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I should have listened to my recruiter: Reflections of a hiring manager

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Hi. 👋

My name is Amy, and I’m the Director of Marketing and Demand Gen here at The Predictive Index.

Recently, I took on the additional role of hiring manager.
That’s when the trouble began.
Scoot over, Tay. You’ve got company.

What follows are musings from my journey to hire a Growth Marketing Manager.

I dragged it out for FIVE. LONG. MONTHS.

And got to know Emily Willbrant, Recruiter here at PI, better than either of us ever thought we would.

Emily: Are you about to share our love story with the world? BUCKLE UP EVERYONE! This one’s a bumpy ride.

Little did I know that this process would lead me to question my own abilities as a hiring manager… 

…and realize I had no idea how much work it takes to land a great hire. I also may have thrown off Emily’s performance stats along the way. Take a look—oops:

  • 5 months
  • 2 recruiters
  • 750 applicants
  • 64 phone screens (32 hours 🤯)
  • 14 hours of hiring manager interviews
  • 11 “Super Days
  • 4 offers

In this post, I’ll shed light on my experience and the frustration I may or may not have caused Emily. I’ll also share a few recommendations to improve collaboration with your hiring team and achieve better outcomes.

Maybe reading my missteps can help you avoid any… Bad Blood.

Let’s dive in.

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Translating hiring managers’ speak

“Idk, they just didn’t seem to have much energy.”

Did I really mean that candidates needed to down six cups of coffee before their interview?

Not exactly. 

Recruiters like Emily often find themselves decoding the statements made by hiring managers. For instance, when I said, “I don’t know, the candidate didn’t seem to have a lot of energy,” I was actually observing that the candidate appeared more reserved and might require more time to open up. Each candidate brings unique qualities and characteristics to the table, and sometimes, it’s a matter of giving them space to shine.

This example was an instance where we were interviewing a candidate who showed low extraversion. Really, this just means that this candidate demonstrated passion/enthusiasm for the job differently than some of the candidates with high extraversion profiles.

How my recruiting partner helped: Emily translated this the second I said it. She didn’t let me get away with vague and subjective “feelings” about candidates. She asked probing questions and always tied my feedback back to what was laid out in the hiring criteria we built together. Having PI’s Reference Profiles on hand for each candidate helped us develop a common language as we dug in on areas of concern through customized interview questions. 

Emily’s take: I must have missed “energy” in the agreed-upon hiring criteria. Subjective hiring will lead to ZERO diversity among your team—a business killer. 

Hunting for unicorns

Hiring managers are actually the worst. Here’s why.

During the hiring process, hiring managers can unknowingly drive recruiters up a wall. Here are a couple of “ah-ha” moments I had during the process that were confirmed-to-be-annoying by my friends in recruiting, and how to avoid them.

Emily’s Take: We spent a lot of time together, like a LOT. Amy’s dog Marley knows my voice… and leaves the room when I come on screen. I know her partner, her hobbies… it got deep. All jokes aside, this face-to-face time was critical for working through this hire. Slack wasn’t going to cut it, and after 32 hours of phone screens and 14 hours of hiring manager interviews, we had a lot to catch up on.

The one where they don’t actually know what they want.

Turns out, hiring managers who aren’t entirely clear on their requirements for a role make really terrible friends for recruiters. 👀 

I thought I knew. But I soon learned that “I want everything” doesn’t equal “I know what I want and what I need” (more on these later).

Clearly define what you want before starting the search. Hiring managers should invest time in creating a comprehensive job description and conducting internal discussions to align expectations. Clear communication can save both parties from wasting time and effort on unsuitable candidates.

Emily’s Take: Tell me exactly what you need, and I promise you I can go out there and find it. Quickly. Tell me kind-of-sort-of what you think you maybe want, and… I… can try my best? During the recruiting process, a candidate should receive clear expectations about the role and responsibilities, as well as what skills are required to do the job and what success looks like. Knowing this information BEFORE the recruiting process kicks off allows for a great candidate experience, alignment throughout the hiring team, reduction of bias and more objective process, and ultimately longer-term retention.

The one where they change their minds halfway through.

Fact: Meeting different people through interviews and an inherent want to like people can influence your perspective on the ideal candidate. 🙃

This can be frustrating for recruiters who have already invested time, resources, and countless hours (32, to be exact) doing phone screens to save you time in hiring-manager interviews (Emily, I see you ❤️).

Document your must-haves. Hiring managers should strive for clarity and open dialogue with their recruiting team from the outset. Frequent communication and feedback loops can help mitigate misunderstandings and ensure alignment. Recruiters: If you can provide your hiring managers with data and objective targets of what the role requires, then you’ll begin to build a clear picture of how your candidates match to the job before you invest the resources, time, and money to hire them.

Emily’s Take: I never again want to hear “PIVVVVOTTTTTTT!” (like when we pivoted the ideal candidate profile nine times).

The one where they reach for the overly expensive stars.

Raise your hand if you have an unlimited budget for your next hire. 🙋 (If your hand is raised at this point… you can just skip to the next episode.)

