Collective Intelligence is a Hiring Manager's Secret Weapon


What makes you sure you've been successful in hiring the right candidate? Many recruiters and managers simply base their decisions on a "gut feeling" after completing an interview. But that singular approach (one person's intuition or feeling) misses out on the power of relying on multiple data points, the power of collective intelligence.

But, what exactly is collective intelligence?

Collective intelligence involves any process that relies on the expertise of the group as a whole rather than just the knowledge or opinions of one or two people. Instead of basing a hiring decision on the opinion of just one person, managers can instead collect data from a larger pool of experts to make smarter, more successful hiring decisions.

Why Collective Intelligence Matters

Research suggests that not only is collective intelligence highly effective, it can also lead to more accurate decision-making.

As described in The New York Times, psychologists studying collective intelligence have found that successful teams possess two critical qualities: group members that contribute equally and high emotional intelligence.

Successful teams tend to be more democratic in that all members are allowed to make equal contributions. In addition, smart teams generally have members (most or all members) who are able to understand the emotions of other people. Surprisingly, the researchers even found that these same rules apply when teams are making decisions entirely online without any face-to-face interaction. The bottom line is that collecting more opinions reduces bias and allows you to arrive at a more realistically accurate, intelligent and ultimately successful decision. 

Here are two examples of how Collective Intelligence can help make for a smarter hiring process:

  1. Collective Intelligence Leads to a Better Debriefings

    Collective intelligence can play a critical role in different aspects of the hiring process. One example application is for interview debriefings.

    Traditional debriefings are prone to excessive influence from the most opinionated member of the group, which can ultimately lead to biased decision-making and poor hires. To avoid this, online interview surveys allow organizations to quickly collect data from every individual who took part in an interview, in a consistent, unbiased manner.

    Imagine today's scenario: Jenny the recruiter needs to find out what the 6 interviewers thought of their most recent candidate. She knows scheduling individual meetups will take forever, so she gathers everyone in one room for a quick 15 minute update. She notices the most senior person in the room, Joe, is extremely vocal about his concerns. Fairly quickly most other interviewers (glancing at the clock) follow in line, agreeing with Joe that the candidate is not a good fit.

    Did Jenny get the most unbiased information she could? She arrives back at her desk with three pages of messy notes unsure of what to do next. She was sure this was the candidate to beat and now she needs to start over.

    However, using online collective intelligence, Jenny's situation may be a lot different. Following the interviews, Jenny invites all interviewers to access an online survey where they can enter their feedback on the candidate. Able to give feedback 24/7, on their phone even (and sometimes during meetings), Jenny gets back most the feedback fast -- if not almost immediately for some, then within 1-2 days. Each interviewer gave more details than usual, providing fair input without the bias of knowing what the other interviewers thought.

    Jenny is surprised to find she gets 6 responses, when usually she's lucky to get the opinion of maybe 3-4 people. Once the data has been collected, she receives a comprehensive report summarizing the collective intelligence provided by the group. No more messy notes; Jenny has organized reports to help her compare candidates and keep track of everyone's sentiments.

    This process not only cuts costs and increases efficiency, but it can also lead to significantly more useful debriefs. By utilizing collective intelligence, HR can access unbiased feedback that will contribute to smarter hiring decisions.

  2. Collective Intelligence Leads to Better Reference Checking

    Another part of the hiring process that can be improved through the power of collective intelligence is the reference checking process.

    Conventional reference checks involve calling each contact individually for a feedback interview, a process that is both subjective and time-consuming. However, automated reference checking gets candidates to invite their references to access an online survey form. Former coworkers and managers can then provide their feedback on their own time, often leading to more complete and unbiased information.

    Let's revisit Jenny's situation. Normally she spends an hour or more per candidate, calling references simply because she has to. She has a list of basic questions she likes to ask, but rarely does she get really candid or helpful feedback. She's mostly just getting references to confirm "yes" they like the candidate.  

    In contrast, with automated reference checking, Jenny is able to start the reference check process in minutes, sending the candidate access to the tool. He/she then has control and is able to invite their references for feedback. Again, Jenny is happily surprised to find she gets more than her usual number of responses, seeing an average of 6 reference responses per candidate. And their feedback is detailed and candid, including information on weaknesses or things the candidate could improve upon.

    Once data has been collected, Jenny receives reports that provide an in-depth look at each candidate's background including ratings on skills and fit. Instead of basing hiring decisions on gut feelings, messy notes and disparate facts, Jenny can has instead gather objective and consistent data on the applicant's skills, talents and performance.

    Collective Intelligence: Your Secret Weapon

    Obviously, the hiring process is both complex and unique to each organization. While HR must exercise their good judgment, incorporating collective intelligence as a hiring tool can contribute to more accurate, unbiased decisions and improve the overall quality of hire.

    Do you utilize collective intelligence as part of your hiring process? Schedule a demo here to see how Checkster's collective intelligence tools can help you be more efficient and hire smarter.