The 4 Best Ways to Do Hiring Management

Hiring Management Explained

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If you are non-HR professional, this is the only guide you need to read about hiring management. We will explain who the hiring manager is, why the role is important, how he differs from recruiters, and ultimately how to excel at hiring management. Let’s move quickly to the explanation.

Before we can give you the greatest tips on hiring management, let’s spend just a couple of paragraphs to ensure we are on the same page on who is a hiring manager.

Who Is a Hiring Manager?

Hiring Manager Definition

The quickest way to start is with a simple definition of hiring manager.

A hiring manager is a business manager that needs to fill a position.

Here, we want to draw a line between business manager and human resources manager. With “business”, we mean the business of the company: a retailer will have a business of selling products, a manufacturer of producing goods, a consulting firm of offering services, and so on. To do all of that business, companies need people, and if those people are in a large enough number, the organization will need managers. Managers are important to split responsibilities between individuals and hold them accountable. At some point, a manager in whatever team will need to find new people to hire. When that happens, that he is an hiring manager.

We can condense all of that in a less formal but more effective definition.

A hiring manager is the person you would report to if you get the job.

So, it is not a separate title. Any Software Development Manager, Operations Manager – or whatever the title – becomes also a hiring manager whenever he needs to hire someone. Once the hiring is complete, he stops being an hiring manager.

Hiring Manager vs. Recruiter

We know now that “hiring manager” is a business role, even if we didn’t dive deep into what hiring management is all about. Recruiting, instead, is a human resources role, or HR. HR is the business function that supports managers in managing people: vacations, payrolls, and of course hiring of new workforce.

The idea is that business manager and employee have limited time, and that time is precious. They better use their time to leverage their specific skills and do something good for the business. So, any task related to human resources that is not strictly related to the business is offloaded to HR. For example, no manager will waste time preparing the monthly pay slip for an employee: that is done by HR.

The role of a recruiter comes from a similar context. He is the person in the company that posts the job ad on social media and online platforms, collects resumes and organize them in a way that is easy for the hiring manager to read, and pre-screen candidates. Screening candidates simply means doing a first check to ensure they have the potential to get the job before they talk with the hiring manager. This includes confirming their education and professional background and ensuring they got the details of the position right and it is something they would want to do it.

Hiring Management is about business managers making hiring decisions
Business managers perform hiring management.

So, when a business manager wants to hire someone, she becomes a hiring manager. She then provides a recruiter with a job description and ask him “hey please, give me candidates”. The recruiter go out there in the world and get those candidates.

Depending on the company, the recruiter may also work on other related things such as managing the full end-to-end process for candidates, from application to job offers. In some other companies, another HR partner takes over after the hiring manager has done to extend an offer when needed.

What is Hiring Management?

Once again, we can proceed with an almost textbook definition of hiring management.

Hiring Management is all the set of activities that a business manager does that relate to hiring.

All activities that we are about to uncover serve an ultimate purpose. That is, they need to answer the question: can the candidate do this job?

As simple as that. If you keep this question as your North Star goal, you will be great in hiring management. Of course, that is not the only piece of the puzzle. You want to ensure the candidate gets a positive experience during the interview process, the interview is balanced and unbiased, and you don’t dedicate too much time without yielding any value from it. Still, at the end of the day, if you don’t know if the candidate can do the job, you are failing as a hiring manager.

The list of things that you do as part of hiring management are fairly simple:

  • Interview the candidate
  • Loop team members, peer managers, and other people in the company to assess the candidate on specific dimensions
  • Coordinate the discussion with all the involved people to make a decision on the candidate
  • Be in touch with the HR partners such as recruiting

By now you should have at least a general idea about hiring management. Now, it is time to discuss what does it take to be effective in it.

Tips for Effective Hiring Management

Behavior is the Best Predictor of Performance

Remember that to tell if the candidate can do the job means making a guess on the performance they will have in their new role. They didn’t work in that role yet at your company in that specific circumstance with your team, so you cannot never know for sure. You need to predict it. To make this prediction, you need to rely on some data.

Effective hiring management means deciding which data to consider to predict future performance. Most large companies, especially in tech, agree that the best predictor of future performance is past performance. In other words “show me you have done this already”.

