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Line managers key to unlocking hiring process improvements

Overall perceptions of hiring manager capability were good but specific areas varied, with a need for more HR input

Hiring managers must be fully aligned with their organisation’s goals if they are to provide a strong candidate experience during the hiring process, according to TALiNT Partners’ 2018 Good Recruitment Benchmark Report.

The research, part of which was seen exclusively by HR magazine, found that organisations’ overall perception of hiring manager capability was medium to good.

But there was much variation in how highly organisations rated specific areas of this capability. Almost 25% said their hiring managers were very effective at engaging candidates through good interviewing, but 28% reported room for improvement here.

Additionally, while 55% said they were very satisfied with the level of interview feedback given to rejected candidates, 16% cited this as their managers’ weakest area.

Mervyn Dinnen, an HR and talent trends analyst and co-author of the report, said the results suggest HR should become more involved in the process.

“Some findings – particularly around feedback and effective interviewing – indicate that the HR team might need to play a more active role in ensuring employer brand and reputation remains consistently effective,” he said.

Ken Brotherston, managing director and founder of TALiNT Partners, added that many larger organisations tend to deliver impressive results in terms of candidate experience, “particularly if they have the right technology”.

However, in businesses without a dedicated talent acquisition function it can be a struggle because the task is often left to line managers. “There are so many issues in an organisation that line managers are responsible for already, and to expect them to also be experts in talent acquisition is a huge amount of pressure,” he said.

“I think that there is a feeling at the moment that everyone should be a talent scout, and that everyone should be talking to each other for potential referrals,” added Jo Taylor, managing director of Let’s Talk Talent, and former director of talent management at TalkTalk.

Instead she advised organisations go back to basics to provide a strong candidate experience. “The role of a hiring manager will always be the most important part of the recruitment process; they’re the first person a candidate will get an impression of the company from,” she said. “I’ve heard of so many mistakes in my time working in this area. A lot of these are really avoidable issues; like making candidates wait for 20 minutes to be seen at interview or failing to book a room.”

HR should take a forensic look at the hiring process, she added: “We are overloading our managers with the wrong kinds of tasks. We need to look at every stage of the process to really understand what employees are getting from the experience.”

Karen Mosley, managing director and former HRD at HLM Architects, agreed that managers are instrumental to a successful recruitment process.

“It’s really important to have managers who can get their vision and the values of the organisation across. A candidate should leave an interview feeling really inspired, and that comes across best from someone a new hire will be working with on a daily basis,” she said.

“This is about developing the skills of managers to be able to give the right feedback that’s constructive. A lot of people might think that if you give a rejected candidate feedback then it has to be negative, but there are lots of ways around this.”

It’s here that HR has the biggest role to play, she added. “That’s one of the areas where HR can help; in being able to craft balanced feedback. I know that when managers are busy as soon as they leave the interview room it can be difficult to think about the next stages, so HR can help in providing that support.”

“I think there’s room for HR and managers to have conversations about what they’re looking for both before and after the process. You might both have different ideas but you can work together to get the right person.”