Effective Questions for Recruiters to Ask Hiring Managers

Recruiters play a vital role in bridging the gap between job seekers and hiring managers. When collaborating with hiring managers to understand and fill a new vacancy, effective communication is key. Whether you’re a seasoned recruiter or just starting out, here are essential questions to ask your hiring manager to ensure a successful recruitment process.

1. Understanding the Need.

Inquiring about the need for the vacancy is a valuable step. Seasoned hiring managers appreciate this question, as it showcases your critical thinking and refusal to accept inputs passively. Vacancies can arise for various reasons, such as:

  • Team members departing (resignation, promotions, extended leaves, assignments)
  • Increased business demands.

If a predecessor occupied the role, understanding their contributions provides insights. This information makes it easier to comprehend the role’s significance. While it’s possible the previous employee might conduct a handover to the new hire, it’s also likely that team members will compare the new hire’s work with their predecessor’s. When it’s a new role, experienced managers can anticipate the newcomer’s value to the team and describe the ideal candidate. Since the demands and mentorship opportunities vary between newly opened positions due to increased business demands and positions that previously existed within the company, candidates often ask about this topic, so don’t hesitate to discuss it with your hiring manager.

2. Clarify the Selection Steps.

Gain clarity on the selection process. What steps await candidates after the initial recruiter interview? Are there one or more interviews, technical assessments, or tests planned? It is crucial to optimize the steps of the selection process according to the market and to communicate them clearly to the candidates. A fully optimized and transparent process will ensure the best candidate experience and enhance their motivation. Occasionally, hiring managers don’t fully grasp the scarcity of certain profiles in the market, assuming they have a pool of a hundred motivated candidates. It is on you to remind them of the scarcity of high-quality candidates and of the benefits of a clearly defined selection process.

3. Preferred Personality Type.

Building a rapport with your hiring manager is essential. Knowing their preferences can simplify the selection process. Ask about the personality traits they prefer in their team members. Do they seek extroverted individuals who openly discuss issues, or is it a role where such traits are less critical? Do they seek a candidate with great attention to detail or someone who looks at the big picture?  Keep in mind that certain hiring managers may hold prejudices based on race, gender, age or some other demographic characteristic that doesn’t have anything to do with how good someone is at what they do. Stay attentive and carefully assess these prejudices, so you can react to discrimination in a timely manner, according to the law and your company’s procedures.

4. Past Successes.

Ask if there have been successful candidates from similar industries or backgrounds in the past. This insight can help fine-tune your candidate search criteria, making your recruitment process more efficient. Understanding the qualities of previously successful candidates is like finding pieces of a puzzle that fit seamlessly and will help you narrow your LinkedIn search and Boolean search.

In addition to these questions, ensure you have a good grasp of fundamental details about the vacancy, such as salary levels, opportunities for growth, and how the role contributes to the team or company’s overall success. Familiarize yourself with the company’s core values, as this knowledge will help you explain the role to candidates and address their inquiries effectively.

In conclusion, don’t hesitate to challenge hiring managers and seek answers to these important questions. Your role as a recruiter is not just to follow instructions blindly but to be informed and provide valuable insights to ensure the perfect match between candidate and company. Effective communication with your hiring manager is the cornerstone of a successful recruitment process.

How can you know that you’ve made the right decision after the job interview: cognitive biases

Nowadays, we are constantly exposed to various streams of information and expected to quickly adjust and respond to it. Being faced with such a challenging task, our cognitive system is often pressured to make shortcuts, without even consulting us. For example, you’ve probably had a colleague that just seemed a bit off at first glance and you could never grow to like them, although you never knew exactly why. Or maybe, you’ve interviewed a candidate and pretty early on realized no further conversation is necessary – the candidate is so much like you and your colleagues and would fit in the team perfectly. Or perhaps, you were being interviewed and the interviewer seemed incompetent right away, although when you now stop and think about it, they did their job fairly.

Surely, there are many examples, both in our personal and professional lives, when we made quick decisions and were certain in our judgment, although we couldn’t properly pinpoint where this certainty comes from. These situations occur due to a well-studied phenomenon – cognitive biases.

A cognitive bias is a systematic error in thinking, which occurs while we’re interpreting information and can lead us to faulty judgment. It is normal, and sometimes quite economical, to experience cognitive biases since they speed up our decision-making process and save our energy. 

However, there is one area where biased thinking can have severe consequences: the selection process.

