I’ve given advice to candidates, but this advice is for myself and other hiring managers. One key reality is that candidates often have multiple offers and you need to create a great experience for them. The goal is to make the candidate WANT to work for you. You have to stand out. Here are some tips:
Respond Faster from the Hiring Manager
Generally, the applicant applies and then waits for a long time. You can easily stand out if you respond within 2-3 business days. It’s meaningless to send an automated email from a faceless source. I’m saying to actually review candidates faster and keep up with them incoming leads. You might say, “But Glen! I have a full time job in addition to recruiting!” My answer is that recruiting is the most important thing you could possibly be doing. You are creating the next generation of employees in your company. I spend between 50-70% of my day on recruiting when I have open positions.
Keep in mind, you often will lose your headcount if you don’t successfully hire people. Take this part of your job way more seriously and obsessively.
Use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)
An ATS is crucial to manage a large influx of resumes and candidates. I use Lever for my applicant tracking system (ATS). It has templated emails that I can use to reject or ask followup questions or even invite to speak with me via zoom. You can craft your process and manage it quickly. It even has a chrome extension for LinkedIn that makes many tasks easier to do.
Use a Calendar App for Scheduling
Structure Your Interviews
Too often, people come in and meet 6 different people who all ask the exact same question. By the end, the candidate is numb and feeling rotten. Instead break up your interviews into more interesting phases. For me it looks like this:
- Design Exercise – 60 min with 2 designers
- Lunch with live feedback
- Portfolio review – 60 min with 2 different designers
If they do well, then the design team is saying “We think they are a hire!” So I bring them in for Round 2 with other folks like PM, QA, and Engineering. Those meetings are for an overall second opinion, but also to sell the company to the candidate.
The bottom line is don’t let everyone ask the same questions. Coordinate and break up the expectations so the candidate feels the day is fruitful.
Don’t Interrogate, Collaborate
Too many questions feel like you are being tortured by a KGB agent. This is often true of Engineers when they interview. It’s almost a hazing ritual. Instead, create a collaborative environment that allows people to answer two simple questions:
- What’s it like to work with this person?
- Will they be productive and successful in our culture?
Give Sensible Feedback
When I was looking for work, I received almost zero feedback. It’s a lawsuit mentality. “Don’t say anything that will get us in trouble!” I am sure there are people who have given terrible feedback like “You are too old!” However, candidates crave insight into what is happening. This is an opportunity to shine as opposed to a risk of failure. I am a believer in Radical Candor. You can be positive and constructive without being demeaning or dismissive. Feedback comes from a place of caring and empathy where you want the candidate to succeed.
DISCLAIMER: This is possibly a contentious one and you should make sure you understand the laws of your state and policies of your company. At the end of the day, we are all people and I advocate treating each other like humans and not potential lawsuits.
Empathize with Candidates
I find recruiting to be emotionally draining. It keeps me up at night worrying about false negatives and false positives. I worry about candidates that I reject and what will happen to them. I often offer mentoring to candidates whom I think have potential, but aren’t a good fit to hire. I give them suggestions and feedback on their portfolios and how to move their career forward. I share with them my own rejection stories to make them feel that hope is warranted. Doing all of this comes at an emotional cost, but I believe it is worth it. An example of an email I received:
This means alot to me. I spend time writing the replies and customizing them. I care about the candidates and want to put energy into helping them. I can’t hire everyone, but I can treat them with dignity and respect. You get when you give.
The truth is that we spend alot of time at work and we develop bonds with our coworkers. Hiring great people is the best way to have company success. The best perk is that you like the people you work with. Hiring is by far the most important thing you can do! Take it seriously. Take it personally. Good Luck.
By the way, Im hiring 5 designers in 2019!