Here’s my list of for how to improve the absurd interview process and increase the chances of hiring success:
Skill. Candidates should be honest about what they can and can’t do, as employers should be honest about how much bandwidth they have to mentor and teach team members.
Candidates should also be honest about the pace at which they can learn and work. Like many startups, our team operates at a pace that would make most people’s head spin. If you can’t keep up, it will become apparent very quickly. By making the pace clear to candidates, most startups can help candidates self-screen themselves out if they aren’t comfortable working at light speed.
Culture. Company culture is touted by many startups as one of their main assets to attract skilled team members. When a candidate asks you to describe your company culture, provide not only characteristics, but concrete examples of interactions in which team members displayed these characteristics.
For example, one of our company values is “We Jibe.” To us, jibing means making an active effort to work well with one another. We recently had to shift around some responsibilities and redefine roles to better fit the state of our team. The number one concern as we rolled it out was not “how does this impact me” but “how does everyone else feel about this”.
I knew when that was the feedback we were getting we had the kind of resilient team and supportive team we need to build a great company. By differentiating your culture from common buzzwords, you will deter candidates who aren’t the right fit and attract folks who will excel.
Environment. Lay bare the good, the bad and the ugly. Employers should be completely transparent about what the hours are like and what resources will be available to the team. If you’re at a startup that’s trying to launch a product, it is likely unrealistic to sell a candidate on work/ life balance. The effort involved in building a business from the ground up requires most candidates to go beyond the normal work day and even requires employees to assert boundaries in order to maintain a sustainable work pace.
Being on the ground floor of something incredible is one of the main draws of joining a scrappy tech startup. But the tremendous amount of work and “roll up your sleeves” mentality is not something that everyone is game for at every point in their life. Keep it real and make sure everyone is ready to go go go.
Make it clear to candidates that you want the interview process to be as transparent as possible by demonstrating your own transparency early and often. Getting real about skills, culture and work environment will enable an interview process that leads to the optimum outcome for both the company and the candidate.