In this blog, we’ll try to summarize the most common biases that can occur in the selection process, both from the interviewer’s and from the candidate’s perspective, and try to give you some tips on how to avoid them. Even if you are not a hiring professional or considering entering a selection process soon, this list can still help you identify some of the biases you may hold since they may appear in any aspect of your life.

Let’s review the interviewer’s biases first:

1.Halo effect

Perhaps the most famous cognitive bias, often mentioned in various contexts, the Halo effect, occurs when the first impression influences the rest of the communication. For example, if the candidate answers some of the first questions particularly well, in a way that the interviewer finds fitting, the interviewer is likely to overlook some ’’red flags’’ later on or to interpret them in the light of the first, positive impression.

Similarly, if the first impression is negative, the interviewer may become nit-picky and interpret the rest of the conversation in this light. The interviewer may even go as far as to interpret genuine answers, which they would typically appreciate, as a dishonest attempt to appear as a desirable employee. First impressions are often very difficult to disprove!

2. Affinity bias

Everyone (including Hiring professionals, no matter how experienced they are) tends to gravitate toward people with similar backgrounds, interests, values, and outlooks on life. This tendency is labeled as Affinity bias. For example, a Hiring Manager may have a ‘’gut feeling’’ about a candidate who went to the same University and had a similar career start as they did. 

To some extent, Affinity bias may be useful in hiring – we are likely to function well with people who are similar to us. However, apart from the obvious moral and discriminatory issue, this bias may lead to several practical consequences. Just because the candidate is similar to the interviewer in some aspects, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will fit in the role as successfully as the interviewer did. Similarly, the interviewer may overlook candidates that would be more fitting or qualified, ie. pass over the more deserving ones. In addition, creating a uniform team of like-minded individuals can ‘’block’’ the team long term, preventing the influx of new and different ideas. It is in the clash of views that most innovations are made.

3. Anchoring bias

Anchoring occurs when an arbitrary benchmark is used as a reference point in future evaluations. For example, if you first see sneakers that cost $1,000, the next ones you encounter that cost $ 500 may seem cheap, even though you’d find the second pair too expensive if you didn’t see the more expensive ones first. Buying $ 500 sneakers may even feel like saving, after being struck by the initial price.

Anchoring bias is long studied in the field of behavioral finance since it plays an important role in sales and salary negotiations. If the candidate enters the negotiation with high demands, they may appear more valuable than the candidate with similar qualifications and skill sets with lower demands. On top of that, once the negotiation starts and the demands are a bit adjusted, the negotiator from the company side may feel like they got ’’lucky’’ to obtain such a candidate at such a salary range, overlooking the fact that the agreed range is still higher than it was initially planned. Of course, it is sometimes necessary to readjust the range to obtain truly valuable employees, but it is also important to keep the anchoring bias in mind and differentiate between deserving individuals and confident negotiators. Similarly, before the negotiation, there may have been another negotiation process with a candidate that demanded ’’ too much’’, making the current candidate’s expectations (even though they may as well exceed the range) seem more reasonable.

4. Attentional bias

Attentional bias overlaps with the Halo effect in the sense that it entails a narrow attentional focus. However, while in Halo effect our attention is focused on the first piece of information we receive from the candidate, in attentional bias, any type of information can become our focus. Certain interviewers exhibit positive attentional bias, focusing only on the pieces of information that they find appealing about the candidate, overlooking all the potential cues on negative aspects. The reverse is also likely, some interviewers focus solely on aspects they find negative about the candidate, ignoring all the cues why such a candidate may be a good fit for the role.

As we’ve previously said, the interviewers are not the only ones falling into traps of these biases. Hence, we’ve also listed two of the most common biases that can influence a candidate’s behavior in selection:

1. Self-serving bias

A self-serving bias is a type of bias that enhances a positive perception of one’s personality and actions. When affected by this bias, individuals tend to describe their achievements as products of their efforts and abilities, while they describe their failures as products of situational factors. For example, a candidate may describe his team’s success as a product of his efforts, while he describes failures in terms of faulty organizational structure or nonproductive colleagues. Of course, from the interviewer’s perspective, it is hard to evaluate whether the candidate truly was a ‘’pearl thrown to swine’’ or just not up to the task level. 

