5 Things Getting in Your Way of Making Great Hires

If you’re you’re screening and meeting candidate upon candidate and still not making a hire, it’s probably time to take a look at the bottlenecks in your recruitment process.

In startup and expansion-stage companies, hiring happens both quickly and strategically. At least, that’s the ideal scenario. It’s actually an incredibly tricky balance to pull off. Yes, at this stage every hire is crucial, and yes, the time and effort put into every search will help the company move forward. But that time and effort will also be taken away from work that could have been done instead. That’s why it’s incredibly important for the hiring process at these companies to be managed as successfully and as efficiently as possible.
Let’s face it — every company has someone or something preventing them from closing jobs as effectively as they’d like. Ignoring whoever or whatever that is only adds to the problem as you continue to scale. You need to actively review your process for bottlenecks, and begin making conscious decisions about what you can change. Here are just a few examples of common bottlenecks I come across that may or may not be slowing down your hiring process, as well.
5 Startup Hiring Mistakes Getting in the Way of Great Hires

1) Your Hiring Technology is Non-Existent (Or Just Plain Terrible)

You can’t keep track of candidates who have applied on your website or candidates you’re sourcing. You can’t figure out who needs a phone screen or a rejection email. You marked the wrong resume for the incorrect job.
At this point, there is no excuse for not having a solid in-house applicant tracking system (ATS). While each one comes with pain points, they all drastically improve the process, especially when you start with nothing.
Here are just a few options to consider for starters:

There is something out there that will work for your company and the hiring process you have in place. More importantly, if you don’t already have an organized hiring process in place, it will force you to start creating one! While there isn’t a perfect system, the point of these products is to make your life easier. They all offer software built to do the annoying work for you — so let it! It will save everyone — HR, Talent Acquisition, candidates, hiring managers — a lot of time.

2) You Don’t Know What You Really Want

How long has this job been open? How many different profiles have you looked at? How frequently have the qualifications strayed from your original job spec? What role are your really looking to fill? What do you actually want this person to be doing? What’s the MOST important thing this person will do for you and your company once they’re on board?
These are all questions that should be answered before you begin a search. If they’re not clearly defined then you shouldn’t be looking for candidates. Of course, it’s okay to pivot on a search once you begin speaking with candidates, especially since it might show you what you were missing with your original search. However, if you’re changing your mind every other week, no one is going to be able to keep up, and all parties are going to end up frustrated that the role isn’t filled.
Keep as much consistency as you can. The profile, the background, the years of experience shouldn’t vary all that much. If you’re looking for someone in a 3-5 years of experience range, don’t tell your HR/Talent team that you’d like to speak with candidates at Director levels and above. Even more importantly, if your budget dictates a certain level of experience, stop interviewing candidates outside of it! Figure out what you want first, then go get it.

3) You Aren’t Communicating

Transparency is quickly becoming one of my least favorite words, if only because it’s overused. That said, trendiness doesn’t make it any less important. We harp on being transparent as firms and companies and look to be as direct as possible with numbers, policies and changes. Why then, are we not doing the same when it comes to making hires?
It’s great that you’ve laid out the qualifications of the candidate, the soft skills, the culture fit, and anything and everything else that might come into play for you as you look to scale a team. Just remember, you’re not the only one interviewing this candidate. If you’re sending candidates in to meet with a team who thinks they’re looking for X when really you’re looking for Y and Z, a hire will never be made. Additionally, if you have anything you’re looking to dive deeper on, or specific skills and traits you’re trying to identify, your team should be made aware before they meet a candidate, not after. You should be communicating exactly what you need from the hire and what information each person needs to gather to help the process.

4) Your Interview Process is Insane

  • Phone screen
  • interview 1
  • interview 2
  • interview day
  • final interview
  • references
  • extend offer

Let’s back up, because your interviewing process is getting out of control.
The golden rule here is that it should be clear and concise from the get go. And your candidate should know what it looks like and be able to easily follow along. Who does the phone interview? What are two or three goals of that call to ensure we can or can’t move a candidate forward? Who is scheduling on-sites? Who is involved in that process, and — more importantly — why are they involved? Are you conducting reference checks? Who is doing them and are you asking the right questions?
If you’re not making sure that all of these questions are taken care of from the very beginning, hiring will never be successful and you’ll be wasting everyone’s time. Step 1: Define your process. Step 2: Make a ton of incredible hires.

5) You’re Looking for a Unicorn

I get it. We all want the best. But at what point does it become a waste of time to be on the never-ending search for the perfect hire?
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: You post a job and you get a bunch of responses. You do phone screens and meet candidates who seem like a perfectly good fit and who could probably do the job well. But something’s missing. They just don’t wow you (and you really want to be wowed). You pass on the candidates. After all, there are plenty of fish in the sea. So the search goes on. And on. And on. You and your team end up spending months after months on phone calls and interviews, distracted from all the work you were actually brought on board to accomplish, and after a while you find yourself thinking back to some of those very first candidates and how you wish you’d never let them get away.
Why don’t you do yourself and everyone else a favor? Stop chasing that perfect candidate (who doesn’t exist) and hire that really good candidate who wants to learn and grow under you, instead. As a manager, you should pride yourself on the development of talent on your team. Besides, if every candidate you look for has nothing left to learn, what is there to gain for them? I’m not suggesting you lower your standards, but you should want to hire people who can grow and help others do the same.

Bottom Line: Not Every Process is Perfect

It will take time to iron out the details as your company begins to scale. We’ve all had growing pains with our calls and interviews. The important thing is to start identifying issues sooner rather than later to ensure you’re not making the same mistakes over and over again.
What do you think? What are some bottlenecks in your process? How are you addressing them?

 What More Tips on Streamlining Your Hiring Process?

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Photo by: Ze’ev Barkan

Katelyn LaGarde
Katelyn LaGarde
Recruiter, Sales & Marketing

Katelyn Lagarde is a recruiter at CloudHealth. She was previously a Talent Specialist at OpenView.
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