Guiding Your Team in the Hiring Process

Have you been to New Orleans for Mardi Gras?  Or Pasadena for the Rose Bowl Parade?  Or possibly New York for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?   How about Richmond, for the Easter Parade?  What? Never heard of that one?  Well, add it to your travel list.

Besides the treat of seeing the azaleas and dogwood in full bloom, a springtime tradition in Richmond is the Easter Parade on historic and beautiful Monument Avenue, a street lined with antebellum homes.  I was invited to an Easter brunch at this fashionable address while visiting my pals Dick and Maria who live nearby in Midlothian. This brunch has a long tradition. Guests are expected to show up in their Easter finery (a decorated hat is absolutely mandatory) and be ready to participate in judging the best Easter bonnet in the parade.

It works like this. After brunch is served, guests are asked to congregate on our host’s spacious front veranda to view the parade as it passes by. It is essential that each guest drink the requisite number of mimosas in order to get in the “voting frame of mind.” Guests are given cards numbered from one to ten. And, you guessed it, as each parade participant marches proudly by, you judge their chapeau on a scale of one to ten, and up goes your number!

There were big hats with lots of flowers and tulle, small hats with jelly beans glued to them, decorated baseball caps, hats with stuffed animals riding atop — every possible concoction! My personal favorite was a woman who had made quite an attractive hat out of a decorated upside-down colander. What made it doubly funny was that she was parading with her Airedale terrier sporting the exact same hat in miniature!

As you probably have surmised, the judging was all over the lot (possibly from the mimosa factor). Every guest held up different numbers for each hat that passed by, prompting many fun-loving arguments.  “What do you mean a three — that hat should be an eight!” I gave the woman and her Airedale a ten.  The non-dog lovers in the group weren’t as generous!

When you enlist your team in the hiring process, it most likely resembles the Richmond Easter Parade hat contest.  Many hiring managers want to involve their team. They value their opinion and want their feedback.  And, while it’s not mandatory, they would prefer “buy in” for their new employee. But, like the guests at the party, everyone comes to the table with a different judging standard. What might be a nine for one person will be a five for another.  Hiring can be a very subjective affair. But as a manager, you are responsible for at least trying to remove the subjectivity and infusing as much objectivity as you can.

So, how do you do that? There are three ways to turn the subjective into objective.

ASK FOR SPECIFICS:  Give each team member a specific functional area to interview the candidate about.  Decide who on your team will interview for a specific skill and give clear instructions.  For example, if you are hiring a salesperson, have one team member interview for prospecting skills, have another interview for time management skills, another might interview for presentation skills.  And, of course, you would be judging your candidate on closing skills.

If you are interviewing marketing candidates, follow the same recipe.  One team member would interview for online or inbound marketing skills while another might drill down on messaging and collateral skills.  If it’s a product marketing position, divide the major responsibilities of the job and give each team member one or two to cover in their interview.

HAVE A RATING SYSTEM: Be very specific with your team about what it is you want them to cover with your job candidate.  Review with each one the specific questions they will be asking candidates. You may choose to use some type of rating system that would help in assessing the candidate.  If so, make it as easy as the hat judging.  A one to ten rating seems to work well, along with their additional comments, naturally.   And, be sure your team member completes the rating sheet immediately after the interview while it is fresh in their mind.

GOOD DEBRIEFING & DECISION: When the interviews are done, it’s time to put the pieces together. It’s most effective to gather your team to discuss the interviews. But, if that can’t be done, individual meetings are fine. Ask your team members why they gave the scores they did. Listen thoughtfully to their comments and decide whether to accept, reject, or adjust any of the scores given.  After all, you’re the manager and you get to make the call. That is what you’re paid to do.

Involving your team is a smart strategy. It just has to be done in an effective way that is going to guarantee, as much as one can guarantee, that the right person will be hired. And remember, opinions can be all over the lot. After all, it may have been just a decorated colander to some, but it sure was the “best in show” to me!

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