Hiring. It’s one of the top factors in determining whether your organization will succeed. Your people, and the culture they help you build shapes the DNA of your organization. What are your values? What do you stand for (and against)? Why do you exist as an organization? The answers to these questions are generally framed by the founders or executives, but your employees are the ones who determine whether your organization truly lives these truths.
Early Stage Hiring: Phone A Friend
When you’re an early stage startup or small company, hiring tends to involve tapping your collective networks to see who you can hire. This approach is often the path of least resistance and generally leads to low-scale hiring success (an often lack diversity). As your organization grows, these networks grow thinner and begin to dry up. This tends to be the growth stage when most organization will bring on recruiting help, whether in-house or agency, to help them tap into broader pools of talent.
Designing For Scale
When you’re in growth mode you need to build an interview model that’s efficient, effective, and continues to provide the critical lens through which you want your candidates to be viewed. It’s important this process has enough structure to be followed somewhat consistently, but can scale and offer flexibility when needed. The ‘Ideal process’ will vary as it should be tailored to each organization, but the following items should be factored into most high-growth interview procedures.
Requisition Approval Process
Things move fast in high-growth organizations, particularly startups. Strategic decisions (including hiring plans) can be made over drinks. It’s important to have a lightweight process that ensures the appropriate stakeholders (Finance, HR/Recruiting, Division lead) have all signed off that the position is within budget and organizational hiring timeline/priorities. You’re recruiting resources are valuable, and you don’t want to waste time building and engaging candidate pipelines for jobs you won’t hire.
Sourcing & Networking
Recruiting is a team sport. Successful companies get this. No matter how effective your recruiting team is, the reality is that their reach only goes so far. It’s important to build programs that allow the entire organization to rally behind the company’s growth. Strong recruiting teams will develop programs to ensure that all staff are aware of current hiring initiatives (particularly essential roles), and equip their colleagues with the tools and resources they need to be effective talent scouts.
When you’re hiring at scale, it’s important all the stakeholders are really dialed in on the profile you’re targeting in each role. The hiring manager and recruiter should meet with the interview team before interviews begin to discuss the job description, target profile, intangibles, projects and initiatives they will work on, how the role interacts with their area (for cross-functional interviews, which most will tend to be), organizations alignment, etc. This discussion is vital in ensuring all the stakeholders are on the same page and fully aware of what they’re vetting.
The recruiter should discuss the ideal process with the hiring manager during their search strategy kick-off meeting. The interview process should be generally defined so internal teams know what to expect, but also flexible to allow you to accelerate if you find stellar talent that has competing offers.
The recruiter is generally the top end of the filter – evaluating candidates fit, motivations, qualifications (baseline for technology roles), and identifying any potential blockers that might need to be overcome. Once determined qualified, the candidate will generally speak or meet with the hiring manager via phone/Skype/etc. This step is not always necessary, but important for technology roles to vet skills more deeply than a recruiter may be able to vet. Evaluations, code samples, and problem-solving/behavioral exercises help streamline this stage of the process.
Following the initial vetting to confirm viability, the candidate will come in and meet the interview team for further vetting on skill and cultural alignment/add. Adding structure to those interviews (behavioral questions, splitting competency evals per interviewer, etc.) adds value to this stage and help establish a baseline on which candidates can be measured and compared.
This is really important to embed and reinforce throughout the interview process. How an organization treats its applicants, good or bad, is a tweet or GlassDoor post away from your talent pool. If you communicate regularly and treat every candidate with dignity and respect, you have an opportunity to create advocates. They may not get hired, but they will have a deeper respect for your company – and they will tell their peers. Open and regular communication goes a long way in enhancing the candidate experience.
After the interview, you’ll want to get the stakeholders together to discuss feedback. There are a variety of ways to do this. One way I’ve found to be productive is brief written evaluations (based on pre-determined templates) sent to the hiring manager and recruiter, followed by a group discussion. Gathering the written feedback in advance allows for input unbiased by the group discussion and raises potential red flags to be discussed in the meeting. The eval includes a thumbs up/down on support for hiring. The hiring manager has the ultimate decision, but should ideally get near consensus from the interview team. Any red flags that are surfaced should be discussed and addressed during the review meeting.