Candidate Personas In Recruiting: An Introduction
Candidate Personas: Why We Ask Candidates Questions

Conversations: The Tyranny Of Words

Recruiter: I tell you something I'd like to get rid of - it's the word, "hiring manager."
Executive: You don't like hiring managers?
R: I don't like the word.
E: The word, "hiring manager."
R: Exactly. It's not a title, it's a description we use that conveys a sense of authority where none is deserved. In giving a manager the description of "hiring manager," we give them the false impression that they are skilled at hiring. In reality - if they don't hire a person - you know what they are?  
E: ...
R: Just some guy.
E: They don't call themselves hiring managers.
R: They what?
E: Managers never hear that word. They don't call themselves hiring managers. 
R: But we do.
E: Your point was that hiring managers, or, to be more accurate, managers, have an inflated sense of authority because they think their title gives them an authority they haven't earned. For that, to be true, they have to know of, and more important, call themselves hiring managers. 
R: .... Okay, that's a good point. 
E: So what else can I solve for you? 
R: The logic was not sound, but there are more legs to this stool. First, they have heard the term hiring manager, even if they haven't incorporated it into their identity. One would assume that in calling themselves manager, they assume the power to hire and fire brings a credibility to an interview, because they are making a choice. Recruiters, in their descriptions, make the mistake of loading one side of the equation in favor of the manager, adding the adjective, "hiring" to manager, without adding an adjective to the side of the jobseeker. These words still have meaning - and when we, as recruiters, make an introduction to a manager, we are subconsciously and through our words granting power to the manager. 
E: That's a stretch. 
R: What do you call it when you make an introduction?
E: A referral. 
R: Internally, maybe - but what do we call it when we send a manager a resume?
E: A submittal
R: And the candidate becomes an applicant - a legal term for someone who is in our hiring process.
E: Perhaps those words are there because there is a power differential between an applicant and a manager making a decision to pay that applicant to perform work.
R: You already agree with me.
E: In what way?
R: You already recognize this power differential in other parts of your work. 
E: And how is that? 
R: You've been a vendor to companies. 
E: That's correct.
R: And what do you seek to do to elevate your vendor status? Are you satisfied with Preferred Vendor? Tier II Vendor? Small Business Set-Aside?
E: We prefer the term, partner. 
R: Because a partner is on equal footing, while a vendor is a classification. 
E: Clients don't really see themselves as partners most of the time.
R: They do it all the time. Usually when it's time to make price concessions, or to appear more reasonable in their demands.
E: So in this demonstration of language, you're making the comment that power differentials do not exist, and our language is responsible for creating inequality in work relationships. And you want that to stop. 
R: Well - I've already had to back down from the definitive comments about hiring managers - although I'm not convinced they don't see themselves this way, I think it's obvious that recruiters still do. In continuing to do so, we are locking ourselves into language that distorts the point of an interview.
E: The point of the interview isn't for the manager to make a decision about hiring?
R: Not at all. The point of an interview is for two or more people to gather information. Making a decision about that information is a post-interview step. If a manager can make a decision about a candidate, it's because they are judging the candidate instead of speaking with the candidate. This is a mental framework that prevents the manager from conducting an effective interview.
E: Because you can't learn when you're tasked with providing feedback.
R: Yes. The second you think that a decision is the purpose of the interview, your brain shuts down its ability to learn and begins to process answers based on a pre-set criteria. That criteria is, almost always, information obtained prior to the interview, which is why thin-slicing can predict outcomes as well as an hour long interview.  
E: I thought you said that was a bad experiment. 
R: It was. It simply reinforced the common sense view that bad questions lead to bad answers. 
E: And getting rid of the word hiring manager is how you think you can fix this? 
R: Not at all. That is one branch of a tree that is in need of serious pruning.