No interviews, no phone calls, and no live meetings at all…

January 6, 2016

And you’re hired!

Despite the rapid advances in technology to support sourcing, screening, recruiting, and assessments, most recruiting processes still follow the traditional, typical, and time-honored processes we all know. Most organizational hiring looks something like this:

  • A candidate finds a posted job ad and applies, (or is ‘found’ by one of your recruiters)
  • They apply for the job and their resume/credentials are assessed
  • (if they pass initial screening), they are contacted and screened again and/or interviewed by phone or video
  • Applicants who make the ‘short list’ are brought in for a round of in-person interviews with a series of managers, executives, peers, and who knows whomever else has a say in hiring in the organization
  • The ‘top’ applicant has their references checked and if they pass, is extended a formal offer
  • The applicant (hopefully) accepts and the process is completed

Again, very familiar, very traditional, and probably resembles the hiring process of something like 90% of organizations still today, (more or less).

H3 HR Advisors | No interviews, no phone calls, no live meetings at all… Just for fun, compare the traditional process to the hiring process employed by the software company Automattic, the organization behind the popular WordPress blogging platform as described in this recent piece from Business InsiderAutomattic Hires Employees Automatically:

  • Company CEO pre-screens all potential candidates
  • CEO passes selected candidates on to hiring managers
  • Hiring managers contact select candidates via Skype chat, exchange messages
  • Hiring managers review online work samples and portfolios
  • Select candidates are invited to complete trial or sample work projects, and are paid $25/hour for their time spent on these sample projects that normally take about a month to complete usually in the candidate’s spare time
  • Candidates and hiring managers review progress via private blogs and messaging
  • Top candidate is referred back to the CEO for a final chat and sign-off, and then the offer is extended and (hopefully) accepted

According to the piece, many new hires complete the entire process, (screening, assessment, trial project, and offer), without ever having a direct, voice conversation with the hiring manager. In fact, the process works so well that one hiring manager reports in the last year or so seeing about 250 resumes, screening via chat tools 63, giving ‘trial’ projects to 41, and hiring 14. It is a unique process for sure, and it seems to work for Automattic given their structure and culture, but can it work for your organization too?

In truth, not many organizations could adopt these hiring processes, especially ones that are larger than the smallish Automattic, (about 350 employees). But there are at least a few lessons that any organization can take from Automattic’s approach to the hiring process.

First, Automattic does a great job of taking a measured approach to hiring. The interactions with candidates are thoughtful and deliberate, and all are designed to help both parties arrive at the best decision about whether or not a candidate would be a good fit.

Next, Automattic does not have extraneous and unnecessary people involved in the process at all. Just the CEO and the hiring manager. No hiring committees, no awkward panel interview sessions, no rounds of 1-1 interviews with every company exec or manager who feels like they need to be a part of the decision. Just the primary people and no one else.

Finally, by making use of the trial project approach, Automattic can get a really good feel for the skills, capabilities, and approaches to solving problems that the candidates possess. This makes the final decision about whether to extend an offer much more informed, and likely less prone to error. And the candidates benefit from this too, even the ones that are not selected. They are provided some solid exposure and experience, (and are paid), and can get some valuable feedback to help them in their current roles or if they re-apply to another role at Automattic later on.

Your organization likely can’t adopt wholesale the kinds of unique and non-traditional hiring processes that are working for a 350-person, widely distributed, high-tech company. But you likely can examine these processes and take something of value from them that can be adopted in your processes to make them more expedient, to create a better experience for candidates and hiring managers, and too ultimately arrive at the main goal of all of this – driving better outcomes.

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