Parroting and clarifying will give you a better sense of what a business really wants in a new hire.

Recruiters and hiring managers are often tasked with using other people's job descriptions and criteria to find and hire employees. But communication is an imperfect business--an art, and not a science. Although VPs and department heads may spend time trying to pin down precisely what skills and traits they want in an employee, something often gets lost in translation, and the person hired does not end up being a good fit.

What can hiring staff do to make sure businesses get what they want in their employees? Here are some ideas for how to read between the lines and understand what they are really saying.

Parroting for Clarification

Hiring teams need to borrow a technique from many marriage counselors called parroting. When husbands and wives have conflict, there is often a lot of he-said, she-said going on. Somewhere in the process, a good counselor will teach them to parrot back what the other person said, in order to clarify and make sure you understand.

When hiring staff gets a job description in order to start looking for candidates, they can use this parroting technique to make sure everyone understands the requirements and skills needed for the job. Sometimes, when a hiring manager sees "experience preferred," it's difficult to know how important experience is to the business. By parroting back the description, this can be clarified.

Here's an example of how parroting works:

Hiring team member: "What I hear you saying is that experience is very important to this position. Would you consider a recent graduate with excellent skills and recommendations, but only internship experience?"

Department manager: "We need to know that our new hire can work independently with minimal oversight. If a job candidate has excellent skills and has demonstrated in the internship the ability to work independently, and if no experienced candidates can be found, we would consider a candidate with only internship experience."

Parroting has clarified the needs of the department manager in this case by identifying an important skill needed for the job, which may not have been included in the original description. In this way, the hiring team can identify candidates that are more likely to fit what is needed for the job.

Finding quality job candidates is an art rather than a science.

Asking Clarifying Questions

Another way the hiring team can go above and beyond to match candidates to actual needs is to ask the hiring team as many questions as they can. Many times, the job description is unclear or has not been updated for several years and no longer reflects the actual needs for the position. Asking clarifying questions will help to make sure the description accurately reflects the need.

Hiring team member: "So the new hire would work directly with the finance team to write software for a defined benefit program?"

Department manager: "Actually, that project was completed last year. The position is more of a support and maintenance role at this point, as well as developing new projects for optional benefits management."

These clarifications can be important when identifying potential candidates for open positions and will increase a hiring manager or recruiter's success rate in finding appropriate candidates.

GDH Consulting provides recruiting services for IT companies, departments and hiring managers to assist with everything from job descriptions to the talent pipeline.