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HR Candidate Search

The Six Biggest Mistakes Made By Hiring Managers

August 19, 2019

By: IQTalent

By Daniel Newton, IQTalent Senior Associate

Can’t figure out why you’re losing good candidates for those open positions? You get them through the process, but can’t get them through the door? As recruiters, we’re on the front-line with the candidates, beginning with sourcing and initial screening. We have two main jobs:

  1. Get the relevant information you need on the candidate’s background to decide next steps.
  2. Get the candidate jazzed up about the company/position.

When a client hangs up the phone, I want them to be checking their inbox every other day hoping to get that “Congratulations; we want to move forward!” email.  The rest is on you, the hiring manager.

As full life-cycle recruiters, we’re also focused primarily on building candidate rapport:

  • We want the candidate to have a flawless transition through the process.
  • We ensure the candidate is prepared for each phase.
  • Our candidates feel they are treated admirably.
  • We want our candidates to stay engaged, so when you’re ready to make that offer, we’ll close that deal for you.

Getting your ideal candidate to sign the offer letter and start working, however, is mainly on you, the hiring manager. They won’t be working with the recruiter; they will be working with you. And more importantly, for you, so the candidate needs to feel that connection and envision himself working side-by-side on your team.

Can’t figure out why you’re losing good #candidates for those open positions? You get them through the process, but can’t get them through the door? See if you’re making these worn-out mistakes:Click to Tweet

If you feel that the candidate isn’t getting super excited about the position, and you fear it may be something you’re doing, congrats, you are probably right! Either you’ve run into a string of candidates with exceptional poker-faces, or you need to reflect on how you are selling the job.

Avoid these 6 hiring manager mindset mistakes


Real-world interpretation:

“I am who I am. Take it, or leave it. I know what I’m capable of.” – Every Chad you have ever met at a bar

“I don’t send candy-grams, I just get them.” – Regina George in ‘Mean Girls’

If you find yourself saying this to your recruiters or candidates, look up the term ‘hubris’ and read it to yourself. This mentality will show itself to the candidate eventually. It may work on eager entry-level to junior-level employees, but a candidate with 10+ years of experience isn’t sold. They have four other companies interviewing them this week. Even candidates who are making an astronomical salary have too much pride to take a pay cut unless they are already set for life financially or they are looking for less responsibilities. If you want the top talent, prepare to pay for it. If you can’t afford your top candidate, cut her loose early.

Remember, unemployment is very low right now; it’s a friendly market for people making a career change. They are the pretty girl in the room, not you, and they have a lot of good options. Keep that in mind as you start working toward converting some of those candidates into hires.


Real-world interpretation:

“If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best.” – Marilyn Monroe

“If you could come in on Saturday, that would be greeeeat.” – Bill Lumbergh in ‘Office Space’

If you are a startup, small company, or big company broken into small teams that work independently, just be honest. Tell the candidate, “There will be challenges. There will be times of uncertainty. There will be shifting priorities from time-to-time. There will be ambiguity. We may not be able to offer Google or Amazon wages yet, but you will get a chance to make an immediate impact and face a new challenge every day. It’s a trade-off, but if that is an environment you want to be a part of and a team you want to bond with, we have a good fit for you.”

Using this phrasing has worked well with our candidates. They wouldn’t be talking to you if they didn’t know your situation. They did their homework and know about you already. They want to make a difference. They want to be appreciated. They want to be able to tell their friends and family real-life accomplishments that people will benefit from. They love a challenge. All humans want to feel a sense of worth and accomplishment. It’s in our DNA.

Phrases like “fast-paced environment” can be code for “priorities and deadlines will change often, there will be chaos, weekends are probably involved, and you’d better be ok with it because it’s all about making the customer/client happy.”

Be truthful and let the candidates know the scope of what is going on. You want these candidates to help make your atmosphere and environment better when they come to work for you, not just become another rat on the hamster-wheel of your uncertainty. So, be genuine and upfront. You may lose one or two candidates with that approach, but you’ll keep the right ones.


Real-world interpretation:

“I’m not like other guys.” – That dude

“I’m not like other girls.” – That girl

We know. Everyone knows. Diversity is important. Not just in gender or skin color, but ideas. People from different backgrounds bring different ideas/points of view to the table, and that’s good for innovation and success.

Any company looking to grow, become larger, and gain more success should value diversity. Preaching it through an interview process as a main focus of your company gives off the “I’m marking off a checkbox” vibe. That may not be your intention, but it might be what it sounds like to the candidate.

For a recruiter-hiring manager relationship, nothing is more confusing than giving us the initial parameters, and then throwing in a bunch of “but diversity is important, so do this” variables as an afterthought. Be frank with your recruiters. Tell us, “Here is what we are looking for, but we are dominant in (insert non-diverse class here), so if you come across a different sort of candidate who is borderline or who might be less qualified, we will still be interested in speaking with him or her, if that person meets our definition of a diverse candidate.”

