Company growth is a great indicator of performance, however without extra care and oversight this can turn into a high-pressure process with lots of firefighting involved.

More often than not, when there is rapid growth, there will be new teams to create and hire, demand for various skill sets and seniority levels, and with all the extra details, it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture.

You want to make sure all the roles have been hired for while continuing with product delivery as normal. However if this is rushed and you don’t hire the right people, you run a risk of burning out your current employees and having low retention rates due to the rapid growth the business is experiencing.

It is therefore important to dedicate time to refining the hiring process. As such, here are my top three tips for scaling your hiring process effectively:  

Tip 1: Assess Your Recruitment Strategy

The first phase of hiring at scale is your recruitment strategy. It is extremely important and worth investing in as early on as possible. You should create a well-defined and thought-out recruitment process to help you understand how to attract the best talent.

Remember: Hiring at scale is not the same as hiring quickly and carelessly.

Phases further on in the hiring process such as the interview stages or onboarding (especially when scaled) will require a lot of input and additional hours during the week. This will mean that the individuals in your engineering department will have less time to focus on their day-to-day responsibilities, therefore it is very important to get the recruitment strategy in a good position.

So how are you planning to recruit talent at scale? With so many different options – for example, building your internal tech talent team, working with external recruitment agencies or relying on referrals – it is essential to consider the performance and values of the recruitment teams you’re planning to work with.

As a hiring manager, think about the following:

  • Have the talent team(s) been provided with a hiring brief?
  • What can you provide the talent team(s) with to help them understand the calibre of candidates you are looking for?
  • How do the talent team(s) like to communicate hiring updates? How can you collaborate effectively?

Miscommunication leads to a poor candidate experience, mistakes and unrealistic expectations. The earlier you can build a strong relationship with your talent teams, the more transparent and open the conversations will be. 🤝

  • What do these external talent team(s) value? If you care about diversity, equity and inclusion, does the team have a track record of meeting these expectations?

In 2020, a study showed that referrals were four times more likely to be hired. When using referral schemes, hiring managers should ask themselves:

  • Are we fast tracking candidates that have come through our referral scheme? If so, you are likely to create bias in your hiring strategy.
    • Tip 💡: Mitigate the fast-tracking of referrals. Make sure the interview process is consistent across all candidates.
  • How are we rewarding employees that provide referrals? How can we encourage our full-time employees to recommend new hires to our company?

A company’s recruitment strategy is crucial to the attraction and retention of full-time employees. Putting the right strategies in place might take time but it is necessary.

Tip 2: Redefine Your Interview Process

The second phase of hiring at scale is your interview process. Building this process to become more reliable and efficient in this step is critical for scalability. Interviews are expensive for your employees as well as the candidates applying. Whether it’s taking place face-to-face or virtually, a significant amount of time is spent on the interview process; so the earlier you realise a candidate isn’t suited for the role, the better.

For each interview stage, look for ways to make the process efficient. Instead of turning the interview stages into a tick-box exercise, you must ensure a streamlined approach across all stages to reduce complexity and increase clarity for the interviewers.

  • Tighten up those interview questions! Looking for specific strengths due to the responsibilities of the role or perhaps the requirements of the team the candidate will be joining? Bring those questions to the first stages of the interview process to surface any strengths or concerns earlier in the process.
  • Provide interview training for your employees
    • 🧠 : Increase the number of people available for interviews. This will reduce burnout across your employees and provide useful experience to those who haven’t had the chance to get involved yet.
    • 💡 : Diversify the interview panels. This is how you represent your company so make sure you’re conveying the right message. A non-inclusive panel can be seen as a sign of a non-inclusive workplace. (Also beware of burnout risk here: if you have only one woman in your engineering team they may end up carrying the burden of a heavy interview schedule)
  • Make feedback easy and quick to complete. Feedback is an important part of the interview process, as you scale your hiring process the amount of feedback employees and talent team(s) will read or submit will rapidly increase, so make it easy and quick to complete. The feedback should satisfy a criteria set by your team, outlining what you are looking for such as knowledge, skillset, values, motivations etc. and should be transparent. Avoid referring to candidates’ names or protected categories such as sex and gender identity to reduce bias in the feedback process.

Tip 3: Create A Smooth Onboarding Process

The third phase of hiring at scale is your onboarding process. As your company grows, you will want to automate the onboarding process as much as possible to reduce human error. For example, a line manager that rapidly goes from three-to-15 line reports will have a lot to organise within the onboarding strategy. Introducing HR and management tools will improve the experience for your managers, any employees involved in the onboarding process and most importantly, the new hire.

As a hiring manager, think about the following:

  • What processes can we automate? What systems will the new hire need access to? If there are some systems that take longer to be approved, submit approval requests earlier on to ensure everything your new hire requires is ready on day one.
  • How many people are joining on the same day or in the same month?
    • 💡 : Group onboarding meetings. This is one way to reduce the number of meetings in everyone’s schedule. This will also prevent new hires from feeling isolated as they will meet new employees and start to build new connections.
  • How have we organised the workload for the team and the individual joining?
    • 🧠 : Team allocation. Before the new hire has joined, have discussions with the relevant team members to plan where they will be placed in their first 90 days (at least).
  • Onboarding new hires successfully can take months. This involves a lot of collaborative working (pair programming), demos, knowledge sharing and collaboration which is great for the team culture and building rapport. However, for each new hire this will significantly reduce the number of hours your team is focused on their day-to-day responsibilities (i.e. project work) so factor this into deadlines and roadmaps.

    When this isn’t considered, you run the risk of burning out your team members and negatively impacting morale.
    • 💡 : Let teams know about new hires in advance if they weren’t involved in the hiring process. By giving onboarding buddies and engineering teams a heads up, you will give everyone plenty of time to collaborate and share ideas for your onboarding plans.
    • 💡 : Make onboarding interesting and engaging. Provide the new hire with tasks to help them collaborate with the team and develop their domain knowledge earlier on. The earlier they feel that they are contributing to the team and developing in their role, the more exciting their probation period will be.

Final Thoughts

Scaling your business will be challenging! To do it successfully you will need to look at all the different stages that can impact your scale-up strategy. This guide only touches on the hiring process; also consider areas such as forming engineering teams, people management, retention and career progression as your business encounters rapid growth.

By following the strategies in this guide as well as learning from the challenges businesses are (or were) facing, you will be able to develop best practices and effectively scale your hiring process.

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Want to hear even more about hiring? We’ll be covering all this and other great topics at our forthcoming CTO Craft Con Winter 2021, 8th – 11th November. Get your ticket here now!

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