When you get to a certain point in the recruiting process, it makes sense to bring in other team members to interview prospective hires, whether you are hiring a COO, CEO, or second in command. All of your current employees be working with this new person (in one way or another), and it’s only fair they have a say on who it is. Don’t you agree?
Unfortunately, a lot of your rank and file employees likely lack interview experience, so letting them loose with no guidelines or training can make your organization seem amateurish to the applicant. Or even worse, an overzealous team member might cross some lines and end up infringing on the interviewee’s rights. And if you’re this far along the recruiting process, you could scare off a strong candidate you were obviously coveting.
How do you let employees help with hiring?
I strongly advise you to do everything in your power to make the process run as smoothly as possible. That means preparing your employees, setting guidelines and expectations, and creating a comfortable environment for the applicant.
Right off the bat, you need to lay out expectations for your employees. Remind them that this interview isn’t to check out the person’s qualifications or scrutinize their experience – you’ll spend plenty of time doing that. Instead, tell them to focus on cultural compatibility. Get them to touch on workflow processes, attitudes toward delegating, heck, even things like lunch preferences. It might sound trivial, but this is the only chance they get to weed out people they might end up clashing with.
These days, it’s also a good idea to have your employees to do a little digging around on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter to gain a more robust picture of the applicant.
Challenge your employees to find areas of concern during their ‘investigation’ and formulate questions that will address them. Things like how they’ll make up for lack of experience in certain areas, why they’ve changed jobs so often, etc.
One little trick is to jot down questions on a copy of the resume as you go through this process, then go back and number them in the order you’ll ask. This ensures you have time to ask them all, and that you won’t forget any of them.
You also have to do everything you can to make the process as pain-free as possible. Chances are your employee(s) will be almost as nervous as the applicant, and it’s up to you to make everyone as relaxed as possible. If that means holding the interview in a coffee shop, so be it – there are no rules that say interviews have to take place at the office.
That being said, if you are hiring for a senior role, you might want to skip the Starbucks and use your office or the boardroom – since it the applicant will likely want to tour of the workplace.
Involving your employees in the decision is an important step in the hiring process. Sometimes you can become so enamored with a candidate’s education and experience that you’ll miss some serious personality shortcomings – which can really backfire down the road. But – make no mistake – the people that are going to have to deal with this person every day will surely be the ones to take off your rose-colored glasses.
Interviewing and hiring is one of the many things that I coach members of the COO Alliance about – why not come and see for yourself? We’ve decided to open up our next event for a test drive, and spots are filling up fast. Click here to apply before all the spots are filled.
Also, for more information about focused hiring I recommend you pick up a copy of my book Double Double and turn to chapter 4.