Involving Multiple Interviewers in Employee Selection

When it comes to hiring a key employee, sometimes executives believe that taking a “360 degree view” will help in making a better informed selection. Accordingly, finalist candidates are introduced to an array of people from both inside and outside the organization. The rationale is that a multi-faceted screening process will be helpful in evaluating candidates; and, once a candidate is selected, to help encourage this individual to join the organization.
However, there are times when the law of unintended consequences can interfere with these best laid plans.

 Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of using multiple people to screen when tasked with candidate selection.

Outside Assessment
By definition, outside observers are expected to offer unbiased perspectives of the organization, its relationships and its needs. These observers are considered objective, and thus able to offer a non-emotional view of the impact of a hiring decision. Additionally, outsiders frequently bring helpful views on the the skills and experience needed to fill a job.

On the other hand, outsiders are typically less current about the business or industry, and less informed than are people who work in the business on a day-to-day basis.

The View from Inside
There are several positive factors for including insiders in the candidate selection process. Firstly, they can present a welcoming tone to candidates. People within the organization are also often useful to screen in determining whether there is a cultural fit. Certainly, insiders’ participation in the process can foster “buy-in.” Plus, any complaints after the hire about a selection would hopefully be less strident if insiders are involved in the screening at the outset. Another benefit to involving inside assessors in screening is that this can reinforce a sense of positive openness and a “no secrets” environment among the team.

On the other hand, it is important to remember that insiders can bring particular biases into the selection process. When considering a candidate as a potential co-worker, views about which candidate fits best can surface in an interfering way—intentionally or unintentionally. Also, some individuals can be threatened by the presence of a candidate who might appear to be stronger than they are in a particular discipline. These insiders may discourage candidates in subtle or not so subtle ways.

Depending upon their position within the organization, some internal assessors may lack a strategic perspective. If they are limited to one internal function and are asked to take a broad business view, they might misread the importance of relevant aspects of a candidate's background. Also, internal people sometimes only “know what they know.” If they lack broad exposure to other disciplines and organizations, they might not understand fully the background of an individual who comes from a different or broader environment. In these instances, it may help to have each person who screens take a more specific line of inquiry with the candidate.

Maximizing Perspectives
The first step in involving multiple insiders and outsiders is to make certain that all interviewers are trained and well prepared for the task. The interviewing process consists of a lot more than simply asking questions and listening to responses. Formal training in evaluating candidates and in eliminating unfair or discriminatory behavior in an interviewing setting is prudent.

Outsiders and insiders both offer excellent opportunities for gaining perspectives, and in selling finalist candidates on the wisdom of their joining the organization. If you avoid common pitfalls, you can maximize the opportunities of using multiple interviewers in your hiring process.