The ultimate guide to collaborative hiring

Table of contents

Recruiting today isn’t just changing. It’s already changed. Gone are the days when companies can rely solely on traditional hiring strategies to find and land top talent. Instead, collaborative hiring has begun as a popular alternative. 

Collaborative hiring is based on a simple principle: that recruiting doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Teams must find ways to break down silos and traditional models of recruitment if they hope to adapt to the fast-paced, highly competitive recruitment world in which we live. The workload is simply too much — and moves too fast — for recruiters alone to manage these processes. 

This guide will explore collaborative hiring in detail. 

What is collaborative hiring? 

Collaborative hiring is a team-based recruitment method that includes colleagues from other parts of the business in the screening, interviewing, and decision-making phases. Under this model, there is close collaboration between the HR and other departmental teams in the organization that will work in close contact with the chosen candidate.

This type of hiring is most active during the interviewing process, where team members, hiring managers, and the recruiter will meet with candidates in a multi-stage approach. This allows candidates to meet with more people than they would in a traditional process, giving them deeper knowledge of who they would be working with, and of the company.

In addition to interviewing, collaborative hiring may also involve deeper communication around candidate scoring, evaluation, and, ultimately, hiring or rejection decisions. In these cases, hiring teams will provide feedback and recommendations on specific candidates, which will be used to inform a hiring decision. 

The goal of collaborative hiring is to add more voices into the recruitment process to get a higher-level and more well-rounded evaluation of potential candidates. 

Why collaborative hiring?

The world of recruitment has changed. Candidates expect positive, well-rounded experiences when they apply for a position, and companies need to deliver if they hope to land the best people for the job. 

Collaborative hiring is one of the best strategies for providing a multi-dimensional candidate experience and is central to modern recruitment. It’s also a powerful strategic tool for organizations looking to streamline and scale an effective — but repeatable — hiring process. 

First, collaborative hiring gives organizations a much deeper understanding of candidates and their potential impact on the organization. 

By structuring recruitment as a team activity and sharing screening and decision-making responsibilities, organizations can gather 360-degree views of candidates to help them make the right hiring decision. Insights from multiple people with different opinions and priorities help to flesh out a comprehensive view of a candidate and their potential fit at the organization. 

Done strategically, and using systematic, repeatable, and scalable processes, this heightened understanding of a candidate can be repeated consistently across all job openings. 

Long-term, collaborative hiring is a powerful and effective strategy that helps companies reach their strategic hiring and, ultimately, company goals. 

Second, collaborative hiring helps organizations meet modern candidate expectations. 

Depending on your industry, you’ve likely noticed that finding and landing high-quality talent has become more difficult in recent years. This is due to a combination of factors, including: 

  • Growing demand for specific skill sets 
  • Evolving philosophies around what work is and where it’s done
  • Modern candidate expectations, both in the hiring process and from companies 
  • Modern sourcing, screening, and hiring practices that leverage new channels and techniques

A common throughline for each of these factors is that modern candidates value and demand different experiences and return from their work than they did before. 

In particular, candidates expect a transparent and inclusive hiring experience from any potential employer. They want their interactions with the company to be positive, thorough, transparent, and reflective of what it will be like to work there.

Of course, it can be tricky to provide this experience, especially when the organization is scaling quickly. Enter collaborative hiring. 

As candidates work through the multi-staged interviewing process, they too will have the ability to form a 360-degree view of the organization, their potential team, and the leaders they will be working under. 

This provides much deeper and more well-rounded information for the candidate, allowing them to self-screen and determine if the role is truly a fit for them.

In short, modern candidate expectations require modern recruitment strategies. Collaborative hiring fits the bill perfectly. 

Collaborative hiring vs. traditional recruitment 

As you’ve likely noticed already, collaborative hiring offers a wide range of benefits to modern recruitment organizations. To understand those benefits more thoroughly, it’s helpful to look back at the traditional recruitment to highlight the differences. 

Hallmarks of traditional recruitment

Traditional recruitment is, first and foremost, a top-down process. The hiring manager is the primary and, potentially, the only voice that matters in the process, and they ultimately make the sole decision on who to recruit. 

Behind the hiring manager, the recruiter on file is traditionally responsible for completing all tasks within the recruitment process: from sourcing to screening to shortlisting to scheduling interviews to managing paperwork and job offers. 

