What I know about managing indecisive & difficult Hiring Managers

I am sure you have heard all about Hiring Managers who demand purple unicorns with pink spots and want them by lunch time. You might even have worked for, or, is working for one right now. I did.
Just recently I worked with a Hiring Manager who was reluctant to compromise on the hiring criteria and making decisions based on personal feelings that could not be assessed objectively or be readily put into the context of the position. It was not easy going.
[bctt tweet=”.@trevorpvas knows a thing or 2 about managing difficult Hiring Managers, here he shares his thoughts.” username=”ATCevent”]
We were looking for a specific new skill type in a location where the population is relatively small and it is a tight-knit community where candidates with the skillset know each other – which is good and bad. Good because I was able to get to know these people easily, as well as create a good Talent pipeline for the skill. But the bad comes from the fact that it is such a limited Talent pool and the probability of finding the right candidate who, at the same time, is available as well, is very low.
It was challenging getting the Hiring Manager to come to terms with the situation and I had to use all my experience and influencing skills to ensure that we arrive at a compromise so that we could move forward.
This is not my first time encountering such a situation, and I’m sure it will not be the last. I’m glad for the experience that I have picked up throughout my years in Talent Acquisition and I thought it would be useful to share what I had learnt about managing these situations and how they have contributed to my own success.

We need to be the first to give service, information, concessions

Be ready to provide information such as the size of the market, its composition, the various rates and salaries, where the Talent are working etc., during the first meeting. This information can be gained from sites like LinkedIn and Seek, or you can also get them through networking and pipelining skills. A report like this demonstrates your readiness and determination for success and creates a sense of reciprocity where the Hiring Manager would feel more inclined to give something back to you further down the road.

 We need to emphasise scarcity of the skill

Often Hiring Managers would hesitate in making a decision and wonder if there are better candidates out there. The grass is always greener on the other side and you might end up in a situation where no decision is being made. One of the ways to get past this is to emphasise the opportunity costs for waiting too long. What happens if we wait to gain the skill through training existing employees? What happens if you miss out on a candidate because you had waited too long to decide? What should you do if you had exhausted the Talent pool in this location? I’m not saying you should be constantly painting doomsday scenarios, but a gentle nudge in that direction could be what your Hiring Manager needs to come to a decision.

 We need to establish a position of authority early in the project

This can be achieve through using data and information from credible sources or leaders in the field to substantiate your claims. Demonstrating professionalism and having solid credentials definitely help. It will get easier as you build your portfolio and progress along through your career.

We need to be consistent

This is the most powerful lesson for me and it works on the premise that people mostly make consistent decisions based on their previous decisions or commitments. So, if you can get your Hiring Manager to commit to reviewing three resumes and score them based on three pre-determined criteria, there is a strong chance they will continue to use this methodology to make more objective decisions for that type of role. That will make your job much easier moving forward.

We need to create connections

Discovering similarities, offering genuine compliments, and finding opportunities for cooperation are key in getting your Hiring Manager to care about your mutual needs. While this is common sense, it is often not done well. Make sure you have a concrete understanding of your Hiring Manager’s methods and positions, and aim find common ground.

 We need to get people proof

Build an evidence-based argument comprised of what other people have done in the past, and what recognised leaders in your field suggest now. This requires you to use your network and analytical skills to provide a recommendation on what strategies and tactics you will need to take to gain the best outcomes. The networking may involve speaking to other subject matter experts or organisations on what they would do in this case, so you can back your recommendations with authority.
[bctt tweet=”What @trevorpvas knows about managing difficult Hiring Managers? He shares more. ” username=”ATCevent”]
You might have heard me mention Robert Cialdini more than once and he has been a great influence on how I approach Talent Acquisition. What I have just shared is a reflection of that and it has helped me immensely.
As Talent Acquisition professionals, sometimes we will have difficult relationships with Hiring Managers, because nobody can have positive relationships with absolutely everyone they ever work with. It is up to us to use our skills as an influencer, to steer the conversation, and the plan, in a direction you can work with to deliver for your client.
I hope you will find what I have shared useful.
Cover image: Shutterstock

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