Hire Top Candidates in 21 Days or Less. Here's How

Below is the third in a series of guest posts on hiring from Keith Cline, founder of VentureFizz, a website about technology and entrepreneurship in Boston. Read Keith's first guest post here and second guest post here. Keith has fourteen years of experience in the start-up recruiting industry. He is also the founder of Dissero, a recruiting firm focused on early to mid-stage venture-backed technology companies. Follow him on Twitter @kcline6 or @VentureFizz.


Hire Top Candidates in 21 Days or Less. Here's How

By Keith Cline

As they say in sales: "Time kills all deals."  But the statement applies to recruiting, too.

Here's a dreadful scenario you'll find familiar. You and your team spend countless hours interviewing candidates to narrow down the field to a perfect hire. A smile is on your face because you can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. But then you're blindsided when the candidate takes an offer with another company. To make matters worse, you had let your candidate pipeline disappear because you thought you had "the one." 

This costs your company a lot of money--not only in dollars, but time spent interviewing, and lost productivity--and you still haven't hired that critical person to help move your company forward.

When the interview process gets drawn out, the odds also start to stack against you. You're not the only one targeting top-tier talent, so other people are knocking on the same candidates doors. If too much time passes, it's common for a candidate to lose excitement about your company and the desire to work there. Candidates may wonder if you're just shopping around, hoping for a better candidate to come along. No one wants to be a "safety."

Here are some pointers to help you hire fast:

1. Plan out--but don't overthink--the interview process.

Your hiring process should be thorough, but not drawn out. Before you start interviewing candidates, take time to think about how you'll go about it and who should conduct interviews. Make sure each interviewer's perspective is needed, and that you're all on the same page about how to discuss your company and the open position. Candidates pick up inconsistencies as red flags. Determine a role for each interviewer, so that each person will cover a different part of the candidate's background. This will help keep the conversations fresh and will ultimately cover more ground. What's more: the candidate will appreciate not telling the same story over and over.

2. Eliminate any unnecessary steps. 

An initial phone interview can be useful if a candidate's experience is questionable, or someone is traveling. Otherwise, just bring the candidate in. 

3. Debrief right away.

After each interview, schedule a debrief, during which all interviewers come together to describe that they think of the candidate. It could be a stand-up, "scrum-like" feedback session: quick and to the point.

4. Keep the momentum going.

Hiring should be one of your top priorities, so act that way, and set aside time to meet with candidates--and the interview team--as quickly as possible.

Paul English, CTO and co-founder of Kayak.com, has a seven-day rule. He tries to make a job offer within seven days of anyone on his team hearing about a candidate. While this might be difficult for most companies to pull off, the process shouldn't take more than two or three weeks--max.

5. Communicate constantly.

Someone from your company should be in frequent contact with the candidate to maintain an open flow of communication. After your internal feedback session, get back to the candidate within 24 hours to let him or her know how things went and next steps, if any.

When you spot talent, accelerate the hiring process, and don't delay. I'm not suggesting a knee-jerk reaction because you still need to be thorough and do a proper evaluation. But you should give a candidate a sense of "Wow, we like you!" and reassurance that he or she is your No. 1 priority. In turn, he or she will be impressed with how agile your company moves--and your ability to make decisions quickly.

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