As you can imagine, the workload for recruiters under a traditional model quickly becomes overwhelming when juggling multiple openings at the same time. 

The end result is, too often, a poor experience and outcome for all parties involved. The root causes for these issues boil down to the following: 

  • Limited to no communication between departments and roles when hiring
  • Recruiters overextend themselves and are unable to provide a strong candidate experience 
  • Candidates are expected to drop everything to accommodate a rigid recruitment process
  • Decisions are based on the opinions of one person
  • Team opinions or feedback about candidates is not collected or accounted for
  • Candidates receive a narrow, one-dimensional account of the company culture and team dynamic 
  • Candidates and hiring managers are forced to make a decision based on incomplete or limited information 

As you can see, the traditional recruitment model simply doesn’t account for the growing workloads on recruiters and demand from candidates in the modern workforce. 

That’s where collaborative hiring comes into play. 

Benefits of collaborative hiring 

There is a long list of benefits associated with collaborative hiring that will vary depending on the organization’s size, industry, and hiring aspirations. 

We’ll focus on the following five benefits that are universal to virtually all companies that using collaborative hiring:

  1. Reduced recruiter stress and workloads
  2. Better screening for cultural fit 
  3. Better candidate experiences 
  4. Reduced effect of unconscious bias
  5. Better quality of hire and retention 

Let’s dig into each benefit. 

1. Reduced recruiter stress and workloads

Collaborative hiring takes a great burden off the recruiter. More team members being involved in the process means that recruiters are not solely responsible for each phase of the recruitment process, allowing them to act in a more strategic coordinator role. 

Coupled with automation platforms and powerful Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), collaborative hiring can dramatically speed up time-consuming activities like resume parsing, shortlisting, prescreening, and scheduling. 

All of this greatly improves the quality of life for recruiters and allows them to use their skills more effectively for the organization’s benefit. 

2. Better screening for cultural fit 

Screening for cultural fit can be hit or miss. That’s because culture is inherently a collective construct, meaning each employee will have their own opinions on what “cultural fit” looks like. 

Asking one person to screen for cultural fit, therefore, is a flawed approach. On the other hand, team-based hiring is a much more well-rounded and representative strategy that accounts for these varied and nuanced opinions of culture within an organization.

Together, teams will be able to form a complete picture of a candidate’s actual cultural fit rather than rely on one person’s subjective opinion. 

3. Better candidate experiences 

Because work is divided between multiple people, interviewers can prepare more thoroughly for each interaction with candidates. This, of course, makes the interviews more fruitful and provides a better experience and impression of the company from the candidate. 

The interview phase can also be structured in a much more logical fashion, allowing the candidate to incrementally learn more about the team and demonstrate their knowledge to the people they may eventually work with. As they progress, candidates form a deeper and more complete picture of the company, team, and role. 

At each stage, the candidate is provided transparency and thoroughness that, if you recall, is an expectation in modern job seekers. 

4. Reduced effect of unconscious bias

Relying on a single person to make a hiring decision is ripe for issues with unconscious bias. People are inherently biased in many ways, and it can be challenging to overcome that without proper training or outside influence. 

Collaborative hiring is one technique that helps to limit unconscious bias by decentralizing that final decision to a group of people. Teams form a collective opinion of an individual that can limit or eliminate biased decision-making depending on who’s involved. 

This exercise reduces the likelihood that one group of people will be consistently disqualified, thus significantly increasing the probability of selection based on fit rather than bias.

5. Better quality of hire and retention 

Team-based hiring helps to guarantee that the candidate who is ultimately selected has the skills and personality to do the job and integrate effectively into the team.

This helps to ensure that the right candidate is selected and will have the best impact on the company. That’s a net benefit to your quality of hire.

In addition, collaborative hiring also ensures that candidates are pre-approved by their teams at the time of hiring, thereby expediting the team-building process and time to effective collaboration. 

This will help to ensure long-term success, employee satisfaction and engagement, and, ultimately, retention

And if you’re still not convinced, consider the fact that high employee engagement — created by things like cultural fit and team collaboration — is a direct indicator of strong productivity and retention.

In fact, employee engagement has been shown to boost productivity by up to 38%. And, engaged employees are 59% less likely to look for a new job within the next 12 months.

In other words, collaborative hiring helps you get more out of your new hires, and keep them for longer. 

Who should be involved in collaborative recruiting (and when?)

