In part I (read it here) , we discussed that hiring managers (HMs) often need a lot of our assistance in defining the responsibilities and requirements for a position. They truly can get lost, and sharing our perspective and knowledge by asking the right questions gets them (and us) to the finish line of a fast successful hire.
Now let’s talk about the second area—actually more like an elephant in the room—about where HM’s often need our assistance. Long interview processes, wanting lots of people to interview the candidates, getting similar reactions to your candidates, hesitation to make an offer are hints that your HM may need a gentle interview intervention.
It’s my experience that a) hiring managers don’t want to be TOLD how to hire and b) they typically believe they do good interviews.
Since we won’t make any headway by hitting this issue head on, one way to start the interview question conversation is during the launch meeting. One question I almost always ask is “What 2-3 questions would you like me to ask the candidates so you know we’ve got someone you should interview?”
If your HM doesn’t have these (oh, drat), you can suggest several that you think are important based on what you’ve learned about the position. Word them appropriate, using behavioral interviewing concepts, and explain the reasons you would ask the question the way you did. (Kind of like conducting a mini undercover interviewing workshop!)
And now for the part most people overlook. Good interviewing requires two skills: creating appropriate questions and assessing the answers.
Ask your HM what constitutes a great answer to the questions you’re going to ask, and you’ll get insight into how your HM hears the candidates’ answers. If they can articulate a complete, substantive response, we can move on.
If they seem to be happy with an incomplete or vague response, you get to do some gentle coaching. At this point I would say something like, “Would it also be important for the candidate to say ….”
So in a recent launch meeting, we determined the candidate needed to have managed a billing system rewrite project using AMDOC. (You don’t even need to know what AMDOC is when you ask the question the right way.) So the HM wanted to ask something like “Are you familiar with AMDOC?”
This example reveals the hiring manager is probably asking vague, maybe even leading and certainly incomplete, questions. It’s going to be difficult to make a good hiring decision based on the answers he would be getting.
I suggested we ask “Would you tell me about a time you led a billing system project using AMDOC? What did you do, who else was involved, what did you do when problems arose, and what were the results?” When the hiring manager discusses what would be a good answer, you may learn something new to help you identify the perfect candidate.
Recognize you probably cannot turn your hiring manager into an interview ninja in just one conversation, but capitalize on every opportunity you have to do this gentle coaching.
You’ll love the results!
Check out my updated book on Amazon: The Consultative Recruiter.
For more techniques to meet 17 challenges recruiters face—and build a reputation as a consultative recruiter at the same time.