How to Design a Better Hiring Process
It seems like yesterday -- my boss asked me to interview a new hire. The problem was that I'd never interviewed a person before for a job. All these questions immediately raced into my head .... I asked him what questions I should ask. Should I sit in on a few interviews first to see how you do it? How would I determine if the person is a good fit for the role and our team? He responded by saying just ask whatever questions you believe would help you determine if the interviewee would do a good job with us. And left the rest to me.
Sound familiar? How much training have you received to perform interviews? Most people I've asked have had the same experience. None.
It is so critically important to ensure you hire the right person and avoid "lets just see". But most businesses spend very little emphasis on hiring great people. But are inherently dependent on great people being on the team.
Why You Need a Better Hiring Process
Many of the challenges with current hiring processes in most businesses include (does this include yours?)
- You don't know the required Core Competencies. What core competencies are required for the specific role? Its likely more than what is on the job description. So you just guess and move forward.
- You are unclear what will the person really be doing. Often we just get sent the job description at the last minute along with a resume and get told - could you interview this person? You're not sure... Is it a growth role? Who will the person interact with?
- Rating scale is unknown: What would drive a hire or no hire mean? I saw an executive say no to an interviewee just because she had a masters degree from an online school (and in-person for bachelors), while he said yes to an equivalent person who just had a bachelors degree from an in person school. Yes, he said no to the candidate specifically because he didn't think the online school was very good.
- Unclear questions on what helps you determine a good job fit: You are just told to go interview, so you make up questions on the fly. I saw an executive interview 3 different candidates and ask them all different questions --- making them up as he went along focusing on gut feel for the hiring decision.
- Lets hire, he'll probably grow into the role: I've unfortunately heard this quite a bit and often it does not end well. I interviewed a person for a Vice President role to build out a large program. The hiring manager was getting significant pressure from the CEO to hire this role. My interview feedback was no hire since the person did not have the abilities to build out a program of this size as well as the person had not managed people before. The manager hired the person anyways with the comment, they'll grow into the role with mentorship -- that didn't happen, and she was terminated within 12 months unfortunately. Not fair to her or the business.
The list goes on and on .... but you get the point.
What Does a Better Hiring Process Look Like?
If you believe that hiring great people is probably the most important thing your business ever does, then things need to change. I'm rarely an advocate of rigid processes, however in certain critical areas, they are paramount. Here is one. At its core, the program should be based on below:
- Defined Process: What is our process to hire people. How do we minimize bias? How do we align ratings to ensure they are based on same criteria? How do we prohibit random questions that don't add value.
- Interview training: All people who interview must receive the training first before they can interview. This helps align everyone to how we hire, the process, and how we determine great candidates.
- Pre-Brief: The 30 minute conversation led by the hiring manager regarding what the role is, what (s)he is looking for in the role, critical competencies, assignment of questions.
- Interview Day: A cohort of 3-5 candidates are interviewed during a 1-2 day period. This allows the team to focus on this and move forward without dragging out the candidates or interview process.
- Post Brief: Mandatory meeting to make a decision on the candidates. Hire, Don't hire but may be right for another role, don't hire at all.
The Better Hiring Process In More Detail:
- The hiring process: The hiring process should be focused on a few key areas:
- Core Values critical to the business: This is how we operate daily. Every team member should have these capabilities or values regardless of what role they are in. These are measurable values: for example ownership (for any project or assignment, I will ensure that I will get it complete at a high quality level. Success or failure is mine alone) See our article on core values.
- Technical competencies : Technical competencies are those items which are role specific. It could be programming, or finance for example. For programming, you want to technically assess that the person operates at the level required by the role.
- Interview questions: The business should have a set of behavioral interview questions that are on a list based on the company values. Each value may have 5-7 different standard questions. These questions are the questions that are asked. So during the pre-brief, the hiring manager will either assign to the interviewer specific questions or values to ask about.
- Rubric to rate the interviews: The rubric ensures that ratings are standardized. I would recommend that they be on a scale of 1-5, with 3 being neutral. 1 and 2 are does not meet standards. 4 and 5 would be meets and exceeds standards. With definitions around each answer.
- Bias prevention: To prevent bias, discussions on interview outcomes or individual interviewees cannot be held until all ratings are submitted (and locked in). This prevents the ... "what did you think about bill "? And one person's answer could change how you rate him.
- Interview Training: Ensuring that all interviewers have training on the process and ideally have sat in on a few interviews by experienced interviewees will help people align and understand the process. Additionally, it is a good opportunity to share the things that can and cannot be said during an interview.
- Pre-Brief: This ensures that all interviewers have the same understanding of what the hiring manager is looking for. This should be held within just a few days of the interview day to ensure that no one forgets.
- Interview Day: The interview coordinator works with both a cohort of interviewees (3-5) and interviewers to find ideally one day that would work for everyone. Given the importance of the interview and hiring great people, some interviewers may need to shift/postpone meetings to attend. Interviews would be set for approximately 45 minutes each which would allow for introduction, 2-3 behavioral questions, and allow 5-10 minutes for the candidate to ask questions as well. The interviewer is taking notes throughout the interview to support his/her ratings on the rubric.
- Post Brief: The focus of the post brief is to determine who to offer an offer to (if any). This will occur within 3 days of the interview day. Prior to this, interviews submit both their rating on each question (along with details supporting that), and their overall rating using the same scale. Then share everyone's ratings with each other -- this will be reviewed during the post brief. During the post brief, place the overall ratings on a matrix. If there is uncertainty, always default to "no". The matrix may show some people who would immediately fall out due to ratings. Focus on conversations around those who would potentially be good team members -- and why. Make a decision and move forward.
It takes a great deal of work to put together a great hiring process, but the results will be an even better team.
The bottom line for a better hiring process
Having a strong interview process will ensure that you can hire great people ... and have a substantially enhanced hiring process overall.
How does your business hire great people?