5 Key Steps in the Hiring Process at an Expansion-Stage Company

July 14, 2012

How does the hiring process work at an expansion-stage company? Hiring for a company at such a critical point in its development can vary from hiring at a large corporation. Newly hired employees at an expansion-stage company can’t simply blend in and be another number; the responsibility and visibility of their role is much greater than that.

So what goes into hiring? Mainly it’s a process of screening, scrutiny, and references.

First off is the Search: The recruiter(s) working on the role will map out companies to target candidates from. Once a target list has been compiled of companies of the same size, scale, and industry as the company they are recruiting for, they will use various methods to contact candidates from the target list. The job may or may not be posted to online job boards and if so, inbound resumes will be considered as well.

Secondly is Screening: Once an ideal candidate has been contacted and displays interest in the job at hand, the screening process begins. Typically, screening will start with a 15-30 minute phone call with a recruiter or other HR professional. Soft skills are assessed just as much as hard skills during this time. What is the candidate’s phone presence like? Is he polite? How are her emails? Can he answer questions clearly and concisely without too much rambling? Is she able to explain why she left previous positions? Would he fit well into the culture at this company?

After the initial screening phase, usually a follow-up phone screen is set up with the hiring manger of the role. During this screen, technical and role-specific skill sets will be more actively assessed. The hiring manager will also be sure to feel out whether this candidate would mesh well with the team. After all, culture is highly important to the success of a start up or expansion-stage company.

Next is the Interview: This is pretty straightforward. The hiring manager has spoken with his superiors and is ready to give the candidate a true shot at getting hired. At this point the candidate is on a good track, and as long as she is true to how she described herself in the screening sessions and shows a positive attitude and energy, she will most likely be asked for a final interview.

Depending on the type of position, the hiring process typically follows a 8:4:1 ratio:

# of candidates screened / # of candidates interviewed / # of candidates hired/an offer extended to

This is great to keep in mind as both the candidate and the hiring manager. After taking a look at eight candidates the recruiter has sent you decide to invite four in to interview – and you’re on the right track!

A decision has been made! But first – References: Sure, reaching out to the references the candidate provided is all great and well, but will that truly provide accurate insight a candidate’s past? I have found that back-door references are very much the norm for hiring into expansion-stage companies. The management team typically has a lot of connections; they can and will reach out to someone in their network who has worked at the same company as the candidate to get the full scoop. It’s not meant be sneaky; it’s to protect the sanctity of the hires for their company.

Last, but not least is the Offer: All of the information initially disclosed from the candidate regarding his or her compensation is taken into consideration. An offer from an expansion-stage company is normally extremely fair and competitive. I have recruited for a Fortune 50 company in the past and based upon several factors, the compensation package was at about the bare minimum they could possibly afford. From my experience working with OpenView’s portfolio of expansion-stage technology companies, that is not the case at all! This hammers home the point that companies in this stage are truly looking for top talent in order to increase their value as a company, and will pay to do so.

Have you interviewed or worked for an expansion-stage company? What opinions would you offer to improve the hiring process?

Recruiting Lead - Software

<strong>Katy Smigowski</strong> is the Recruiting Lead-Software at <a href="https://www.fitbit.com/">Fitbit</a>, where she is directly managing sourcing team, recruiting process and recruiting strategy dedicated to driving software hiring in our Boston office. Prior to Fitbit, she was a Talent Specialist at OpenView responsible for recruiting initiatives for both the firm and its portfolio companies.