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Structured Hiring

Jill Macri

At GBD Talent we conduct a lot of interviewer and hiring manager training in companies, and in that work we get to look under the hood at many different interview processes.  We are impressed by the thoughtful investment companies are making in their interviews but we have noticed that there is a simple structural thing that is often overlooked. Something that we believe should be the north star that guides any interview process from beginning to end.

This seems simple, and it is. When we assess interview processes we often find a more complicated model in place with extra interviews, attributes being assessed that are not explicitly called out as requirements for the job, and quite a few interviews that sound like “do you like them?” interviews.  These unstructured interview processes lead to poor decisions, often also to a poor candidate experience, and a protracted hiring timeline as decision making is significantly slower when the criteria are not clear.  In their book Talent Makers, Greenhouse Founders Daniel Chait and Jon Stross hammer home the point that hiring is about making sound decisions, and having the right criteria to do so.  We highly recommend reading the book if you haven’t already, whether you are an individual contributor, manager, or leader at your company.

So where can you start? A great first step is to look at your interview process and ask yourself the following, keeping this structure in mind : Requirements→Assessment→Decision

Are the requirements clear?

  • It is hard to make a good decision if you do not know what you are looking for.  That is why we also recommend that Hiring Managers spend a lot of time in the role scoping phase, defining requirements.  So many things are dependent on these requirements being clearly articulated and prioritized, but it is so often skipped when companies are moving fast. Here is a post on how to do it well.

Does everyone on the panel understand the requirements in the same way?

  • For example: “startup experience” (which we see all the time as a requirement) is open to interpretation and is actually a proxy for other things.  Peel the onion to get clarity on what is really required.  Is it the ability to work autonomously + ability to make decisions in the absence of complete information?  Those are both more objective competencies that an interviewer can assess against.

Does every single interview map back to a requirement?  If not, why not?  

  • It could provide a signal that there are shadow requirements that are not explicitly captured, or gaps in the assessment process.

When we make decisions, are we talking about the data and evidence we found in the interview process, relative to the requirements?  If not, why not?  

  • Is it because other things are actually more important? If so, define those things and bring them into the requirements. Or is it because we are not doing a good job assessing the requirements? If so, change the way you assess.

Whether you are hiring dozens of generalists or for a leadership role, this simple but effective approach will lead you to getting the right hire at the right time.

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