Making hiring a collaborative process – Q&A with Alexander Kootstra

collaborative hiring




You already rely on your employees for input on a host of vital matters. So why not consider involving them in your recruitment process?


After all, they are the ones who will end up working closest with new hires. They understand the dynamics of their team better than anyone and will have a good sense of who will likely fit in. Ultimately, they too have a vested interest in hiring great people. Current employees will always be keen to find people capable of carrying their weight on the team.


On the other hand, if candidates are interested in working for your company or are prompted to check out a company after a recruiter’s approach, they will be especially curious to find out more about the job and the company from the people who know the most about it: the employees.


In an age when people are more connected than ever before, current employees can be a tremendous asset in acquiring fresh faces around the office. Indeed, this is something the team at medical learning platform AMBOSS are already using to their advantage.


AMBOSS helps future physicians succeed in their exams by making medical knowledge easily accessible across the globe. Thanks to a continually increasing user base, their team has grown considerably in recent years. And employees have played a key role in ensuring new hires are a great cultural fit.


We caught up with AMBOSS Talent Acquisition Manager, Alexander Sascha Kootstra, to chat about the benefits of implementing a more collaborative hiring process.


Why involve employees in the hiring process? What are the main advantages?


Candidates have a chance to directly speak to their potential future colleagues. It gives them a chance to ask important questions and get answers that couldn’t be given by hiring managers or recruiters. Plus, it also shows the candidate that we as a company have nothing to hide and fully trust our employees and culture to speak for themselves


But it’s not just candidates that benefit. Giving employees the responsibility of being a “host”, especially for referrals, makes them motivated about their work and gives them a stage where they can talk about achievements they are proud of. They often begin to think about their role or their team from a different perspective, giving them a chance to get insights by talking with an outsider instead of constantly getting the same input. It validates their opinion when it comes to deciding who joins their team and department.


What role do employees play in recruitment at AMBOSS?


Our employees get involved in recruitment in the following ways:


  • They join me on recruitment events
  • They go to meetups and “speed dating” networking events
  • They write posts in specialised LinkedIn or Facebook groups
  • They present at in-house recruitment events
  • They show their referrals around the office and tell about the company & culture
  • They join a team lunch with the candidate to assess team fit


What impact has it had on your company culture?


We hire better fitting people who are more motivated to join our teams. As a result, both teamwork and productivity have increased.


Plus it’s opened up a new avenue for the development for people skills for those employees that want to take on a management role. Being involved in spreading knowledge, teaching, or negotiating are vital to all employees at AMBOSS. By allowing them to be involved in the recruitment processes they can develop these skills.


Hiring quickly is always a priority in recruitment. Does involving employees slow the process down?


Not significantly, it did slow down the daily work of the employees involved so you need to have the room to allow for this. At the same time, referrals increased and all those involved love giving back to the community. This in turn has established the company as a place focused on growth and sharing, increasing long-term employer branding, and creating an environment where people can not only work but also develop themselves.


Are there any other potential downsides of involving employees in recruitment?


It takes a big time investment for the recruiter to organise and manage everything in the right way so the employees can focus on connecting and talking. So if you are overworked this is not a place to start since you first have to talk with employees about being a host, what topics to be careful about, creating a welcoming environment etc.


Perhaps most importantly, you need a culture you can show transparently to anyone without worries. This is something every company should strive for. If you are having issues with your culture or are going through a period of cultural change, then this approach probably won’t be the right move. But keep in mind that regardless whether your employees are involved in recruitment, they will still talk about your company and its culture. So it’s best to make sure that discussion is positive and used in a constructive way.


Lastly, the team needs to be in a good state of mind, if you need to hire urgently because there is a work overload and the team is overworked, involving them in the recruitment processes is not recommended. It will only exacerbate their already too-heavy workload.