How to Build a Stronger Relationship with the Hiring Manager

Steve Lowisz
Recruiters and hiring managers both need each other...

But the relationship here can be dicey.

As a recruiter, hiring managers can feel difficult to please.

But hiring managers often feel that recruiters don’t understand their needs in a candidate.

If you’re a recruiter, the best approach here is to focus on what you can control.

You can’t always change the hiring manager’s mind. But you can conduct the search in a way that fosters their trust and confidence in your abilities.

Here are three simple steps you can take to build a better relationship with any hiring manager.

Leave No Stone Unturned in the Intake Call 

First impressions are key to winning over a hiring manager.

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to ask a lot of thoughtful questions in the intake call.

Your goal here is to learn as much as you can about the hiring manager, their team, their needs, and what they want out of a candidate.

Try to ask open-ended questions – questions that someone can’t answer with a simple "yes" or "no.”

The more you can learn, the better equipped you are for a successful search.

Here is a list of questions we love to ask on the intake call:

  • Where are you at?
  • What is working?
  • What isn’t working?
  • Why do you feel it’s not working?
  • What do you believe is missing?
  • What do you feel you need next?
  • What do you ultimately want in this situation (SMART goals)?
  • Why do you want that?
  • What are the major obstacles in the way?
  • What have you done so far to push through these obstacles?
  • What were your results with that?
  • What do you still need assistance with?

Set Realistic Expectations Upfront

Setting the right expectations upfront is half the battle in a successful search.

The best strategy is to under promise and over deliver.

Recruiting is tough. You can do everything right and still come up short when a candidate ghosts you last minute.

That’s why it’s best to be VERY careful about what you promise a hiring manager. Be honest about what you are confident you can accomplish with any given search.

Never try to be a people pleaser when setting expectations. It’s better to disappoint someone on the intake call and surprise them later with a great hire.

If you’re a newer recruiter, it can be tough to tell a hiring manager that you can’t deliver quite what they want.

But if you have a better pulse on the talent market and know it will be hard to find candidates, it pays to be honest.

This is your opportunity to broaden their perspective on who the best person to add to their team is.

You may have great ideas for how they could hire someone from a different industry with parallel skills, for example!

Communication is Key

Once you’ve kicked off a search, staying in touch with the hiring manager goes a long way.

You should update the hiring manager once every few days at a minimum. Many hiring managers actually prefer daily updates.

Be as transparent as you can. If you’ve run across a new challenge or had a setback, let the hiring manager know.

That way, they’ll be more understanding if your submittals are later than expected.

The less you communicate, the greater the chance the hiring manager starts to doubt your abilities or how you’re spending your time on the search.

Detailed reports on who you talked to when, how many candidates you’ve contacted, how many interviews you’ve held and so forth can be very helpful.

Turning Over a New Leaf

It’s not always easy to deal with someone who distrusts you or thinks you don’t understand their needs.

However, if you approach the relationship with care and put in the work, you’d be surprised how many managers change their tune.

If you show them day in, day out that you care about their team and helping them find a great hire, your job will be a lot easier!

If you're a recruiter who's serious about advancing your career by making better hires, start our Recruiter Certification Program today!