When interviewing goes beyond HR and the Line Manager

Many organizations are starting to explore a new approach to improving retention through participative selection. 

There is a belief that when staff are involved in the recruitment decision they are more likely to support the new staff member, and as a consequence retention is improved.

Many local authorities have been doing this for some time with mixed results. 

For the process to be meaningful (and legal) each person must be selected or rejected on defined criteria.  This makes employee involvement more difficult.

One solution is to use competency based recruitment.  Here key aspects of the role are clearly defined and success factors well documented.  This can provide a solid framework for employee participation.

10 key steps to involving employees in the recruitment decision:

  1. Start with a well defined job role
  2. Have defined competency statements
  3. Produce clearly defined scoring or competency sheets
  4. Train staff to use scoring / record keeping sheets
  5. Ensure that the employee(s) involved have a specific role in the process
  6. Limit the number of people any one candidate will interact with
  7. Keep the process consistent – limit the number of staff involved with each post recruited
  8. Aggregate outputs to ensure fairness
  9. ‘Sell’ the fact that staff are involved in the selection to potential employees
  10. Close the loop – evaluate the process

Start with a well defined job role

When less experiences people are involved in a recruitment decision it becomes more important to have a well defined and documented Job Role/ or Job Description

Have defined competency statements

Once the role has been defined then the competencies to undertake the role need to be documented.  This provides a consistent check for any recruitment decisions.

Produce clearly defined scoring or competency sheets

Having the competencies documented is one thing but having a consistent way of measuring and recording candidates’ performance is another. This provides a common framework for all involved in the selection decision.  It also provides a safety shield for the organisation in the event of a claim of bias.

Train staff to use scoring / record keeping sheets

Having the tools is one thing, knowing how to use them properly is quite another. A 10 minute show session is not enough.  Remember the reputation of your organisation is at risk here.  I know of many colleagues that will not buy or use a company’s services because of a bad experience when they went for a job with the organisation.  Poor recruitment & selection even to unsuccessful candidates is a reflection on the customer satisfaction of an organisation.  Many believe that negative PR from recruitment experiences is more powerful than a poor purchasing experience. 

Remember to treat each person you are interacting with as you would like to be treated in the same situation.

Ensure that the employee(s) involved have a specific role in the process

Just being involved is not enough to achieve the goal of increasing retention.  The role must be real and must be an integrated part of the team.  Some would say that each person on the selection panel or board has equal weighting of importance with their contribution.  If this is artificial in any way your employees will know

Limit the number of people any one candidate will interact with

Allowing the whole team to get involved is the ‘Holy Grail’ of recruitment BUT as the saying goes “too many cooks spoil the broth”.  In a selection process it may appear to the candidate that no one really owns the process.  What the candidate wants to see is a decision maker.  Seeing different people each time just sends the message that either they are not important or there is no real leader.

Keep the process consistent – limit the number of staff involved with each post recruited

With effective recruitment we need to achieve a balance of participation and consistency.  Consistency is best achieved by using the same (few) individuals for a given post.  Others in the group can get involved when another person is recruited.

Aggregate outputs to ensure fairness

When more than two people are involved in a selection decision I have found that using assessment centre scoring mechanisms to be both fair & robust.  It ensures that any bias is minimised throughout the whole process.  Generally this will mean two or more views on each are of competence.  The scores can then be ‘averaged’ or at leased ‘normed’ as appropriate for the process.  Remember no one persons view should have a higher weighting than anyone else.

‘Sell’ the fact that staff are involved in the selection to potential employees

This is meant to be a two way process.  One of the pluses you can promote is that the views of all staff are important in the organisation. Indeed that is the reason why peers are involved in the process.  You may wish to say they participation’s is optional but encouraged.  If you are looking to increase retention this is where you need to start.

Close the loop – Evaluate the process

You offer the successful candidate, they accept and… Just when you think the process is complete starts the real work. Review the whole process. In the early days of introducing a process like this they systems are often a little ‘Heath Robinson’, held together with tape & elastic bands.  If you are serious about this you need to review and make improvements with every iteration. 

Recently I took my children to a major London museum, rather than just wander around we hired one of their ‘education tour/ explorer kits’. When we returned the equipment (and there as a lot of it) I was asked if we had enjoyed it.  I could have said yes & walked away – instead I took the time to highlight that some items were missing from the kit (hey this happens with children) but more disappointing was the fact that a good percentage of the tour could not be completed because of exhibit refurbishment (long term not short term) and the kit did not reflect these changes. The challenge to the museum and you others in HR is if you know there is a weakness in the system what are you going to do to improve it?

Management and Leadership development are importent to you and of course to the team here at RapidBI. We hope you find this information valuable, if you do please tweet or facebook like this page. Thanks

Check Out Mike Morrison's Book on Organizational Development - Theory and Practice, for tools and tips on developing organizations, managers and leaders on Amazon and Kindle

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About Mike Morrison

Mike Morrison is a consultant and change agent specialising in developing skills in senior people to increase organizational performance.
Mike is also founder & director of RapidBI, an organizational effectiveness consultancy.


  1. To do justice to the idea, the company must have a fully functioning applicant tracking system, so that schedules can be kept, notes shared and so forth.