Greenhouse is a recruiting software company that tends to be a little obsessive about hiring. After all, it’s what their company is all about. But obsession doesn’t mean perfection. One challenge they faced? Hiring technical people. Here’s how they tackled the issue head on.
A few summers ago, we thought our recruiting process was in pretty good shape. But then some problems started appearing. So our new tech recruiter Lauren Allanson took a 6-month deep dive into Greenhouse reports, candidate comments, Glassdoor feedback, and emails we’d received.
We came to the following conclusions:
By the end of the year, we’d made some changes that helped. We’d also hired 13 engineers (go Lauren!) and we were still aggressively recruiting.
But our engineers started burning out from all the interviewing. Obviously, we had more work to do.
By taking a deep dive into our data, we realized a few more things.
Observation 1: too much interviewing
The high frequency of interviewing was costing us expensive company time.
Observation 2: low conversion rate
We weren’t hiring many of the candidates who came in for interviews.
Observation 3: easy interviews
Candidates weren’t finding our skills assessments challenging enough—and our engineers agreed.
Observation 4: one-way conversations
Candidates didn’t have enough time to ask engineers questions during their interviews. As one candidate put it:
Now that we had a clear understanding of the problems, it was time to figure out how to address them. We drew up three main goals:
And here are the steps we took to get it done.
We defined the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) for each employee profile across different positions. This included all levels of software engineers and tech leads. Then we aligned our scorecards and interview kits with the new career ladders.
We reorganized the structure of the interviews so that we could test technical skills earlier on.
We added a non-technical interview to educate candidates on the company, teams, roles, and Greenhouse’s vision and strategy. We also gave candidates more unstructured time with engineers to ask questions.
For interviewers, we clearly defined what we expected candidates to know at each level. This had the added bonus of making our existing engineers more familiar with career ladders and what to expect for their own career progression.
There were three keys to our success:
We started by outlining the problems, solutions, and plans for measuring success. This ensured that everyone was aligned before taking action.
Then we presented the plan to the VP and Director of Engineering. Everyone agreed the changes were needed, so we created a task force to tackle the issues.
One of the Product Engineering tech leads championed the project and helped with a lot of the heavy lifting. They drafted the interviews and tested them internally before rolling them out to candidates.
And we continue to make updates—from how interviewers phrase questions to outlining better instructions for evaluating candidates.
So what happened?
Do you have doubts about your interview process? Here are some things to keep in mind:
We all have gut feelings, but it’s important to dig into your data to validate your intuition. Plus, some of your data might give you some surprising new insights.