Hire Developers

5 Questions to Ask Your Hiring Manager – Technical Recruiting Learning Series #7

Written By Jessica Miller-Merrell | January 14, 2015

Recruiting for technical companies can sometimes feel like a shot in the dark. The highly specialized positions and unique nuances of tech companies can make it difficult to pin down exactly what the right candidate looks like. In fact, 40 percent of employers struggle to fill open positions at their company, and that number is likely even greater in the tech industry. There is one way tech recruiters can get a lot closer to making the right hire though, and that is by communicating with your hiring manager and asking the right questions.

I like to think of hiring managers as the road map to help you get to your destination. Without a road map, you can stumble along, stop here and there to ask for directions and maybe end up where you want to be, though it may take longer and cost more to get there. Or you can break out the road map and use it to get to your destination, taking the simplest, quickest and most cost-effective route. When you begin to see your hiring managers as a valuable asset in the recruiting process, they can transform the way you do things for the better.

So how do you make the most of an open line of communication? Ask the right questions, take the lead and use these questions as a starting point:

What are the long term objectives for this role?

Get them to think beyond the immediate need to fill the position by identifying three long-term objectives.

What are the must-have skills for a candidate to be successful?

Identifying the skills needed to perform in the role probably won’t be difficult, so take it a step further and ask the hiring manager to rank them in order of importance. This will encourage them to think critically about what they need and what would be a bonus on top of the necessary skills.

What are the preferred skills for a candidate to be successful?

You’ve identified the must haves, so now probe a bit further and find out what other skills they would prefer, but not require, a candidate to have. This is a good opening to have the hiring manager rationalize the requirements so you, and they, understand exactly what their needs, wants and wishes are. Bonus tip: circle back with an updated copy of the job description after your initial discussion and ask if there are any skills or qualifications that should be added. This will save time in the long run and give them a chance to look at it with fresh eyes.

What is the Hiring Manager’s managerial style?

Finding the right candidate is largely about it being a good fit for both parties, so you’ll want to make sure your candidates are comfortable with their future manager’s style. Find out about the hiring manager’s managerial style, such as whether they are hands off or involved, prefer self-starters or just someone who can take direction, are laid back or structured, etc.

Are there any difficulties facing the team?

To do the best job you can, you need to know the good, the bad and the ugly so you understand the dynamics of the team you’ll be introducing a candidate to. This could be an issue with high turnover, not having a very experienced team or a long-term project/challenge the team will face. Whatever the issue is, knowing about it will help you find a candidate that can handle, or even possibly help resolve, the issues.

These five questions are a great start to help you discover what you need to know to recruit the right kinds of candidates, but they’ll likely also lead to follow-up discussions and questions as you go. Recruiting for tech companies has its own set of challenges, but communicating with your hiring managers can help minimize those challenges.

6 Things Developers Wish Technical Recruiters Knew