Hiring process

Hiring process in technology companies (how I have done to improve hiring efficiency)

Have you ever whished for a good hiring process? A practical step by step guidance instead of those randomly gathered questions for those faltering interviews?

My own hiring process looks like this:

  1. An application process filtering out those that might be good candidates.
  2. A screening call with standard get to know questions, and a two dividing suprise questions.
  3. Work assessment is the third screening step. I have a few suggestions below.
  4. Rounding up with a physical meeting or video call where we go through previous experiences and where I start to presell my offering.

Years ago, at my first hiring’s I used to list a few questions I thought would be good, and spent too much time talking about our business. I felt comfortless. Afterward I usually picked the person me and the team liked best. Gut feeling was important, I had been told.

Evolving in my career I started to hire executives. For the higher hierarchies we felt good sometimes using well known headhunters. They kind of did the job for us.

Gradually I started to doubt my hiring process.

I reused my questionary for my own recruitments, but the interviews and evaluation process were still lacking a lot. My gut feeling is still crucial and although I got somewhat better with experience, I knew I had to improve.

For executive recruitments I still use headhunters as of today but more sparingly. I find it difficult also with headhunters, I’m still the one making the decision.

About 8 or 10 years into my early executive career of doing recruitments I decided to change. I designed my own hiring process which I still use today, some 20 years later.

Read more about the importance of early stage customers.

Using an application process sounded something executives don’t do, but it propelled my hiring process

Hiring process

Instead of asking people to email me their CV’s I designed a simple application form. They can attach their CV to the form, which most people do. As a hiring process this is pretty standard but made a huge difference to me.

This way I can easily and much faster sort applicants into two buckets: Interesting people, and not so interesting people. The later will get a polite decline-email. Being nice is important also in the hiring process.

With my application-based introduction I don’t need to read through a long list of emails with completely differently formatted CV’s. Some of them being incredibly hard to digest.

Is using an application form a daunting experience on specialist and executive levels? Maybe. I believe it’s partly a generational issue.

The trick is not to make the form overly ambitious. You need a condensed version of a CV and some personal questions bu this is the first sorting form. Their will be time, eventually to ask the preferred candidates more questions.

Too me however, it’s the start of the recruitment funnel and it makes the hiring process so much smoother. Honestly, sometimes I used to postpone much needed recruitments because I bulked over the hiring process to come.

The screening call is your first meeting with applicants and can definitely be a online video call

I have come to think that the Covid-19 pandemic has made it easier to use video conference calls. It is something I have used before but with some hesitation.

Using Microsoft teams or Zoom for this early stage screening call is definitely something I will no longer hesitate about. It will further speed up any hiring process.

The sort of questions I ask in this first screening call, after initial warmup pleasantries and me giving an elevator presentation, are:

  1. Tell me a little bit about yourself.
  2. What are you good at?
  3. What is your long-term ambition?
  4. And the likes.

What really sorts the applicants though is how they relate to, and answer, the following question:

Who where your last three bosses and how do u think they would rate you? By the way, we do check references.

Each screening call takes 20 – 30 minutes and is presented as an introductory call only.

At this point, the screening process typically leaves only a few remaining applicants in the hiring process. So far I used my ‘standard forms’ to make a quick initial sorting followed by fairly short video screening introductions.

How do I do a work assessment in my hiring process?

I found that me and others often overlook making a work assessment test in the hiring process. Maybe because I thought it involved me doing a lot of work to make a work assessment assignment. I admit. But making many recruitments make time a challenge, sometimes. Maybe because I did not know how to do it.

Depending on your business one can do different types of work assessments. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Ask for a review of your offering and to come with improvements ideas. Reveals industry insight.
  2. For a sales executive candidate, ask them to review your sales process and to present a power point presentation of improvement ideas. This gives you an idea how analytical they are, how good they are to make a sellable presentation.
  3. Ask for an opinion on one of your designs by saying you consider some improved designs or features. This reveals technical skills, layout or architectural skills.
  4. Tell a finance applicant you consider switching to IFRS and ask for their opinion. Reveals accounting experience and seniority.

It does not take me long to find a relevant work assessment task for the hiring process. Using work assessments on all my final applicants makes it easier to go beyond self-confidence.

When to use the online video call in a hiring process?

Through the early sorting and screening of candidates you can definitely use online video call in your hiring process.

Just to state the obvious: The Covid-19 pandemic has cleaned the room from those that thought that physical meetings was the only way to go.

I’m a strong believer in meeting people. There are nuances that are difficult online but for a bulk of meetings online works perfectly. Also for the hiring process.

I would take it as far as organizing my hiring process as follows:

First sortingOnline or email application form.
Screening20-30 minutes online video conference call.
Work assessment sortingOnline or email assignment and presentation.
Rounding upLive meeting.
Offer presentationLive meeting.

If the work assessment presentation meeting is live you may even switch the rounding up meeting for an online video meeting.

First sorting and screening is where you prioritize amongst all applicants. No need to spend time in physical meetings this early in the hiring process.

The work assessment is when you nail it to your core applicants. Now you start to know who the truly interesting candidates are. From now on, chemistry, cultural fit and personality becomes more important. Time to meet live, but with few and to the task relevant professionals.

Headhunters and recruitment companies, and when not to use them in hiring processes

Using headhunters has become the norm in many countries when hiring specialists or senior executives. I use headhunters myself but there are a few things to know:

  1. A satisfactory recruitment requires your deep involvement. Outsourcing most of the process seldom gives the expected outcome. Using a headhunter is not necessarily a time saver.
  2. If you truly lack the relevant network or the social media presence to use in your hiring process, using a headhunter makes sense.
  3. Headhunters tend to sort candidates in narrowly defined competence and experience buckets. It’s a necessity for them handling man hiring processes and candidates. I have experienced more than once however that none of the presented candidates reach my expectation. Candidates may be professionals in their field, but often pretty average. They fit the bucket. They seldom any outlier credentials or complementary experiences.
  4. Seniority in a specific field often translates into number of years of experience in the specific bucket whereas real-life experience often is about outside the box experiences and complementary competences.
  5. Sometimes headhunters themselves lack candidates and reach out to their network for names to be suggested. Nothing wrong with that but not knowing those suggested candidates means headhunters tend to place them into specific buckets to be presentable. Read bullet number 3 and 4 again.
  6. Headhunters are expensive, you may say, requesting an assignment fee equivalent to one third of the annual compensation package. Well, if you do find the perfect candidate it’s definitely worth the headhunter expense.

As said, I still use headhunters as of this day, but more sparingly now days. I believe following my own designed hiring process, as presented here, makes a hell of a good hiring process. With efficient us of time.

I hope you find my hiring process valuable.

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Jonas Florinus

Jonas Florinus

Jonas has 25 years operational experience growing businesses, 10 years with venture capital and private equity and more than $8 billion in personal transaction experience. For the last 5 years Jonas has been an entrepreneur himself.
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