Why candidates do background checks on their future managers
The power dynamic of job interviews has shifted. Candidates want to know as much about their future manager as you want to know about them – and they’re willing to do their research.

The reputation, work experience and leadership style of individual managers plays an important role in employment choices, especially in a tight labour market where candidates need a greater incentive to make a shift.

In fact, when deciding whether to go for a role or not, around 75% of people think it is important to know their future employer’s leadership style. Additionally, 65% of people also think the skills and reputation of their future manager is important.

“There's a huge demand for talent right now,” says Rheanna Lawrey, Senior Talent Partner at commerce platform provider Vend by Lightspeed. “Candidates may be interviewing with five or six organisations at the same time, and they are weighing up every element of an opportunity.

“It's not just about salary – they want to know who they would be working with, the kinds of projects they'd be working on and how their manager can help with their career growth.”

So, with candidates doing their due diligence, how can hiring managers build their personal brand?

Tell candidates what they want to know

Candidates are expected to provide their background details before an interview, so why not return the favour and give candidates the lowdown on their hiring manager before an interview? This helps to position the interview as an equal exchange.

“I always ask hiring managers what they want candidates to know about their management style and this encourages them to reflect on themselves as managers,” says Lawrey.

“During my initial phone calls with candidates, I always include this information: who the hiring manager is, what their management style is like and a bit of information about their background.”

Provide insight in the interview

Candidates may have done some research about their hiring manager prior to an interview, but it’s the first meeting that says a lot about a manager’s leadership style.

“We encourage our candidates to come with questions and remind them that the interview is a two-way process,” says Lawrey. “We want them to gather all the information they need to make an informed decision at the end of this process.”

Adam Shapley, New Zealand Managing Director of Recruitment firm Hays, says candidates should leave an interview with an understanding of what a hiring manager can do for them.

“The main points they want to know are their leadership style, the team’s culture, how flexibility works in practice in the team, and how the manager supports the team’s career progression through training and development.”

Take thought leadership online

Candidates are likely to do a background check on a future manager before accepting an offer. What will their search find? A manager’s online presence should position them as a manager who supports and celebrates their people’s learning, development and successes.

“It should give an insight into the type of leader you are and show your expertise in your particular market as well as the reputation of the organisation,” says Shapley.

“There’s huge range of ways you can communicate this,” adds Shapley. “This includes your company website and on social media.”

Showcase your expertise

Candidates want to work for a manager who can help them to learn and grow, so a manager needs to demonstrate their credentials within their wider industry. This may include speaking at events, include hosting company webinars or podcasts on industry trends.

“We encourage and support our team to get involved in events, blogging and podcasts so that we can show what it's like to work with us and give real insights into management styles,” says Lawrey.

Candidates want to feel confident about their next career move – and who they will be reporting to now matters even more. A manager’s reputation is a valuable drawcard, so now is the time to start building your personal brand.

Source: Independent research conducted by Nature on behalf of SEEK, interviewing 4000 Kiwis annually. Published November 2021.

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