Tips for Hiring Managers
This post originally appeared on Making Meetup
During my time as fractional VPE at Meetup, I’ve had the honor of partnering with recruiter Michelle Heng to make improvements to the recruiting and interviewing process for the Engineering team. One of the main projects we worked on together was a new “tips for hiring managers” doc, based on what Michelle’s team and Meetup’s Engineering Managers have learned over the past few years of exponential growth.
Our how-to doc aims to help new hiring managers understand their responsibilities throughout the hiring process, the time investment needed, and where they can put in the most effort to derive the most value. We hope that sharing lots of these same tips on Making Meetup will be helpful to other hiring managers out there too!
How quickly can I hire someone?
If you have a clear picture in your head of the kind of candidate who would be successful in this role, we’ve found it takes 30–45 days on average to get to a full hire and start stage for one person (for individual contributor roles). And if you already have a healthy pipeline of candidates, it’s possible to get to the hiring stage in a shorter time frame!
However, if you begin the hiring process without a clear picture of the skills and experience you’re looking for in a candidate, you’re looking at twice the average length of time to make a hire (and for some hard-to-fill roles, potentially longer). Each stage of the process relies on your calibration with a recruiter and sourcer; if you need to go back and change the specs of the role, or if you reach the onsite interview stage and realize none of the candidates are a good fit for your particular team’s work style, you’ll need to go back to the drawing board and restart the clock.
Candidate pipelines typically slow down September-December. Candidates with families are also interviewing less during the summer.
How much of my time is this going to take?
As a hiring manager, expect to spend a ton of upfront time on the below responsibilities. Spending the majority of your workweek on these tasks is normal, and important! Too often, we see hiring managers attempt to skimp on the following responsibilities to save time — unfortunately, this means the rest of the hiring process suffers and extends way longer than it needs to.
In each section below, you’ll see a theme: we’ve included tips on how to be as efficient with your energy and focus as possible up front, to optimize the overall time to make a hire!
Write a job posting that your ideal candidate will want to apply to
You’ve probably seen a lot of job postings out there that are just a list of bullets that read, “must have X skill/experience”. This style is less effective than a job posting that describes the impact that a person in this role could have at your organization. As you write the job posting, ask yourself:
- What’s the narrative of your team?
- What’s the personality of your business unit, and of your team?
- What could someone in this role achieve, for our business and for their personal growth?
- What’s the impression you want people to leave after reading (scanning) it?
You do want people to self-select out if they’re not qualified, so it’s important to include some description of the skill sets or experience might aid them in being successful (making that impact you described) in this role. However, as mentioned in this HBR article, “men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them” — so only list out qualifications that a candidate would truly need to meet to be successful in this role.
Don’t turn off members of underrepresented groups with your job posting language! Use linters like https://textio.ai/ and http://joblint.org/ to get help writing an inclusive job posting. All of these tactics may seem like a lot of investment up front, but getting the job description right the first time will help you save time overall. If you’re unsure how to optimize your posting, a recruiter can show you as well as help optimize for you.
Calibrate what you’re looking for early
Invest in your calibration/intake meetings with your recruiter and sourcer. The more you show up prepared to share details about what you’re looking for, the more time you’ll save overall. This means you’ll spend more time before the meeting developing what you’re looking for than during the meeting.
Similarly, invest in calibrating with your teammates about what it looks like to pass a technical screen for this role. Again, this means you’ll spend more time before asking your teammates to do technical screens building up documentation, examples, and guidelines than any you will meeting with them. We see all too often that a hiring manager skips doing an in-depth first pass at these kinds of documents and guidelines, and the rest of the interview process timing grows exponentially.
Do your own sourcing, too
In addition to leaning on your recruiter and sourcer to help you find candidates, a big way to save overall hiring time is to pitch in with sourcing. Scour LinkedIn and Twitter and send cold emails. Invite folks to coffee to chat about the role. Strategize with your recruiter or sourcer on how the two of you can partner in these outreaches. Host a Meetup on a project your team is working on or an interest that represents your engineering team and culture!
