Industry Watch: Collaborative Hiring

Recently at CATS, we have released a new Scorecard feature on our software to help you score candidates and get the entire team involved in your hiring process.  The scorecard allows you to collaborate and rate candidates on customizable categories, like qualifications or skills. Any team member can be invited to any step within the hiring process.  You can choose the viewing access level of team members by adding them as a “hiring manager” or as a “user.” The scorecard was created to help simplify the review portion of the hiring process, making it easier to identify the quality candidates for your team.

When interviewing for a new job, it isn’t uncommon for the candidate to ask the company about their team collaboration and office dynamics. It has been seen in recent years that collaborative teams are starting to become the “norm” and present in all aspects of the business. It’s starting to become more common to see a process called “collaborative hiring” instead of relying completely on one person, the hiring manager. One can only assume that collaboration is becoming an expectation and is demanded in the workplace.

Just like any decision a company has to make, hiring is a huge one.  By adding collaborative hiring, you get a higher level of employee involvement, stronger employee buy-in, and more diverse assessments.  Now I’m not saying that collaborative hiring works for every single company and that every hiring professional out there is going to be up for the idea, but you can’t deny the benefits that follow. Some of those being: improved hiring results and productivity.  Between my research and an article by Talent Management and HR (TLNT), here’s what I’ve found.

It prevents bias. — Harvard Business Review conducted research and found that companies tend to rely on one person’s personal preferences to make a hiring decision.  Many times it is due to a lack of a clear, legitimate process.  Input and assistance from other team members is one way to avoid making important decisions based off of bias as well as poorly defined feelings and ideas.  “I didn’t like them.” or “This candidate would be perfect.” are examples of phrases that could lead to not making a clear and careful decision. Feelings need to be backed up by evidence.  Making non-backed decisions could lead to a hiring mistake.

Show off your employees, job seekers want to see that!  — If you’re going to be working in an office setting, it’s only going to be natural to want to like those you work with. When you involve your employees, they become highly visible. As a result, their interaction and knowledge sharing with the candidate may end up creating your strongest selling point and a greater desire for them wanting to work with you.

Your employees are your #1 fans. — Your team members live and breathe the job every day, so they know the most interesting features of the job. Also, they are likely to be viewed by the candidate as authentic and honest, so what they say is likely to be believed. In addition, because the employees know the job, they will be better at answering any questions and be able to calm any nerves or fears the candidate may have.  Having someone the candidate feels comfortable with will make a transition all the better.

Diversity is key. — Would you want to work with the same Peggy Sue every day? I didn’t think so. With multiple individuals involved while using collaborative hiring, you are more likely to get diverse assessments of each candidate. Receiving input from multiple teammates will also increase the odds that the new hire will be a good fit and be someone who the team can work with. Put that all together and there is a smaller chance for major hiring mistakes and having to go through the headache of finding someone new.

Shake up the competition. — Collaborative hiring is a great way to gain an external competitive advantage. It’s shown on social media that your firm involves employees in this and other important decisions, that information will build your external brand image, improving future recruiting. How could you complain about that?

The new hire will get up to speed more rapidly. — Since the team members had input into the hiring decision and spent time with the candidate, they are more likely to feel like they have a type of “ownership” of the employee.  This feeling of ownership and responsibility will increase the chances that the involved employees will immediately help, mentor, guide, and train the new hire. Another positive outcome is that since the employee will already be familiar with the new employee, it takes away a lot of nerves out of the “getting-to-know” one another aspect in the office.  It would make the change for the office and new employee a little easier to adapt to.  

Interviewing increases employee learning. — You’re killing two birds with one stone here. The exchange of questions, answers, and even ideas during the interviewing process alone can be a huge learning tool for your employees. It’s really a great time for them to learn about other ideas from past experience that the candidate brought in from another company. Taken together, this may increase employee productivity and innovation. The only downside would be that they will also get a sense of what the job market is like, which could cause them to consider beginning a job search.

Now just like any other idea or research, there’s going to be a downside.  Collaborative hiring does come with it’s share of issues as well. Dr. John Sullivan, an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley, has done extensive research on collaborative hiring. He says that, “I have not been able to find a single public, academic, or corporate source that has run the numbers to prove that collaborative hiring produces superior quality hires, when compared to the traditional manager dominated hiring process.” Even so, you can’t deny the fact that hundreds of firms have switched to this route. However, before you consider the approach, explore and identify the potential problems and issues associated with the method, like you would with any other. There tend to be a few scenarios that end up to be problematic in the collaborative hiring technique.

The added time may cause you to lose top candidates.— We live in a society where instant gratification is huge and we like to have the answers right away.  What seems to be the biggest problem with collaborative hiring is the fact that giving employees a chance to individually browse candidates takes a tremendous chunk of time, away from their original job duties as well. The scheduling of multiple employees for interviews may literally add not just days, but weeks to the hiring process. That added delay could cause you to lose in-demand candidates with multiple offers that simply can’t wait for your decision. Although, if you use your resources wisely, you could get around these hiccups just fine. Schedule a few interviews a day, conduct phone interviews, or even conduct video interviews!  This is surely a fault that can easily be fixed and prevented.

Teammates are not trained in hiring. — It’s unlikely that employees who participate in interviews will be trained in the process. Not all employees have the proper training when it comes to hiring. If you want quality hires, you are going to have to have structured interviews and the downside is that a majority of employee-run interviews are the opposite of structured. This lack of structure may mean that employees will ask non-job-related or even illegal questions. It is often difficult to get employees to document their interview and to provide their subsequent feedback on time.  This could also lead into the argument over it being a “manager’s job” to do the hiring.  Since the hiring manager has great knowledge in hiring, they are more likely to select better candidates for a long-term goal whereas hiring with a group, it may only fit the short-term.

Confidentiality may be a problem. — Candidates who currently have a job and don’t want their boss to know of their search activity may want to limit the number of those who know. As a result, involving several employees in the hiring process may actually scare away some candidates because it reduces the odds that the information will remain confidential.

Yes there are cons, but every big idea is going to have its drawbacks. What that means for you as a company is to create strategies to reduce the chance of you running into any of these obstacles.  Make sure to have a plan if you choose this path.  If you take time out of your day to do just this, you will realize the amazing benefits of having a collaborative hiring team. With our scorecard update, you will have us with you every step of the way.