The hiring of a new employee is an important decision to make. You want to end up with the right candidate as you’ll be investing a lot of time, trust, hope and capital before knowing if the new hire is a good fit. And it’s never a good idea to make such an important decision on your own. But to ask your team to decide on a new hire may not be the best way forward, either.
Surprised? I understand. There’s a common assumption that including the team in the decision-making process is a sure-proof check for whether that new person is a good cultural fit. Nobody will argue with the fact that it is also a highly democratic approach, and that it shifts responsibilities for new hires from one person, to many.
So where is the glitch?
As a hiring manager, you are interested in getting a new hire who ticks all the boxes: best skills-match, most fitting experience, great personality, eager to work, a happy attitude but, most of all, someone who is a notch above your expectations. As a manager, director or executive, you know that the smartest thing to do, is to employ people who are smarter than you – talent that brings expertise, innovation, and the power to help you create the change you envisage. And what is your team’s perspective?
They too want a great new colleague who can do the job. But for the rest, their perspective is very different to yours. Why would they want someone who outshines them? Someone who might become the next blue-eyed girl or boy? After all, non-managerial staff is often at the bottom of the work-chain. They are eager to grow, to develop, to be seen and to advance in their career. Your team is most likely to choose a candidate who is the most similar to them – after all, who wants to have to deal with any disruption or change? Your team is also most likely to pick someone who is perceived to be of no threat to them: it could be threatening to hire someone too pretty, or too old, too sporty, too experienced, or too talented. Gender, background, and looks will play a big role in the decision-making process. Sounds like unfair discrimination in practice, right?
Your perspectives are very different.
Knowing this, how can you find a compromise that takes into account the sentiment of your team, and also your business objectives?
1- Include your team at the right time in the hiring process. Do your screening and second-round interviews on your own or with HR or co-managers. Filter out the candidates that are most likely to help you achieve your KPIs. Of course, even your selection is never unbiased. We are all human. But you will select a candidate with the business’ and your own team’s KPIs in mind. Then, put forward an uneven number of candidates to meet with your team.
2- Do not share your successful applicants’ CVs, motivational letters, location, photos or names with your team. Do the first team-session as a conference call only, without video, and without any demographics.
3- Prepare questions for the candidates with your team. This is a great opportunity to also ask more informal, lifestyle-related or fun questions, and from different perspectives. Conduct a short round for each one of your candidates.
4- After this first round of team interviews, get your team members to cast their initial vote. Invite the top candidates for a final team-meetup.
5- Do your final team-meetup by video, after you shared the candidates’ profile with your team for review. Do another, final round of voting.
6- Remember that if your team selects a new hire that is not your primary choice, you may want to go with your gut feel, rather than with your team’s decision. Even candidate #2 (your preferred one) will be liked by the team, as he/she was chosen after the first round of team-interviews. And ultimately, the responsibility lies with you. You have to put together the best team possible in order to achieve your goals – your own, your team’s, your department’s, the company’s.
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