The latest debate in HR is whether underlings should sit in on an interview with someone who’s applying to be their boss. Some love the idea. Others, not so much.
The situation is that you have someone coming in to interview for a supervisory job. Usually, HR gets involved, along with the hiring manager and maybe a few employees who would be peers of the applicant if hired.
But what about including workers who would answer to the applicant? Some companies are doing it. Here, from their experience, are three typical problems and the solutions:
- Problem: The worker feels in charge and free to grill the applicant, setting up an adversarial relationship before the manager is even hired.
Solution: Set some boundaries before the interview — maybe asking the worker to formulate a few questions beforehand, which you can review. Ask the worker to stick with those questions, and possibly a follow-up or two.
- Problem: The applicant appears to resent being interviewed by a potential underling
Solution: When setting up a meeting time, try to be sure to tell the applicant who’ll be in the interview. That’s the best time to gauge the applicant’s reaction. Someone who seems hostile to the idea could be the type of boss who doesn’t consult with subordinates for their ideas.
- Problem: The subordinates are marginal performers who, you feel, wouldn’t represent the company in the best way.
Solution: That’s a big problem. You have a couple of choices: (a) You can decide to can the whole idea, until you get someone on board who appears to have the right stuff. (b) You can pick the best of the bunch — if you feel that person really will handle the situation properly — and keep using that person until something better or equal comes along. Don’t feel obligated to rotate the job among several marginal people, just because you want to give everyone a chance.
The usual guidelines that seem to work best are that the worker has input into the decision about whether to hire the boss, but not the power to veto or OK the choice. In other words, the worker provides another source of information that can be used to make the decision.