2. Availability bias

This bias refers to our tendency to base our decisions on the information that most easily comes to mind (often the most recent, or most memorable). For example, people often overestimate the number of terrorist attacks or plane crashes that happen yearly – because of the intensity of such events, they are easily recalled from memory and people feel like there must be many more examples. The likelihood of a car crash or drowning in your tub is much higher than the likelihood of a plane crash or terrorist attack, yet, people are afraid of planes and terrorists and not of bubble baths and cars. Shocking events are more memorable and therefore easier to recall, but that doesn’t make them more likely to occur in the future again.

The selection process is not free of this bias – a candidate may have a bad previous experience with interviewers ( eg. an interviewer that didn’t understand the position fully, was too assertive, rude… ) and may enter the new process with a ’’prophecy’’ that the interviewer will be uninformed or interrogative – because they all must be. Previous negative and memorable experiences with interviewers can truly start a cycle of miscommunication between the current interviewer and the candidate. Just because it is easy to recall an uninformed or interrogative interviewer, doesn’t mean that they all are.

After listing these selection biases, objectivity and effective communication during the interviewing process may seem almost impossible to achieve. However, in reality, there are always things you can do as an HR professional to prevent yourself from falling victim to these biases.

1. Include multiple people in the selection process – but truly

Although most selection processes include several professionals, there are still processes that heavily depend on one person’s decision. Make your hiring team members feel comfortable to share their genuine opinions – it shouldn’t be a collective effort just on paper. Although the experience reduces the effect of biases, everyone can still ’slip’ from time to time and form biased opinions. Therefore, it is important to compare the opinions of different team members and to form alternative interpretations of candidates’ behavior and answers.

2. Structure your interview

During the preparation stage, agree with your team on relevant questions that you should ask each candidate. Certain professionals hold fully structured interviews to avoid all biases, while others believe this approach to be too mechanical and prefer having the flexibility to elaborate on topics that emerge spontaneously during the conversation and to chit-chat a bit so they can relax the atmosphere. Whatever your preference is, it is good for interviews to be at least semi-structured. Don’t skip any of the key questions with any of the candidates so the comparison can be as fair and as objective as possible.

3. Acknowledge the biases

To avoid and confront just about anything, you must first acknowledge its existence. It is useful to carefully reflect on your decision-making process or maybe discuss your experience with other hiring professionals. This is particularly important when it seems that you have reached the conclusion quite quickly or when the conclusions seem too extreme – hasty, extreme decisions are often products of biased thinking. In time, you’ll realize which biases you are more prone to, and soon you’ll be able to identify them with much less effort.


Staying objective and making ’’the right’’ decisions when it comes to hiring is an extremely complex task. The interviewer often has to juggle the expectations of numerous stakeholders, sometimes overlooking that the ’’trickiest’’ stakeholder can be our own cognition. We hope that this short list can help you in future processes and that it will pop into your mind the next time you get ’’the gut feeling’’ about the candidate.

Boost your reputation on the market : storytelling and employer branding

If you’ve ever had anything to do with recruitment, you’ve probably experienced something like this: after another long day of sourcing and reaching out to candidates, you only have a few candidates that are interested to start the process, and, honestly speaking, they are not the best fit for your company. Tired, you open the jobs section on LinkedIn to check which companies are also searching for the candidates you need. There it is – a job ad from just a few hours ago, looking for the same type of candidates as you, with loads of applications. Besides the fact that the grass is always greener elsewhere, certain companies really are a magnet for candidates: they have regular applications from top talent and they fill in their positions quickly.


What is their secret recipe for candidate attraction? Apart from the obvious- good compensation and benefits, interesting projects, and other things that come to your mind when you think of top companies on the market, these companies are usually taking their employer branding to the next level. No matter how good the benefits are, if not adequately communicated to candidates and the market, they don’t mean much on their own.


Creating a strong employer branding strategy is a very complex task and it requires much more than one blog post, so we’ll be focusing on one of the employer branding techniques that is often praised as the most effective: storytelling.


How can storytelling help your brand?


The grip that stories hold on humans, as well as their impact on market value is best understood through a literary and anthropological experiment conducted by New York Times journalist, Rob Walker. This three-step experiment easily demonstrated how a great story can increase the value of seemingly dull and pretty useless objects. To start his experiment, Walker bought around 200 cheap objects from eBay, ranging from a pepper shaker and porcelain scooter to Fred Flinstone Pez dispenser and horsehead figurine. Then, a group of recognized writers wrote stories about these objects. Finally, Walker auctioned the objects on eBay once again, accompanied by short stories. This time around, objects sold for significantly higher prices. For example, a horse head figurine ( that was originally bought for a bit less than a dollar), accompanied by a story of a loving wife who made the figurine with her own hands for her deceased husband, was resold for 62 dollars. Roughly speaking, a deeply personal and sentimental story increased the object’s value by 6,200%!