If you want to hire a diverse candidate who could be slightly underqualified, then do it! Pay him or her the market value for the position, and give him a chance to grow and become successful. Please don’t give us, your recruiters on the front lines, a strict set of guidelines for the candidate pool, and then give us a bunch of exceptions! When that happens, you’re upset with the recruiters when the pipeline is not what you hoped it would be. Be honest with us and with the candidates from the onset.


Real-world interpretation:

“I’m not opposed to a monogamous relationship, but I want to keep my options open.” – Yuck!

“It’s not you, it’s me.” – Double yuck!

We know, it’s tough. You have an idea for a perfect candidate, and someone ALMOST checked off all the boxes. I won’t hold it against you. It’s your job to set your employer/company up for success.

Just be upfront and set some timelines. “We will have a few more interviews and will make our decision within 3-4 weeks. We do think you are a strong candidate, and you will be on our final list” is far better than “We’ll let you know in a few weeks.”

Set deadlines and priorities. Even if you do not have the perfect candidate yet, but another candidate is close but no cigar, let him go. If you know what you want, go for it. If you have flexibility, then use it and take a chance. The priorities are set by you, the hiring manager. Just make the priorities clear, and relay them to the recruiter and the candidate, so everyone knows where you stand. But, don’t get mad at us if it takes a while to find “the one” if your standards are exceptionally high and your priorities are super-specific. You’ve decided to be picky, so own it!

If your final candidate is almost perfect, it’s better to say, “The team talked it over, and we think you have the nearly all the qualities we've been looking for. Some areas we were a little hesitant about were XYZ, but we think you will be able to meet those challenges and would like you to be a part of our team to help us grow and be successful. Would you allow us to be your next step in your career?” versus saying, “We looked at other people, and you are the best. We want to hire you!”

Nobody wants to feel like they are your silver medal or won by disqualification.

What do you actually mean by ‘fast-paced #WorkCulture’ or ‘hiring for culture fit’? Find out if you’re making these common mistakes and how your words are being interpreted by #candidates.Click to Tweet


Real-world interpretation:

“You just haven't been our priority this month.” - Every busy hiring manager ever

Stop it. Just stop.

“We had to go through quarterly budgets first,” or “I apologize, we haven’t been as efficient as we would have liked, and we’ve now refocused on this area” is better than the generic ‘too busy’ response. We are all busy. Come up with something better. That’s just lazy. Nobody wants to work for lazy employers.


Real-world interpretation: 

Look up “How I Met Your Mother” and the Dahmer vs. Dobler effect

“The Friend Zone” – Everybody ever who has been in the friend zone

What does this even mean? We’ll tell you what it means: The law prohibits discrimination, so I fear if I say  ‘their personality didn’t mesh well with the team and I wouldn’t really enjoy working with them on a daily basis,’ I’m afraid I will get in trouble, so cultural fit it is.”

We won’t judge you if you want to like your coworkers. You were there first, you earned your position, or maybe you built the company. You should be able to hire people that fit within the standards you’ve set for yourself as long as you are ethical and legal. However, if you are looking to scale or grow in new ways, then you should probably have a very open mind as new personalities could help push along production.

Instead, create a list of  ‘no-go’ qualities. Everybody wants a ‘team player’ who is ‘professional’ and ‘can handle challenges and stress.’ So, what are some of the things you are looking to avoid, and are these traits unbiased and within reason?

If someone is poor with his communication, is too lackadaisical in her professional manner, is flustered easily when pressed with hard questions or makes lame excuses to why he did not perform or was unsuccessful, then let us know. We’d rather tell a candidate, “Other candidates were more engaging” or “You had trouble answering tough questions in a way we would like to see.” This feedback is infinitely better than “not a cultural fit.”

By not fessing up to the true reason you reject a candidate, you are really doing a disservice to future candidates who will not be able to be prepped by recruiters like us! The ability to tell a candidate, “The team likes someone who can disagree and present a strong argument as to why they disagree in a convincing and professional manner,” or “The team is very professional, and it takes a while to warm up to joking and playful banter, so keep this in mind when first interacting with them,” not only prepares the candidates for the interview but lets them know what type of employer they’ll  be working with if they accept the job so they can make a more informed decision.


At IQTalent Partners, we’re about relationships — with you, the hiring manager, and with our candidates. We are authentic and value honesty and real talk with our clients and genuine feedback for our candidates.

No candidate is going to say straight up, “I think this company is a pretentious workforce who is hiding the real workload or covering up its faults.” They will politely decline going forward with a generic excuse. But, if you avoid these six hiring manager mindsets, and we can help you with that, you have a better chance of finding the ideal hire, finding him quickly, and getting him to accept that offer!

The recruiting you need. When you need it. Contact IQTalent Partners today