It’s not always the more the merrier

Ange Connor

How many is too many people to have involved in the hiring decision? They say “too many cooks spoil the broth” but “many hands make light work.” So, when it comes to selecting the best candidate for your next vacancy how many people should you have involved in the process to make sure you really do appoint the right person for the job? Can too many cooks spoil the decision making process and lead to the appointment of the wrong candidate? Or do many hands make light work and make the decision making process easier?

There are no right or wrong answers to this question but there are definitely a few things you need to take in to consideration before you and your team jump in to recruiting your next superstar.

Interview panels are common practice in larger organisations these days. Often the panel will consist of three representatives who will all have equal say in assessing which candidate is best for the job. On the other hand, in many smaller organisations one person may be charged with managing the recruitment process, interviewing on their own and making their own individual assessment on who is going to be the best person to fill the job. Both these options have been shown to be highly successful and sometimes unsuccessful in selecting the right person for the job.

It can be hugely beneficial to have a couple of key people involved in the recruitment process as it gives you the opportunity to compare, debrief and bounce thoughts, feedback and observations of the candidates off one another. Maybe they picked up on something you didn’t in going through the interview process. Hence the value of an interview panel. On the other hand, get too many people involved and you could end up in a situation where everyone has a different opinion and you are at loggerheads on who to appoint.

More often than not, it’s not actually about the number of people involved, it’s about their understanding and clarity of the vacant position, expectations of what skills, experience and attributes you are trying to attract in a successful candidate and their recruitment / interviewing expertise. If the people involved in the recruitment process and hiring decision don’t start out on the same page with the same understanding of the role and of the person you are trying to attract; as well as being able to park their personal opinions then the recruitment process and hiring decision is guaranteed to go pear shaped, ultimately reducing your success in appointing the right person for the job.

Prior to commencing your next recruitment process, here’s my advice on what you should be doing to maximise the end result:

  • Think ahead – Don’t leave it to the last minute when you have already conducted a couple of rounds of interviews to decide that you might get others involved in the hiring decision. Think ahead and if you are going to get the input of others, they need to be on board for the entire journey. They need to understand the process, the key selection criteria, the overall objective. They need to see your vision from the start and have input at that stage. If they don’t have buy in from the start chances are when you do bring them in they will have different opinions and ideas about what the ideal candidate looks like.
  • Surround yourself with recruitment expertise – If you are going to get others to contribute and assist with the recruitment process, make sure they have the recruitment know how and nouse to add value. Simply asking your best sales person or your Accountant or your Personal Assistant to give you their input may not be the best idea. You might value their ability to read people as your best sales person, or you might value your Accountant’s ability to negotiate a lower salary or your PA’s perspective on how to judge if someone has good organisational skills but do they know how to ask the right interview questions to get the right answers; to identify the best person for the job? Or are they going to lead you up the garden path based on leaning towards someone they simply connect with or like, or will they be influenced purely by their gut feel. If they don’t have recruitment expertise and experience; skill them up before or put the thinking cap back on and ask someone more appropriate.
  • Agree on the process up front – It’s essential you agree on how you are going to make the end decision up front if there are going to multiple people involved in the decision making process. If you have an odd number of people on the interview panel will it simply go to a vote with the majority vote deciding who the successful candidate will be? Or as the business owner will you have the end say no matter what and risk getting other team members off side because you asked for their input and then didn’t listen to them anyway? Work out ownership for the decision upfront to avoid frustration down the track and the blame game if for some reason it doesn’t work out.

Investing the time upfront before you charge on in to the recruitment process will ensure you have a more robust and thorough recruitment process, ultimately increasing your chances of success. Don’t be afraid to look outside your business for support and guidance. Many recruitment agencies offer interview panel services, whereby you can simply engage them to sit in on the interviews and provide an independent perspective. Alternatively, ask a business mentor who knows your business and culture well. Recruiting the right people doesn’t have to be hard or a bad experience; it’s the strategy, upfront planning and preparation that is crucial for success.

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

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