Recently I had the opportunity to co-host a webinar focused on creating effective partnerships between recruiters and hiring managers. I teamed up with Ariana Moon, a Senior Recruiter at Greenhouse, to discuss ways to establish this alignment and build that synergistic working relationship.
As a tech manager, I’m constantly juggling competing priorities. I’m preoccupied with managing my current team, orchestrating engineering initiatives, and doing strategic planning with other team leaders. I’m also working with our People Ops team in recruiting new programmers, and if you’re a tech hiring manager, you’re probably doing the same. While this likely takes a load off your shoulders, there are always ways to improve this partnership.
But why is devoting time to create synergy with your recruiters so crucial? Sure, your engineering, product, and design commitments can make a huge impact, but improving your tech hiring alignment can help you:
Connect with talented candidates and improve your recruiting process
Save you time and money in both the short and long term
Hire the right people in the best way possible, ensuring your company’s survival and success (after all, you don’t want to just build a team, you want to build the team you need)
Below are my tips on how to best align with recruiters at each stage of recruitment.
Before diving in, I’d like to roughly define the role a hiring manager plays in recruitment, as the title of “hiring manager” might change depending on the organization. These are the key recruiting responsibilities of a hiring manager:
Understanding the business needs & goals for a new hire
Defining what contributions an ideal hire is expected to make
Knowing the skills needed to contribute on this level
Creating alignment on the interviewing team
Making the final decision of whom to hire (or ensuring that the hiring team is empowered to make a decision, depending on your recruitment process)
A good recruiter is a game-changer, so view your relationship as a partnership to work together harmoniously. The best advice I can give at a high level, is to be prepared before every interaction with them and try to leave every interaction with an agreement. If you do this, you’ll be able to communicate transparently about mutual expectations and stay aligned throughout the entire recruiting process. Meet your recruiter halfway, because they’re looking for ways to connect and work with you better too, so make it easy for them to do so.
Let’s start by defining the kick-off meeting; we actually have two at Codility.
First Kick-off Meeting
In this meeting, the recruiter and the hiring manager meet 1:1 to discuss the scope of the role and how to start effectively hiring developers. Make sure you do prep work with your team beforehand so this meeting is as productive as possible.
Here’s an example of what recruiting prep work might look like if you wanted to grow your Product Design team:
Meet with your Product Design team to discuss current needs and agree on the best course of recruiting (which skills are you looking to add to your team)
Look at your Product Design work processes and workflows
Identify strengths and weaknesses
Determine what contributions and skills you’re missing - short-term and long-term
Decide on the recruitment order (UI design skills vs UX design or research skills)
The more information you’re able to share with your recruiter about the role you’re hiring for, your and your team’s expectations, and recruitment constraints, the better alignment you’ll create up front.
Second Kick-off Meeting
In the second meeting, the hiring manager and the recruiter bring in the wider interviewing team to make a comprehensive plan. This is a great opportunity for you and your recruiter to bring everyone else up-to-speed on what was discussed in the first kick-off. Remember, the goal of this meeting is to define everything you need and come out ready to recruit with strong alignment.
Here are things you should cover:
Recruitment goals & role requirements
Seniority level & contribution level
Skills verification (balancing technical / non-technical) - We use our own product, Codility, to screen technical candidates for their coding skills and problem solving approach before advancing them to next steps
Interviewer participation - How? When? Who?
“Good answer” definitions - We use Greenhouse to standardize the questions interviewers ask during each stage and define what good responses look like
Typically I let the recruiter facilitate the second kick-off meeting because they often have keen insights to share and are great at assigning action items to people while keeping an appropriate timeline in mind. Don’t forget that the recruiter is likely working on a handful of other roles too, so this sync gives them an opportunity to communicate recruitment priorities, commitment level you can expect, time-to-hire estimates, and how they plan to balance all this based on recruiting constraints (like pipeline slowdowns, budget, geographical factors, etc.).
Active Recruitment, Alignment, and Learnings
After you open up the role and begin actively recruiting, it’s important to make sure you’re on the same page as your recruiter throughout the process and are able to make tweaks where needed.
Example: Take a look at the percentage of candidates that pass pre-screening tests vs. the percentage of candidates that pass the first round of interviews and then adjust the process accordingly.
What do you do after making a hire? It’s crucial to have a post-hoc with the entire hiring team to discuss how things went too.
The post kick-off meeting phase (so basically all of recruiting) of the hiring process is the bulkiest, so it’s important to proactively and retroactively look for ways to improve how your hiring team executes.
Here are my three key takeaways:
During active recruitment, check-in regularly with the recruiter to calibrate and maintain alignment on the fly. This is why it’s extra important to have those productive kick-off meetings: to establish a great working relationship early on so you can continue to work closely until the role is filled.
Also during active recruitment, analyze the pipeline process to look for improvement opportunities. Keep a close eye on the process to spot any roadblocks or inefficiencies you can alleviate. You won’t get recruiting perfect every time, but if you and the rest of the hiring team can adapt with agility, you’ll keep great candidates flowing through your pipeline.
After you close a role, retrospect to determine what went well and what didn’t. Be open to feedback from both your recruiter and your interviewers because they likely have a good pulse on specific parts of the process, whereas you’ll have good high level insights.
When hiring developers, it’s important to speak to your team about what gaps need filling and what kind of impact a new hire should make. Do prep work before meeting with your recruiter, that way you can be teammates to each other from start to finish and come out of your kick-off meetings ready to find and hire amazing people. Focus on constantly learning and changing the process, and creating an environment that allows those changes to occur. In the end, cultivating alignment with your recruiter leads to successful tech recruitment, resulting in a team ready to tackle your next big engineering project.
If you weren’t able to attend the webinar, check out the recorded version here. I also encourage you to read Ariana’s article on the Codility blog for a recruiter’s perspective.