Sunday, May 28, 2017

Being Agile in HR with Peer Recruiting

A collaboration by Alexa Fuhren and Mario Moreira

Does a manager know better than a team who fits best to a role? How can we recruit the right people that fit best to our Agile organization? The answer is, by being Agile ourselves, particularly in the recruiting process!

In a more traditional working environment if there is a vacancy in a team, the manager approaches the recruiter, shares the requirements of the role, hands over the responsibility for the recruiting process to the HR department, and will be involved again when interviewing and selecting candidates. The recruiter is responsible for creating a job ad, posting it in appropriate recruiting channels, pre-selecting candidates, inviting the manager to interviews and making an offer to the selected candidate. The team usually plays a minor role in selecting the candidate.
Many teams in Agile operate with a self-organizing model.  This model includes much more team ownership, autonomy, as well as responsibility and accountability for all team members than traditionally operating teams. In self-organizing models, the concept of peer recruiting can be applied where the team should play a much stronger role in selecting the right candidate that fits best to the team. Due to a better person-team fit, a reduction of early employee turnover could be a desired outcome.

If teams are responsible for selecting new team members, this will change the role of the recruiter from owning the recruiting process to supporting the process and coaching the team. Depending on the knowledge and experience of the team, the recruiter will be more or rather less involved in selecting the right candidate.

Self-organizing teams can be responsible for the whole recruiting process and accountable for hiring the right candidate. It starts with creating a (new) job profile for the vacancy. The Recruitment Coach will challenge the team to figure out which profile is needed to increase their current and future team performance. When creating a job ad, the Recruitment Coach can give advice on how to make it compelling and will provide templates that are in line with corporate design.

Team members can post the job ad on job boards and in their social media channels (LinkedIn, Xing, Facebook, chatrooms, private networks). After pre-selecting the candidates based on previously defined criteria, the team invites the selected candidates for interviews, roles plays, presentations etc. They can choose to ask the manager or recruiter to interview the candidates. The recruiter’s role will be to train the team on interview techniques and how to avoid evaluation errors like stereotyping, the halo effect or the Pygmalion effect etc.

Implementing peer recruiting means moving the decision to the people who know best who fits to their teams. It helps to speed up the recruiting process by reducing long decision making processes with managers and HR.

What is in it for the company?
  • Faster decisions due to less interactions with HR and the manager
  • Higher team commitment
  • Less turnover in the first 6 months of employment due to a better company-person fit
  • Recruiter can focus on strategic work, e.g. employer branding, building networks etc., and become a valuable coach for the recruiting processes
What is in it for the candidate?
  • Candidate experiences an Agile culture right from the first contact with the company
  • Candidate gets to know the colleagues he will closely work with
  • Job interview at eye level with team members instead of the potential manager
Peer recruiting shifts the recruiter’s role to a coach who supports the business in making hiring decisions faster, selecting candidates that fit best to the company and lowering the early turnover rate. Enabling the team to select new team members increase their autonomy which can lead to higher team commitment and higher team performance.


Learn more about Alexa Fuhren at:

Mario Moreira writes more about Agile and HR in his book "The Agile Enterprise" in Chapter 21 "Reinventing HR for Agile"


  1. I described the hiring process in detail we used at a recent project. Read more here: Peer Recruiting: How to Hire a Scrum Master in Agile Times

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