A software development firm with 80 people (40 of whom where developers) contacted us for help with their technical hiring process. The last few hires had been contentious: the hiring team had polarized opinions on a few candidates, which led them to question what sorts of characteristics they were hiring for in the first place. After discussing with their CTO and head of HR, together we decided on a plan: first audit their recruiting and hiring practices, then help them develop a systematic plan to execute on their hiring goals.
We began by giving them a 15 minute survey, to be filled out individually by each of the interviewers, the hiring manager and the head of HR. The survey teases out a person’s opinions and beliefs on hiring and elicits their view on how hiring is done at the firm.
The results of the survey proved revealing, to say the least. Overall, there was an absence of a few basic hiring best-practices, but more interestingly, there was little agreement on the question of “how hiring is done” at the firm.
- Senior developers (the bulk of the interviewers) believed that interviewing was about creating clever and difficult puzzles, rather than assessing real work skills.
- The hiring manager was unclear on what skills were really demanded by the tech group.
- The head of HR believed the hire decision-making process was more principled and systematic than it actually was.
- The CTO had a realization that almost none of his interviewers had received good feedback-based training on how to conduct interviews.
They were quite surprised by these results, now worried that they were in a bad situation. We reassured them that their situation isn’t uncommon. The sort of disconnect and confusion we uncovered isn’t uncommon in small to medium-sized firms, given their constraints.
We set up a few meetings over the next few weeks where we described a framework for evaluating candidate skills and abilities, and over time we helped them converge on a set of candidate characteristics that reflected what they really needed. With that in place, we helped them design a model interview process to test for and evaluate those desired characteristics. The immediate problem of contentious disagreements was on its way to being solved.
Over the subsequent months, we helped them design a process for training new interviewers in the skills needed to properly evaluate candidates. This was only possible because everyone in the firm was finally on the same page on what they wanted and how they wanted to look for it.
After going through the process with Essilen:
- They’ve started to identify talent that they would have overlooked in the past.
- In the last 6 months they’ve made 5 new hires.
- Contentious hiring meetings have disappeared.
- They’re confident in their ability to compete for talent in going forward.