Collaborative Hiring – Does it Work?

By Chapple

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Perhaps you saw the BBC 2 series ‘Who’s the boss’. Three programmes featuring collaborative hiring, a relatively new concept in recruitment whereby the entire workforce has a say in who to hire. They followed three small companies as they tried the technique for the first time with mixed results. It was a fascinating insight, not only into a new way of recruiting but also into the problems faced by small companies looking for a key hire.

It is probably no surprise that collaborative hiring has been used by Google, Facebook, and Apple with great success, companies who are innovators both in their products and services and their staff development. They have also adopted or possibly even created new approaches to personnel management such as team-based goal setting, 360° feedback, and team decision-making. But to disrupt traditional manager-dominated hiring is something most companies have not yet considered, particularly in the UK.

There are many advantages to collaborative hiring and a few quite significant disadvantages, namely the time it can take and the disruption to the company’s output. But if your company is faced with a key hiring decision, it would make sense to get feedback from the workforce on the candidates as they are the ones going to be working alongside them and they know more than anyone, what it takes to be great at the job.

There are quite a bewildering number of pros and cons to collaborative hiring which suggests it is quite an individual choice whether it will be successful or not.



When it goes wrong.

One of the BBC programmes featured a company called BrewDog, an artisan brewing business with a distinct culture. The collaborative hiring experiment spectacularly broke down when the CEO intervened midway through the process and withdrew the job on offer from the three shortlisted candidates as he didn’t feel they were suitably qualified.  He offered them an alternative role but none of them accepted and the company were left with no area manager they were recruiting for and a workforce who inevitably felt disgruntled at their input being ignored and a lot of time wasted in the process.

It is important to clarify in our view, that this failure was not one of collaborative hiring gone wrong but rather incomplete preparation before the collaboration began. If a company is going to hand over the hiring decision to the workforce, it is essential that the senior management are happy with the shortlist before they are put forward to the staff. The BrewDog CEO was totally right that the three candidates were completely unsuitable for the culture of the company but the failure was not identifying the problem before the collaborative process got underway, not the process itself.

Should you use it?

Collaborative hiring would be an excellent choice if a company was faced with two or three very suitable candidates that were all well qualified and suitable for the role in question. Handing over the final decision to the employees to decide who they would prefer to work with could be the win-win situation for everyone involved. It is not a process to be attempted without very careful thought and thorough preparation for workforce and candidates alike but could have an excellent outcome with many added benefits to the company and staff.


At Chapple we specialize in sourcing candidates in external and internal communications, employee engagement, change and business transformation roles.

Contact us on 020 7734 8209 for more information about how we can help you find the right people for your business.


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