How To Involve Employees in the Hiring Process

Diverse office colleagues laughing together during an interview

You no doubt view your employees as one of your most valuable business assets. It makes sense, then, that you would do everything in your power to choose new employees who are going to add to rather than detract from your company’s enthusiasm, expertise and output. One strategy in choosing the right candidate for the job is to involve current staffers in your hiring process. 

Involving your employees in the hiring process not only gives you–and your candidates–added perspective on whether an applicant is a right fit for the job; it also helps your employees feel a stronger sense of involvement with the direction the company is headed. 

How you choose to involve employees in hiring can be as simple as having them meet informally with candidates to chat for a few minutes or as formal as having them take part in full panel interviews or working on a collaborative task. The key is following a structure, otherwise, it can lead to the whole interview process feeling chaotic. 

Here, we’ll consider the pros and cons of involving employees in your hiring process and share some best practices for getting the most out of your employees’ feedback on candidates. 

Benefits of Involving Employees in the Hiring Process

It brings an added perspective 

As a hiring manager, you’re typically removed from the day-to-day “in the trenches” work of your department. Yet it’s crucial to find new hires who are going to be able to successfully tackle this very work. Tapping key staffers to evaluate potential hires can give you an added perspective you wouldn’t otherwise have from your level. It can also be the best way to get a feel for culture fit, which is notoriously hard for a single interviewer to accurately evaluate. 

It helps employees take ownership 

When you involve employees in the hiring process, it shows them that their input is valued and breeds feelings of engagement with the company. High levels of employee engagement¹ lead to increased innovation, higher productivity, stronger bottom-line performance and improved retention. It also helps employees understand why a certain candidate was hired and what went into the decision, which fosters feelings of transparency–a value that’s increasingly important to top performers.  

It provides a valuable interviewing experience

Hiring isn’t an easy task, unfortunately, it’s something most professionals don’t get the chance to practice until they’re in the hiring manager’s seat. Involving your employees in the hiring process is a great way to give them hands-on experience with hiring, which will serve you well down the road if they move into a managerial role (which should be one of your retention goals). 

It helps you “sell” the candidate on working for you

Your employees are your greatest salespeople, not just in front of your customers but with prospective new hires. Their firsthand input can help candidates see themselves on your team and envision what it might be like to work for you. Current employees can also answer questions about the nuances of a role that HR personnel often aren’t able to speak on. 

Downsides of Involving Employees in the Hiring Process

It adds time and complexity to the hiring process 

The more people who are involved with the hiring process, the more complex it’s going to be. Adding participants to interviews can lead to scheduling challenges. Gathering feedback from more than one or two parties requires adding processes for organization and collaboration. 

It can add a sense of pressure for candidates

Interviews can be daunting for candidates when they’re just one on one. Facing a full panel of judges heightens the sense of pressure, while a full day of back-to-back meetings with different stakeholders can be draining. 

It can take time away from employee tasks

For employees to have a worthwhile role in the hiring process, they need to be able to dedicate a meaningful amount of time. This means taking time away from their regular tasks, which could lead to a loss of productivity. To avoid this, you’ll need to carefully plan how you’re involving staffers to make sure you’re not taking people away from important projects or throwing them into a day of interviews when they’re up against a tight deadline. Again, this adds to the complexity to the planning process. 

4 Tips for Involving Employees in the Hiring Process

1. Follow a structure

All too often, we see hiring managers pass off candidates to unwitting staffers, who are neither expecting nor prepared for the interaction, under the premise of “having a quick chat.” While managers mean well in letting candidates interact with the team they might be joining, this approach does you no favors. Your employee is caught off guard and might not give the best impression, while your candidate may come away feeling like they’ve been pawned off so you can get back to your work. 

If you want to involve employees in your hiring process effectively, it must be done in a planned, scheduled way. All parties should have advance notice about who will be meeting with candidates on any given day, and employees should be given clear instructions for the goal of their participation. Is it to give background information on the role? Answer questions about the company? Assess the candidate in a practice task?

If you’re using employees in a panel interview, follow a structured format where one interviewer takes the lead and the rest ask predetermined questions in their area of expertise. This will keep the group format from turning into a free-for-all. 

2. Rotate who participates

While it can be tempting to consistently involve the same employees in the hiring process–after all, you want to showcase your best and brightest stars–avoid bringing in the same people over and over. Not only does this defeat the purpose of getting more diverse perspectives on candidates, but can leave participating employees feeling stretched-thin with their normal job responsibilities. The last thing you want is for it to start feeling like a hardship for them to participate. 

Instead, consider forming a hiring committee that’s open to any employee or that employees can be nominated for. Then, switch people from the committee in and out of the process on a rotating basis. For each candidate, try to involve a mix of people who would be their managers, peers and direct reports. This will ensure you get the benefit of many different perspectives while making the most efficient use of your staffers’ time. 

3. Take employee feedback seriously

There’s a big caveat that comes with getting your team members’ input on prospective new hires–you have to actually use it. Questions, concerns and recommendations shared by your employees are highly valid and should be taken seriously. For example, we’ve seen many cases where employee interviewers flag behaviors like rudeness or arrogance that would be indicative of a poor culture fit. 

When you take your employees’ feedback to heart, it gives them a sense of ownership over the hiring process. This not only comes with benefits in the form of engagement on their end, but makes them feel invested in the candidate’s success and in turn, more likely to want to help the new hire succeed in their role. 

To make sure employee input is factored into the hiring decision, use a system for gathering it. Most applicant tracking systems have a feature for collaborative candidate scoring. As an alternative, you could use an emailed survey or even a spreadsheet. 

4. Go beyond interviews

Interviews and on-the-job shadowing aren’t the only ways to involve your employees in the hiring process. Here are some other ways to get current staffers involved with prospective hires:

  • Have them audit your recruiting funnel by going through the process from an applicant’s point of view and sharing their feedback on how to improve it. 
  • Tap employees to create candidate-facing content, like blog posts and video clips.
  • Enlist employees to help you review resumes. This can be especially useful when you’re hiring for roles that require niche skills or technical expertise. 
  • Hand over the reins to your social media channels for takeovers on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. In a takeover, one or more staffers mans the account for the day and shares day-in-the-life content.
  • Bring the same people who participated in the interview process into the fold during onboarding. This gives the candidate a familiar face or two and can make for a smoother transition. 

Gain Added Perspective From Staffing Experts

Your employees are one valuable resource for getting hiring input; a dedicated team of staffing professionals is another. A recruiting agency can help you cast a wide net and narrow down your applicant pool to the candidates who offer the best mix of knowledge, experience, and value for the role you need to fill. 

We have more than 15 years of experience helping companies like yours find and hire enthusiastic, qualified and hard-working talent. Whether you need to hire for one key position or hundreds of roles, we have a staffing solution to fit your needs and budget. 

Schedule your free consultation today to get started.


Resources and Sources: 

  1. http://hbr.org/resources/pdfs/comm/achievers/hbr_achievers_report_sep13.pdf

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the president of 4 Corner Resources, the nationally acclaimed staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. His mission back then was the same as it is today: to do business in a personal way, while building an organization with boundless opportunities for ingenuity and advancement. When not managing 4 Corner’s growth or spending time with his family of six, you can find Pete sharing his sales and business expertise though public speaking, writing, and as the host of the Hire Calling podcast.