20+ ways to improve your hiring strategy: tip #4 stakeholder alignment

By Chris Andrews - Head of Advisory


At Stone, we are on a mission to improve the hiring experience

For our clients, that means lower costs, better quality of hires, less wasted management time, easier lives and great results.

We will be expanding on this mini series and sharing our top 20 employee-hiring steps that we feel are paramount to the recruitment process. Some are more obvious than others. Some are easy to implement and others more complex, but they are all parts of the same process.    


This is one of the most important and overlooked steps in a recruitment process and is one that can be a major cause of headaches for all concerned – getting it right early will save a lot of pain down the track.

What is Stakeholder alignment?

The short version: ensuring everyone on the employer side of the hiring process agrees on the process, what you are looking for and what you can offer.

Clarification of the process is partly a housekeeping exercise around confirming timing, order and nature of interviews, although it pays to do this as early as possible, working back from an ideal start date. This establishes expectations on availability and ensures everyone is available (or at least in the country) when they need to be, including for onboarding purposes.

Another important step is to establish what each interviewer in the chain is specifically targeting during their screening and that they are they clear on where they fit, in relation to the other interviewers. Is everyone screening for every competency, are you dividing them up between interviewers, or does the second interviewer explore areas isolated from the first interview, in more detail?

The nature of targeting specific competencies in an interview is closely connected to your workforce planning capability, in relation to competency building; and not part of this article, however, suffice to say that stakeholders who share a common language in relation to competencies are far more aligned at interview stage.         

Also, how are you all selling the role and company? Again, this relates to a separate topic – employer branding – but the clearer the employer brand is and can be articulated, the more effective and cohesive the pitch will be to applicants.   

Managing multiple expectations

It is also fairly standard that every stakeholder will have a different view of what they want from a new hire in their role. This is to be expected; however, it is key that those varying viewpoints overlap enough that a) the role can realistically be filled by one real human and b) the stakeholders pitch the requirements as a cohesive role, remaining conscious of each other’s expectations while sharing that with the applicant. Whoever is managing the process needs to bring such positive conflicts to the fore and factor them into any role profile early.

As an example, a CEO may be targeting leadership potential in an interviewee, while a line manager is by necessity homing in on short term technical skills These are not mutually exclusive criteria but need to be discussed and clarified before the process begins, not halfway through, when the disconnect is apparent to candidates (who become confused and disheartened).

Alignment not agreement

Alignment is not the equivalent of, or designed to replace, positive conflict around the decision-making process of hiring. Rather it should channel conflict into the relevant space. An example of aligned disagreement could be two stakeholders arguing whether an applicant has sufficient commercial ability to develop a sales-focused business unit. Assuming they agree on the nature of commerciality that is required, the argument is around whether the candidate met the criteria, not whether the criteria is relevant. This would be considered healthy discussion.     

An example of unaligned interviewers would be where they are arguing over which competency is the most important, halfway through a process – because the discussion did not take place earlier. Another common example is one stakeholder arguing, post-interview, that a candidate who meets all the criteria is not worth the salary that was agreed with other stakeholders at the start of the process (my personal bugbear).   

What to do

It is important to find a balance between setting a framework for each hire versus over-establishing process, which takes too much time and can reduce the agility required for a situation involving complex decisions in a fluid scenario.

At Stone, we generally invest time at the start of each hire discussing stakeholders, process and timing, looking for red flags to deal with up front. Ideally, we speak to each stakeholder separately and briefly, again to ensure expectations align – when they do not it can threaten the process, so we address the issue in the moment.

Stone’s uniquely collaborative business model drives these discussions which change the nature of hiring for our clients. Our goal is to make their life easier and their hiring better. 

Contact us today to find out more!