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How to Build a Hiring Committee That Attracts Top Talent

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September 15, 2020Recruiting

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If your goal is to hire the right person, consider hiring as a team.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that all hiring decisions need to be made collectively. But it does mean that you can rely on other employees whom you trust to share valuable insights throughout the hiring process.

Read on to learn how to build a hiring committee, who should be on one, and how to divide roles and responsibilities.

What is a hiring committee?

Simply put, a hiring committee (sometimes referred to as a search committee) is a group of individuals who are involved and engaged in the hiring and recruiting process. Typically, a hiring committee is led by a hiring manager, the person who is overseeing hiring for the position.

While hiring committees are not needed for every hire, they are often used for executive hiring and senior-level positions, as these are key hiring decisions that benefit from the input of trusted members and stakeholders.

Who should be on the hiring committee?

When building out your hiring committee, how do you determine who should have a seat at the table?

Of course, the hiring manager and human resources professionals will need to be on your hiring committee, as they perform key roles in the hiring process. But beyond this, also consider heads of relevant departments.

These employees are likely going to need to work closely with any manager or executive you bring into your organization, so they should have a say in whether or not your candidate is a good fit.Also, consider filling the hiring committee with members of your team who are objective thinkers and good judges of character.

Roles and responsibilities of hiring committee members

On any hiring committee, members should be assigned specific roles and responsibilities that aid the overall hiring process.

Identifying and clarifying screening criteria for applicants

To source top candidates and narrow your options to only the best possible candidates for an open position, you need hiring committee members who can create focused screening criteria—including job requirements, screening questions, and other relevant information—for your company’s job application.

Assign these duties to members who can communicate ideas and instructions clearly and effectively.

Picking and recruiting applicants

One of the many benefits of assembling a hiring committee is the ability to source more candidates. By assigning the responsibility of picking and recruiting applicants to a few members, you can double down on your sourcing efforts and increase your overall talent pool as a result.

Advising the hiring manager on candidates

Whether it’s during the screening and interview processes or before the hiring manager is about to extend an offer to a final candidate, hiring committees need members whom the hiring manager can consult. Typically, these individuals are the most objective thinkers in your organization and can consider multiple perspectives.

Related read: How to Hire a Salesperson (...without botching it) 

Hiring solo vs. hiring via committee

What are the benefits of a hiring committee and how do they compare to the benefits of leaving the entire hiring process to the hiring manager to handle alone? There are pros and cons to hiring solo versus hiring via committee:

Hiring solo

By hiring solo, you may be able to cut down on costs and labor. But entrusting the process to one individual could result in a bad hire—in which case, expenses may far outweigh any kind of savings you may have earned during the hiring process.

If you’re hiring solo, the reality is that you might end up spreading yourself too thin. There may be times when you’re forced to give less attention to a certain candidate or rush the hiring process to fill a position quickly. This creates inconsistency and introduces a level of randomness in your decision-making.

What’s more, hiring solo invites unintentional bias, as much as the hiring manager may try to suppress it. This could lead to an ideal candidate getting away and a less-than-ideal candidate being placed instead.

Hiring via committee

Conversely, hiring via committee may prove to be a little more expensive. Getting more team members involved means you’ll need to exhaust more time and resources, hold more meetings, and debrief more people as you progress through the hiring process.

Employees may be stretched as a result. You might even find that hiring committees tend to delay hiring decisions. But all of this typically results in a more thorough hiring process that leads to sound hiring decisions, lessening the risk of making a bad hire.

Hiring committees bring consistency, subjecting every hiring decision to the same high standards—regardless of whether or not there is the pressure to make a new hire quickly.

Also, by hiring via committee and considering multiple perspectives, backgrounds, opinions, you help minimize the unconscious bias that is present when one individual makes all hiring decisions for your organization.

A final benefit of hiring via committee is the new hire’s onboarding process. Through an all-hands-on-deck approach to onboarding, your new employee will be properly integrated into your company, leading to positive employee experience and a quicker impact on your organization.

How to build a hiring committee

So, you have an idea of what your hiring committee might look like and some of the individuals who should be on it, but how do you go about building it? Keep the following tips in mind:

Understand the dynamics of the open position and hiring committee

To build a successful hiring committee, you will need to balance the dynamics of the open position with the dynamics of your team.

Open positions, as well as the positions you tend to hire for, should largely determine how who sits on the committee. If you’re hiring for tech positions, you’re going to need committee members who understand the requirements for these types of roles and have a firm grasp on the terms that will be used throughout the hiring process.

On the other hand, you’ll also need to consider how committee members interact with each other. Like any team, a hiring committee has unique dynamics. Certain people might work well together, while specific pairings might create friction, tension, and conflict.

Of course, diversity is also critical to arriving at the right hiring decisions. Keep this in mind when identifying members to add to your committee.

Don’t bring the whole company into the process

Involve multiple team members in the hiring process, but not the whole company or department. If hiring solo suffers from a lack of perspective and opinion, hiring as a company suffers from too many perspectives and opinions.

Getting everyone involved will quickly lead to a delayed hiring process, a shortage of time and resources, and a lack of clarity on candidates and final decisions.

Clarify roles and responsibilities

As is the case with any team, committee members are going to have different roles and responsibilities. While one or two individuals might form the inner sanctum of your committee and be responsible for final decisions, you may have members who are merely responsible for recording meeting minutes or maintaining a candidate spreadsheet.

Regardless of the scope of their duties, make sure every member of your committee has assigned roles and responsibilities, and a clear understanding of them.

Debrief as a group after evaluations and interviews

A key role of any hiring committee is to debrief after any evaluations or interviews. Because members of your hiring committee may have other responsibilities and schedule conflicts, it may be tempting to part ways without debriefing. But you must provide time for discussion while any impressions and observations are still relatively fresh.

This will go a long way towards more accurate assessments of candidates, and as a result, better hiring decisions.

Do recruiters have a place in a hiring committee?

If you want to improve the hiring process across the board, you might consider hiring a recruiter and giving them a place in your hiring committee. Not only do outside recruiters bring a fresh, unbiased perspective to the hiring process but are also able to bring in new candidates you wouldn’t be able to find otherwise.

Whether you need to develop a committee, create hiring processes and standards, or simply need another set of eyes and ears while hiring, consider partnering with a professional recruiting agency.

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