To ensure success in collaborative recruiting, you’ll need to build out effective hiring teams. You’ll also need to be able to repeat this process for each job opening that comes across your plate as a recruiter. 

To help make this process easier — and scalable — it’s helpful to understand the purpose of a hiring team, and the roles that are typically involved.

A hiring team is a cross-functional group of employees tasked with filling a vacant position in a company. Specifically, they’re responsible for: 

  • Sourcing talent
  • Screening applicants
  • Making hiring decisions
  • Onboarding and coaching new hires 

To accomplish this, hiring teams are typically made up of the following roles: 

  • Hiring managers request that a position is filled, and acts as the head of the hiring team. This includes coordinating with HR throughout the recruitment process, providing a clear vision for what type of candidate is needed for the position, creating job requirements and job descriptions
  • Recruiters. Act as the quarterback in charge of the end-to-end talent acquisition process. They’re the intermediary between the hiring manager and applicants, the recruitment strategist, and are in charge of developing and executing the hiring process. 
  • Interviewers. The supporting team that typically includes the recruiter, hiring manager, other managers, and senior leadership, and direct team members who will work with the chosen candidate. The goal is to include all relevant stakeholders on the hiring team to provide thorough information to the candidate and to evaluate them as a team. 

When selecting your hiring team, it’s critical that you:

  • Clearly define roles and responsibilities at the start of the hiring process.
  • Include all stakeholders who will interact directly with the selected candidate.
  • Only include people who need to be there. 
  • Provide coaching and training to interviewers where needed. 

While team-based hiring has many benefits for an organization, it’s only as effective as the people you include in the process. As such, selecting a hiring team, and being able to scale that selection process, is the key to success in collaborative hiring. 

Challenges with collaborative hiring (and how to overcome them)

Of course, collaborative hiring isn’t all fun and games. There are some hurdles that organizations will need to overcome to make this strategy work. 

This section will look at five common challenges with collaborative hiring, and offer suggestions for overcoming them. 

1. The need to provide recruitment and interview training 

Successfully integrating new people into the hiring process requires some degree of training and coaching. This will ensure that anyone who is asked to participate is briefed on the basic principles of interviewing, made aware of unconscious bias, and understands their role in the process.

This, of course, can be a time-consuming undertaking if you are juggling multiple job openings at once. 

Solution: Create templated training material that can be easily deployed each time a new hiring team is formed. Standardize that training process, and make it easily repeatable at scale. 

Each time you form a new hiring team, take stock of which members have received this training and which haven’t. You’ll also likely need to provide coaching on an as-needed basis, but this will help ensure that the essential information is communicated for each new opening. 

2. Unnecessary complexity in the hiring process 

It’s not uncommon to hear recruiters and hiring teams complain that collaborative recruitment adds too much complexity to the process. This might come in the form of having too many touchpoints with the candidate, too much extra work for the hiring team, or too many inputs that ultimately muddy the decision. 

This complexity also runs the risk of overwhelming the candidate, who may feel that the ask from the company is not worth the effort. 

Solution: Ensure that your collaborative hiring process is thorough but lean. Only include hiring team members that absolutely need to be involved and assign specific roles and responsibilities from the beginning. 

It’s also a good idea to put a cap on the number of interviews you do for all roles and how long they are. Be upfront with candidates about what is expected of them, and why. 

3. Managing people’s opinions and inputs 

Everyone wants to be heard, and they want their opinions to matter. That’s great from an engagement standpoint, but it can cause friction within hiring teams if the final hiring decision runs counter to one or more people’s opinions. 

In some cases, this friction can create resentment among peers, and may even erode confidence in the collaborative hiring process. 

Solution: Be open and transparent about how the process will work from the beginning. Make it clear that everyone’s input will be heard, but that the ultimate decision lies with the hiring manager.

Encourage candid discussions among the hiring team by asking each member to provide their feedback on shortlisted candidates. Ask the hiring manager to hear everyone’s input, reflect on it, and provide clear justification for any decision that is made. This will help to ensure that all parties feel like they have been heard, even if their choice isn’t the person selected. 

4. Juggling schedule conflicts and competing priorities 

It’s often difficult to ensure that all hiring team members will be available when needed for interviews. This can cause delays to the recruitment process, which may ultimately cause the candidate to lose interest. 

