Sunday, June 13, 2010

Internal Interviewing Schedule

Most startups initially line up everyone in the company to meet with potential new hires. Early on this works - it aligns everyone with the direction of the company, helps build a cohesive group and gets real collaboration. At some point, usually pretty quickly, your have too many people and the process is just too much.

Think carefully and strategically as this process evolves. Who participates in the interview process is key. The right people don't only aid in evaluation and selection, they are also critical in building consensus and support needed when candidates become employees, and they give candidates a well rounded view of the company.

Be a champion of this process. As soon as you have a hiring need, define clearly how the interview process will work. Who will be involved, at what point, and what will their role be? Who MUST be in agreement for the hiring decision to be made?

These answers depend, and changes with time and with the position you are hiring for. But as the process for interviewing transitions, you may find these general tips helpful;
  • Be concerned if a candidate has over 4 separate interviews. You begin to waste everyone's time and point to the disorganization of your company.
  • In the least, a representative from each group that works directly with the new hire should meet him/her and have their input considered.
  • Consider a casual group 'introduction' interview where more/all employees can meet and chat with candidates. Employees can pair up for an interview. This allows you to get buy-in and input from more people and keep the number of interviews down.
  • Most companies have an 'influencer' - sometimes they are the critic, the leader, or a negative nelly. These people have the power to make the new hire successful. They do this by sharing or not sharing critical information, by introducing others to decision makers & informal processes, and by criticising or questioning the new hire. By including them in the interview and decision making process they have a vested interest in helping the new hire be successful.
  • Pay attention to the order of the meetings - you can build ownership by having team members interview and sign off on a candidate before you meet them. Ideally, you have an agenda for each participant and 'round' of interviews, allowing for depth and focus to your discussions.
We always hear 'people are your most important asset'. As you decide to bring new people on board, you should be pulling every trick from your hat. You should be learning new tricks. You should have a strategy. How do you do this?