Once upon a time, the hiring manager ruled the hiring process. The hiring manager reigned over everything from sorting resumes to screening candidates to conducting interviews and making the final hiring decision.
There’s since been a hiring process revolution, and most companies have collaborative hiring models. The power in hiring is now distributed between HR, the direct manager, recruiters, and the rest of the hiring manager’s team may even weigh in at some point. This team-based approach is powerful and can be the most effective way to find the best candidate for the job.
Yet, collaborative hiring isn’t magic. Adopting a team-based hiring strategy doesn’t instantly improve hiring outcomes. In fact, there’s a lot that can go wrong in the collaborative model. Don’t get stuck when faced with the most common collaborative hiring problems. Here’s how to banish them for good:
Employees aren’t trained to hire
It’s fair to say, the majority of employees do not pass for trained hiring professionals. Team leaders and members are inclined to look out for their best interests during the hiring process and may not have the experience or insight to identify the best candidate — in leaks bias or even potential conflict.
Team members who will be working closely with the new hire may judge candidates based on their personality, not their skills. After all, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 68% of people complete all or most of their work in the office, reporting 7.8 hours a day with their co-workers.
Comparatively, they spend just 2.9 hours at home doing leisure activities with their families. Not surprisingly, 89% of people agree that workplace relationships are important to their quality of life.
Since office friendships are important to employees, they may lean toward candidates they like on a personal level instead of those who are best suited to do the job.
Solution: To keep the collaborative hiring process from turning into a popularity contest, get team members involved before assessing candidates. When drafting the job post and responsibilities for the role, have employees contribute.
Although culture fit is important, focusing employees on the responsibilities of the position reminds them that they need someone who will pull their weight and perform well in the position. If they voice their needs and help set the requirements for the job, they will contribute in a meaningful way to ensure a strong new co-worker is chosen for the role.
Everyone wants to be heard
Even when the team is looking at the skills and experience needed for the job and the personality of the candidate, everyone is not always going to agree. Your favorite candidate may rub one of your decision-makers the wrong way, or a recruiter might strongly recommend a candidate that no one else agrees with.
Strong opinions can cause tension. If a unanimous decision can’t be made, a final decision-maker will need to step in and make the call. When a collaborative hiring process falters, team members could feel alienated or like their opinions don’t matter.
If hiring managers feel like their opinions aren’t taken seriously, they likely won’t honestly contribute to the conversation in the future — and then it’s not really a collaborative hiring process.
Solution: Be open and transparent with key stakeholders throughout the hiring process. Let them know from the start that their opinions are important and that all feedback will be taken into consideration.
During the selection process, communicate your thoughts about each candidate. Let them know who you like, who you don’t like, and why right from the start with one-way video interviews. An open conversation will encourage hiring team members to speak up and share their opinions.
If you disagree with certain feedback, don’t brush it off or be too quick to jump in with a rebuttal. Consider it and give specific reasons why you feel differently either through open evaluation feedback or a private discussion. This way, everyone feels heard and valued for their input.
Hiring takes forever
When it comes time to schedule the first interview, you want everyone to be there. This starts the scheduling nightmare. The supervisor is only available on Tuesday mornings but the other HR team members are open on Wednesday afternoons. Then you need to consider the candidate’s schedule and your own.
With a traditional hiring method, you have two options – you can schedule multiple interviews with different interviewers, or you can wait to schedule the interview for a few weeks when everyone can meet at the same time. Both options aren’t great.
Multiple interviews mean a longer interview process, which is frustrating to candidates and wastes time and money. Interviews are already getting longer and more tedious for everyone involved, lengthening the time to hire. The current average hiring time is a whopping 42 days. Your hiring team is spending more time hiring and less time on their other responsibilities, while your position stays open longer, dragging down team productivity.
If you push the interview back until everyone can attend, you’re making the candidate wait. News flash, they won’t. In fact, research by Sterling found more than a quarter of candidates have recently dropped out of the hiring process — 75% say it was due to the hiring process taking too long.
Solution: Avoid the scheduling mess that comes with collaborative hiring and get everyone involved in the process with video interviews.
In a one-way video interview, the candidate is given interview questions and records their answers on their own time. Then, employees involved in the hiring process can view the video on their own without needing to be in the same room at the same time. Then, you can all discuss the candidate together at the most convenient time.
After receiving everyone’s feedback, you can schedule a follow-up interview with just yourself and the candidate if needed. One-way video interviews speed up the collaborative hiring process and make it easier to advance top talent to in-person interviews faster, improving the candidate experience.
