In a recent webinar on ERE.net Vlastelica, who has worked as a recruiting director at Amazon and Expedia and now runs his own consultancy, said confrontation was "a learned skill" that every corporate recruiter should have.
"I'm sure you have had managers ask you to do things that do not have a high ROI; that are not good ideas," he said.
The best way to deal with this is to manage expectations and raise issues before they become a problem.
"Some of the best recruiters I've worked with are great at confronting bad behaviours… They have the respect of the business, and the business actually appreciates when we can challenge them, when we bring a level of expertise."
For example, he said, at a pre-hire strategy meeting, the recruiter could bring in a simple spreadsheet with an optimal hiring timeline, and
notes on typical reasons for delays at each stage.
Sourcing and screening might take two to four weeks at best, but this could blow out due to slow hiring manager feedback, or an unrealistic candidate profile or salary range.
Interviewing might ideally take two to three weeks, but it would be longer if the hiring manager's availability was poor or the interview team was unprepared.
"Talking up front about the consequences will make it easier for you to push back when people are asking about unrealistic things."
Discuss the tradeoffsVlastelica said managers needed to be educated that of the three ideal outcomes in a recruitment process – high-quality hire, fast process and low cost – all three rarely occurred at the same time.
"One of the big mistakes I see is when recruiters sign up for trying to optimise all of these things and it's just not typically realistic."
In general, he said, managers cared about speed and quality of hire - not source of hire, how much it cost, or whether it was a compliant process.
Recruiters should frame the initial conversation around the trade-off that came with striving for a fast, high-quality hire – it was going to cost a lot. And if the manager wasn't willing to sign-off on a higher budget, then either the speed or quality would suffer.
Pre-close the managerOften, even though the first batch of candidates was good, the hiring manager would ask to see more, Vlastelica said.
"It's not always that they want more candidates, it's that sometimes they don't know what they want… Some managers want to see more just because they can."
Every recruiter knew how to pre-close a candidate, by asking "If I made you an offer like this would you accept it?" - and the same could be done with hiring managers, he said.
In the preliminary meeting before the process was set in motion, the recruiter could say, "If I can find you someone who's got this background, making this kind of salary range, who's very interested in this kind of work, would you hire that person?"
By prompting the manager beforehand to clarify exactly what it would take to agree to a hire, Vlastelica said, the recruiter could "then reference that conversation when they're asking for more".