4 Tips to Create a Hiring Team That Gets Results

November / 2020
Authors: Dr. Josh Cotton, George Randle and Mike Sarraille

If your company has a talent problem, one of the first places you should look is your hiring team.

Nearly every leader says that hiring is very important to them, but their hiring teams often tell a very different story. More often than not, their hiring teams are not set up to succeed, or worse, they don’t exist at all!

Your hiring team is the gatekeeper of talent at your organization. The future of every organization relies on new talent, so your hiring team is a key factor in the future success of your company.

Creating an effective hiring team is thus critical, but companies get it wrong all the time. Here are four tips to help you create the kind of hiring team that will get results.

#1: Put A-Players in Charge of Hiring

The biggest mistake we see companies make is filling the hiring team with B- or C-players or whoever happens to be available. The traditional thought is that these are the people who can be spared. Hiring is your front line in the talent war. You don’t want people who can be spared; you want the best. 

You must put A-players in charge of hiring, for three important reasons.

First, talent is attracted to talent. The people in charge of hiring are the face of your company. You want them to make a good impression on potential hires.

Second, it takes talent to recognize talent. Your A-players know exactly what it takes to perform to the highest standards, and they will be able to recognize those attributes in others. 

Finally, A-players want other A-players. A-players recognize that their teammates have a direct impact on the company’s bottom line and their own performance. They won’t hire subpar talent, because they don’t want to work with subpar talent.

In comparison to A-players, B-players and C-players have more difficulty recognizing raw talent. When they do recognize it, they often fear it. Their egos get in the way. They don’t want to hire themselves out of a job, so they avoid hiring anyone who is better than them. Instead, they hire other B-players and C-players.

Talent is the most important factor in your business’s success, so put A-players in charge of this key duty.

#2: Make the Hiring Team Cross-Departmental

The hiring team should not be homogenous to the function. It should be cross-departmental, meaning if you’re hiring for a sales role, the hiring team should be composed of salespeople and people from other departments. 

Talent is talent is talent. Talented A-players can recognize the raw attributes of talent regardless of function. Pick the A-players from any department—manufacturing, engineering, finance, law, etc.—and they will be able to identify and hire talent.

If your hiring team is homogenous, you lose out on diversity of thought. What tends to happen is the team defaults to whoever has the most impressive resume. They look at the university the candidate attended and what companies they previously worked at, even though these are not always the best indicators of future performance. 

In contrast, when your hiring team comes from different functions, talent—as based on a person’s underlying character attributes—becomes the focus, because talent is the one thing all the team members share.

Plus, your departments should be working together, so they should be hiring together too. Homogenous hiring teams encourage the creation of silos at work, where each department functions as its own entity, without connecting to the larger team. Making a cross-departmental hiring team can help eliminate silo bias.

#3: Provide Training

The skills of talent assessment and selection are not innate. You must train your hiring team.

In the corporate world, we’re often deeply disappointed by the lack of training and enforcement of procedures related to talent acquisition. The hiring process typically varies widely from hiring manager to hiring manager, resulting in inconsistent talent in the organization. 

If you want your hiring team to hire the best talent, you need to set them up for success. That means training them. Putting an untrained hiring team in front of a candidate is like putting an untrained person behind a gun. It won’t end well. 

Don’t assume people know how to interview for talent. Even if someone has been trained at a previous organization, nobody should conduct interviews until they’ve been through your interviewing training.  

Without training, interviewers often ask irrelevant questions or, worse, questions that could result in litigation. They also sometimes default to scoring candidates based on likability instead of the factors that are actually indicative of future performance.

If you train your hiring team how to effectively interview and assess for talent, they can better identify talented candidates.

#4: Make Hiring a Primary Function

To hire talent, you need a dedicated hiring team, but the majority of companies treat hiring as a secondary function. An administrative HR employee is told to screen job candidates on top of their normal workload. A salesperson is told to clear a day on their calendar to interview candidates. A hiring manager splits their attention once or twice a year to hire a new team member.

People can only perform their primary duty the best. Everything else will receive half effort. It’s human nature. 

Ideally, within your HR department, you will have at least one employee whose only function is recruitment. Next, we recommend creating six-month rotational acquisition roles. These roles are to be filled by A-players, from a variety of departments, as chosen by each department’s manager. 

Yes, taking your A-players “off-line” from their normal duties will hurt in the short-term, but it will accelerate you in the long-term. These A-players will help to select the next generation of A-players, building the right infrastructure of people to support your growth.

Depending on the size of your company, it may not be practical to create a primary function for hiring. However, if it’s feasible, do it. Someone who hires only one or two people every couple of years is ill-equipped to be a professional assessor and selector of talent. In contrast, someone who is completely dedicated to hiring for six months is far better equipped.

A Long-Term Mindset

Many companies today have a short-term view, where they’re worried about meeting metrics for the quarter or what stockholders will think. This is a tactical mindset. Great organizations that continue to grow and thrive adopt a long-term strategic mindset.

The long-term health of your company is built on your people, and your hiring team chooses your people. They are the filter of talent. If the filter’s broken, then bad talent will get in, while good talent is kept out.

By following these four tips, you can fix the filter and ensure a proper flow of new talent, setting you up for long-term success.

For more advice on building an effective hiring team, you can find The Talent War on Amazon.

Mike Sarraille is the CEO of EF Overwatch, an executive search and talent advisory firm, and leadership consultant with Echelon Front. He is a former Recon Marine and retired US Navy SEAL officer with twenty years of experience in Special Operations, including the elite Joint Special Operations Command.

George Randle is the Managing Partner at EF Overwatch, former US Army officer, and Vice President of Global Talent Acquisition at Forcepoint, a human-centric cybersecurity company. George has more than two decades of experience in talent acquisition at Fortune 100 and Fortune 1000 firms.

Dr. Josh Cotton is an expert in talent assessment and employee effectiveness. He has designed scientifically valid candidate selection practices for the US Navy SEALs and Fortune 100 companies and has advised leaders at DuPont, Omnicom, CSX, and Flowserve.