Core Thoughts: Hiring Decisions

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Core Thoughts Hiring

Core Thoughts is a series on my blog where I throw a question into the ring for discussion and allow my amazing colleagues and connections to answer. In this month’s Core Thoughts series, I posed the following question:

“Do you involve your subordinates in a hiring decision? Why or why not?”

It’s a rare occurrence, but every single one of the connections featured below agreed on the answer to this question – but it’s their varying reasons for doing it that caught my attention.


As a leader, my responsibility is to build high performing teams who respect, understand, and work well together. In most organizations, success is only achieved when all functions are working together. Thus, peers who lead each function are usually dependent on their peers to provide support or address the next step in a sale or service. So, a high performing peer team is actually more important than subordinates within a functional team. For interviews for teams in which you need partners to work well together to achieve organizational success, I usually involve the peers in the hiring process. They provide feedback through one-on-one interviews with the candidate and they all participate in a final group interview with the new peer, as this cultural fit is critical to long-term success. Our hiring success has improved since we implemented this approach.
– Peter Cohen, President, University of Phoenix

Bottom line: Yes, I recommend involving subordinates – for three main reasons:

1. They are most likely going to be working as a team, and I want to understand the team dynamics. Fit is highly important for any new hire.

2. Including subordinates in the hiring process gives them an opportunity to hone their interviewing skills.

3. It sets the stage for the new hire by showing that we believe in collaborative decision-making, where we look for many different points of view before making a decision.

While in the end, I retain the right to make the decision myself, the feedback from my subordinates helps inform that decision and may help lay the groundwork for a more tailored on-boarding process.
– Chuck Dubois, CEO, AcceleTEQ

In most cases, unless it’s a very sensitive hire, we try to incorporate many key team members into the hiring process. Corporate culture is very important, and when a prospective hire meets with multiple individuals from different departments and from different levels, it truly allows you to have a 360-degree view. It also provides the prospective employee a truer understanding of the company. The total cost (time and money) of hiring a great individual is truly an investment, so you want to make sure that investment pays dividends by producing a long-term productive and happy employee who is liked by all.
– Larry Letow, President & COO, LG-TEK 

I couldn’t imagine not involving my direct reports in a hiring decision. Thinking back on the last several executive hires I’ve made (a Chief Operating Officer, a Chief HR Officer, and a Chief Development Officer), I know that we got to the absolute right person by including those who have the peer relationships with these positions. While I trust my personal hiring instincts, I know that I always get unique and useful perspectives from my team during the hiring process. I also ultimately get much better buy-in for the hire. While it’s not always unanimous when making a final selection (and I reserve the right to make the final decision), key peers have been able to “survey the field,” ask what they believe are the key questions, and hear not only my thinking but the thoughts of their peers as to the merits of the candidates. I’m happy to report that all three of the aforementioned hires have turned out to be outstanding, and they are all viewed by their peers as terrific contributors and colleagues.
– John K. Hoey, President & CEO, The Y in Central Maryland

Hiring the right people is probably the most important thing we do as managers. Anyone I hire needs to have not just the skills and experience to do the job, but also needs to be part of my team and a fit culturally in our company. I take a 360-degree approach to hiring, ensuring both peers and subordinates of the new hire are involved. This is important for us and also for the candidate. I make sure my subordinates understand the required skills and experience we are looking for and ask them to assess the cultural fit as well.
– Jim Stewart, Chief Financial Officer, Fusion Risk Management, Inc.

I absolutely involve subordinates in hiring decisions. Many of these hires will be part of their peer group. My subordinates know our goals and where we are heading, so they have a great feel for whether the candidate will help or hurt our ability to achieve these goals. Finally, for really important hires, group interviews are a must for making the best hiring decisions.
– Rick Sorrells, President & COO, Pinnacle Automotive Hospitality Services

I include subordinates at the stages where I feel they can add most value; by which I mean at the beginning in defining the outcomes they expect from the successful candidate, and in the later stages of the interview process. I think the engagement of subordinates helps in both the selection process and to create a successful onboarding of the new manager. Depending on the case, I usually have subordinates at least meet or interview candidates that I feel are likely to be offered the role. I usually do not involve subordinates in the early interviews, as this is a time that I might be looking at a range of candidates, and it might create some disruption and confusion about the type of manager I’m looking to bring in.

Overall, I genuinely feel that involving subordinates at the right points in the process is essential and empowers them to help their new manager successfully transition into their role.
– Richard Pollard, Managing Director, Morgan Advanced Materials – Europe