An organization is only as successful as the people within it — build a strong team and you build a strong company. That’s why hiring managers play such a crucial role in a company’s success. Because they’re responsible for finding talent and building the team, in large part, they’re also responsible for setting the organization up for success.
But not all managers are automatically good at hiring. In order to be a strong hiring manager and build the most effective teams, there are certain skills that you have to develop, and you need to make a conscious, deliberate effort to do so.
Here are four key strategies you can use to hone your skills and become a better hiring manager, and build a more successful team — and company — in the process.
1. Become a pro at remote interviewing.
While companies have been getting more comfortable with remote work for some time, COVID has definitely accelerated this trend, and today more people are working remotely than ever. According to data from market and consumer data provider Statista, 44% of employees in the US are working from home at least five days per week — up from only 17% prior to the pandemic.
Whether a prospective employee plans to work remotely full-time or just doesn’t feel comfortable interviewing face-to-face during COVID, this trend toward remote work means that hiring managers need to hone their virtual interviewing skills.
“Virtual recruiting and a remote workforce are here to stay, so understanding the nuances of interviewing someone remotely would help [someone become a better hiring manager],” said Michele Lanza, founder of Work Wider, a digital career and recruitment platform developed to serve and support underrepresented communities.
While remote interviews aren’t dramatically different from in-person ones, there are a few key things you need to keep in mind to ensure that your remote interviews go smoothly. Here’s how to make your virtual interviews as successful as possible.
- Test out your tech. Before you conduct a virtual interview, test out all your tech to make sure everything is functioning properly. For example, if you’re conducting the interview over Zoom, schedule a test call with a colleague in advance to confirm that your video and mic are working.
- Speak clearly and slowly. It can be harder to understand people over a video call than it would be in person, so be sure to speak a bit slower and clearer than you would in a normal face-to-face conversation.
- Treat the virtual interview with the same respect as you would an in-person one. The interview is your candidate’s first impression of your company, even when it happens virtually. That’s why it’s so important to treat a remote interview with the same level of professionalism as you would if it was taking place in your corporate office. Dress professionally, conduct the interview in a quiet space free of distractions, and show up on time and prepared for the meeting.
- Take notes. At this point in the pandemic, we’re all familiar with Zoom fatigue, and one of the downsides of working remotely and staring at a screen all day is that it’s easy for video interviews to become a blur and bleed into each other. This is where taking notes will help: When you have detailed notes on your interviews, it makes it easier to remember significant details as you’re deciding if and how to move forward with a candidate.
Even when the pandemic is just a distant memory, it seems clear that remote work will remain with us for the foreseeable future. So the more comfortable you get with virtual interviewing, the better you’ll be able to connect with the wide pool of remote talent out there — and the more effective you’ll be at finding the best talent for your team, wherever they may be.
2. Make recruiting an ongoing process.
A lot of people think that the recruiting process starts once a company has an open job to fill. But the truth is, the most effective hiring managers start sourcing and connecting with top talent long before a job opens up.
By making recruiting an ongoing process and continually connecting with people you think could be a good fit for your organization, when an open job does come across your desk, you’ll already have a roster of qualified candidates in your contact list. That way you won’t have to scramble and start from scratch to find the right person for the position.
“Cultivating relationships with a diverse slate of potential candidates allows a wider pool of potential candidates in the queue to consider once there is a position to be filled,” noted Lanza.
To be a really effective hiring manager, you need to be reaching out to potential candidates, building relationships, and getting the word out about why your organization is such a great place to work on a regular basis, regardless of whether or not you have an open role to fill.
3. Focus on the candidate experience.
As a hiring manager, it’s your job to determine whether a candidate is the right fit for a role. But if they don’t have a positive experience with your organization, it doesn’t matter if they’re the right fit or not; even if they get an offer, chances are they’re going to have reservations about taking the job. If you want to be a better hiring manager, focus on creating a positive candidate experience from start to finish.
“Hiring managers should look at potential candidates as customers — and, in doing so, focus on the entire candidate experience, from the time that the candidate starts the actual job search process [through] the application process [to] the interview process and even onboarding,” said Nakisha Hicks, President of female-focused executive, leadership, and career coaching consultancy The ElevateHer and VP of HR and Inclusion for the Nashville Symphony.
Be proactive about looking for ways to improve your candidate experience. To begin with, write your job descriptions in a way that makes it crystal clear to prospective candidates what the job entails and what you’re looking for. This kind of specificity and clarity will ensure that when candidates apply for the job, they know exactly what they’re applying for — and this will save time for everyone.
Next, make your application form as simple and streamlined as possible so candidates don’t waste hours filling out an application with information you can easily find on their resume or cover letter. When you’re interviewing candidates, carve out time at the end of the interview to answer any of their questions and ensure that they have all the information they need about the role and your company.
The better you make the recruiting and interviewing experience for your candidates, the more likely that top talent will want to work for your company — and the better hiring manager you’ll be as a result.
4. Make a commitment to building diverse, inclusive teams.
A non-negotiable element of being an effective hiring manager is prioritizing diversity and inclusion (D&I) in your hiring process.
“Companies with inclusive cultures have been proven to be higher performing and more innovative in problem-solving, and produce better business outcomes in order to meet or exceed financial targets,” said Lanza. “Additionally...employees and prospective employees put a lot of weight on a company's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
But it’s not enough to say you want to hire more diverse candidates and make your hiring process more inclusive; to be a better hiring manager, you actually need to put this into practice.
“Hiring managers and organizations must consistently do ‘value checks’ to ensure that they are moving beyond empty D&I statements to meaningful actions,” advised Hicks. “Hiring managers should work to build teams that align with the organization’s values and represent the world around us.”
That might mean examining your own biases; Hicks said that hiring managers need to “recognize and work to destroy any biases or prejudices [they] may have in order to create a fair and equitable experience.” It could also include setting measurable benchmarks to ensure you’re building truly diverse and inclusive teams, and thinking outside the box when sourcing and connecting with talent.
“When recruiting, rather than only relying on the traditional candidate sources, hiring managers should make concerted efforts to post jobs where all candidates can access them,” advised Hicks. “This may even include creating partnerships with various local community organizations, specifically those that partner with and/or assist those potential candidates that may not have knowledge of and/or be able access the job posting through the ‘traditional’ channels.”
For example, job boards like Diversity.com, Hispanic/Latino Professionals Association (HLPA.com), PowerToFly.com, or abilityJOBS.com can help you connect with more diverse talent.
You can’t grow into a better hiring manager without making a commitment to building more diverse, inclusive teams, and then taking the actions to back that up. So if you want to improve as a hiring manager, D&I should be at the top of your priority list.
The health and success of any organization rests on its ability to find and hire the right people. By implementing these strategies and strengthening your skills as a hiring manager, you’ll be able to build stronger teams and contribute even more to the success of your company.