Solution: Make time commitments and scheduling requirements clear to all hiring team members from the beginning. Do not include team members who can’t commit to interviews within the required timeframe.

Use online scheduling tools that allow team members to flag their availability, and give candidates the ability to select interview times that work for them, and the interviewing team. 

5. Keeping the interviews focused 

Lastly, there’s the risk that interviews with multiple people may lack focus, or create confusion in the candidate’s understanding of the role and company. 

Lacking consistency in what information is provided to candidates, or what is asked of them in each phase of the interview process, can create confusion and may lead the individual to second guess their interest in the role. It also can create inconsistency in how candidates are screened and scored. 

Solution: Provide interview training to all team members involved in the hiring process. Create standardized interview questions and scorecards that your team can use to screen each candidate. Explain the importance of sticking to these processes to ensure unbiased and consistent screening. 

Now that we’ve outlined the benefits and challenges of collaborative hiring, let’s explore how to create a strategy.

How do I put together a collaborative hiring strategy?

Before we outline how to create a collaborative hiring strategy, we should note that this is not a one size fits all approach to recruitment. It will be a different process for every company, and will likely vary depending on the different roles being hired. 

As an example, a more technical role like a software developer or IT professional will likely require more steps and testing than a non-technical role. Likewise, the size of the company and the complexity of reporting structures will likely impact how thorough — or brief — the collaborative hiring strategy is. 

In any case, it’s helpful to understand the typical steps that go into creating a collaborative hiring strategy. Here’s what that might look like. 

1. Create your pitch for collaborative hiring 

Outline why your organization needs collaborative hiring, and what the benefits will be from a business standpoint. 

Pitch the concept and its benefits to your C-level executions to receive buy-in. Once leadership is onboard, work with them to secure adequate resource allocation and top-down support. 

2. Create a customized, structured process for collaborative hiring

Together with your fellow recruiters, map out all of the requirements, stakeholders, and key touchpoints for a collaborative hiring process. Design the structure you’ll need to work effectively together. Outline how you will create a scalable and repeatable process for each new job opening. 

Key considerations at this phase include: 

  • Processes and workflows for each new job opening
  • Guidance on how and when to form a hiring team
  • What tools will be provided to streamline the process

This should be a high-level framework that maps out the end-to-end collaborative hiring process. 

3. Establish guidelines for hiring team selection and roles

Create a master document that outlines what a typical hiring team looks like. Define mandatory and optional roles, and clearly outline responsibilities for each one. 

Outline what commitments will be required for each team member. Include scheduling availability, meeting attendance, input, and task completion expectations for each individual role.

Use this master document to inform the creation of all future hiring teams. Adapt it as needed as you begin to test your strategies and processes in the wild. 

4. Create a diverse and engaging interview experience 

At the same time, you should also map out what the interview process will look like for collaborative hiring. How many interviews will be required? What is each interview’s purpose? Who will be involved? How will the interviews be conducted?

Here are some tips to consider when mapping your interview process:

  • Find ways to introduce and showcase your company culture in a friendly and transparent manner.
  • Include leaders and team members in the interview process to give the candidate a multi-dimensional view of the organization.
  • Create a standardized interview experience that can be replicated and adapted depending on the role.
  • Define the questions and scoring parameters your interviews will use at each phase of the screening process.
  • Leverage tools like an event scheduler to let candidates choose a time that works for their and your interviewers’ schedules. 
  • Send automated reminders and follow-up messages to candidates to keep the lines of communication open.
  • Use video interviewing software to reach candidates where they are.

The interview experience is perhaps the most important part of any collaborative hiring strategy. Spend the time needed to create a thorough and scalable process. 

5. Create training material for interviewers 

As mentioned earlier, it’s important that all interviews are given proper training in how to conduct unbiased interviews. One way to do that is to create a structured interview strategy that uses standardized questions and candidate scorecards. 

Additionally, we recommend creating a repeatable training program for new interviewers that they can complete when onboarding into a new hiring team. This helps to ensure that all employees involved in the hiring process are fully aware of what’s required of them during the interview phase.

6. Scale your recruitment process and improve over time 

Like with any new process, you’re not going to nail collaborative hiring on your first try. This is an iterative process that requires you to track progress and results over time, and adapt as needed.

Leverage custom reporting dashboards and hiring analytics to monitor the impact of your new program on key metrics like time-to-hire, quality of hire, retention, and staff engagement.

