Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Interview Process - Getting Started

In the past couple of posts, I’ve talked about just a few of the key-takeaways from the interview process – mostly from the perspective of an interviewer. While I think there are more things to consider and that would be worth talking about, I want to move on for now and talk about what our interview process looks like, and why it looks that way.

I know that some companies – like Microsoft, P&G, and Google - have really involved interview processes consisting of multiple meetings, phone calls, and so on stretched out over weeks, or sometimes months. As I’ve said before, we’re a small to midsized company and we don’t have the burden – or luxury of doing that. In fact, until very recently we didn’t have much of a process at all – very informal, and certainly not measurable. That said, I like things that are as objective and as measurable as possible – and as we’ve grown more responsibly has been pushed out into the organization, so having a standard process is important. Most would agree that there is a certain amount of subjectivity to the interview process, and that making is measurable is hard. But I don’t think that it being “hard” means throwing up your hands and saying “it can’t be done”. And while I believe that it’s important to follow-up your gut, and use your instincts, you need to check those instincts against something that is measureable.

In short, I try to balance subjectivity, and objectivity, and try to include as many members of my team in the interview process as possible.

But what does that mean?

It all starts with having something in place. Some type of framework, and some type of process. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and it shouldn’t be the first, last, and only time that you consider the process. It’s just that most organizations either: A) Don’t hire frequently enough to put a process around it – so they reinvent the wheel each time. Or B) Hire so frequently that they have HR department to manage it. Since we fit in the middle, we needed a process. So I started talking to contacts that I had in different sized organizations – of all sizes - and came up with something that looked pretty typical of every interview I’ve been on.

  1. Get resumes
  2. Screen candidates with a phone-interview
  3. Bring candidates in for a 1-on-1 interview, followed by an informal team meeting
  4. Second in-person interview with team
  5. Offer letter

The framework probably looks similar to every other interview process on the planet – and with good reason, it was our starting point.

In the next post, I’ll drill down into the detail on the framework, to address how we get resumes, screen candidates, and so on.

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