Whether it’s homing in on candidates with the obligatory ‘Googliness’ at Google India or identifying the next Brand New Tripper at MakeMyTrip.com, it takes many pairs of eyes to get it right. And if it’s a peer, it makes the selection process that much sharper.
Companies across the board are involving someone within the same team or a different function in various stages of the hiring or interview process with the aim of gauging functional or technical experience, inter-team dynamics, and most of all, if the candidate is the right fit for the job.
“When it comes to making hiring decisions, feedback from peers is just as important as that from managers,” says Sharad Goyal, head of people operations – sales, Google India, which encourages a 360-degree approach to selection and collaborative decision making in the hiring process. “The entire organisation takes the lead in finding and recruiting the best employees, right from our founders and VPs down to every last Googler,” he adds.
For every new candidate, Google India assigns both manager and peer interviews. The new candidates can also get interviewed by a Googler from a completely different function, which helps ensure that the potential hire is not just a great fit for a specific department, but a great fit for Google overall.
Other companies too, are warming up to this process. MphasiS, for instance, has peer interviews for the middle management and above, along with those conducted by HR, the immediate manager and other reporting management. “Peers manage to assess capabilities and fitment better and these are done on a one-on-one basis,” says R Elango, HR head of the IT services company.
In Coca Cola India, peer interviews take place for general managers and above. “Interviews in different rounds by employees from different functions help gauge a candidate better. An immediate manager will look at the skill sets required for the particular project, HR will look at the cultural fit, client groups will see his or her client servicing skills,” says Sameer Wadhawan, VP, HR, Cola-Cola.
Wipro’s corporate HR team has around five to six rounds to clear before being inducted into chief learning officer Abhijit Bhaduri’s team. The first round is with Bhaduri, followed by two to three rounds with the peer group. If the candidate is taken for a learning and development role then he or she will have to conduct training sessions where peers and a few seniors will participate. During the session, those attending ask questions to the candidate to gauge how good he is in his subject.
Bhaduri knows just how critical peer reviews can be. In his previous company, Microsoft, he had to interview a peer who wanted to shift from a small specialist division to a larger role. The peer was excellent in his work but did not have people management skills. He was used to handling a 45-member team and the new role would have made him head 150 employees who had to liaison with vendors, press and the government. This team was very important to Microsoft.
The employee had the right data points as far as skills was concerned but for him, softer issues were just a tick in the box, which would not have worked in the new role. “A junior may be easy to fool, and with a senior one would be cautious, but a peer would know the true colours of the candidate. I gave my feedback as a ‘no’ and he was not hired for the job,” says Bhaduri. Joint hiring decisions have several benefits. Peer interviews tend to be more open and informal since candidates feel more at ease, and it’s easier to gauge their adaptability to the organisational culture. At another level, the peers involved in the process know they are valued by the organisation by being included in the critical hiring decision.
Sanjay Modi, MD (India/ Middle-East/ South East Asia) of career and recruitment portal Monster.com gives peer interviews a thumbs-up. “In a casual environment, one tends to discover things you can’t in a formal structure. Peers can assess you as an individual and from a team dynamic perspective. Most companies after the formal interview structure, get into informal mode to gauge facets which directly or indirectly affect performance,” he says.
Online travel portal MakeMyTrip-.com started doing peer interviews intensively when the company noticed that a cultural fit was critical and new hires were leaving. “These people were very competent, but unfortunately, did not vibe with the culture and left. Cultural fit and potential performance are both ambiguous and it requires multiple eyes to get it right,” feels Purva Misra, senior VP and head HR at MakeMyTrip.com.
Peer interviews originate from the academic and publishing world, says Misra. “Typically, industry leaders use this process. This clearly points to the fact that organisational maturity determines whether or not a company is likely to deploy this,” she says. There are, according to her, three yardsticks that determine whether or not a company is likely to use peer interviews. One, an open, team-based environment.
Two, whether high performers are identified, and finally, the maturity of leaders and high performers to participate in the selection.
MakeMyTrip runs as many as 5-10 interviews after a candidate completes psychometric and aptitude tests. A candidate is typically evaluated by HR, the hiring manager and multiple peers from within the team and other units the candidate is likely to work with. A common debrief is done between all the parties after the last interview where strengths, deltas, unusual observations, candidate expectations are discussed and a joint agreement on hiring is arrived it. “If there is dissonance, we do not hire,” says Misra. It’s the same at Google, where every view is given equal importance in the hiring process.
Akshay Moorthy (27), deputy manager, online products at MakeMyTrip-.com has already interviewed around 6-7 candidates during his stint at the company. “Having worked directly with several people I’ve interviewed, the process has led to much higher levels of bonding,” says Moorthy. He explains that he has noticed a stronger correlation in the strength of his workplace relationship with those whom he has had the opportunity to interview – “possibly because it is easier to break the ice with this common conversational thread than it would have been otherwise; this in turn snowballs into more frequent and deeper conversations.” (Source:ET)