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Strategies for hiring managers in 2019, part 3

Sourcing, interviewing, and building and developing a team are among the most important aspects of creating a company’s culture. However, hiring managers often receive little to no training on how to go about this difficult and often nuanced task.

What kind of training do most hiring managers receive? We asked ours:

“Lots of trial and error.”

“My training? School of hard knocks!”

“I know nothing about sourcing. Literally nothing.”

In other words, hiring managers are typically left to figure it out on their own. Books, mentors, peers, and online resources were all cited as useful, but generally people responded with something along the lines of, “I don’t know — got any ideas?” This demonstrates how important it is to build more resources for hiring managers and it also brought us to strategy number three:

Never stop learning

All of the engineering managers I interviewed described the trials and tribulations of their early hiring efforts. Myriad mistakes were cited:

  • Letting the candidate control the discussion rather than moving the conversation towards the information I needed to learn
  • Answering all of the applicant’s questions very conscientiously and not saving enough time for me to ask enough questions about them
  • Not being prepared to answer all of the questions the candidate asked
  • Not having a structured enough second screen to assess technical skills before bringing certain roles in for a full loop
  • Asking a question where I have one ‘right’ answer in my head and expecting them to read my mind and give me the answer I want

These are mistakes we can likely all relate to. The good news is that mistakes are great learning opportunities. In a company that is growing as quickly as Textio, hiring is an ongoing effort, which provides abundant opportunity to practice.

“Keep in mind it’s something you can get better at,” said Engineering Manager Adam Sanderson, who thinks of hiring as an art and a science. “Like science, there’s a system and a method. Like art, there are rules and a structure. There’s good painting and not very good painting. There’s technique. All of these things can be developed with practice and attention.”

Engineering Manager Orion Montoya uses internal feedback to help develop their interviewing skills. “I always have people shadow me on the interview loop, and recently started asking them for feedback,” they said. “This has been incredibly useful in developing self-awareness of my own patterns and biases.”

In addition to gathering feedback from internal sources, don’t be afraid to follow up with the candidate themselves. Engineering Manager Max Winderbaum said, “I seek out feedback from people who had informational interviews and then didn’t move forward. Why didn’t they move forward? You can learn from that. The only way to avoid blind spots you may have developed is to ask people how they see you.”

Seeking opportunities to learn also makes you more adaptable as things change. Said Engineering Manager Josh Clow, “Like most things in people management, hiring isn’t a static activity. Biases may change, or the way they express themselves may shift. What was a best practice a year ago may become a red flag. Even within a given company, the things that work well for hiring will change as a company grows or as the work matures or as the population of the company changes over time.”

Practice, sharing resources, remaining curious, and seeking feedback are all great ways to improve your skills, and the hires you make. What will you commit to this year to improve your hiring outcomes?

Part 4, the last in this series, is coming soon.

Check out parts 1 & 2 here:

Strategies for hiring managers in 2019, part 1.

Strategies for hiring managers in 2019, part 2.

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