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The Team Hiring Process

Roger Duffield, CPCU, ARM

Having been involved in the hiring process for more than 30 years, there has always been at least two people involved in the interviewing process of new staff. When I first was given the task to hire staff for my department, I had attended some HR training that said we should all ask the same questions to all candidates. Beyond that, there was no real preparation. I was armed with a job description for the interview and off I went. 

Other than inquiring about the candidate’s experience and a couple of technical questions, there was little consistency from one interview to the next. If someone was a good conversationalist, they tended to be better, in my eyes. There was always a second person with me that also asked questions, but they tended to be similar to me in what they were looking for and asking. We would usually agree on the same candidates.

I have written a couple of articles on the importance of mission, vision, and culture along with weighting an individual’s skill, talents, and experiences. Over time, adding different points of view and these objective criteria to the hiring process allowed for improved hiring procedures.

One company I worked for began requiring a team to interview candidates at all levels. As luck would have it, I had a key role that interreacted with all departments. All of the department heads had the opportunity to be part of the new process. Our departments functioned very differently, however, as some departments were almost authoritarian, and others were more collaborative.

While I was nervous with these diverse views in the hiring approach, we all agreed on a number one candidate. The number two candidate, however, was completely different. My number two was someone that met my criteria, but I had deep reservations about everyone else’s number two.

As luck would have it, our number one candidate pulled out because of a personal issue that would take some time to resolve. We were left with no clear winner. In that moment I developed some protocols that I would use in other group interviewing settings for the future to better set priorities and guide the process.

Here is what we did right:

  • Allowed everyone to review and comment on the job description ahead of time
  • Created a scoring matrix on skills, talents, and experiences
  • Created a list of questions that each person interviewing would ask
  • Trained by HR on the group interviewing process
  • Held a discussion after each interview to explain candidate ratings
  • All comments and scorings were documented

However, we missed one major area – how the final decision would be made. Everyone was vested in the open position and wanted an equal voice. It was not clarified upfront that the group’s role for interviewing was to be advisory only. This was never clarified by HR but became obvious when we moved down to our second and third candidates to be considered for the position.

After careful consideration and despite the company’s urgency in wanting to fill the role, we choose to stay in close contact with the top candidate that we had all agreed on. While the position remained open for an additional 2-3 months, we were able to finally have our number one choice and they did excellently. This experience highlights the need for objective measures and criteria and agreed-upon procedures in advance to unify and simplify the hiring process.


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