In December of 2020, tl;dv committed a recruitment cardinal sin – posted a job position over the Christmas holidays! Not one position, but in fact four. Yet, the hiring Gods did not punish us for our transgression, quite the opposite in fact! Being a remote-first company, we’re fortunate enough to be able to hire the best talent from anywhere in the world. We were also fortunate enough to be able to secure and sign contracts with our first-choice candidates within 4 weeks.
We are now at that busy startup milestone where we have survived the early trials of product validation and now it is time to increase our team to double-down on company building. Now, it is a juggling act, balancing product improvements, critical company steps, and go-to-market plans to ready ourselves for the next stage. The key to successful juggling either comes by being a master juggler or having extra hands. Not keen on taking up any circus hobbies, I went for the extra-hands route, via four key new hires to help bring our product to scale, and into Seed.
Usually, I am not one to rush into things. I like to ponder intricacies, I am a stickler for routine, efficiency, and a good old-fashioned process. Yet, I knew if we wanted to compete for the best talent, fast recruitment was probably going to be our best route. So, we tested this recruitment strategy, and I’m going to share our findings with you.
In this article:
Why hire fast?
Firstly, why did I even consider a fast recruitment strategy? Aside from the obvious personal benefit to my calendar, I wanted a way to improve the efficiency of the recruitment process, whilst still giving our startup the chance to acquire the best talent possible.
In 2017, Workable shows that the average time-to-hire for the information services industry was 33-working days. There are few signs of improvement, with 2018’s figures showing similar results, with many white-collar industries averaging over 30-days, according to Statistica.
Contrast this with the speed at which the best talent gets snatched up, with many stating that the best candidates are off the market in 10 days. Larger (and potentially more competitive) companies often have to wrestle with internal processes that slow their hiring. Therefore, a competitive advantage of startups is their ability to act quickly to hire the best talent before they’re off the market or hired by larger businesses and enterprises. Larger companies with deeper pockets than yours.
Not to mention the added benefits attributed to saving time and money on lengthy recruitment processes. Lastly, timely responses make candidates feel respected. If you need any proof, peruse any recruitment thread and you’ll soon find out that ‘slow responses’ are the number one complaint by candidates. Thus, a good dose of respect never will go astray. Aside from providing applicants with a more pleasant experience, it could later factor into their decision-making process. Did you know that “52% who were given job-related feedback by the end of the day they interviewed said they were more likely to increase their relationship with the company”?
So that’s the theory, but how did this pan out in practise?
Fast recruitment strategy: how we did it
So, we had our fast recruitment strategy in place, now it is time to execute! Our core idea was simple: cut our process down to the bare minimum, which included:
- 1st cultural interview: learn about the candidate as a person, including what are the applicant’s needs for work satisfaction.
- 2-hour task: see how the applicant handles work.
- 2nd interview: discuss the task with a different founder to find out how the applicant handles tasks, thinks, and problem-solves.
- 3rd 20-minute interview: third co-founder gets acquainted with the final pool of applicants. The objective is to get all founder’s buy-in.
- After each interview, we tried to respond to each candidate within 24 hours.
- Everything could happen within 7 days.
There were a few key areas that also enhanced our ability to recruit quickly. Firstly, the interview task should be under 2-hours to complete. Secondly, we recorded, set timestamped highlights, and shared all interviews. This increased the turnaround time for internal feedback and decision-making at each recruitment stage.
But, there were a few more unexpected benefits from recording our meetings… and this is where we began to feel our recruitment strategy kick into overdrive!
Fast recruitment: Hiring on steroids
In case you didn’t already guess, we recorded our meetings with a handy little platform called tl;dv. This just so happens to be our product, and through our recruitment search, we discovered a plethora of new use-cases for tl;dving recruitment interviews, including:
Truly get the know the candidates
By far the biggest value for the team was to quickly get a deeper understanding of the candidate’s character and build an emotional connection. Something after-interview notes struggle to provide. Team synergy is essential to any startup, having such a small and closely-knit team. Thus, making cultural-fit decisions are critical.
