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Tech Recruiting: 10 Of The Best Questions You Need To Ask A Hiring Manager

(Dylan Redmond reviewing the teachings of Ayub Shaikh in the Black Belt in Tech Recruitment)

If you’re in need of hiring manager training, the first place you need to start is thinking about what you’re going to ask them. If you’re a recruiter, you’ll know just how challenging it can be to extract concrete information from a hiring manager. Nailing down the exact requirements for the role, knowing the salary range that you can offer, and separating the must-haves from the ‘would like to’ haves – this is information that you undoubtedly need if you have any chance of finding the right candidate for the job. It’s important that you take the next steps as a recruiter to become a talent advisor.

This is particularly true if you’re a tech recruiter. As we’re all well aware, tech professionals are the hottest commodities on the planet right now. The candidates themselves are in the driving seat, and in order to attract the right people to the role, you’re going to need to ask the hiring manager some probing questions (in the nicest possible way, of course!) Here are the 10 questions that we think you should ask a hiring manager when you’re recruiting for a tech role.

1. What is the real job title?

Sometimes companies will use an internal job title based on the salary that they want to pay, rather than what the job actually is. For example, a hiring manager could define a job title as ‘Senior Business Analyst’, but when you read the job description carefully, you’ll discover that it’s actually a Project Manager that they need (and they don’t come cheap!)

So what do you do? Well, ultimately it’s in everyone’s best interest to go with ‘Project Manager’, regardless of what the salary offered is. Otherwise, you’ll end up attracting candidates that simply won’t be able to fulfil the requirements of the role.

2. Is the salary flexible?

Generally, you’ll know what the salary level is for the role, but it’s also important to remind the hiring manager that they’re in a candidate-driven market. Ask whether or not the salary that you’re given is the highest level that you can work with, or if it’s in any way flexible if you find someone that is outstanding. You need to know what you’re really working with because ultimately money talks and you don’t want to waste anyone’s time, least of all your own!

3. What is the project scope?

It’s also really important for you to understand overall project scope. Find out what projects are currently going on in the company’s infrastructure. Ask the hiring manager about upselling and cross-selling to make sure that you understand everything that is happening behind the scenes. Having a grasp of all of the big projects that are going on in an organisation will help you to determine what type of candidate will fit into the organisation.

4. What are the management and reporting lines?

Ask the hiring manager about any management duties within the role as well as the reporting line in the department. You need to know who the successful candidate will report to, as this is an indication of the gravitas of a role. Finding out that they will be reporting to senior management, or possibly taking on a management role themselves can spark major interest in the role.

5. How many stages are in the interview process?

It’s so important for you to know this from the get-go. Candidates will want to know exactly how many hoops they need to jump through to get the gig and will be none too pleased if you tell them that there will be two rounds of interview, when in reality it’s actually four. Guessing games will get you nowhere with tech candidates. You need to be totally upfront with them about the interview process so that they can decide whether or not they want to move forward with the opportunity.

6. Will the candidate need to do any formal presentations?

You need to ask the hiring manager if this particular role requires the candidate to have formal presentation skills or specific reporting capabilities? If the answer is yes, you have to include this in the job description, because often technical professionals won’t be comfortable doing these types of tasks.

7. How important are interpersonal skills to the role?

The successful candidate will ideally have the perfect blend of technical and interpersonal skills. But let’s just say that the scales tip more on the technical side – is that enough for the hiring manager to work with? This point goes back to separating the must-have requirements from the ‘would like to have’ requirements. Find out if the role requires the candidate to be user-oriented and able to pass on the capabilities of what they are doing to their colleagues, or if it’s enough for them to purely work on the technical side of things.

8. Are you an Agile or Waterfall environment? 

An excellent question to ask any hiring manager. Not only because it will earn you brownie points as it clearly shows that you know what you’re talking about, but more importantly because the answer will immediately chop the number of potential candidates for the position in half. Since Agile and Waterfall environments are so different, you need to make sure that the candidates you’re going after will think in the right kind of way for the organisation.

Agile candidates need to be very comfortable with being parachuted into a room at a very late stage, working with a group of strangers and getting along with them immediately in a very stressful environment. So it’s key to understand that when you choose candidates, they will be a good fit for the environment that they’ll be entering.

9. In your absence, who else can I ask about the role or candidate requirements?

If, for some reason, the hiring manager isn’t available and you have a question relating to the candidate/interview process, who can you go to to get the feedback that you require? It’s vital that you know this information. It might not seem like a big thing, but tech candidates expect to get responses very quickly. They don’t hang around for too long either, so try to find out just how quickly you can expect to get decisions at each stage of the interview process. Your candidates will thank you for it.

10. If, following this project I find someone that’s incredible, is it ok to market the odd CV to you on spec?

It may seem a little far-fetched to think that you might get an amazing tech CV out of the blue when your client isn’t hiring at that moment in time, but trust us – strangers things have happened! That’s why you should be actively dropping some breadcrumbs that you can use in the future. Even if an organisation isn’t officially hiring, often when a CV is passed to the right person, it could very possibly turn into a future hire, which means a very big pat on the back for you!


Looking for Hiring Manager Training that will allow you to interact with candidates the right way? Or maybe you want the best interviewer training available? See what the SocialTalent Learning Experience Platform has to offer.

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