In a quickly growing organization, we often feel the pressure to fill open roles immediately. But few things are more disruptive to a team than making a bad hire. So, how can you drive efficiency in your hiring process? Simultaneously, how do you maintain the high standards it takes to build a world-class product organization?
Only the best can hire the best
While shipping features and tackling long-term strategy may seem more urgent, hiring well is one of the most valuable things you can do to ensure the long-term success of your product or business. This is not a task for B-players. Your interview panel should be a collection of the highest performers at your company. Ultimately, your top performers are better equipped to identify the right candidates. Furthermore, they will also be more likely to impress those candidates and make them want to accept offers. Managers should make it clear that only top performers are part of the hiring process, and being on a hiring panel should be seen as one of the many ways managers recognize talent at your organization.
Don’t just shoot the breeze – solve real problems
Interviews are often the least indicative, most bias-laden vehicles for vetting a candidate. However, many companies use interviews as the only process to vet candidates. While it may be easier or more interesting for an interviewer to have a freewheeling “getting to know you” conversation with a candidate, evidence shows that these interviews actually tell us next to nothing about how successful a candidate will eventually be. The most helpful questions are case questions rooted in real problems this candidate may be asked to solve. The added benefit of asking candidates to solve real problems is that they get a better sense of their own interest in your product.
Calibrate honestly across interviewers
We all know that assigning point estimates to stories in sprint planning is useful because of the estimation process itself. For example, having engineers take a guess at implementation difficulty will help our team identify gotchas, flaws in thinking, and strong points of view. The same thing is true of calibrating after and interview process. Ideally no one on the panel should discuss a candidate until it is time to calibrate so as not to bias the outcome. On our team, we all reveal our read on a candidate at the same time by sticking out a thumbs up, thumbs sideways or thumbs down to indicate how we’d rate the candidate.
Challenge yourself (not your candidate) to 24-hour turnaround
Excellent candidates expect the companies they interview with to move quickly. If you are impressed with a candidate, do your best to impress them by turning around a strong offer quickly – ideally within 24 hours. Do not, however, ask them to make their decision on a similar timeline. “Exploding offers” cause unnecessary stress for candidates and start you off on an adversarial footing with your future teammate. Excellent candidates easily identify this gambit and it degrades trust before this person’s first day on the job.
Retro when you get it wrong
Even the best hiring processes occasionally end up with an unhappy ending – letting a candidate go, having a candidate quickly leave, or choosing a candidate who ends up underperforming. Whenever your hiring process has an unhappy ending, be sure to retro with the senior leaders on the hiring panel. What was your process unable to catch? How might you have caught it? Try to weave relevant insights into future hiring adventures.
About the speaker
I'm an experienced product leader working at the intersection of fashion and technology. I'm passionate about personalization, moments of unexpected joy, and launching the thing. ?