Past performance is hard to fake and telling lies about your past work experience is something candidates don’t generally do. Even if they did, when poked for details everything will fall apart, so you can easily spot them. It’s easy to say “If I were to face situation X, I would do that”. It is much harder to say “I was in situation X, I did Y but that did not work, then I did Z and that went well but I learned W and tweaked my approach”. So, look for how people behaved in similar situations.

To be effective in this part of hiring management, ask questions that start with “tell me about a time when…”. I find acceptable a 2-min answer followed by 15-20 minutes of discussion and probing into the details.

Effective Hiring Management Involves Others

You are the hiring manager, so you are accountable for the ultimate hiring management decision. Will this person get the job or not? Can they do it? To decide that, you need to consider both the candidate performance in the interview and the need you have to fill the position. Are you in desperate need that you need someone immediately (bad situation, you may risk hiring a underperformer) or can you wait for the ideal candidate?

Hiring management involves an important conflict of interest. On one side, you want to have the best candidate, and on the other you want to have it right now. How do you tradeoff? If you do this all alone, you will be biased. I am not saying you might, but you will. Everyone has some blind spots. If you are in a rush, you may overlook some red flags. If you are not, you may overlook a potentially good candidate in the hope to find someone even better (that you don’t really need).

So, to cover for your blind spots, involve other people. They should be both your direct reports and people outside the team. You want to have your reports, the peers of the hired position, because they will work with him. You want to ensure they also sense the candidate would be a great addition to the team and contribute to the work. On the other hand, team members share the same pain as you if you are short-staffed and may be somewhat afraid to speak up against your point of view. If you involve someone external, they will have no problem sparking dissent.

So do that. Great hiring management involves multiple interviews with the candidate: hiring manager, peers, and people outside the team.

Coordinate the Discussion, Equitably

Another important task in hiring management comes from the fact that you have involved multiple people. Since you did, you need to account for their feedback in a way that is inclusive and consistent. Companies that have ample hiring committees normally have all the people meet afterwards for a debrief to discuss the candidate.

The best use of everyone’s time is to have multiple one-on-one with the candidate, rather than a large panel where you have 5 people interviewing the candidate at the same time. Whatever the number of people (and thus 1:1) you decide to have, be consistent and do that for all candidates. Don’t do 3 interviews with one candidate and 5 with another, or don’t change it afterwards (i.e., “we decided to call you back for some more interviews”).

Since everyone is busy and you may not be able to meet straight after the interview, have everyone take notes while interviewing, so they dot forget what they want to say. Ideally, everyone should assess the candidate on a specific dimension: technical skills, leadership, communication, and so on – whatever skills make sense for the role.

You want to have a debrief meeting in case a skill popped up in the interview of someone who was not in charge to assess that skill. By discussing among all interviewers, that skill can surface and the person who was in charge to assess it can recognize it.

Be in Touch with HR

Here we don’t have specific tips, but this is something that is part of hiring management. And, for that to be effective hiring management, be proactive. Work with your HR partner to understand what they expect from you and what you expect from them, and set up a proficient relationship that you can solidify over time.

Recruiting is about getting candidates for the hiring manager to assess
Just another recruitment poster.

Overall, remember that you are the customer for them. You own the hiring process, so make it meaningful for everyone: both for you and candidates, treating them with respect.

Hiring Management in Summary

In this article, we saw that hiring management is all about getting candidates to fill positions from the point of view of business manager. The world is to complex now to let HR do all the work, and you can’t just be “given” someone for the job. You need to select it carefully.

As part of this, take a look at this great read on an effective interview process.

Picture of Alessandro Maggio

Alessandro Maggio

Project manager, critical-thinker, passionate about networking & coding. I believe that time is the most precious resource we have, and that technology can help us not to waste it. I founded with the same principle: I share what I learn so that you get value from it faster than I did.
Picture of Alessandro Maggio

Alessandro Maggio

Project manager, critical-thinker, passionate about networking & coding. I believe that time is the most precious resource we have, and that technology can help us not to waste it. I founded with the same principle: I share what I learn so that you get value from it faster than I did.

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