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What is the Difference Between Hiring Managers & Recruiters?

Beth Hales,

The job market is hopping these days….literally. There is a lot of movement going on, which means even the little things count if candidates want to stand out. Understanding the steps employers follow and the people who carry out those steps, can help candidates better navigate interview conversations. There are two key people to be aware of when exploring a potential job opportunity, the hiring manager and the recruiter. Here are the general descriptions for each:


1. Hiring Manager: The person who will be the manager for the candidate hired for the position. This person makes the final decision as to who will be hired.

2. Recruiter: The person who handles the process of finding candidates to fill a position. This person typically reviews resumes and conducts phone screens (initial interviews) in order to evaluate potential fit for the position.


I know you’re probably thinking this all sounds pretty basic, but there is one very important element for candidates to realize regarding these two people and the recruiting process. This key element is the communication that happens (or sometimes doesn’t happen) between the Hiring Manager and the Recruiter. Ideally, the Hiring Manager has outlined the specific skill set he or she needs to add to their team, AND has effectively communicated those requirements to the Recruiter. How the Recruiter interprets that information, along with how it relates to the candidate pool that is available, can be an important factor in the hiring equation.

What difference does this make for a candidate? As a candidate, it is crucial to understand exactly what the hiring manager is looking for. The sooner that is revealed, the faster you can show the Recruiter you have those particular skills (if Indeed you do have them) and get moved to the next stage of the interview process. The Recruiter is the gatekeeper to the opportunity to interview with the Hiring Manager directly. This means building a rapport with the Recruiter can be very beneficial. When there is an opportunity to ask questions during a phone screen, make sure you take advantage of the opportunity to gain some of the Recruiter’s knowledge of the hiring manager and team. Here are a few example questions:

1.        What three things does the hiring manager look for in a successful team member?
2.        If you could describe the team in a word or two, what would you say?
3.        Can you describe the management style of the hiring manager?
4.        Why did you choose to work at this company?

Not only will this help you decide your ultimate interest in the position, it sets you up for success in the interview process. There’s a lot of technology today, but people still hire people. Don’t overlook the value of intentionally building a rapport from the very beginning of the interview process.