Collaboration is permeating all aspects of business.
Innovators and top performers expect a culture of collaborative engagement.
And if they don’t see it in their first encounter with the company (during the hiring process), they might mistakenly assume that collaboration does not exist in other aspects of the business.
Collaboration has become central to the way that many forward thinking companies assess candidates and make hiring decisions.
Opening the assessment process up, and involving different team members can have a significant impact.
One of the hiring principles that made Apple a successful organization was Steve Job’s belief in a collaborative hiring process.
As Jobs explained, “When we hire someone, even if they are going to be in marketing, I will have them talk to the design folks and the engineers.”
Firms like Google, Facebook, and Apple have evidently demonstrated the direct connection between improving collaboration and profitable innovation.
In creating a culture of collaboration, these firms have adopted approaches like transparency, team-based goal setting, and feedback-based performance appraisal.
For companies like Apple and Google, employing ‘collaborative hiring’ or ‘team-based hiring’ involves a multi-stage interview process, allowing the candidate to meet most of the team they’d be working with.
Collaborative hiring gives team members a voice, which is empowering and boosts engagement. The fact that co-workers are involved in the hiring process also means they have a vested interest in ensuring the new hire is successful.
According to Dr. John Sullivan, by adding collaborative hiring, you get a higher level of employee involvement, stronger employee buy in, and more diverse assessment by eliminating some of the biases that hiring managers often have (Google, for example, completely excludes the team manager from the hiring process).
Richard Branson’s philosophy on hiring is that organizations should avoid working with friends because it will be hard to let them go if it doesn’t work out.
To avoid hiring mistakes, carefully define your job requirements including specific skills, behaviors and motivators for your customers and what drives value for your company, and prepare interview questions and a hiring process for culture fit.
Collaborative Hiring: More Confident Hiring decisions
Involving different team members will give you a range of diverse opinions on each candidate, and ultimately a more confident assessment.
For example: Sandwich chain Pret A Manger asks candidates to spend an entire day in the store, and lets team members vote on whether to offer them a job after they leave.
Becky Mossman, HR director for EMEA and Asia Pacific at background screening firm HireRight, uses the approach when hiring for her team:
“The broader input helps you get a more rounded view of the candidate from the people they‘ll be working with to see if they’re a good fit.”
But the practice also helps candidates “understand the role better and build relationships more quickly once they’re on board as people feel like they were part of the decision-making process and so are more engaged,” she says. “Hiring is such an expensive thing to do that it’s important to get it right.”
The potential downside is massive whenever you pull the trigger: a bad hire can cost your company as much as $50,000!
“Despite some recognition that this practice is beneficial in improving hiring success its take-up in the UK isn’t as wide as you might think,” confirms Lisa Forrest, head of internal talent acquisition at recruitment consultancy Alexander Mann Solutions.
Benefits Associated With Collaborative Hiring
According to Dr. John Sullivan, there are significant benefits associated with Collaborative Hiring.
Improved hiring results
One of the key job acceptance decision criteria used by top talent is whether they will be working with great coworkers. Obviously, involving your employees in the hiring process makes them highly visible, and as a result, their interaction and knowledge sharing with the candidate will reinforce your employer brand.
The benefit of employee advocacy – your employees might just be your most effective company advocates.
Being involved in the hiring process will help remind your employees of the tremendous value added by quality new hires. This realization may directly increase both the volume and the quality of the referrals submitted to your company’s employee referral program.
They are likely also to be viewed by the candidate as credible and authentic, so what they say is likely to be believed. Candidates trust your employees and anything that they say about your brand or working environment is seen as more genuine than the corporate message that your employer brand promotes.
In addition, because employees know the job, they are much better able to accurately answer questions and to be able to alleviate any potential fears that the candidate might have. Fewer surprises and developing team camaraderie before the start will likely reduce the chances of early new hire dissatisfaction and turnover.
Take advantage of this, and collaborate with your employees throughout the hiring process by:
- Letting candidates speak to someone who currently works in the role they’re applying for
- Using employee testimonials on your website and in your promotion materials
- Promoting your brand with authentic, employee generated content
- Providing a “warts and all” look at your working culture
Added competitive advantage — publicize on social media the fact that your firm intimately involves employees in this and other important decisions. That information will build your external brand image, and thus improve future recruiting.
The new hire will get up to speed more rapidly — because employees will get to know the candidate quite well during the hiring process, that will accelerate the getting-to-know-them process once they start the job.
Because employees will be asked during the interview process to sell their firm as a potential employer, it will remind them why they should continue working at the firm.
Reinforcing a shared purpose sense of collaboration may further increase retention — making hiring a collaborative effort will reinforce your employee’s feeling of community, along with the fact that employees like having a voice, being trusted, and feeling needed.
Overall, the benefits of collaborative hiring far outweigh any risks.
Jenny Carlyle, strategic personnel officer at workers co-operative ethical food wholesaler Suma, which uses the approach to recruit all new members, agrees. “One of the downsides is that it’s quite resource-heavy and takes a lot of time. But on the upside, recruitment is often seen as a closed shop and a mystery so getting people involved really does increase engagement.”
