Interviewing Your Future Talent Acquisition Leader

Let’s face it, we love interviewing and networking with our future colleagues, however, it can get a little tricky when it comes to your future manager. Have you thought about what kind of questions you would ask when you are interviewing for your next role? Do you have an idea of what type of management fits your desires? Do you even know you may have that as an option? Why not? Your future manager will be one who will inspire you, who values you, empowers you, understands you, and can pave a career path, all with a vision of what you’re passionate about and how it fits into their team.

Unfortunately, most of us never even get the chance to be a part of interviewing our future managers (internal OR external). However, some rare opportunities come along, and yet many of us opt out—I know I have—because we feel we’re not in a position to question someone who might be managing us shortly. Big mistake, because it doesn’t help you or the company to choose not to participate or speak up and help drive the company’s values.

The good news, however, is that you have had and will continue to have lots of managers throughout your career, heck, you could be someday a future manager, which means it’s never too late to start getting more involved in your managers’ hiring process. I have thought about some ways you can participate and what to do once your “possible” future manager is sitting across the table from you, resume in hand.

Raise Your Hand and Ask to Be Involved

Aside from awesome, crazy cool sourcers/recruiters I know, I can’t think of anyone who enjoys the interview process. Those in charge of hiring will try to limit the interviews to only those they see as key decision makers at a management level. This usually means people senior to the position, not necessarily those who will report to him or her. Which I would like to see changed and discussed.

But, as a future direct report, not to mention someone who knows the businesses and teams inside and out, you have valuable input, and it’s not at all unreasonable for you to ask to get involved, not one bit.

As soon as you discover that your recruiting team will be hiring for your future manager, let whoever is in charge know you’d like to meet with the top candidates. Now, this most likely won’t happen during the first round of interviews; it’s much more common for direct reports to meet with candidates toward the end of the process, so let the hiring manager determine when best to get you involved. Just make it clear that you’d like to be involved.

Review the Resume 

Remember how much time and effort you put into updating your current resume? Well, your prospective boss should’ve done the same, and you’ll want to take a look at his or her background and not just a LinkedIn profile.

When reviewing their resume, pay attention to two key things: what candidates have highlighted as their most significant achievements and where they’ve spent most of their management career. How people see themselves and where they’ve grown as managers will play a massive part in the type of manager they’ll be to you.

If you have any areas of concern, jot them down and bring it up when you’re interviewing. For example, if you’re working at a startup, and you’re interviewing a candidate that spent most of her career as a mid-level manager at a large corporation, ask how they’ll adapt their management style to adjust to your company’s values.

Don’t be afraid to dig into your prospective boss’ background to better understand where they may be coming from, because that will be a strong indication of what you can accomplish together if he or she gets the job.

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Share Your Expectations

One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made when given the opportunity to interview my bosses was not telling them what I expected of them. It’s so important to express your expectations. We had great chats, discovered things we had in common, and learned a bit about one another, but I never explicitly expressed what I needed from them as my managers. This may help them to get the full scope of the team and make a better decision.

My advice? If you have the opportunity to vet your future boss, take the time to jot down a wish list. Think about what qualities the best boss ever would have, and be realistic. Do you have areas where you don’t feel you have enough support from management currently? Are there classes or conferences you think your team should be attending and if they know about them? I am shocked when I am interviewing individuals regardless of what level, that they don’t know about SourceCon. For me, that is a red flag, especially coming from a sourcing lead/manager. Knowing what your ideal manager looks like will help you have a more constructive conversation with each candidate. If you have a team that values input, you’ll make a significant impact.

Provide Constructive Feedback 

While meeting with your candidate is important, how you share your feedback with the decision makers afterward is essential.

Once you’ve finished meeting a candidate, take your notes and draft a quick summary of your impressions. In addition to all the more tangible takeaways, your gut feeling is important, and that’s best captured immediately.

Next will be how you present your thoughts to the hiring manager. If possible, do it in person or over the phone, with your notes and summary in hand. Make sure you stay constructive and avoid any comments that could be perceived as petty or unprofessional. Instead, share insightful observations about the candidates’ answers to your question, and share some of the questions you asked. When the hiring manager realizes you tackled angles the interviewers hadn’t, they are likely to acknowledge your feedback.

When leadership sees how professionally you approached the interview process, they’re likely to factor your opinions into the final decision. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself interviewing as the future boss someday as a result. Be part of the decision and have that seat at the table.

Kay Kelison is a respected social media strategist and a principal sourcer who has been in the recruiting industry over fourteen years. She currently works as a Principal Researcher / Trainer for Zillow Group where she partners with both business and recruiting functions to build candidate pipelines, develop targeted sourcing plans, build and manage successful sourcing initiatives, and manage customer/partner expectations. Additionally, she is involved in the developing and managing diversity recruiting efforts through social networking platforms on websites including LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc. Kay is an open networker and encourages you to connect with her.

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