A simple 3 stage process that’s a win for top talent.
Hiring top talent for a fast-growing company can be a challenging task with increasing competition, talent gaps and rising salary expectations all adding to the complexity. But could there be something else putting a brake on your growth – your own engagement and interview process?
A lengthy, complicated hiring process could be turning talent away quicker than you realise. The good news is, that you can turn this around by optimising your interviews and standardising how you interview talent across your business.
Let’s be clear, the talent you want to power your growth is not proactively looking to change companies. Even in an industry downturn, it’s often a fact that the best talent is probably not looking to proactively change.
Actually, around 70% of talent is passive1, which is why presenting a clearly structured interview procedure is essential. Designing your interviews to encourage already employed, busy, potential hires to commence the process is essential.
Creating a process with numerous interview rounds is likely a huge red flag for the top talent you seek2. Remember, good people, understand their skill and value, and will almost certainly be put off by a long list of upcoming interview stages with multiple stakeholders.
Why do too many interviews cost you talent?
- Discourages talent from the beginning of the process.
- Is impractical for the engagement of passive talent.
- Slows acquisition of talent in a competitive market where timing is critical.
- Unstructured and complex process breaks candidate expectations which in turn kills commitment.
- Often leads to a negative impact on employer brand. 3
How to create a 3-round interview process to engage talent.
- Create and agree on the internal process before you begin to engage talent. It’s essential that individual stakeholder involvement should be defined from the start.
- Most importantly there should always be an ultimate decision-maker. Hiring by consensus often leads to an elongated process – negative for candidate experience.
- Each interview stage should have a clear goal and agenda with clarity on what competencies are being assessed.
First Interview – Elevate & Qualify
Lead by: Talent Success Manager, Recruiter.
Purpose of the interview: Much more than “the introduction”.
Central to the first interview is the qualification and assessment of a person’s experience and abilities in-line with expected competencies. However, as important, is the opportunity to elevate company values, the mission and a person’s possible forward career path.
Locking in a person’s interest in this phase is as important as qualifying their capabilities.
Simply asking a list of predefined questions misses a significant opportunity here. Elevating your employer’s brand alongside the role and career path is a priority, particularly in a deeply competitive technology market. Securing interest and commitment to progress through the process is important.
Talent Success Managers and recruiters need to be prepared to positively position the business, whilst elevating the opportunity versus other roles that top talent is likely evaluating.
Genuinely understanding the internal organisational need is essential. Having a dynamic understanding of what success would look like to someone in the role is paramount. Being able to articulate how to excel in any role creates the clarity people need to outline their most relevant skills and experience.
At this stage also remember qualification is critical, in particular – compensation, pension schemes, car allowances and holiday entitlements may all seem like things that can wait till the end of the process, but they can’t.
Qualify early and ensure that budget and expectations are aligned. Significant amounts of time can be lost and expectations are broken through misalignment at this stage.
- Elevate the organisation and opportunity by defining the cultural values, mission and individual career pathBe able to define what success in any role looks likeDouble and triple qualify critical details.
Second Round – Define short-term fit but plan longer term.
Lead by: Hiring Manager
Purpose of the interview: Does this person have the necessary attributes to be an asset in my team?
The second interview is probably the most important in the process and by the end of the interview, both the hiring manager and talent should have a clear understanding as to whether there is a career match.
In almost any role other than entry-level hiring, it’s important to qualify an individual’s previous experience to understand whether they have personally delivered similar tasks or outcomes. Evidence of a person having delivered in multiple relevant areas may indicate a person with high-performance traits capable of becoming a significant asset to the business.
Define whether someone not only has the short-term capability to outperform in a role but also the ability to scale within your organisation long term. “Overhiring” in a specific position may lead to a person becoming disenfranchised with the mission. Assess whether the role and forward career path have enough relevance to keep someone motivated long-term.
Design interview questions with stakeholders that allow talent to demonstrate strengths and admit potential weaknesses. Don’t ask misleading or unnecessarily complicated questions as you are sure to get similar answers in reply.
For technical roles, this is the perfect time for testing specific technical skill sets. Paired programming exercises, including technical problem-solving challenges, can really underline someone’s technical level and capability. It’s important that these activities should be conducted within the time set aside for the interview.
There are many purpose-built platforms available such as Codesignal that enable technical competency to be assessed in real-time. We strongly advocate not to assign your talent pipeline with “take home” technical tasks or other forms of homework.
Remember – the best talent – the people that can make a difference in your team – are unlikely going to commit to complexity. As a rule of thumb, the commitment of candidates’ time should be equitable to that of the overall hiring team.
Don’t expect great talent to over-commit their time because they likely won’t and it’s ultimately your team that loses out. Avoid being left in a position, evaluating underwhelming talent, just because these are the only people prepared to commit their time and interest to tasks that disengage the best people.
- Prepare open interview questions to allow talent to shine.
- Resist the temptation to “over hire” – people should have room to grow.
- Assess experience but be focused on motivation and drivers to understand long-term fit.
Final round – Cultural Ambition
Lead by Founder or Leadership Function.
Purpose of the interview: Is this person a Cultural asset to our team?
“Past performance does not guarantee future results” is a common phrase in the financial industry and it’s also very true when qualifying top talent. Once an experience fit has been established it’s essential to qualify cultural perspectives. Understanding a person’s mindset, personal drivers and motivations is a really important aspect of an interview process, particularly in a fast growth business. It’s important because what you learn will provide the key to how to motivate and get the best out of someone once they are part of your team.
Assign the role of culture guardian to the stakeholder conducting the final interview. This person should have a definitive voice on whether a person is a good fit for the organisational culture – someone deeply immersed in the mission and values of the business. In an early-stage company, it’s common for a leader, perhaps the CEO or COO to undertake this interview stage. As with the first interview, this is a crucial stage in the process as it provides an excellent opportunity to lay out expectations for the role and responsibilities ahead.
There are numerous high-performance behaviours that are often requested by remote-first companies such as open communication, a sense of personal ownership and a drive to deliver on shared goals. Put thought into what is important for your culture and how you should go about assessing these traits.
Expect high-performing talent to utilise this stage to ask questions of senior executives or founders. Embrace this, as in turn – it generates the opportunity to create “buy-in” around the strategy and shared journey to come. Be ready to differentiate the organisation and have a clear understanding as to why someone should be excited to join.
Think how you would want to feel on the other side of the desk. Create the vision and be excited, this may well be a career-defining moment for the talent on both sides of the desk!
- Understand unique motivations and drivers.
- Discover personal values and behaviours.
- A sense of shared journey creates engagement.
Offer and Onboarding
In addition to delivering the news that you would like to hire someone to your team – tell them why. This is surprisingly often overlooked. Taking time to explain to someone why they are a fit is really important as it gives people a clear explanation on what they have done well and how they can harness this when employed by you in the future.
The recruitment function should have an important part to play in offering and onboarding, but Hiring Managers should also be ready to re-engage at this stage to finalise any unclear points or expectations.
This is where the qualification from stage one becomes super important.
- Be open, expect a person to need clarification to also negotiate.
- Be clear and precise in all communications – misunderstandings at this stage can often lead to negative outcomes.
- Be clear and direct and be careful to verbally commit to things that cannot be contractually delivered.
- Set clear expectations around resignation and start date and be available for people as they progress through these stages towards their joining date.
Implement these steps fast and see how it not only positively impacts your hiring volume but also the percentage of high performers you hire over time.