Stop, Collaborate & Listen. This Isn’t a New Hiring Invention


January 9th, 2013 | Posted in by

In my last couple posts I mentioned that more managers in high growth companies are trending towards collaborative, bottom-up hiring processes and why. Now, I’d like to share some best practices that make these strategies effective. This is far from a comprehensive list, but it will give you a few key points to think about.

STOP thinking of hiring as an acquisition.

You’re not buying a person, you’re building a team. Create hiring processes that will woo candidates while screening them. Interviews should feel like conversations, not interrogations.

Use questions like “What did you enjoy about project X and position Y?” or “How did you go about solving problem Z?” to uncover people’s motivations, working styles and character traits. Where applicable, relate the information you discover to the role you’re hiring for. Train your team to do the same.  If the candidate’s interests, goals and style do not match the role or your team, they are probably not a fit.

COLLABORATE with your team to analyze candidates and improve your process.

It helps to create a framework of the qualities you’re looking for and interview questions to uncover them. Start this on your own to get the ball rolling but be open to making changes as you receive input from your team and your process.

Whether you and your team interview candidates as a panel or in individual sessions reserve your discussion until after you’ve had a moment for personal reflection. Separate to write down how you felt the candidate met the qualities in your framework and reconvene. Have the most junior members start the conversation as they’re the most likely to be influenced by others’ opinions. Remember, you’re trying to prevent groupthink and promote the type of critical thinking that great leaders need to develop.

As your team speaks, listen for cues on how to improve the structure of your process. Are you targeting the right qualities in your candidates? Should something be added? Are you focusing too much on a technical skill that could be learned on the job? Is your team having trouble selling the job or uncovering talent? etc

LISTEN but lead.

Somebody needs to pull trigger. And while hiring shouldn’t be an acquisition, it will always be a big investment, which can be seen as risky. Your team is likely to be a little risk averse, especially when involved in their first few hiring decisions. All too often, junior hiring managers pass on candidates who could be great but aren’t perfect on paper or fail to act fast enough to hire their top choice. Many are too afraid of making a mistake and, unfortunately, often suffer the far worse consequences of inaction. You need to be the decisive one. Remove the perceived risk and burden of accountability from your team so they can comfortably express their opinions.

The point is to create a team that sees talent more clearly and nurtures it more efficiently than your competition. Take your team’s input seriously and guide them through the talent analysis and team building process.