The interview is a circus
Let’s say you do find a time for a panel interview — either in person or via video — that works for everyone involved.
When everyone is pressed for time, juggling multiple responsibilities, there’s a good chance the interview doesn’t start well. Say, someone is running late and the candidate has to wait for them to show up. It may be clear members of the team haven’t looked at the candidate’s application materials, especially if they’re asking very basic questions in an effort to get familiar with the candidate.
It’s more common than you may think. Greenhouse survey respondents Greenhouse respondents listed “interview questions are not vague, duplicated, or irrelevant” as an important way to improve the candidate experience.
As the interview goes on, things get even more out of hand. It seems everyone is more concerned about asking their questions than hearing what the candidate is actually saying. Team members are interrupting one another with follow-up questions. As a result, no one has learned much and the chaos has turned the candidate off.
Solution: Avoid unprofessional interviews by setting clear roles and expectations. To eliminate the competition to speak, assign one person to lead the interview. This person will do the majority of the talking and answering and should, preferably, be someone the candidate will work with on the job. The questions asked of each candidate should be structured for consistency. This encourages fairness and reduces bias in the interview panel.
Task everyone else with listening to the candidate’s answers and taking notes. While everyone can — and should — ask follow-up questions as they come up, they shouldn’t be asking the main interview questions. Instead, they should ask for clarification on the candidate’s answers. They should also have a clear set of evaluation criteria and a simple ranking system to streamline reviewing feedback later.
Better yet, another great option is to avoid the panel interview altogether. Consider sending out links to one-way video interview submissions to screen candidates. Have everyone on the collaborative hiring team watch the videos and make their suggestions on who should move on to the next round.
Then, have team members and recruiters give their input on the questions that should be asked during the live video or in-person follow-up interview. Live video interview recordings can be shared in the same way to collect feedback and collaborate as candidates advance.
Considering only approximately 20% of applicants make it to the interview process and just 2 to 4 candidates will advance to this stage of the hiring process, you really cannot afford to risk candidate dropout due to the mechanics of ineffective panel interviews. Switching to video interviews, the whole team is deeply involved in the interview process, everyone gains better insights, and avoids unwanted drama.
Team members are disengaged
When you first started hiring collaboratively, everyone was excited. They actively reviewed application materials, participated in interviews, and voiced their opinions about candidates. But after some time, the novelty has worn off.
Employees aren’t engaged in the process. They’re contributing less and see the hiring process as another task to check off. Instead of a collaborative conversation, you have another boring meeting that isn’t doing much but wasting everyone’s time.
If you’ve had a position open for a while, your team will likely get burned out — they’ll be tired and frustrated with the hiring process. Every candidate will begin to look the same, and team members will want to hire just about anyone for the job.
Solution: Engage your team by sharing the responsibility of tasks. Don’t assign pointless busy work that feels like homework. Don’t ask each team member to come in with a list of five things they like and dislike about each candidate, or to fill out a worksheet for each finalist.
Instead, give employees more active roles. Each team member could be responsible for presenting the information about a specific candidate to everyone, or team members could draft an interview agenda and questions.
By sharing responsibilities and tasks, each team member will need to take an active role in the hiring process.
Groupthink takes over
In an ideal collaborative group setting, individuals voice their opinions and the group discusses them to come to a general consensus. But certain voices can overpower others, and a consensus may be reached before everyone has a chance to say what they think.
In addition, some team members may be uncomfortable disagreeing with their co-workers and voicing opposing opinions. Others may be afraid to be wrong and don’t want to contradict what a superior says because they think they will sound unintelligent or uninformed. Your group discussion could be reduced to a single speech that everyone nods in agreement with.
Although you want your team to agree on the best candidate, if you come to that conclusion with little discussion, you may have a problem. Instead of collaboration, you have groupthink. Everyone wants to belong with the team, so they all conform to the same opinion — for better or worse.
Solution: Have team members review application materials and video interviews on their own before discussing candidates as a group. This way, employees have a chance to form their own opinions before being influenced by the group as a whole.
During the discussion, encourage everyone to share their views. If everyone offers the same opinion, play devil’s advocate. Bring up the concerns you may have about a candidate or bring up an opposing opinion to encourage employees to do the same.
Collaborative hiring is a powerful way to engage the team and chose the best person for your open position. But it’s not magic. Just like any other process in the workplace, reevaluate the system and continue to make adjustments to keep the hiring process effective.
This post was updated in November 2022