An End-to-End Hiring Process
Hiring is a muscle an organization builds over time, so it’s critical to put a process in place earlier rather than later. Having a clearly defined hiring process can help early startups avoid costly and destabilizing hiring mistakes. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to recruiting and each company develops their own process to aligns with their unique culture, but here’s one high-level breakdown of an end-to-end recruiting process for early hires:
- Identify the need for a new position
- Write a job description for the new role or get a job description from the Hiring Manager
- Select the interview team
- Approve the salary range from Hiring Manager
1. Pre-screen interview (see pre-screen guide with questions) with recruiter. Forward the candidate to the hiring manager if all looks good.
2. Hiring Manager reviews resume and relevant data points (i.e. portfolio review for UX/UI engineer,* quota and revenue targets for sales hires**).
3. Hiring Manager does an initial phone or in-person interview. Don’t let schedules be a deterrent. Do a video call if needed and work around the candidate’s schedule to demonstrate how interested you are. Make sure to ask level-appropriate questions.
- Example: If you are looking for a Software Architect, asking a question around data structures and algorithms would not be appropriate. The candidate might be rusty, causing you to reject a potentially strong candidate. You also risk offending an experienced candidate by asking questions that are too basic.
4. Schedule the on-site interview and pre-sync with the interview team before the onsite to make sure everyone is on the same page.
- Assign specific questions for each interviewer to ask.
- Each interview should be 1 hour (45 min for the interviewer, 15 min for the candidate to ask questions). There should be at least 2 technical and 1 cultural interview.
- Limit to no more than 5 interviews in a day. (More than this, and the candidate will start to tire, and the interview quality will go down. It’s also unlikely you’ll learn anything more in 6 hours vs. 5.)
- Have the Hiring Manager or Founder go last.
- Provide lunch for the candidate so they can get a sense of the company culture. If the interview doesn't fall during lunch, have one session be centered around culture where the candidate can ask any questions they might have.
5. Track all the feedback throughout the day and require interviewers to give a “yes” or “no” immediately after each interview.
- If everything is positive, tell the founder so their session can be a pure sell of the company
- Example: At AppDynamics, founder Jyoti Bansal would talk to any candidate, regardless of level. They would walk away impressed by his enthusiasm and the concrete plans he had for the business.
6. Debrief with the whole interview team no later than 24 hours after the on-site interview. Let the candidate know either way, whether it’s a rejection or an offer ASAP.
7. Reference review/backchanneling can be useful, but takes up valuable time. If you’re going to do a backchannel reference, start from the minute the candidate's resume is submitted so you don’t bottleneck the process.
*The majority of UX/UI engineers want to work on Consumer products. The challenge with UI/UX is finding someone who has SaaS experience and is motivated to work on an Enterprise product.
**For sales roles especially, make sure you understand their compensation expectations before you bring them in for an on-site interview. If you can’t do that, continuing the conversation might be a waste of time.
- Make sure the recruiter or whoever conducts the initial outreach conducts the pre-screen before the formal interview process begins. This helps disqualify any candidates who might not be a good fit.
- If possible, keep the hiring process to 1 technical interview (2 for remote candidates) and 1 onsite interview.
- The interview team should pre-sync ahead of the on-site interview and re-convene no later than 24 hours after the onsite interview to debrief.
- Have the founder go last and if all is going well, let them know so they can be in pure selling mode.
- Be mindful of asking questions that are appropriate for the candidate’s experience level and remember to provide the opportunity for them to ask any questions they might have about the role or company culture.
- Be transparent throughout the process and make the offer in a timely manner.