The “Blind Side” of the Recruiting Process: Five ways your Hiring Manager can make or break the candidate experience


I’ve spent much of the past ten years of my career evangelizing the importance of the candidate experience to Human Resources and Talent Acquisition groups. I’ve concentrated on the “front end” of the experience: creating employment value propositions for organizations, building recruitment marketing strategies and optimizing career sites for search engines—all processes to help companies promote and elevate stand out messages to top candidates.

But recently I’ve had a real aha moment. The message I’ve been so passionately espousing never makes it past these leaders to the most critical group in the candidate experience—the Hiring Managers.

Now that my career focuses on helping organizations increase the productivity of their internal recruiting functions through recruitment process outsourcing, I’ve seen the results of leaving the Hiring Manager out of our training and communications strategies when it comes to the candidate experience.

To create and promote better alignment, I think we need to take a page out of Leigh Anne Tuohy’s playbook in the movie The Blind Side.

If you’re not familiar with The Blind Side, Leigh Anne Tuohy (played by Sandra Bullock) was at a high-school football practice, watching her adopted son “Big Mike” Oher (Quinton Aaron) struggle with his defensive game. The advice she delivered to Big Mike’s coach is exactly the advice we need to give our Hiring Managers to align their actions with our candidate experience:

“You need to get to know your players.”

Hiring the best candidate is the end-goal, and no one would argue that sourcing and interviewing are crucial components to moving that candidate down the field. Yet too many Hiring Managers have relegated too much of this responsibility to the recruiting team, forgoing any involvement through that part of the talent acquisition process. Why?

Often, Hiring Managers will lament about their lack of time to engage. Let’s face it, everyone is busy, and the number one resource that everyone wishes they had more of is time; however, time is the very resource that is wasted in the recruiting process because of poor communications when opening up a requisition.

Five ways “getting to know your players” can elevate your candidate experience

A little collaboration between Hiring Manager and Recruiter can go a long way to providing a better candidate experience. So where does communication often break down in the hiring process?

  • Nurturing: Often, when we think about our roles in recruitment, we don’t think about the “sales and marketing” aspect of our jobs. But it’s important that we sell both the opportunity and organization when we’re trying to attract top talent, especially to those not actively searching for a career change. The best Recruiters understand this about their roles; unfortunately, Hiring Managers rarely do.

    Think of your candidate as a customer: a Recruiter brings in a “warm lead.” They’ve done some selling up-front. The Hiring Manager is in a position to qualify and nurture that lead. If he or she just concentrates on qualifying that lead, without nurturing it, there’s a chance that “customer” will take their skills and knowledge elsewhere.

    In today’s talent market, approaching our roles with a marketing mindset is essential to creating a good candidate experience. And Hiring Managers must take ownership of their role in the sale in order for the team to succeed.

  • Requirements: If there’s one area that focused communication will improve the candidate experience and help ensure a successful placement—and in spades—it’s a discussion about the job requirements. There’s no better way to help Recruiters have a thorough understanding of the talent profile from the Hiring Manager’s perspective, how the role fit into the business and, most importantly, what does success look like when this employee delivers.

    You’re probably thinking “I communicate this quite well via email. They just don’t understand the role.” Well, this is not a job for email or for simply forwarding and restating what’s in the job spec. Think about it: if the position has 10 requirements, without a discussion, how would the Recruiter know what’s most important in this role? Sometimes the act of verbally prioritizing the expectations and responsibilities of the role can give clarity about what the role really entails. You’ll find the time and effort doing so pays off exponentially, and gives focus to the employment story the candidate will hear and wants to hear.

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  • Candidate Consideration: It’s 4:00 p.m., and your Recruiter has just brought you a highly qualified candidate for a position you need to be filled ASAP. Do you expect (and ask) to interview them first thing in the morning? Is your first thought “well, do they want to be considered for the job or not?” Putting our urgent need to fill a role ahead of the needs of the candidate happens more often than we’d like to admit. Not many candidates can drop everything for an interview at a moment’s notice. Plus, you want them to come prepared as much as they want to be prepared. Something as simple as providing your candidate with multiple scheduling options can show them you respect their time and effort.

  • Timing: Reaching back to candidates promptly after the application and interviewing process are completed can sometimes prove a challenge. Delays in the process of filling the position can’t always be avoided, but keeping your Recruiter or Customer Care team members in the loop when it does happen allows them to update candidates as the process unfolds.

    Timely response is critical because top talent gets snapped up quickly, and a lengthy delay leaves the impression that the company either isn’t serious about filling the role or has moved on to other candidates. A coordinated effort to communicate with your candidates—even when there is a delay—can leave even a rejected candidate feeling good about engaging with your company.

  • Reasoning: Believe it or not, people drawn to careers as Hiring Managers and Recruiters share a lot of the same psychological traits: they’re organized and detail oriented—they like to have a plan and execute it well. But life (and recruiting) is messy, and sometimes things go slightly awry. Talking through a candidate’s issues rather than immediately slamming the door not only makes for better decisions but can also improve the candidate experience overall (even if you do have to walk away).

    For example, you find the perfect candidate for your hard-to-fill position and make an offer, only to have their current employer make a higher counter-offer to keep their talent. What do you do? You could stand firm and immediately send your Recruiter out to find someone else that’s perfect. But what if you discussed it with them first? Who knows, when you have a better look at the big picture, that candidate might be worth the additional investment. You might learn that the current market for that specific talent in that particular region may make finding another “perfect fit” difficult, or you may learn things that validate your decision to move on. Either way, which technique do you think is going to ensure this candidate—and the next candidate that Recruiter talks to—is going to have a better experience?

When Hiring Mangers and Recruiters understand that they have a shared responsibility to keep communication lines open, not only can they attract talent that truly fits, but also provide a better candidate experience. It truly is the key to delivering the best diverse talent for future success.

Written by Patty Silbert

President of Newton Talent since 2018, Patty Silbert has over 30 years of experience developing the innovative solutions that help HR professionals just like you meet their most pressing recruitment challenges and their companies achieve their talent acquisition goals. She is a regular writer and speaker on the subjects of recruitment strategy, employment branding, HR technology, and leadership.