Since Walker’s successful quantification of the impact of storytelling on market value, numerous studies on the topic followed and got similar results. One clear pattern emerges: humans tend to value things more once there is a well-shaped narrative around them. Following this pattern, it becomes clear that a good story can increase your company’s value in the eyes of potential employees. 


However, after becoming aware of the impact that storytelling can have on their brand, numerous professionals start to worry. ‘’What is my company’s story?’’, ”What kind of a story would candidates be interested to hear?’’, ‘’Who should write this story for me?’’, ‘’This sounds too artsy, I am not sure how to approach this whole thing’’– these are just some of the natural things to pop in one’s mind. Luckily, Jaka Lounge is here to help and get you started!


Every company already has its own story that is waiting to be told. We’ve shown light on some of the places where you can find your stories, and listed brief ideas on how you can channel them to your target audience. Let’s dive in now, and make you 6,200% more desirable as an employer!


Here are some tips on how to find and write your stories:


1. Speak to candidates in their own language


The most relevant and important storytellers are, of course, your colleagues. Creating content for your career page or social media in which employees can talk about their journey and time spent at the company can truly set you apart from the competition. 


Most of the companies are posting plain, similar job ads, offering standard working conditions and benefits. Showcasing real stories and experiences from the employees can help you cut through this bland noise. In this way, the position ceases to be a plain list of terms, tasks, and benefits and it becomes a real-life person, that candidates can resonate with and create more personal connection to. 


2. Put your leaders and experts forward


Put the spotlight on your leaders and experts – create content that shows their development stories, the hardships they had on their path before becoming successful in their fields, and their vision for the company’s future. Giving space to your leaders to tell their stories can bring numerous benefits to your brand. Firstly, candidates who prioritize learning will surely be glad to see that your company has seniors who can support them and enhance their growth. Secondly, through sharing the hardships that they’ve been through before becoming successful, your leaders become much more relatable and admirable to junior colleagues. Thirdly, many leaders and experts have their own, personal brands on the market. Your company will surely look reputable in the eyes of potential candidates, once it is associated with such experts.  


3. Empower the parents 


A recent study by McKinsey & Company found that the largest portion of resignations during the past period came from parents. It is not necessary to explain further the hardships that working parents have on a daily basis, trying to balance their work and family lives. If your company is flexible when it comes to parents and their schedules, or if you maybe have special support programs for them – let the market know. Parents from your company can tell their stories, and explain their issues and ways in which the company helped them. Again, real parents, with their very real hardships and woes, will speak to candidates much more clearly than a simple line in the job ad, stating that your company offers ‘’parenthood benefits’’. 


4. Show what the hybrid work model truly looks like in your team


Since the pandemic has redefined the way of working, a large portion of candidates are considering flexible work models as one of the key factors when choosing a position. Recent legislation of remote work as an employee’s right in Netherlands and the discussion it opened on our local LinkedIn, clearly painted the image of employees’ expectations on this topic. If your company has remote or hybrid work options, let your candidates know. Your colleague worked from the seaside last week? Another colleague spent Monday and Tuesday in nature and Wednesday and Thursday socializing and working with her team in the office? Tell their stories!


There is just one more thing that we would like to add about this topic. While you are scouting for stories within your company, keep in mind that…


Storytellers benefit from telling the story


The benefit of storytelling is not limited to the listeners (in this case- potential candidates), the very process is awarding for storytellers (in this case- employees) themselves. Reflecting on previous experiences, creating a comprehensive narrative, being listened to, being acknowledged- all of these can truly be rewarding for your employees. By inquiring about employees’ experiences and giving them space to express themselves, you are not only making your brand more personal and desirable, you are also keeping the morale of your team.  


To conclude: Every company has its authentic, valuable stories that can set it apart from the competition. As a manager, HR or branding professional, you should always have an ear for these stories and provide a channel where they can be heard. There is of course endless number of ways in which you can find and showcase your stories. In this article, we’ve only given you a starting point, a simple map, to get you started on this quest. Good luck hunting!