Time for some real talk. Finding the right person is tough. Hiring the right person is even harder. Figuring out you made a mistake and making a change is the most difficult of all—and way too common.
Virtually every organization struggles within hiring, and fast-growing, entrepreneurial companies are at the biggest risk for screwing up the hiring process. You just might change the world if pick the right people to develop your software, design your product, or sell your services. But if you make a bad choice, that could sink the whole operation.
One common error is having one person make all the hiring decisions. Instead, you should use a team to review candidates, conduct interviews, and determine who should receive offers. This is called collaborative hiring. In a Forbes Magazine piece, writer William Vanderbloemen explains:
Every [healthy] organization is different in how they add new team members. The best teams and smartest leaders all tend to have some reflection of collaborative hiring. They use teams to interview. They include people above and below the candidate (on the org chart). By adding more voices and input to your interview process, you’ll get a higher level of involvement and a more thorough evaluation of potential candidates.
Vanderblomen goes on to explain five key benefits of working as a team. But of all these, the last one is the most powerful and the most readily dismissed:
5. Collaboration helps culture.
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 way in attracting and retaining the best of the best. Who doesn’t want an awesome work culture?
Unfortunately, phrases like “everyone feeling valued” and “awesome work culture” are often purely lip-service. Having a great culture is really about a more fundamental perspective on work. And while these are great ideas, there are deeper issues in the hiring process that most organizations don’t even consider. An interview from US News and World Report discussed unconscious bias when hiring:
Bias occurs during every stage of the hiring process, as it is implicit in every organization. From job descriptions to hiring decisions, conclusions are made based on the hiring official’s experience and beliefs. In a job posting, wording is highly important. Certain words will draw female applicants instead of male applicants and vice versa. It is essential for organizations to use both types of wording to attract a wide array of candidates. For example, a posting that states “flexible hours” is more likely to attract a woman, as they handle the majority of child and elder care duties. According to an internal Hewlett-Packard survey, women tend to apply to a job when they meet 100 percent of a posting’s stated qualifications, while men will generally apply when their experience is only a 60 percent match with the requirements.
That’s a troubling statistic, and it’s the kind of problem that’s only further reinforced when your hiring is done by just one person. A collaborative approach is more likely to identify biases and eliminate them. So what should you do?
- Get multiple people involved in defining what you want. That might be a written job description or a list of deliverables. Or, it might be personality and professionalism traits you can honestly admit you lack as a team.
- Review applications blindly. Have one person strip the names and other identifying details off of submissions from candidates, and score them as a group. Be prepared to discuss candidates where there are strong differences of opinion.
- Interview people as a team. That might mean bringing more than one person to the conference room, but more importantly it means giving multiple people the chance to interact with the candidate. Be sure and include individuals from different levels in the process.
- Don’t move forward without full consensus. If any one person doesn’t feel good about the hire, don’t make the hire.
- Consider a trial period. Although not all work is well-suited to this approach, one of the best ways to get to know someone is through a short-term engagement.
Almost every company is terrible at hiring. To be different, take more time, get more people involved, and think through the process.
Best of luck!