Use A Dedicated Hiring Team, Not Individual Managers!

Most hiring decisions are traditionally made by individual managers; however, these are some reasons why hiring is better done by a small permanent hiring team. Why Managers Shouldn’t Do Most Hiring There are numerous reasons why individual managers shouldn’t be doing most of the hiring. They include:

  • “Rustiness.” The limited volume of openings that most managers have each year may cause them to be “rusty,” and also out of touch with the current interest and needs of new hires.
  • Ability to sell. In a tight job market, “selling” the job and the company is a crucial element of the hiring process. Unfortunately, most managers are not salespeople (or even charming).
  • Speed/availability. Most individual managers are focused (and rewarded) upon project completion. As a result, they seldom have sufficient time for interviewing and hiring. In a tough recruiting world, fast is the only way to go!
  • Hire for the next job. In fast-changing companies and start-ups, most people stay in one job for a limited time. Individual managers unfortunately hire for “their” job only. Few managers anticipate the broader competencies needed for the “next” several jobs.
  • Assessment ability. Not all managers are good at the quick assessment of talent. It’s not a skill that they get called on to use everyday, so misjudgments can occur.
  • Bias. Managers that hire infrequently might not do enough hiring to show any statistical bias (even though they do discriminate negatively in some ways).
  • Skill stretch. Most managers (with no access to data) “over ask” for skills and experience in their job specifications. This results in an unnecessary shrinking on the talent pool.
  • Consistency. If a company/division wants all of its employees to have similar skills, interests, and values, it is unrealistic to rely on individual managers to maintain the needed consistency.

A Hiring Team Is Not An Interview Team A hiring team is not the same as an interview team. Many companies use “interview” teams. Most are “silly” and should be disbanded immediately. Having a large number of untrained “social worker types” making consensus hiring decisions only dilutes the quality (and the speed) of the hiring decision! Most interview teams are ad hoc with no accountability. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> A HIRING TEAM is different. It is permanent and it focuses more on finding new sources of talent and on “selling the candidate. Most interview teams focus only on candidate assessment. Why Use A Hiring Team A small, focused hiring team that is made up of managers with the time and skill to do great hiring can be a great asset to a firm trying to win the war for talent. Some of the reasons that hiring teams have an advantage over individual managers include:

  • Volume. By doing a great deal of hiring, the team can polish its selling and decision-making skills.
  • Future needs. A select team can be more aware of the future needs of the firm. They can also be more in tune with the job market, candidates expectations, and competitors that compete for the same candidates. This knowledge can help them hire people with the “future” competencies the firm will need.
  • Accountability. When the team does all key hiring, tracking metrics can show if the team’s results are superior to individual managers (in hiring people that perform better on the job). Increases in diversity can also be tracked.
  • Availability. A dedicated team will have reduced responsibilities so that they can be available at any time when a candidate needs a fast assessment.

Who Should Be On The “Hiring” Team? Generally, a great hiring team is comprised of 3-5 people. Members should include:

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  • Line managers with P&L experience
  • People with strong “sales” and “closing” skills
  • Strategic thinkers with an understanding of where the business is going
  • A sourcer (as an outside advisor). This helps the team feed the candidate pool.

How Does The “Hiring” Team Work? There is no fixed formula but generally here is how it goes:

  • The hiring team gets the buy-in from the CEO/General Manager and the VP HR.
  • Managers and employees are informed of the new approach. Feedback is sought but a hiring team is not a negotiable item.
  • The permanent team is selected by management. It is then trained by HR on HR law and on sourcing strategies and tools. Members are released from part of their regular duties.
  • The team sets its goals and develops an upgraded sourcing plan.
  • The team doesn’t do every job. The team only targets “key” and hard to hire jobs.
  • Job families (this job and the “next” one or two jobs) are identified. Company wide competencies/values lists are also developed.
  • As the hiring begins the hiring team members rate each of the candidates on an “evaluation sheet.” Later, (after we have performance data on the “new hire”) team members are given feedback on the accuracy of their individual evaluations. Team decisions are also reviewed.
  • Quality of hire, tenure, and diversity metrics are compared between the hiring team and the “old” way. Fine tuning is an integral part of the hiring team process.
  • Team members are rewarded for their performance.
  • Back-up team members are trained.

Conclusion New approaches are needed because the job market has tightened. Recruiting now requires more speed and “selling.” There are a variety of reasons to use the “Hiring Team” approach, but the two most compelling are 1) managers just do not have the available time to interview and 2) managers don’t have the selling skills necessary to convince hard to hire candidates (that often have multiple offers). One firm that recently has had a reputation for innovation in hiring, Agilent Technologies, has tried this approach in one business unit with much success. Experienced recruiters have known this fact for a long time, but have been unwilling to say it out loud. Face it…most managers are not very good at recruiting and hiring!

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website and on He lives in Pacifica, California.



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