By Katherine Spinney, ACC, MT, MSW
Since I was nine, I have had some type of paid work. From newspaper delivery to babysitting to nonprofit executive-ing, I have had more jobs than most people have in a lifetime - which means I have gone through countless different hiring processes along the way. For the past decade, I have also been on the other side, screening, interviewing, and hiring hundreds of candidates. Both as a person hoping to get hired and the person who does the hiring, I have seen several variations of hiring processes, and the ones that have consistently been the most effective are the ones that have involved the team.
Accepting or filling a job that is a good fit is about so much more than the actual required tasks of the position. Organizational and team culture have the biggest impact on whether a candidate will thrive or struggle, and it is important and challenging to assess that culture during the hiring process. One of the most effective ways to do that is by involving your team in the process.
Involving your team in the hiring process has several benefits for you, your team and the candidates. For starters, inviting different ideas and perspectives will help you challenge some of your own assumptions, tendencies and biases. Further, your team provides an insight you are incapable of having as the team leader. They know what it is really like to be on the front lines, so to speak, and they are the best people to share those experiences with your job candidates.
For your team, it is valuable to be involved in the hiring process because it enhances many important skills such as communication, decision-making, organization and collaboration. Additionally, involving your team shows them that you value their voice and input, not just through words but through your actions. Hiring is a huge responsibility with great consequences. In fact, it is believed that up to 80% of staff success- or lack thereof- can be attributed to hiring. Involving your team in an authentic way shows them that you trust them.
Finally, involving your team in the hiring process is beneficial to the candidates. It allows them to gain a broader understanding of the work and the people at your organization. As you are vetting them, they are also vetting you. They want to make sure they are working in a place that is a good cultural fit for them and their values. The more exposure they can have to the people who know the work most intimately will provide the best opportunity for them to gain that understanding.
There are several ways to involve your team in the hiring process. Below are five. As always, talking directly with your team and hearing their ideas will provide additional ideas for how to do so effectively.
Hiring can be a challenge when you are trying to get to know a group of strangers and decide who will be the best fit to work with you, a decision that is costly in terms of time, money and impact. Involving your staff in recruiting can help vet candidates, especially if the referral is someone your staff has worked with previously.
Another benefit of involving your staff in recruiting is that, in today’s job market, nearly 85% of job seekers are considered passive. That means that, while these passive job seekers are not actively looking for a new position, they remain open to one. This is where your staff can make a significant contribution by adding people to the candidate pool who may not have otherwise applied.
You can also involve staff in recruiting by sending them out to universities and job fairs, virtual or otherwise, to talk with prospective candidates. They can also post stories an answer questions on your organization’s social media.
To hire high-quality candidates, you need to attract them first. Involving your staff through sharing can help you attract the people you really want. From writing an honest and appealing job description to sharing stories about their role with candidates during interviews, your team members can be the literal and figurative face of your organization. Not only will they be able to share with candidates what it is really like to work for you, you will be sending a message to candidates that you value your staff’s input and involve them in important processes like hiring.
Staff can also share their opinions about who they think would be the best fit and why, and once the person is hired, your staff can mentor, train and support them, sharing their knowledge and expertise.
Your viewpoint as a manger as well as your biases are different than that of your team. You will also inherently have a different working relationship with the people you hire than will their colleagues. For these reasons, it is beneficial to involve your team in the interviewing phase of hiring. You staff will have different insights and questions than you which will provide a more comprehensive assessment of the candidate and their potential fit.
You can involve your staff in the interviewing phase of hiring in different ways. You can have them help draft questions or sit in on one or all the rounds of interviews and have a say in the final decision. Different staff may have different roles. There are a lot of options and it will be helpful to consult your staff about what roles they would like to play.
When it comes to hiring, we bring all kinds of personal biases to the process. Putting processes in place to combat these biases helps some but unfortunately, it does not eliminate them. This is where your staff can be especially valuable. By including more voices with different perspectives and backgrounds into your hiring process, you can assess candidates in a more comprehensive, multi-dimensional way. Your staff can also act as an additional set of eyes on who is applying, who is being interviewed and who is being hired. Staff can help point out patterns whether those patterns related to demographics, personality or even strengths.
It is also important that potential candidates have a fair understanding of the diversity of your organization. Is your commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion legitimate or just for show? Or even non-existent? What kind of programs and policies do you have in place that reflect your values? What is the makeup of your leadership, board and staff? All of these matter, and the best way to demonstrate these values to candidates is by showing them.
No one will have a better idea of what your hiring process is like than the people who have gone through it. There is great value in getting feedback from your team about what your hiring process is really like, especially shortly after they are hired. (You could even go a step further and inquire of people who left your hiring process what made them leave).
Find out what attracted them to the position, what made them feel welcome, and what made them accept the offer. Ask if there were any concerns along the way that could be alleviated for candidates going forward. Solicit their ideas on how to make the process better from what is being posted to where to every step of the hiring process.
Additionally, staff can help you review how effective your hiring process is based on the retention and quality of the staff you are hiring. Are you effectively recruiting and selecting the best candidates for your team? If so, what is accounting for that? If not, what needs to change?
To lead your team effectively, it is essential that you provide authentic opportunities for all your team members to be heard and to contribute. Involving your team in your hiring process is a great way to show them that their opinions are valued and valuable. In addition, hearing from different members of your team about the most effective way to hire the most effective people will help you challenge your biases and provide alternative perspectives that you would not otherwise have. Finally, involving your team in your hiring process shows candidates that you value the voices of your team members.
As we embark on a new year, committing to a hiring process that involves your staff is a great goal. Start by involving them in how you can involve them. By this time next year, I am confident you will have it all figured out.
About the Author
Katherine Spinney has spent the last twenty years working with youth and the staff who serve them. Both during the school day and after it, Katherine has had the great privilege of working in communities across the country and even the world. Today, in addition to teaching, Katherine conducts program assessments and supports organizational leadership through coaching and training. She believes that everyone should have the opportunity to do work they love and receive all the support they need to do it well.