Once you’ve met candidates with extensive experience who might exceed your budgetary constraints, it’s REALLY hard to reset expectations. 

Be honest about your budget. Make sure you understand what objective behaviors the role requires and the extent to which a candidate must meet those requirements. Your recruiting partners play a crucial role in setting realistic expectations and guiding hiring managers toward finding the right balance between experience and affordability. 

Trust. Your. Recruiter. Emily’s collaborative approach helped emphasize the long-term growth potential of candidates rather than solely focusing on immediate qualifications.

Emily’s Take: Giving your hiring managers a cheat sheet on which questions to ask to dig deeper in the interview can go a long way in helping them evaluate how closely a candidate matches the objective behaviors needed for a role.

Giving candidates a clear expectation of salary range from the very beginning of the interview process is essential to providing a strong candidate experience. Knowing your budget allows a recruiter to hone in on the right experience level and can help deliver the RIGHT candidates FASTER. Help me help you!

The one where they really, really like themselves.

Let’s be honest, we’ve all wished for more hours in the day. But is that really the solution to growing your team? Probably not, unless you really love burnout.

In hiring for a Growth Marketing Manager, one of my goals was to “give away my legos” so I could focus on strategic leadership for the whole team. Who better to give my legos to than… another me!?

Stop trying to hire yourself. Hiring managers occasionally seek candidates who mirror their own skills and experiences, often overlooking the benefits of diversity and fresh perspectives. Recruiters should encourage hiring managers to embrace diversity and consider candidates who bring complementary skills to the team. A diverse team fosters creativity, innovation, and a broader range of problem-solving abilities.

Emily’s take: Amy’s awesome but… we call this the “like-me” bias. And I promise you, it’s bad. A lot of hiring managers will talk about the “beer-test.” Would I enjoy grabbing a drink with this person after work? And guess what? I don’t care about the answer to that question. Stop thinking “culture fit” and start thinking “culture add.”

The one where the team needs are different than individual team members.

Team dynamics are important (obvious much?). As a department head, I look to each individual on the team, and how the group functions as a whole.

And sometimes the lines get blurred. It’s tempting to focus on what individuals on the team want, versus what the team truly needs.

Prioritize long-term team success. Recruiting should be based on a thorough analysis of team requirements and an understanding of the skills and expertise needed to drive team success. Recruiters can help guide these conversations, ensuring a balanced approach that meets the team’s goals while considering individual aspirations.

Emily’s take: It’s crucial to establish clear guidelines and expectations upfront, ensuring open communication and collaboration among the search team members. This promotes a fair and inclusive process while enabling efficient decision-making. 

Though seeking input and considering the team’s opinions is important, ultimately I believe the hiring manager has the final authority to make the decision. 

Based on her expertise and her insight into the overall company needs/business strategy, I never once doubted that Amy would make the right choice for this hire.

The one where it’s a critical hire

To say I care about my team is an understatement (Demand-Gen All-Stars—my level of appreciation for you is immeasurable).

I can also admit that we are a lean team doing BIG things, and that comes with a lot of pressure to make a great hire, and FAST.

Prioritize long-term team dynamics over immediate relief. Recruiters can offer insights into the potential impact of rushed decisions and advocate for a holistic approach that considers both short-term needs and long-term team dynamics.

Emily’s Take: To be honest, Amy really took this one to heart… need I remind you, it took us FIVE MONTHS to fill the role?! At one point I just figured she had it out for me and was trying to mess with my time-to-hire stats. SHRUGS. …Ok ok just kidding. Quality of hiring is important. Rushing the hiring process can lead to making a suboptimal decision and hiring a candidate who may not be the best fit for the role or the organization. Take your time to thoroughly evaluate candidates and conduct a comprehensive selection process. The RIGHT candidate reduces the risk of turnover and will lead to happier and more engaged employees. (Good thing we have a tool that helps us put the right people in the right roles based on their drives, huh?)

Join 10,000 companies solving the most complex people problems with PI.

Hire the right people, inspire their best work, design dream teams, and sustain engagement for the long haul.

“I had the time of my life fighting dragons with you.”

Like many hiring managers out there, I was stuck between needing to make a hire fast, and feeling the pressure of giving away my legos to the right person. I didn’t recognize the insane amount of work (HOURS) that was put in by Emily just to get such high quality candidates to hiring manager interviews.

So, without further ado…

5 tips for avoiding Bad Blood:

  1. Collaborate on a clear ideal candidate profile early.
  2. Look for candidates that complement team strengths.
  3. Understand your company culture, and look for culture add vs fit.
  4. Ditch the subjective jargon, and stick to objective feedback.
  5. Check in regularly for a continuous feedback loop.

BONUS: Get to know each other. 

Don’t let your relationship get misinterpreted through guessing ‘tones’ via email. Pick up the phone, zoom, spend time together IRL. Go for a walk, talk about your dogs. 

Dare I say, you might just find a great hire AND a new friend?


Amy is the Director of Marketing and Demand Generation at The Predictive Index.

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