Hiring the right people is one of the secrets to building a killer company. We've come to realize over the years that scaling a business requires hiring creative problem solvers. A growing company needs people who can wear many hats, play well with others and don't shy away from a challenge.
Yet there are those who feel that the way startups hire is often a broken, unscientific process, cobbled together with duct tape and large amounts of personal bias.
A 2016 study found that 60% of job seekers surveyed had a poor recruiting experience. Further, 72% of those candidates surveyed reported leaving bad reviews on employer review sites, like Glassdoor. Some also used social media to recount their experiences. Others simply told their friends.
Then in 2013, Laszlo Bock, Google’s Senior Vice President for People Operations, admitted in a New York Times interview:
“We looked at tens of thousands of interviews, and everyone who had done the interviews and what they scored the candidate, and how that person ultimately performed in their job. We found zero relationship. It’s a complete random mess...”
Over the years, we've interviewed hundreds of candidates. Here are some tips we've put together from our experience to help combat personal bias:
1. Prepare: Train Hiring Managers, Create an Execution Plan
- Create a detailed job description that clarifies the needed skills. Additionally, chart a workflow how a candidate progresses from first contact all the way to job offer.
- Ensure hiring managers know how to conduct interviews. Don't assume that just because they're managers, they know how to interview candidates. Unless you want time wasting questions like, "Where do you see yourself in five years' time?"
2. Interview: Ask the Right Questions
You want to hire someone who is smart, efficient, passionate, and can collaborate well with your team. The only real way to dig deep in the limited amount of time you have is to ask the right questions, while sticking to the best practices for interviewing.
This is where you bring out the behavioral interview questions, which get the candidate reflecting on their past experiences.
Opening phrases for this might include: "Tell me about a time" or "Give me an example of" and where the second half introduces a concrete problem. Just make sure to keep these questions short, and not give away the answer.
3. Test: Trial by Fire
Another idea is to host a weekend hackathon — an event where job hunters can show off their skills in a scenario you've concocted and can controlled. Then hire those people who perform the best.
The hackathon is great for finding people with similar skill sets. However, if you're looking for unique thinkers, you'd be better served asking a candidate to perform a task. It should be one that requires preparation. After the task is performed, have the candidate then walk you through the decisions they made. This can even work for remote hiring; finding great potential hires online and having them walk you through a task over Zoom can test their presentation skills just as well.
A great example: while interviewing a new graduate for a customer success position, we discovered he practiced Getting Things Done (GTD). We asked him to do an onsite presentation on GTD, and tell us why he chose this productivity method over others. It was a good presentation. Since he was fresh from school, he didn't have any job experience to talk about, but because of the task, we immediately saw the value he could bring to Wrike.
Bonus: Don't Forget the Personal Touch
Just a little note, not necessarily a way to hire but an approach to conducting your interviews. Do what you can to make them feel special.
For example: when interviewees set foot in our office, they are immediately greeted by a chalkboard welcoming them by name. Having a simple "Welcome, Mike!" will go a long way with your potential candidate. Small stuff like that creates an atmosphere that people want to work in.
These steps will help you make your recruitment process shorter and more efficient. So far, the things we're doing have served us well. If you're part of a startup and have recruiting strategies that bring in awesome people, we'd love to hear your wisdom in the comments section.