4 minute read

Most hiring processes are very inefficient, with numerous methodologies being employed and a lot of money spent to determine whether or not a person will succeed in the role. Yet despite all this effort, time, and cost, most companies still struggle to find and hire the right people.

The first big issue is the company gatekeepers. These are typically recruiting or placement firms if the company outsources, or human resources if they do it in house, both of which are problematic in the same way. The people looking or picking your candidates rarely if ever truly understand the scope of the role and rely on a set of bullet points provided to them to measure each candidate. People aren’t linear and their quality cannot be measured by how many keywords they have on their resume or how long they have been in the industry. Human Resources has an important role in the company but they’re not actually the best suited to determining who will be the best for the job.

The next problem is preconceived indicators of success. Most often I have seen this when companies hire or don’t hire people solely because of where they went to school or what their degree is. I have worked with people from schools all across the spectrum and I have found plenty of duds from the so called elite schools and diamonds from lesser known ones. The truth is, for most jobs, the school on its own isn’t a good measurement. In fact I don’t even bother to look at the education part of a resume after a person has had at least 2 years of work experience in the field. This allows me to remove restrictions and focus on the candidate for what they can and hopefully will do based on practice, not theory.

Over-interviewing is probably the most common issue. HR brings a candidate in and they have every Tom, Dick and Sally interview the person, asking predefined questions which seemly have nothing to do with the role. They think that by doing this, people can tell if the candidate is a good personality fit for the company, but if you need that many people to figure that out than your problem is elsewhere. You shouldn’t need more than three interviews with a candidate, and none of those interviews should include people who aren’t directly associated with the role. Your decision makers should be trained well enough to know whether the candidate would be a personality fit or not. Also as an executive you don’t need to be involved in this process. You hired smart people to run your teams: trust their judgment and give them the freedom to pick who they feel will be best for their team to succeed.

You won’t know the perfect candidate ahead of time. Recruiters always ask what would your perfect or ideal candidate be, and I always cringe because the truth is I have no idea. If its for a specific role like a Golang Engineer I know they need to at least have used Golang before, but I don’t know if them having only 4 years experience instead of 7 will matter. What I do know is the right candidates when I see them, Now you have to have position details and requirements but don’t be to rigid over the number of years or such, because a really smart candidate can learn and just because they haven’t been at something very long doesn’t mean they aren’t good at it.

Lastly, don’t make the interview a hostile environment. Making the candidate feel deliberately on edge is a wasted effort. It doesn’t provide any meaningful insight into their capabilities. In truth I have rejected many job offers solely because of how they ran the interview process. You cannot claim to be an open and inviting workplace and then have an interview where the candidate feels like you are waiting to ‘get’ them. You will be able to tell much more quickly if the person is a good fit if you can help them relax. A good interview is more about having a conversation and not an interrogation–ask any good reporter this and they will confirm. Compliment the interviewee on what they have accomplished, talk about your expectations and go from there. In every case I have done this I found I ended up with a much better picture of the candidate and in turn the candidate came away with a much better picture of the role and the company.

In sum, hiring should be simple, clear and free of pomp and circumstance.

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I have spent the last 10 years in product and technology, before that I worked as a television producer. I love history, technology, and really geeky things.