Five Ways HR and Hiring Managers can Harmoniously Work TogetherThere seems to be a tradition of animosity between HR professionals and hiring managers. Like it or not, the recruitment process reveals aspects of the corporate culture that are often bureaucratic or even counterproductive. It is the face of the company to its professional communities and the geographic community in which it is located. Dissension or at least a lack of communications between HR and hiring managers can expose problems for all to see.

In a tight job market with a flood of applications to online job postings, it may appear that this is not a problem. However, even if a company’s various channels of recruitment are bringing in strong candidates, this IS a problem.

You want to present a united, harmonious front to potential hires, especially the cream of the crop who are most in demand. You want to attract the best candidates, not annoy them and make them so disgruntled that they question their decision to apply and even contemplate withdrawing their names from consideration for the position.

Here are five suggestions to foster better relationships between hiring managers and HR, resulting in better hiring decisions:

1) Determine the ins and outs of recruiting your ideal candidate.

The hiring manager and HR must agree up-front on the qualifications and skills they are looking for in a new recruit. The hiring process will be a disorganized train wreck if there is no consensus at the beginning. It is vital to differentiate between must-have and nice-to-have characteristics. Otherwise, you risk passing up quite acceptable candidates at the beginning of the search to settle for those who are barely adequate later on.

2) Focus on the quality of candidates versus quantity.

The better the understanding of who you are looking for (see above!), the easier it is to weed out lower tier candidates and focus on the best. This also prevents unnecessary frustration on the part of applicants who are not right for the opening in question but may be ideal for another job in the future. Why ask someone to jump through hoops in prepping and providing references, work samples, etc. if you won’t hire them?

3) Clearly define the roles of the hiring manager and of HR.

Design the process flow together. Failing to do so can hold up and confuse the entire process as each party assumes the other is phoning references, reviewing resumes, scheduling interviews and making job offers. Sometimes the HR person is too overworked to carry out every step of the assignment on time. (Sometimes the hiring manager is overworked as well, but only the hiring-related tasks enter into this discussion.) Each party must respect the other; dumping unattractive tasks on one another makes the hiring process an ugly experience.

4) Communicate frequently and promptly.

Avoid he-said-she-said misunderstandings. Negotiate complex issues, such as workflow or qualities desired in candidates, as interactively as possible. Meet in person if circumstances allow.

5) Use behavioral assessments wisely.

It is suggested that an employee behavioral assessment be given prior to the first interview. To bring them in at the very end of the hiring process as the final stumbling block is unfair to all parties. The company has put considerable effort into luring in the candidate and selling him on the company. The applicant has also gone to great lengths to show he is right for the job. Both parties have done research and soul-searching to determine there is a match. When a formal assessment is done as the last step, it suggests that neither HR or the hiring manager have confidence in their decision making or understand the recruitment process. The assessment is positioned as a “pass/fail” exam rather than a tool that can benefit both parties.

In the end, both the departments desire the same thing: the timely hiring of the best person for the job. This is easier to achieve with a thoughtful, harmonious relationship between the hiring manager and HR along the way.

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I have freelanced and consulted since 1992 while also holding full-time corporate marketing positions during some of that period. Freelance writer specializing in the insurance industry. Marketing communications, market research reports and competitive intelligence for insurance, asset management and general business.
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