Does HR have the final say in hiring?

The hiring process is crucial for any organization looking to bring on qualified candidates that are the right fit for open roles. Human resources (HR) departments play an important part in this process, but do they truly have the final say when it comes to making hiring decisions? There are several factors to consider when determining how much influence HR wields over the hiring process.

What is the typical hiring process?

A typical hiring process involves the following key steps:

  1. Identifying a job opening and defining the required skills, experience, and qualifications for the role.
  2. Posting the job description internally and/or externally.
  3. Sourcing and screening applicants.
  4. Selecting top candidates to interview.
  5. Conducting interviews.
  6. Making a hiring decision.
  7. Extending a job offer.

HR is usually involved throughout this process, but their level of input can vary. Here are some of HR’s key responsibilities:

  • Drafting the job description and refining the required qualifications
  • Posting the job opening
  • Facilitating the interview process
  • Ensuring legal compliance
  • Extending job offers

While HR has a hand in nearly every step, they may not be the sole decision-maker when it comes to evaluating candidates and ultimately deciding on the right hire.

What is HR’s level of authority in hiring decisions?

HR’s authority in hiring is dependent on several variables:

Company size

In smaller companies, HR generalists or office managers tend to handle the hiring process. While they provide input, the final hiring decision usually comes down to the hiring manager, founder, or business owner.

In larger companies, HR business partners work closely with individual departments to fill openings. While they are more involved in sourcing and assessing candidates, the hiring manager makes the ultimate decision.

Type of role

For senior executive hires, the CEO and executive team are generally more heavily involved in vetting and deciding on candidates. HR plays an advisory role but may not have the final say. For mid-level professional roles or entry-level positions, HR typically has more influence over which candidate is selected.


In sectors like tech where competition for talent is fierce, HR aims to source skilled candidates but hiring managers make the call on best fit. In regulated industries like healthcare, HR may have expanded input to ensure proper compliance and qualifications are met.

Company culture

Some organizations are more hierarchical, with department leads driving people decisions. Others empower HR as a strategic partner to identify talent. The company culture impacts how collaborative or independent the hiring process is.

While HR facilitates and provides guidance during hiring, they do not always have full veto power over the final candidate selected. But there are some key advantages when HR has greater input:

Benefits of empowering HR in hiring

  • Brings consistency and fairness to the hiring process.
  • Adds an objective outside perspective.
  • Ensures qualified candidates are properly vetted.
  • Avoids any unchecked biases from influencing decisions.
  • Upholds legal and compliance-related policies.
  • Keeps the candidate experience positive throughout.

Giving HR more authority over hiring decisions enables them to act as an independent check and balance for the process. But the ideal level of HR influence depends on the organization’s specific needs and culture.

When might HR have the most impact on hiring decisions?

There are certain situations where HR is more likely to drive hiring decisions:

Pre-screening applicants

HR typically handles the initial resume screen, selecting those that meet the minimum required qualifications to pass along for further consideration. They may have greater discretion at this phase.

Junior or administrative roles

For entry-level positions like administrative assistants that do not require hard-to-find technical skills, HR may be empowered to evaluate candidates and decide on the hiring fit.

Regulated industries

To meet compliance rules and minimize legal risks, HR often has expanded influence over hiring in healthcare, financial services and other regulated sectors.

Standardized roles

For homogeneous roles like call center reps, HR is equipped to assess qualifications and make offers since criteria are more clear cut.

High volume hiring

When attempting to fill dozens of similar vacancies, HR takes the lead on sourcing and onboarding candidates quickly.

Internal transfers

HR typically handles internal moves and promotions, determining if employees are suitable fits for open requisitions.

While HR may drive the hiring process in these situations, the hiring manager usually still provides final sign-off on their recommended candidate before an offer is extended.

Does HR or the hiring manager have more authority?

In most standard hiring scenarios, the hiring manager has the ultimate say in which candidate gets selected from HR’s shortlist of qualified options. There are a few reasons for this:

  • The hiring manager understands the technical needs of the role best.
  • They will work with and manage the new hire directly.
  • They are responsible for the new hire’s performance.
  • They have specialized industry and function expertise.

HR plays a supporting role by:

  • Crafting the job description.
  • Sourcing suitable candidates.
  • Coordinating interviews.
  • Doing background checks.
  • Ensuring a positive applicant experience.
  • Advising on legal considerations.

But the hiring manager makes the decision based on direct team needs and fit. HR helps facilitate the process and provides an outside perspective but is not necessarily the decision-maker.

When HR should have expanded influence

There are situations where it may be beneficial to give HR more authority over hiring, such as:

  • Filling standardized or repetitive roles.
  • Maintaining compliance in regulated industries.
  • Screening for unconscious biases.
  • Upholding policies and best practices.
  • Volume hiring or rapid growth periods.

Empowering HR helps take some of the workload off hiring managers during hectic times. It also adds oversight to ensure the right candidates are chosen fairly and consistently.

Does HR or the hiring manager own the final call?

While collaborative input between HR and hiring managers is ideal, ultimately ownership of the final hiring decision may vary. Here are some guidelines on where authority should lie:

Hiring manager decides

  • For departmental direct reports
  • Technical or complex roles
  • Specialized senior leadership positions
  • Critical vacancies on a hiring manager’s team

In these cases, the manager understands the skills needed for success in the role along with the team dynamics.

HR provides expanded input

  • Pre-screening applicants
  • Junior or administrative openings
  • Volume hiring periods
  • Regulated industries

HR guidelines add consistency when filling standardized roles. Compliance considerations also come into play.

Executive team decides

  • C-suite and VP-level positions
  • Strategic roles tied to business objectives

For senior leaders, the executive team weighs in to ensure alignment with broader company goals and culture.

While claims that “HR makes all the hiring decisions” are exaggerated, neither HR nor hiring managers should have unilateral authority. The ideal process involves collaborative decision-making between HR and departmental managers to make the best hires.

Tips for balancing HR and hiring manager priorities

How can companies and HR departments strike the right balance of ownership between HR and hiring managers for recruitment? Here are some best practices:

  • Involve all stakeholders early in the process to set expectations.
  • Have HR pre-screen applicants against qualifications but give hiring managers final say.
  • Develop structured interview guides collaboratively.
  • Agree on assessment criteria for screening candidates.
  • Be transparent on decision authority and get approvals in writing.
  • Set guidelines for who has authority over different types of hires.
  • Collect feedback from all interviewers to make unbiased decisions.
  • Ensure HR provides compliance oversight and positive candidate experiences.
  • Have HR partner with departments on workforce planning and talent pipeline development.

Working together to find the best people enables organizations to leverage the strengths of both HR expertise and managerial insight when recruiting and hiring.


While HR may not always have the final say in choosing who gets a job offer, they do provide an important balance to the hiring process. HR ensures qualified candidates are properly vetted and screened. They supply an outside perspective removed from individual departmental needs and biases. And they uphold critical employment-related regulations and laws.

Empowering HR in the hiring process allows them to add oversight and consistency without fully relinquishing control from managers. The ideal approach involves collaboration, with HR advising and facilitating, and departmental managers making the ultimate decisions on the best hires for their teams. This balance enables organizations to land great talent that advances their business strategy.

Leave a Comment