group to five to ten truly qualified candidates. That’s where the process gets nitpicky. Truly qualified candidates have their own pros and cons. There are tons of different metrics by which candidates are compared, and it’s rare that any one candidate fits the bill in every way.
So hiring managers need to be picky in this phase. Things like your resume not fully matching up with what you say in an interview, showing up late for the interview, and not sending in your references in time easily become excuses for a hiring manager to eliminate you as a candidate.
Luckily, these are almost always things you can control. So make sure what you say, what you write, and what you do all match up. That way, you can present a unified front and avoid giving them excuses to move on without you.
The job isn’t easy
The job gets even harder when hiring managers have to decide between two or three highly qualified candidates. It bears repeating that hiring is hard. Making the right decision to hire a great candidate from a large pool of qualified job seekers can often feel like finding a needle in a haystack. You have to guess about a lot of factors and make your own judgments about people's skills and personalities. And making the wrong hiring decision can result in a big financial and productivity drain for the company and the team.
When a team is hiring, it's because they have a need for that individual person to join their team and get something done. So, it's urgent, right? Yes, but hiring processes vary dramatically from organization to organization and often involve a lot of people. This urgency to hire combined with the general lag of the process makes everything that much more complicated.
Unfortunately, a result of the difficulty of this process has been the cutting of corners to save time and effort. After all, a hiring manager also has a day job. They still need to lead their team and make progress on important projects, all while finding a person to fill a desperately needed position on their team. And it’s corner cutting that truly creates the negative feeling between them and candidates. It’s corner cutting that results in candidates feeling disrespected or uninformed.
Hiring managers and in-house recruiting teams still do deserve a sizable portion of criticism. They can no longer continue to rely on the excuse of being “too busy” to be more open and transparent with their candidates. Tons of tech tools are streamlining the hiring process every day, making it easier than ever for companies to analyze, sort, and track candidates, as well as to notify them of their application status.
However, understanding the hiring process and what a hiring manager has to go through can you give you the insight you need to stay positive during your search and better sell yourself to those you're interviewing with.