Collaborative Hiring: How to Involve Your Employees

Diverse office colleagues laughing together during an interview

You undoubtedly 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. Collaborative hiring is an effective strategy to help you choose the right candidates for your open positions. 

Collaborative hiring involves your employees in the hiring process, giving you–and your candidates–added perspective on whether an applicant is a good 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, the whole interview process may feel 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. 

What is Collaborative Hiring?

Collaborative hiring is a style of talent acquisition in which team members from various departments take part in the hiring process rather than being limited to HR, recruiters, and hiring managers. Instead of hiring tasks being conducted primarily by recruiters, collaborative hiring is a group effort involving staff across the organization.  

What is the Difference Between Traditional Recruitment and Collaborative Hiring?

In a traditional recruitment process, hiring activities are mainly the responsibility of recruiters and HR staff. There is little communication between HR and other departments, except for hiring managers, who are involved in conducting interviews and weighing in on candidate selection. The decision on who will ultimately receive an offer is limited to only a few people, sometimes only a single individual. 

In collaborative hiring, recruiters delegate hiring tasks to various team members in departments that are relevant to the role. Interviews involve conversations with people from different parts of the organization and with differing seniority levels, giving the candidate greater exposure to the company and its culture. The decision to make an offer involves input from all of the involved parties, which can lead to more equitable, objective, and accurate hiring results. 

Benefits of Collaborative Hiring

It brings an added perspective 

As a hiring manager, you’re typically removed from your department’s day-to-day “in the trenches” work. Yet it’s crucial to find new hires who can tackle this very work successfully. 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 evaluate accurately. 

It helps employees take ownership 

Involving employees in the hiring process 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

Unfortunately, hiring isn’t an easy task. Most professionals don’t get the chance to practice it 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 can’t speak on. 

Downsides of Involving Employees in the Hiring Process

It adds time and complexity to the hiring process 

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

It can add a sense of pressure on candidates

One-on-one interviews can be daunting for candidates. 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 involve staffers to ensure 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 of the planning process. 

Who Should Be Involved in Collaborative Hiring and When?

Here are the key players involved in a collaborative hiring process. 

Hiring managers

Any group effort needs a strong leader in order to be successful. In team-based hiring, that person is the hiring manager. They should create the job description and evaluation criteria, assign roles and responsibilities, and set expectations for how the process will unfold. 


Recruiters are responsible for keeping the hiring process moving smoothly and efficiently. They facilitate candidate communications, focus on providing a seamless candidate experience, and are often the first point of contact between a candidate and the organization. 

Supervisors and senior teammates

People who will take a managerial or leadership role over the person who’s hired are great to involve in the interview process. Since they’re well-versed in the day-to-day operations of the department where a candidate would be working, they can give interviewees a more precise understanding of the job and provide a strong assessment of that person’s aptitude for the role. 


Colleagues who will be working on the same team–or even on different teams–can provide useful perspectives on how a candidate might mesh with the organization’s culture and work styles. Consider involving conversations with would-be peers during the interview phase. 

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6 Tips for Involving Employees in the Hiring Process

1. Follow a structure

We often 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 effectively involve employees in your hiring process, 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. Provide training

Don’t presume that an employee who is good at their job will naturally also be good at judging candidates immediately. Hiring takes skill, and most people don’t get the chance to practice until they’re in the hiring manager’s seat. 

Provide adequate training to set the members of your hiring team up for success. Review goals and key performance indicators. Hold practice conversations to help interviewers hone their skills. Go over the use of scorecards and give concrete examples of what useful feedback looks like. 

Related: Interviewer Training

3. Rotate who participates

While it can be tempting to involve the same employees in the hiring process consistently–after all, you want to showcase your best and brightest stars–avoid repeatedly bringing in the same people. Not only does this defeat the purpose of getting more diverse perspectives on candidates, but it can also 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 for which employees can be nominated. Then, people from the committee will rotate in and out of the process. For each candidate, try to involve a mix of people, including their managers, peers, and direct reports. This will ensure you benefit from many different perspectives while efficiently using your staffers’ time. 

4. Set clear evaluation parameters

Make sure everyone on your hiring committee is on the same page about the criteria you’ll use to judge candidates–remember, the hiring manager should define these and the interview scoring system you’ll use to rate these criteria. Set expectations for how feedback will be provided and when. For example, it’s a good idea to discourage interviewers from chatting amongst themselves about candidates before everyone has submitted their official feedback. Otherwise, you risk them influencing one another’s impressions. 

5. Take employee feedback seriously

A big caveat comes with getting your team members’ input on prospective new hires–you have actually to use it. Your employees’ questions, concerns, and recommendations 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 indicate a poor culture fit. 

Taking your employees’ feedback to heart gives them a sense of ownership over the hiring process. This not only benefits them in the form of engagement but also makes them feel invested in the candidate’s success, which makes them more likely to want to help the new hire succeed in their role. 

A system is used to gather employee input to ensure that it is factored into the hiring decision. Most applicant tracking systems have a feature for collaborative candidate scoring. Alternatively, you could use an emailed survey or a spreadsheet. 

6. 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 hiring for roles requiring 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.

Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the President of 4 Corner Resources, the staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. 4 Corner is a member of the American Staffing Association and TechServe Alliance, and the top-rated staffing company in Central Florida. Recent awards and recognition include being named to Forbes’ Best Recruiting Firms in America, The Seminole 100, and The Golden 100. Pete also founded zengig, to offer comprehensive career advice, tools, and resources for students and professionals. He hosts two podcasts, Hire Calling and Finding Career Zen, and is blazing new trails in recruitment marketing with the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Connect with Pete on LinkedIn