Continuously review your results with management. Compare outcomes versus your company goals, and adapt your strategy and resource allocation as needed.

Integrating your recruitment tech stack will help make this process a lot easier. This will ensure that your workflows and data points flow seamlessly between platforms, ensuring that you have a 360-degree view of your performance at all times. 

7. Bring your team together with collaborative hiring tools

Lastly, collaborative hiring is only as good as the tools you use. To streamline and scale this process, you’ll need to onboard a professional collaborative hiring software like Recruitee to ensure that collaboration is seamless and scalable. 

How an ATS can help 

By now, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of the touchpoints that go into collaborative hiring. And that’s understandable. It’s a lot. 

The good news is that there are many tools out there that can help. One of the most popular — and effective — are modern Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that contain purpose-built features for collaborative hiring. 

When choosing an ATS for collaborative hiring, look for ones that offer the following:

  • A simple and intuitive user experience. Your ATS needs to be easy-to-use and intuitive so that you only need to train team members on your collaborative hiring workflows, not on the platform itself. 
  • Notes, tagging, and task assignments. Team members should be able to assign tasks, create and share notes, tag each other in conversations, and track team task completion. This is a hallmark of close collaboration, especially if your team is remote. 
  • Roles and visibility controls. You should be able to restrict access to specific data, capabilities, job and candidate files, and open requisitions. This will help you ensure that only hiring team members are involved in their assigned roles. 
  • Unlimited users and data. Your ATS should be flexible in the number of users in the system, and the amount of data you collect. This ensures that your process is scalable without incurring additional costs, or risking the platform breaking down. 
  • Event schedulers. Your ATS must include a scheduling tool that allows candidates to select interview times that work for them. It should also have the option to send automated calendar invitations and access links to video interviews. This makes it much easier to schedule interviews with multiple people, and eliminates time-consuming manual tasks. 
  • Automated actions. Likewise, you should be able to automate specific workflows like sending evaluations to candidates, assigning to-dos, sending follow-up messages, and any other repetitive and time-consuming tasks. This helps to greatly reduce the risk of critical steps in the recruitment process falling through the cracks. 
  • Pre-built templates. Ideally, you should be able to create workflow and evaluation templates to quickly replicate and adapt your hiring process for new roles and positions. This both provides transparency to your co-workers into how the process works, and also allows you to quickly scale to hiring for multiple roles simultaneously. 
  • Reports and dashboards. You should have the ability to create central dashboards and automated reports that map back to your core KPIs. This greatly reduces the effort in pulling mission-critical hiring metrics, and streamlines reporting to upper management. 
  • Video chat. Video chat — or an integration with a third-party video chat platform — is essential for allowing you to screen and hire candidates remotely. This greatly expands your talent pool, and makes it easier for candidates working through your hiring process. 
  • Mobile compatibility. Collaboration doesn’t happen in a fixed location. Your hiring team should be able to access your ATS anywhere they are, and on any device they own. This ensures that everyone can easily follow the hiring process, complete their tasks in a timely manner, and meet the team’s collective goals. 

Of course, an ATS alone won’t help you nail collaborative hiring. But, it will be an absolute mess without the proper tools. 

To be successful, you’ll need a strong combination of strategy, tech, and dedication from your team to make this process work. 

When all those three things come together, amazing things are possible with collaborative hiring! 

Parting thoughts on collaborative hiring 

Collaborative hiring is not the way of the future. It’s not a hypothetical process or one that may be the next big thing.

It’s already here, and it’s having a major impact on hiring around the world.

We hope you’ll agree that, while collaborative hiring does take a lot of time and effort, its benefits — when done right — are well worth it. 

If you’re ready to take the leap, we’ll leave you with a few parting recommendations.

First, it’s critical that you get top-down buy-in from your organization’s leaders. This will help ensure that you have the resources and runway to make this process work.

Second, it’s equally important that you establish a cultural commitment across your organization. This is a collaborative initiative that requires buy-in from everyone at your organization.

To accomplish this, you’ll need to make a commitment to our last recommendation: frequent and transparent communication. 

Communicate the benefits of collaborative hiring far and wide. Share your vision, define success, and be transparent about results and impact. 

By doing so, you’ll be able to demonstrate the true value of collaborative hiring, which will make it impossible for your co-workers — and job seekers — to ignore. 

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