We know engineers are constantly bombarded with unsolicited emails and a personal IRL touch can go a long way. We have seen success when a recruiter does the first outreach and a hiring manager then follows-up with a direct email or touch. Consider: when was the last time you cold applied to a new job versus being referred to a new role or know of a person you wanted to work with again? Sourcing is not just about hiring the role you need today, but also building relationships for a role you might need to fill in the future. A personal touch today could mean the difference for hiring a hard-to-fill role later down the road.
Set timing and feedback expectations with your team
Tell your teammates how much time this is going to take out of their week, so they know to expect how much it’ll affect their sprints (including the PM you work with). More on this in the section below, “how much of my team’s time is this going to take?”.
Set expectations about your teammates filling out feedback forms in a helpful way, and what that looks like. That way, you’re equipped to make a hiring decision, and you’ve documented the data points that go into that hiring decision (which the recruiter needs to be able to stand by).
Thoroughly fill out a prebrief template for a role
Fill out that prebrief template thoroughly, before your first prebrief meeting. It’ll take a bunch of time (average 2–3 hours) the first time you use it for a new role, but this effort and time investment will pay dividends.
Not only will it be super short to update the prebrief template for your next onsite round (5–10 minutes), but your interviewers will gain a solid understanding of their role in the onsite process, making your hiring decisions a lot more clear. We’ve been able to see returns on eliminating a debrief after an interview loop has wrapped up because the team had gathered clear hiring signals based on what they read in the prebrief template.
- Know who is qualified to interview, meaning they’ve been trained to interview and look for different signals. Prebriefs are all about aligning people with the right signal. We run into major rescheduling issues when we get everyone in the room, only to discover that they’re not experienced interviewing for their assigned signal.
- SHOW UP. The prebrief (and following interviews) can’t happen effectively otherwise. You’re setting a model for how you expect your interviewers to show up to their interviews, too — invested, focused on gathering the right kinds of data, and doing their part in helping your organization make an informed hiring decision about this candidate.
- Decide on level for the role, and what the signals are for each level you might be hiring for (especially for staff versus senior) so your interviewers know what to look for as they interview candidates.
- Articulate what missing skills from a candidate are coachable, versus what are deal breakers. This helps your interviewers understand their biases. A behavior might be coachable (writing tests), or it might not be (fully autonomous problem solving) — it’ll help if you give examples for your interviewers.
How much of my team’s time is this going to take?
On average, an individual engineer contributing to the hiring process will spend 5–8 hours per week on interviewing. For each candidate being interviewed, this includes:
- 5–15 minutes in the prebrief for a candidate
- 30 minutes prepping for an interview
- 1 hour in the screen/interview
- 15–20 minutes to write feedback
- 30 minutes in the debrief for the candidate
Ideally, you’re bringing in 2–3 candidates onsite (or scheduling for team phone screens) per week. At maximum capacity, an interviewer would be taking 3 interviews per week, but we’ve seen that an average at Meetup is typically two interviews per week. (Please note, while your team may not have an open role, your teammates may still be participating in interview panels for other business units too!)
If an engineer is shadowing, they’ll likely spend 2–3 hours per week prepping for an interview and debriefing with the interviewer.
Obviously, these are averages — if you’re team is actively hiring for multiple roles, or helping another team hire, your teammates may be spending much more time on preparing for and completing interviews. We recommend you keep track of how much time is spent on average so you can more accurately plan sprints and other work, and communicate these expectations to your stakeholders.
We know growing a team can be time consuming, but we also know balancing interviewing and engineering is important, too. Some hiring managers have some strong, aggressive hiring goals, which is a great challenge, but keep in mind tracking time spent in interviewing will also help prevent interview burn out or prevent a bad hiring decision due to interview fatigue by an individual contributor on your team (or you!).