Why Forming a Recruiter & Hiring Manager Partnership Isn’t as Hard as You Think

February 6, 2014 at 4:20 AM by Jordan Taylor


Building a team often requires a team effort. Why hiring managers and recruiters need to work together to hire the right people is anything but ambiguous: their collaborative efforts can make or break a company.

Cultivating a successful relationship between both parties begins with defining expectations, building trust, and creating an unshakable foundation for persistent communication.

Hiring managers and recruiters try to solve the same set of problems, yet far too often they approach the solutions with drastically different motivations and goals.

You hear it all the time, “Communicate, communicate, communicate!” Good communication tactics—that stretch difficult processes from beginning to end—don’t come naturally, they have to be learned, practiced, and refined.

Hiring Managers

Successful hiring managers do more than send job descriptions through email. They create scorecards that not only outline, but prioritize, objectives and metrics. Moreover, if the hiring manager thinks about the possible questions a recruiter will ask before they even ask them, this will help in getting everything off to a quick start.

Hiring managers need to be more proactive in sourcing, and dictating dialogues throughout the entire process. For starters, with all the technological possibilities available, they simply have no excuse for not participating in the sourcing cycle via social media. They can start by performing searches on LinkedIn (in addition to navigating the recruiting software your company uses) to gauge the talent pool. The search parameters they use in LinkedIn can easily be relayed to recruiters, providing them with a deeper understanding about what the hiring manager is explicitly looking for. Once the role is defined, and the desirable candidate type is outlined clearly, the hiring manager should provide the name of companies along with specific employees who have superstar characteristics they’re after. Even if these employees aren’t looking to change jobs—they provide an excellent template for the recruiter to set his or her goals against.

Next, hiring managers should be helping recruiters with outreach; it’s a surprisingly simple way to drive engagement. Follow up with an email, or InMail, after the recruiter has called the candidate. It shows that you’re engaged and interested in the candidate.

Because reference calls are an integral part of the process, hiring managers should make sure they’re assisting in candidate assessment. François Dufour makes an excellent point on this topic: “Hiring manager, this is your opportunity to hear, first-hand, all the nuances about the person you will need to manage from people who have done that. Every word and piece of advice counts and, often, only “people managers” will pick up on the small hints that can make a difference between fit or no fit.”

Lastly, one of the biggest critiques of a bad hiring manager is they’re disengaged and absent. This can easily be fixed with regular check-ins: make sure the candidate’s questions have been answered; try to catch any problems early on; and bring both positive and negative feedback to the surface to be shared with the recruiter.


Successful recruiters, even if they’re lucky enough to receive a scorecard from the hiring manager, need to ask carefully crafted questions. Before this, however, the recruiter (in-house or agency) needs to familiarize themselves with the hiring manager’s team; seeing the team dynamics helps highlight the biggest priorities. Recruiters also need to spend time getting a feel for the hiring manager’s style, personal approach, and how they share their knowledge and expectations; the latter will guide their initial questions. If a hiring manager can see that the recruiter knows them well, it is an excellent way to build trust.

As a rule of thumb the recruiter should start by taking approximately an hour to ask more questions that cover broader areas than just the job description. The recruiter will never know as much about the position—but the goal is to get as close as possible. Still, this time is also best used to collaborate in making sure the job ad is accurate and realistic. Jessica Miller-Merrell, in Collaborating in the Hiring Process, describes the value of creating a questionnaire:

“What’s even more important [than communication] is an understanding of exactly what the position you are trying to fill entails, specific requirements, and skills and qualifications most important to the hiring manager. A simple questionnaire can be completed over the phone or internet. This approach is simple but provides you a better picture of the priorities for the position.”

After a recruiter knows the team, hiring manager, and the role, they need to start the sourcing process. If both parties want unison in evaluation and decision-making, they need to have open dialogues about changes to the position and the talent pool. Furthermore, candidates the recruiter attracts are going to be rejected (there’s no way around this even if the hiring manager is being realistic). Every time a candidate is rejected, the recruiter should welcome the feedback as a learning experience and ask questions like: how did you judge them as not being a fit? What makes that particular candidate not strong enough? Where did they fall short: their past work experiences, their career goals, their core values?


In the end, hiring managers set the entire tone for the strategic partnership. They know the position, the team, and the pivotal projects best. They need to be clear and organized—setting strict deadlines, punctuated by regular communication, to fuel effective collaboration.

Building better relationships between hiring managers and recruiters means defining expectations, building trust, creating clear frameworks for the relationship to thrive, and perhaps most importantly—sharing in both success and failure.

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