As a recruiter, you always want to find the best possible candidate for a position—and your hiring managers share the same goal. But although you are working towards identical ends, it doesn’t always feel that way, does it?

Yes, your hiring managers want you to fill their open roles, but they also have their regular responsibilities to think about. As a result, they just aren’t focused on the task in the same way that you are. Maybe they only think about it when you check in with them. This can lead to misunderstandings and frustrations.

So how can you fix this situation? The early conversations you have are critical. If you set clear expectations from the beginning, the smoother the process will be, with better results for all. Here are four ways to do just that.

1. Kick things off with a strategy meeting.

Let’s start with job descriptions. To get the best results, you need an up-to-date, detailed, and nuanced understanding of both the role and what the ideal candidate looks like. But your hiring manager doesn't have much time, so all you have to go on is an old job description from a year ago.

Some recruiters recommend asking hiring managers to fill out an “intake form” which goes into greater detail about job responsibilities and candidate requirements, as well as subjects like personality fit and any relevant history on the position. It’s a nice idea, but busy people are reluctant to fill out forms, so you may strike out with this tactic.

Instead, set up a strategy meeting with the hiring manager. Run through the questions you would include on the intake form yourself, using them as a conversation starter and opportunity to dig deeper into the role. This will give you more clarity, and the conversation format might unearth additional important considerations. You can also record the conversation via hangout or Skype to capture those nuances as the recruiter is working on the role.

Strategy meetings help put the hiring manager in the right mindset, laying out expectations at the very beginning—which is no bad thing.

2. Keep it real and keep each other honest.

Chances are that you have worked with at least one hiring manager who asks for the world’s most versatile, skilled, personable and overall extraordinary candidate. Of course you plan to deliver the best person possible for the role, but sometimes those asks can get unrealistic. As a partner in the hiring process, your goal should be to challenge those assumptions. All of us have blindspots and expectations that we need help managing. Keep it real and keep each other honest.

If this is the case, say something right away. One strategy for addressing the situation is to ask the hiring manager to rank requirements by importance or divide the list into must-have qualities and great-to-have qualities.

You might also recommend boosting the compensation to attract more high quality candidates. At the very least, point out the unrealistic aspects of the hiring manager’s demands, to prevent unpleasant surprises later on.

3. Support your viewpoint with data.

It’s also important to bolster your assertions with facts. Come prepared to lead conversations, not passively listen. Move away from saying "I think" and start saying "let me show you." The former can fall on deaf ears; the latter will get your hiring manager's full attention and engagement in dialogue. By coming prepared with information on the position and the types of candidates seeking those roles, you’ll have more credibility in those critical early conversations.

For instance, you can share role and location-specific data on:

  • The ratio of job postings to candidates seeking that position
  • The top employers in your area for this role  
  • Salary benchmarks

Where can you find this information? You can search for it online but that’s time consuming, and the results are not always reliable. An alternative for Indeed Featured Employers is to use our new Hiring Insights tool, which gives you detailed self-serve access to job market and candidate data so you can share the reality of the local job market with the hiring manager.

Hiring Insights consists of two reports: Market Insights and Candidates Insights, both of which are accessed through Indeed Analytics. It’s easy to use and contains a wealth of information that can you equip you for conversations with hiring managers. (Check out this post for more information.)

4. Set a timeline.

Speaking of realistic expectations, the timeline for making a hire can be a minefield of misunderstandings. Get a crystal-clear picture of the hiring manager’s time constraints and make a schedule that you both agree on.

And be sure to give yourself the best chance at success. Tell the hiring manager what things you need to stay on schedule, such as weekly check-ins and feedback on candidates within one to two days.

What unites all this advice? Above all: communicate. When everyone is informed from the start, and kept informed throughout the process, the risk of misunderstandings is greatly reduced. The result? You’re much more likely to emerge with a good experience for everyone involved—including the candidate.