Upping the Ante in the Hiring Process
You’re a very busy manager. Your boss tells you that you need to hire one person in your team to shore up support for upcoming releases which is under significant time pressure, Or someone in your team leaves, and you need to backfill that position. You pick up the job description you used 4 years ago for a similar role, and give it to the recruiting team to publish and start sourcing the candidates. You don’t tweak the JD nor do you engage in a deeper conversation about what kind of candidates you wish to hire, because you don’t want to do a recruiters’ job for them. You delegate the phone screen to engineers in your team, well, because you’re too busy, and you would only talk to the “qualified” candidates. Once a candidate passes the phone screen, the candidate goes through an “on site” round. You trust the team to coordinate and cover the right set of topics, because it’s their job to find their perfect colleague. You meet the person for 30 minutes during the “on site” round, and then you largely rely on your team input for a go/no-go. You let the recruiter deal with preparing the offer and closing the candidate. And then you pray:
You pray the candidate accepts your offer. And when (s)he doesn’t, you blame the tough hiring climate, tight compensation budgets, the candidate’s poor career judgement,...
If the candidate accepts the effort, you pray (s)he works out well for the team and the projects. When (s)he doesn’t, you blame how hiring is broken and it’s impossible to find the right candidate. You lament at your team’s lack of ability to onboard the new hire and make him/her effective. You blame the hot job market for stealing your employee. And the list goes on.
I have just one question for you - what was your contribution?
As a 10xManager, you know that hiring is one the most important ways you can increase leverage within the organization. The right person can propel not just the project (s)he is assigned to, but the whole team, organization, sometimes the entire company or even the industry. So you approach this with utmost importance and urgency. You are in the mindset of “Always Be Hiring” irrespective of current budgets. You craft the vision and roadmap for your team and organization, and constantly refine it. You pitch this vision to create opportunities within the organization rather than waiting passively for budget allocation.
You believe in growing people, and if you have an opportunity that’s aligned to skills and aspirations for someone in your org - you figure out a way to give them the first dibs. Whether it’s a backfill or a new REQ, you think about the expected business impact this person is expected to have, and you work backwards from that. You review prior similar job descriptions as a reference, but craft a new one that's more inline with the state of the business today, and the skills required to succeed in this newer competitive and organizational landscape. Then you sit down with the recruiter to talk in depth about your ideal candidate. You talk about the technical skills (s)he would possess. You discuss soft skills required to excel in this role. You also consider leadership qualities and cultural values the person should bring. You assess gaps in your team, and you take D&I metrics into consideration. You view the recruiter as your partner in this search. After the first round of sourcing, you give detailed feedback to the recruiter about why a certain candidate is a good fit or a poor fit for the role - this becomes an input for the next round of sourcing which is expected to yield a better match. You take up sourcing efforts as well by posting on your LinkedIn, getting the LinkedIn Recruiter account when possible. You talk to the team, not just those who report to you, but the larger organization where you function, and encourage referrals of their ex-colleagues (Power of Teams) where they’ve had productive working relationships. If it’s not already in place, you work with HR and Finance to get the referral bonus in place to incentivize this effort.
More often than not, you’re the first call to the candidate. You assess their motivations, aptitude, cultural fit, and depth of professional accomplishments. If the person is solid, but not a good fit for your team, you take it upon yourself to find an opportunity within your organization. If the person is a good fit, you follow it up with the hiring loop. For the loop, you have an explicit discussion with the team about the role, the expectations, and areas different interviewers would cover. You make sure the questions are calibrated and offer enough depth to make a well informed decision. You wish the candidate good luck for his/her upcoming interview loop, and keep the communication line throughout the process. You make sure the team allocates sufficient time for the candidate to ask them questions about work, technology, culture, business, or anything that aids clarity in his/her decision, and most importantly you make yourself available to answer any and all questions that the candidate may have. You are also there to sell the vision, and how it helps the candidate’s career. After the interview, you collect feedback from the candidate about the whole process so far, and hold a debrief session as soon as possible while the interview experience is still fresh in your interviewers’ minds. (You would’ve expected them to fill up a detailed report of their interview notes the day of the interview anyway). Here, you listen, and listen hard. You keep your ears open for a possibly biased decision, a rushed decision, a decision that’s not supported by adequate data, a decision that doesn’t factor all components (hard skills, soft skills, leadership talent) into consideration. Take this opportunity to coach the team as needed. If the decision is to not hire this candidate, you try to give him/her as detailed feedback as possible per your company policy - the goal is to help the candidate identify possible growth areas so that (s)he is successful in future interviews. Should you choose to go ahead with the hire decision, you work with the recruiter and the finance team to review possible options for the offer, and get a pre-approval on a range, for the base, stocks, and other parameters. This would help you avoid back and forth, and come up with an offer that matches the candidate's expectations rapidly. You continue to communicate with the candidate about the prospects of the project, the team and the organization. You sell him the whole story - the comp, the benefits, the career growth, and ideally a personal success.
You know, as the hiring manager, you play the most pivotal role in getting the Accept, and you’re relentless in this pursuit. If the candidate rejects your offer, you dig deep into the reasons, and use it as an opportunity to improve your pitch, your interviews, benefits and compensation structure at your company, and anything else you believe could have influenced the decision in your favor while also aligning with company priorities. If the candidate accepts, you know your job is not done yet. You have a new job now - making sure the candidate has the best onboarding experience. You partner with various onboarding organizations to make sure the candidate continues to receive stellar support. Once the candidate joins your team, and becomes a new hire, you make sure the new hire is welcomed and well integrated in your team. You lead the cultural assimilation, stakeholder introductions, job related training, and everything else the new hire would need to feel energized, effective, happy and accomplished. You encourage peer mentorship, and recognize this as part of a key deliverable for the peer who is responsible for mentoring. You create a crisp 30-60-90 day plan for the new hire - both to craft a direction, and also to set expectations. You set up regular 1:1s to ensure the new hire is well supported throughout the process and iron out all the wrinkles in the process.
To hire the best, you start with vision and make it current, you influence budget, you partner with the recruiter and drive accountability, you lead an unbiased data driven interview experience, you drive timely and precise follow ups with the candidate, you leverage and improve the onboarding processes, you set the new hire for success through meticulous planning, all the while keeping the communication channels open. And only then, you can wish for a 10xHire!