By: Geoff Wright, Practice Manager– El Segundo, CA
Dear Hiring Manager,
I’m writing you in the hopes that I can coach you on the most effective hiring strategies, as seen from the eyes of an outside recruiter. In this competitive, tight market, it isn’t only about having the most attractive product, the best benefits, the greatest perks, the highest salaries, or the most alluring company; an efficient hiring process is crucial in order to land top talent. Below, I will highlight key points in a company’s hiring process and the most ideal way to move a candidate through the necessary steps to reach the offer stage and ultimately landing you that top tier candidate.
One to two weeks. Anything beyond two weeks opens the door for other opportunities to swoop in. Such opportunities may be with a more enticing company, role or salary. Why leave the door open to competition when you can close the candidate as soon as possible? Hiring a candidate has a lot to do with momentum so try not to have a large week break in between interviews. Ideally, don’t push anything beyond a week
INITIAL INTERVIEW: PHONE VS IN-PERSON
An in-person interview to start the process is ideal. Why you ask? Okay, let me tell you. All you need to do is take the same 30 minutes you would in a phone interview but do it onsite. You, as well as the candidate, gain way more by meeting in person. For you, you’re able to gauge the candidate’s people skills, find out whether they’re a culture fit, see their presentation skills, and most importantly interest them in your position. For the candidate, they’re able to see the office, make the commute, gain that human connection, and in the end learn more about your company which might sway them to choose you over another company.
*Of course there are certain candidates who prefer phone interviews over an initial onsite interview, so you can always accommodate those people, but in general you should aim to meet with them in person initially.
NUMBER OF INTERVIEWS
Two interviews is the sweet spot (ideally both onsite). One interview usually isn’t enough for the candidate to feel comfortable enough to make a decision. They can feel pressured to make a decision and usually end up having a lot of follow up questions that lead to uncertainty—which is never what you want when making a life changing decision. Also, from the company’s perspective, it’s tough to know what you’re getting in a one interview process. I am a firm believer that a three-plus interview process is overkill. It will be tough for the candidate to take off work that many times which will lead to an extended process. If there needs to be three interviews, try to make two of them short phone interviews before the final onsite interview.
Give the candidate, or your recruiter, prompt and consistent feedback. There is a momentum piece involved in hiring and without constant feedback the candidate can feel disconnected and disinterested. Even if you have no news at all, it’s important to contact the candidate to let them know you’re thinking about them and you’re doing the best you can to expedite the process.
In this day and age coding tests are the norm. It only makes sense. No professional sports team signs an athlete without first testing their skillset – same goes with software engineers. There are plenty of ways to go about this though – some that are better than others.
Effective onsite coding challenges include; whiteboarding with the team, coding challenges on the computer, written tests, or even IQ tests.
At home challenges can be effective too such as; tests that last no longer than two hours. Coding projects can work, but please don’t give a candidate a full day’s work. Any coding project that lasts 4+ hours is a bit overkill. You should be able to determine a candidate’s skill set without forcing them to do unpaid labor for you. This can lead to you upsetting the candidate and ultimately losing them to another company where the process isn’t so stringent.
NUMBER OF INTERVIEWERS AND DECISION MAKERS
Try to limit the amount of people involved in the process. The more people involved, the tougher it is to find the “perfect” candidate. Scheduling will be more difficult, more disagreements will occur with more parties having to agree on the same candidate, and more time can elapse. Sure, the candidate will have to meet you, potentially your boss, the HR manager, and you want to introduce a teammate to the candidate so they can get a sense of the culture, but anymore than that results in varied levels of interest and harder to come to a consensus.
When interviewing these candidates, especially the good ones with multiple options, you shouldn’t exclusively grill them with tough coding questions and expect them to like you the most. There has to be some sort of sell. Sell your company, your team, your application, your benefits, but most importantly, yourself. These candidates are going to be working for you so even though they don’t have to be your best friend, there has to be a level of kinship. They have to ultimately choose the company as well as you, so get them to like you! it’s a delicate balance where on one end you want to be stern, but you also need to open up and almost “roll out the red carpet” for the good candidates by explaining to them things you like about your company, the people, and the culture.
Make verbal offers contingent on the background check to shut down the candidate’s interview process. Welcome the candidate on board with a friendly five minute phone call once they’ve accepted. By doing so, you will shut down the candidate’s job search and prevent them from finding another company before you can make an offer. Once they’ve verbally accepted this will generate the paperwork and get them to sign on the dotted line. Get them the paperwork as soon as possible!
*The offer should be made within 24 hours of the final interview ideally.
As you can see, there are many factors and stages that lead to hiring a candidate. In an ideal scenario what I outlined above would be the best way to hire, but unfortunately there are lots of moving parts and external forces that cause things to change. That being said, if you can adhere to the above guidelines you will have a high success rate in getting the candidate you want the most.