Bryn Doyle, employment lawyer at Squire Patton Boggs, points out that the dangers involved in being inconsistent can be amplified by the higher numbers of employees involved, meaning HR has less control over the process.
“You reduce risk if you have a consistent approach and ensure you’re even-handed,” he says. “So be careful that interviewers ask the same questions of each candidate, make notes with the same level of detail, even that they use the same location if possible, in case of future claims.”
Another important consideration in this context is training, which takes time and requires investment from the business. At ThoughtWorks, for example, the support ranges from learning interviewing skills to unconscious bias training, provided to all employees. However, in a competitive jobs market, it is vital to ensure the process is not allowed to drag on.
A further consideration relates to the fact that some employees may feel insecure and threatened by well-qualified candidates. That insecurity may cause some employees to purposely or unconsciously recommend weaker hires, so that they are not threatened by the new hire. Of course the same problem can occur when hiring managers are in charge of hiring.
The cost of the lost employee productivity, due to the time devoted to the hiring processis a conern.
Confidentiality may be a problem, as 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.
And further difficulties may arise: because in the event that the new hires were mostly chosen by the team, their manager may be frustrated that these new hires.
But despite the downsides, the approach is expected to become more widespread. As HireRight’s Mossman concludes: “If you think about the different generations coming through, which is changing how we all operate, it’s important to find ways of becoming more engaging and to give employees more of a sense of responsibility. It’s about uncovering new ways of developing them – and collaboration and giving people a voice is key.”
Making hiring a business priority
“I’m convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not strategies”
Larry Bossidy, Former CEO of General Electric
Building a hiring culture, and making it clear that recruitment is a team responsibility, you need to take time to articulate your companies hiring goals and ‘big picture’ recruiting strategy to everyone.
This helps people see how important their contributions are when it comes to referrals and assessment, and keeps recruitment front of mind.
The consensus-driven aspects of collaborative hiring
The collaborative hiring process is a little different from traditional recruitment methods. Instead of having hiring managers make all the decisions on their own, collaborative hiring asks many people within a company to share their thoughts about potential hires. In turn, each of those people becomes invested in that potential hire’s success with the company. This process can lead to a more cohesive workplace and company culture, but also calls for a methodical, common-sense approach to avoid getting bogged down in a pursuit for consensus.
Making cultural fit a more objective assessment
Each candidate at Credit Karma is interviewed by multiple employees. We structure this process so each interviewer is assessing different things in a candidate. This helps the team member doing the interviewing stay on point, whether they are assessing a candidate’s technical skills or how well they might work at our company. It also helps make sure that the person doing that interview, is the right person to make that assessment.
After those interviews are finished and the interviewer roundtable starts, everyone will inevitably have a different perspective on a candidate.
At Credit Karma, we try to involve someone in human resources and recruiting in the roundtables. That person will have been present throughout the rest of the process and can follow up privately to ask people questions if they have any lingering concerns or if they pick up on unresolved hesitations from the roundtable. This helps employees feel like their voice really does matter, and we hope they appreciate the process a little more than they might have if they thought their opinions weren’t given proper attention.
Getting employees from across the business involved in the hiring process can help eliminate bias and establish cultural fit.
Every time you hire collaboratively, it’s a culture win for your company. It reinforces unity and builds a culture of feedback, transparency, and everyone feeling valued. People on your team will know that they have a voice and are an important part of the vision you’re all working toward. Cultivating this sense of community will go a long in attracting and retaining the best of the best. Who doesn’t want an awesome work culture?
Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos said, “We’ve actually passed on a lot of smart, talented people that we know can make an immediate impact on our top or bottom line but if they’re not good for our culture then we won’t hire them for that reason alone.”
At Zappos each candidate goes through a cultural fit interview which represents 50% of the weight in hiring. Behavior-based questions are asked that assess a candidate’s fit with the organization’s 10 core values including: “deliver WOW through service” and “create fun and a little weirdness”. Candidates must pass this interview before speaking with the hiring managers.
Cultural fit can also be assessed by digging into a candidate’s past culture and determining where they excelled, what they enjoyed, what they struggled with in their jobs and in working with bosses, and how they handled change.
To develop a collaborative hiring team, include people who know the position best: employees who have previously held or are currently holding the position, fellow team members and supervisors, others who interact with the position, and HR.
Consider adding more voices to your hiring process.
Numerous perspectives will also increase the odds that the new hire will be a good fit and also be someone who the team can work with.
Exposure to other interviewers could very well reveal aspects of the candidate that you might not have seen yourself. For more confident hiring decisions, share interview results and reach consensus among key team members who will ultimately work collaboratively with the new employee.
Try to include someone who is either currently working, or has worked in the role that you’re hiring for. If this is not possible, include someone who has worked in a similar role, who understand the needs of the role that you’re trying to fill.
On top of that, the new hire can step into the role with confidence, because they know others were brought into the hiring process and have already shown support and consent. All this contributes to a seamless transition for everyone involved.
Even if you want your managers to make the final decision when it comes to new hires, you can use collaboration to significantly improve the way that you plan your hiring strategy.