“I felt I was evaluating everyone as the human beyond the CV. On paper, I would have gone for completely different people and it would have probably not worked out.” – Ruben Calzacorta – Full Stack Developer.
My personal experience with using tl;dv for recruitment is that sharing quick emotional insights with our team is the real superpower of tl;dv. In fact, there is a second article in the pipeline on the benefits of human-first hiring and seeking that cultural-fit.
Share meeting highlights within the team
There were a few amazing moments throughout the recruitment process that got us excited about the candidate’s potential. So what did we do? Simply share, tag, or set timestamped highlights to those awesome meeting moments with the team! Through being able to easily share meeting highlights, we found that more teammates got involved in getting to know candidates than originally intended, due to the ease and enjoyment of sharing. This meant more feedback!
We found that we saved time for hiring managers and recruiters when assessing cultural fit, and technical capabilities. When filtering for cultural fit, recruiters (or in our case, founders), could simply review the meeting, and get a strong sense of the candidate’s personality. Thus, a second recruiter (or founder), didn’t need to further filter for this in a subsequent interview and can focus on getting an even deeper understanding of the candidate’s skills and fit, and even shorten the second interview.
When filtering for technical abilities, we saved time by: (1) Simply tagging topic-matter experts where relevant on the tl;dv. In our case (being a small start-up), hiring managers are also team members. Thus, hiring managers/team members could evaluate candidates’ competencies faster by only viewing the relevant tagged/highlighted sections and avoid other irrelevant topics. (2) As hiring managers had already filtered for competencies after the first interview, they’re often not needed in the second meeting. This equated to invaluable time saved for our team members/hiring managers, who in this case are from the product team. That is invaluable time that can be put towards honing and developing our product.
We found that through tl;dving our interviews, were decreased the time-to-hire by about 40% via:
- Decreasing the number of working hours spent on recruitment through reducing the number of people needing to attend these interviews (especially hiring managers) and being able to filter faster via speed-watching meetings.
- Increasing the speed and quality of feedback, thus increasing the decision-making and response speed.
In addition, our team members had greater confidence and investment in our (joint) decisions. We also felt that candidates benefited from this process. Aside from the fast turnaround, candidates were also provided with invaluable interview-feedback, through being able to watch their own interviews and share with their mentors. Remarkably, one candidate, even tl;dved four future hiring interviews with other employers.
Fast recruitment: the results
Throughout this fast recruitment experience, we found that hiring fast not only was a much more achievable and enjoyable process but also helped us to secure top talent. In addition, through tl;dving the interviews, we discovered how to efficiently share interviews among internal stakeholders. This resulted in faster and higher quality feedback, buy-in, and response times. These are our hiring stats:
- From over 300 applications to 4 positions posted, we narrowed it down to 4 candidates within 20 days. Thus, we were able to make a hiring decision on average in 10 days per 2 positions.
- We averaged at about 2 candidates hired in 14 days, including signing the official contract.
- In total, all four positions were hired within 4 weeks.
- 4/4 offers accepted, and we got our first-choice candidates!
- The first contract signed within 14 days.
- One candidate started 5 weeks after posting the job.
It has been 4 months since we hired, and we’re happy to report that everything is coming along swimmingly. Our new hires are integrated wonderfully into the culture, (and have added their own flavor as well), whilst also performing well. Since then we’ve doubled down on our use of tl;dv for recruitment, as it’s powered our second wave of hiring in 2021 (example below).
I lie! Whilst I have finished summarizing my thoughts on fast recruitment, I have a lot more learning to share on the topic of recruitment and hiring. So this article will definitely not be my ‘final thoughts’. It is our working philosophy to experiment, learn and iterate. Through applying this same concept to our recruitment process, we found a way to not only increase the speed of recruitment (thus save money as well) but also increase the quality of candidates acquired and the internal support for these hires.
If you’re curious about what a tl;dv’ed Google Meet looks like, then check out our vodcast below! We chat with culture-centric recruitment expert – Nico Blier-Silvestri, CEO and Co-founder of Platypus.io.