Engineering Headhunters Los Angeles

Where Hiring Managers Fail!

Top Technology Recruiting Agency
Joe Van Tassel 18 Feb 2020


Something we greatly respect about Hiring Managers is that they’re usually more than just that title. They’re motivating a team, setting strategies, and making sure goals are met. Actually, hiring people is just one small part of what they do.

That means they don’t run through interviews and resumes all the time, so often aren’t trained specifically to handle the ins and outs and nuances of the process.

An Engineering Recruiters Role

As tech recruiters we see this often, as we usually come in when the hiring manager is just too busy or the process is taking too long. In addition to that, what we’ve seen is that these managers are making a few mistakes along the way, simply due to not being fully immersed in hiring candidates day to day.

Here are three basic areas where most hiring managers fail, that can increase your success overnight


Everybody has their own perception of how long they should stay at a job for the strength of their resume. Millennials tend to think it’s one year for example, but we say three years as a minimum (on average) shows actual dedication.

If someone shows they’ve been at many jobs for less than three years, that’s “job hopping”, which shows a lack of thinking long-term, and a lack of self-awareness in knowing what’s best for them. We like to see people take enough time at a company to assess it in a real way. That means getting to know where the opportunities and real challenges lie within an organization, who the stakeholders are, and where their strengths and weaknesses fit in.

So, beware of the smooth talkers. People that job hop are good at interviewing and winning over hiring managers. They have a lot of practice crafting sympathetic stories, which will showcase why their job hopping wasn’t a big deal. Read between the lines if this is a consistent story with a candidate – you don’t want to be the next company to spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours on someone who will turnover.

General rule of thumb: if you want a long-term hire, don’t hire anyone without at least 3 years commitment to their previous role.


What is even more important than knowing about the duties of a candidate’s prior role, is knowing the organizational structure they were within (aka the size of the company). Roles within companies vary based on size of team, amount of responsibilities, and the culture of the company.

Yes, we said it: culture. This is the most important element of your hire. Knowing where they came from structurally will reveal a lot about their actual capabilities and comfort at your company.

To simplify things, each candidate is either coming from a large, mid-sized or a small company. And the longer they’re in one environment, the harder the adjustment for them if they make a switch.

General rule of thumb: always ask about a candidate’s current organizational structure and compare that to your structure.

Larger companies usually have processes in place and employees with compartmentalized skills. There is management to help people learn and adjust, as well as specific goals and outcomes, or even KPIs (key performance indicators) for each role.

Smaller companies typically have fewer refined processes in place. Each employee wears a lot of hats and needs to have an entrepreneurial outlook. This is a place for non-egos, as anyone at any given time could need to take out the trash.

For example, if you’re a hiring manager at a large company and think you’re looking for someone “self-motivated and entrepreneurial” you may find that they get restless, demand more freedom than you want to give, and that they get frustrated with bureaucracy. This mis-match can make them and you unhappy, whereas someone who is used to following orders and meeting deadlines is a better fit.

Is taking someone from a different-sized company a deal breaker?

No, but big leaps are big bets, and we don’t usually recommend it. For example, a Systems Engineer overlooking a 15 server environment versus a team of Systems Engineer overlooking 400 servers, requires a totally different set of skills and technologies even though it seems the same at the core.


We said it again, culture. Most of the time it is critical for someone to be equally a skill AND culture fit, but there is a bit of an art to the ratio when it comes to hiring the right candidate.

The philosophy we use when cultural fit is in question is: the more experience, the less crucially important culture is. That being said, you should never hire someone who is less than a 50% cultural match. If it’s a highly skilled worker with years of experience, then the cultural fit can be less of an emphasis on your decision, but still needs to be half of what you’re weighing. You want them to fit in, but they don’t necessarily need to be yelling chants out of a bullhorn.

Conversely, if the hire is just out of college, a bit younger with one to two years of experience then they need to be a 95% match. This person will take more time and training, so they really need to fit in well in order to ride the wave of the learning curve.

What exactly do we look for to determine cultural fit?

There are four key things (among many others): attitude, aptitude, values, and anything extracurricular that the company does. We outline some great personality tests that we have candidates go through as well here.

For example, many years back we were hiring a Systems Engineer for a medical device company. A cool thing that the Engineering team did on Wednesday nights is order in pizza and play HALO. We actually asked every single eligible candidate about their love of HALO because we knew how much that would create the perfect match.

General rule of thumb: culture is always at least half of what you’re hiring for, no matter the level of your candidate’s experience.

These aren’t hard and fast rules, but they are all general practices and actual tips we implement daily. There are always exceptions and unicorn hires, but those are not safe bets, and in this job market where there are less candidates available, a safe bet is what we are typically looking for to ensure you find the perfect match.

Where Hiring Managers Fail!
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Where Hiring Managers Fail!

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