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This is the second half in a two part series on hiring at scale. Previously, I wrote about processes that will help you organize your hiring process and find the right people to support your company culture. Beyond software to help you reach candidates, how can you handle the recruitment process to reflect on your organization in the best possible way?

Leverage Your People and Brand

Word of mouth and referrals can be extremely powerful ways for smaller companies to find great talent. Your existing team is a great resource not only for their networks but also for their previous hiring experiences. A couple of PeerStreet’s team leads were extremely helpful in identifying areas for improvement in our hiring process and sharing insight into how they used to recruit at companies both large and small.

Your company’s brand can be very helpful when recruiting tech talent. If you have strong market presence, receive backing by highly respected investors and/or build out a talented team early on that makes prospective new hires say, “WOW,” you’ll be one step closer to getting noticed by that ideal candidate. Strong press helps, too.

Lastly, leverage your investors. Oftentimes, they want to help. PeerStreet recently closed its Series A round led by Andreessen Horowitz and even in our first months working with them, the Andreessen team has been incredibly helpful in helping us develop scalable recruiting, hiring and onboarding practices. a16z is known for the value they bring to their startups, but other VCs can be helpful, too. You won’t know how investors can add operational value until you ask. I recommend seeing if your investors have recruiting insight or if they know anyone in their networks who could be a fit for a key hire that’s been difficult to close.

The Candidate Experience Can Make or Break You

I think a mistake that many companies and hiring managers make is to predominately think about hiring in terms of what works best for them— their own needs. Particularly in a highly competitive talent environment, this attitude should be kicked to the curb.

Yes, a company needs to focus on the role they need to fill, the skills required for success and how they can maximize the efficiency of the team. But it’s equally important to dive into the candidate’s psychology to understand what makes them tick, how they’re going to be motivated and how your team fits into their picture of an “ideal job.” If you can’t do that, you’re not going to get the candidate you want or the one that’s going to be most effective in a particular role.

In a way, your recruitment process communicates your company’s identity, and this will embed a lasting impression, potentially more influential than any traditional marketing.  Even if you don’t hire someone, his/her experience with you will travel far. This is true for any company, but even more so for consumer-focused business models. This article explains how Virgin Media’s recruitment process became negative for their candidates, which impacted the entire company’s bottom line. We feel that it makes a strong case for handling every applicant with extreme care.

So, make every effort to create a great experience for every candidate you encounter. This will help you get the right people through the door and the benefits are more far reaching than that. If a potential hire has a great experience from resume drop through onsite interview, chances are they will speak highly of your company in other circles (hence, amplifying the power of word of mouth). This is the case even if they don’t get the job. The converse of that is true, too. If you run a candidate through a disorganized interview process, leave them hanging for weeks with no communication or, quite simply, don’t treat them with common courtesy, there could be far-reaching negative effects. They may tell their friends about the bad experience or worse, post a review to an online network or job board about how poorly your company handled the interview process. Good news travels. Bad news will beat it to the punch.

Hiring Best Practices

We found that sticking to a structured hiring schedule helps the process from getting away from us. Here is an overview of our schedule from start to finish:

  1. Before Interviews:
  • Prompt, frequent and friendly follow-up communication throughout before and during the entire interview process. Give them a reliable touchpoint within the hiring team.
  1. During Interview Process:
  • Face time with executives and founders, especially at a smaller company, is important.
  • Take a candidate to lunch or coffee during an onsite interview. It takes the edge off.
  • Be sure that your employees involved in the process are prepared and well-informed about the individual. Send them an email before the interview with a resume and other pertinent information about the candidate.
  • Strike a balance. Give your candidates a fair shake but make decisions quickly. If someone doesn’t seem to be a fit, figure that out early in the process and save everyone some time.
  1. After Interviews:
  • Have all employees submit feedback within an hour of the interview.
  • Don’t bias the process towards any single employee’s opinion. We use a blind scoring system that only the hiring manager can see until we decide on the candidate.
  • We debrief after every candidate, everyone provides a ranking at the same time, then we go around the room and discuss our feedback.
  1. Before Hiring:
  • When you want to hire someone, check references quickly and get out an offer within five business days.
  • If it’s a no, try to let them know as soon as possible or within a day.
  • If you need to pass on a candidate, do it with respect. You want every stage of your recruiting process to be a positive one, even if you’re delivering “bad” news.
  1. From Offer to Onboarding:
  • We learned some things from a16z about how to handle the first few days after someone starts. Treat them each with high regard. The beginning is important.
  • We start their first day giving new hires a box of donut holes. They walk around to meet everyone in the company to learn and share something about their new colleagues. It’s a great way to break the ice and get to know a handful of people your first day.
  • We also ask them three questions in front of the company during our weekly team meeting. But you’ll have to get a job at PeerStreet to learn what they are.
  • Conduct training that involves people across the company. We have a new hire training deck that runs through logistics, FAQs, information about our culture, and more.

All of this is a learning process and hopefully, everything I’ve said provides guidance for early-stage companies trying to build out an effective hiring platform. With the remainder of 2017 ahead, PeerStreet is better equipped to scale our team, we have a better sense of our hiring needs and a process in place that will enable us to get to where we want to be.

Work for PeerStreet

We are always looking for top talent to join our team. If you are interested, check out our careers page to see what roles we are hiring for. You can also take a peek at what it’s like to work for PeerStreet on our culture page on LinkedIn.

Get started today with PeerStreet