Moving Fast in Hiring Gives You an Edge

Streamlining your hiring process is a source of competitive advantage. Measure it, and improve.

You're reading this, so hiring is something you're struggling with right now. The world has shifted in the last year, and previously unaware folks have realized their organization can not only survive in a remote context, it can thrive.

If you offered remote employment before you just lost a significant advantage you had while hiring. If you don't plan to continue offering it, others just gained ground that you did not. Recent surveys conducted on behalf of Bloomberg indicate that 39% of employees would potentially quit their job if not given the opportunity to work remotely, and this number only climbs with the younger generations.

If you're not paying top of the market you’re now playing at a disadvantage, because at least some of your now national or international competitors are. This is especially true if you want top talent.

Where does that leave you? If you’re not hiring for one of the top names in tech you've got a few things you can lean on:

  • Mission - How is your organization making a uniquely positive impact? In the world, in your community, or in your industry. How can they connect this where they’d like their career to go long term?
  • Opportunity - Sell the candidate on what unique opportunities they’ll be presented with in your organization that they can’t get anywhere else.
  • Interviewing Experience - Here you can make a great impression by not being the most painful interviewing experience, and by moving faster than your competitors.

The rest of this article is focused on the interviewing experience, and how speed can be a critical component of it.

Interviewing Experience

One place you can pickup a significant advantage is cycle time in your hiring process. This means you have to have your act together, and know what you're hiring for.

Knowing what you're hiring for is key because you have to know when a candidate is good enough if you want to move quickly.

So how do you do this?

Define Your Hiring Process and Rubric

Understand before you post the job exactly what you're looking for this individual to do, and the required skills to do the job. This allows you to actually have some idea about if you've found a good candidate or not when you're interviewing folks. While you're at it, define exit criteria, meaning what has to be true to advance a candidate from one stage of your interviewing process to the next.

Discover How Far Along the Candidate Is

As early as possible, ask them where they are in the process. If you're just starting the process with the candidate, but they're in the offer phase elsewhere, you're going to have a bad time. But if the candidate has just begun hunting and you are one of the first companies to get back to them, you could potentially have an offer in their hand before any of your competitors even set up the phone screen with a well executed hiring process.

Consolidate the Interview Process

Cut the crap that doesn't generate signal. Does that Leetcode actually help you differentiate good vs bad candidates really? How about your whiteboard interview? How do you know it is actually generating signal? Does it meaningfully relate back to skills necessary to do the job? Does the signal between steps overlap such that you could eliminate redundant steps?

Can you condense it into 2-3 steps that are potentially multiple hours, rather than forcing the candidate to go through multiple long queuing cycles? If you've got a phone screen, tech screen, and two rounds of cultural interviews, you could set those all up to be back to back on a single day. Truncate the process if the candidate fails along the way, and you can move much more quickly.

Make the Leap

Once you have a candidate that meets the criteria, make the offer. Don't drag your feet waiting for the perfect candidate. Especially if you've got a lot of seats to fill. If you have reservations about their ability to do the job at all, don't make the offer. But if they could do it, you’ve got a bird in hand.

Monitor Your Hiring Metrics

There are at least a few metrics you should care about as a hiring manager and work to improve. This can be done solo or with your partner in HR.

  • Time to Offer - How long is the median total interviewing process?
  • Cycle Time - How long do candidates take in each stage? This tells you about the opportunity to reduce your time to offer. Make sure it includes the time the candidate is waiting to interview, as too long may indicate not enough available times on the interviewers calendar.
  • Acceptance Rate - How many candidates given offers accepted? This tells you how competitive your opportunity is. If this number is low you may need to look at your compensation package, as well as other ways to make the opportunity more appealing.
  • Start Rate - How many candidates that accepted offers show up on day one? Just because a candidate accepted an offer doesn’t mean you’ve done it yet. They still need to show up. Until they do you may still lose out to a competitor.
  • Success Rate - After 90 days how many of your hires have worked out? A lagging indicator, but one of your only options to determine how successful your hiring efforts are.

You've been working on improving your software engineering process. You ought to be working on your hiring process as well.