An Agile Framework for Improving Your Hiring Process
The job interview process can be intimidating, challenging, and frustrating—and not just for the candidate. In many organizations, it seems that surprisingly little thought goes into interviewing, and the consequence is consistently hiring people who lack certain key skills.
While it may be impossible to make the process of selecting someone to join your team totally qualitative, there are things you can do to make the interview process more effective.
Hiring is expensive, so adopting a framework to help you screen candidates can save you a lot of time once resumes start flowing in. However, much like adopting Scrum to improve your software development, following a framework won’t magically guarantee perfect results—the results depend on the thought you put into applying the steps. But a framework will give you the tools to start off better, and to improve over time.
There are a number of approaches to hiring, and I’ve found Johanna Rothman’s advice in her pragmatic book Hiring Geeks That Fit to be straightforward and effective. While there is more to Rothman’s advice than can be summarized in a short article, there are two elements that many teams can benefit from immediately.
First, understand your needs and wants, and know the difference. This sounds obvious, but many job descriptions contain a long list of skills, some of which may not even be relevant, while still managing to exclude some that are essential. Rothman suggests starting the process of writing a job description by doing a job analysis to help you understand what kind of work the person will be doing and which skills are essential, as opposed to merely desirable, to get this work done. Preparing the analysis may not lead to a perfect job description, but the process of doing the analysis will help you, and others in your organization, gain a better understanding of the role you are hiring for, and it will inform the process of screening resumes and interviewing.
Once you understand your needs, the next step is to decide how to evaluate the candidate in the context of those needs. An interview matrix can help you identify whether you have questions that address all of your key areas, giving you a sanity check on whether the questions are actually relevant. A historically favorite question might be fun to ask but may not actually yield useful information. The matrix can also help you identify whether your process has the right mix of audition questions, which approximate work situations (coding, for example), and behavioral questions, which provide insight into past experience (“Tell me about a time when …”). The mix matters, as each kind of question provides different information.
There is much more you can do to hire more effectively, though I suspect that all good hiring processes start with this kind of analysis and how the interview questions map to it. Having a thoughtful interview process will also place the organization in a more positive light, regardless of the eventual outcome of the interview, which can help improve the candidate pipeline.