It’s our mission to help businesses attract, hire, and develop the right people. Part of living this mission is by following our own hiring advice and building a great hiring process. Our process has evolved over the years and will continue to change as we keep the conversation going, keep the feedback coming, and focus on creating exceptional experiences for both candidates and hiring managers.
Let’s pull back the curtain on how we hire at CareerPlug, to provide insight into how a good hiring process works and the impact it can have on recruitment success.
Who we hire
As you design your hiring process, you’ll configure it based on your company’s needs and the type of positions for which you’re hiring. At CareerPlug, we typically hire for positions that require specialized training or industry expertise: Software Engineers, Partner Success Managers, and Client Consultants.
Besides professional history, we always hire candidates who align with our core values.
These are the four core values that we want every person on the team to exemplify:
- Be Kind
- Speak Up, Step Up
- Keep Growing
- Work Together, Win Together
Before posting the job
At the start of our hiring process, before the job is posted on the job boards, there are a few internal pre-hiring steps we follow:
- Write an up-to-date job description
- Create an Ideal Candidate Profile (This is an exercise that helps us get really clear on who we are looking for to fill an open role.)
- Submit a personnel requisition with departmental, HR, and leadership sign-off
Our hiring process
We lay out our hiring process in this basic workflow: Review, Phone Screen, Assess, Interviews, Verify, and Offer. Since becoming fully remote in 2020, the entirety of our hiring process takes place virtually. Let’s touch on all of these stages in detail.
Our hiring managers use this step to evaluate incoming applicants within our applicant tracking system (ATS) and decide whether or not to move them forward. We include four to five prescreen questions on the application asking about the most important information, usually about experience level in their field.
Hiring managers typically conduct a 15-20 minute phone screen with candidates, though candidates may also be speaking with a member of our HR team. Our phone screens have three parts:
- Vetting basic qualifications for the role (Tell me what a typical day looks like in your current role?)
- Discovering job preferences (What’s your ideal work environment or company culture?)
- Time for the candidate to ask questions (We like candidates who do their research and ask thoughtful questions.)
We use the personality and math/verbal assessments within our hiring software for many of our roles. Candidates spend 10-15 minutes on each assessment, and then we review the results with them during their first in-person interview. For some positions, like Software Engineers, we’ll do a job assessment more specific to the role, like a coding challenge.
The first interview is led by the hiring manager with one or two co-interviewers — sometimes the department head and sometimes a peer from the team. This interview takes 60-90 minutes and will typically review the assessment results and dive deeper in a candidate’s experience through behavioral style questions (“Tell me about a time…”).
Candidates that make it to the next stage of the hiring process meet with two or more members of our Leadership Team. Our team asks questions driven by our core values. Culture fit is non-negotiable for us, and the members of our Leadership Team are the final gatekeepers. This interview is also an opportunity for candidates to ask questions and learn about the company’s vision and strategy.
The lifeline interview is my favorite interview, and is conducted in two parts. Part one looks back at a candidate’s resume, dividing their professional life into “chapters”. We ask questions like these:
- What happened during that chapter?
- Who was your manager and what was it like working for them?
- What were the highs/lows of that job?
- Why did you leave?
- What were your key takeaways or lessons learned?
Part two is a drawn-out variation of the question “Where do you see yourself in five years?” We like to understand a candidate’s career goals as well as some of their personal goals and values. This allows us to mutually decide with a candidate if the job at CareerPlug will help them fulfill their aspirations.
For both career and life (anything outside of work-life that people are comfortable sharing), we ask: What does “awesome” look like in this category in the next five years? How do you envision this happening? How would you feel if you achieved this?
We typically share our screen and write notes from this interview, with the interviewer (usually myself or another member of the HR team) documenting as the candidate answers. We close the interview by asking, “Given what you know about this job and CareerPlug, can you see yourself accomplishing these goals with us?”
We wrap up our hiring process with a few more internal steps. First, we always conduct a reference check for final stage candidates, aiming for three with a strong preference for past supervisors.
We also do an internal step we call the Candidate Defense. This is where it all comes together. From the Ideal Candidate Profile and job description to the assessments and interview notes, the hiring manager gathers everything and presents the candidate to our leadership team.
The hiring manager makes the case for why this person is the right fit for the role. We share our feedback, ask probing questions, and sometimes play devil’s advocate. This is designed for the hiring manager to feel confident in their hire and ensure they’ve evaluated everything most important to the role.
Finally, we give the candidate an offer. We try to do this in a virtual meeting so we can present the full offer and be there for their reactions and questions. We believe in leading with our best offer and don’t negotiate with candidates. This helps us stay equitable as well as have early, transparent conversations about compensation (we include compensation on all job postings!) so we don’t get blindsided at this stage.
What candidates think of our hiring process
We take our hiring seriously, and it can feel intense on paper (and sometimes in practice). However, overwhelmingly we hear from candidates that they love our process.
Hiring for a company that provides hiring software is a unique position, but it makes all of us put that much more commitment and care into our hiring and treat it as a priority. The result has been a team of dedicated, hard-working people who live our core values and have helped us build one of the best places to work.
Keeping the candidate experience at the forefront has helped protect our process from becoming burdensome. One way to do this is to share your hiring process with applicants upfront. We share this video of me explaining our hiring steps on our careers page and link to it in the automatic thank you email applicants receive after applying:
- Document your current hiring process, including what candidates can expect at each step. Consider making this a public-facing document that you share with applicants before they apply.
- Ask yourself: What’s one thing that could be improved in your hiring process to create a better experience for hiring managers or candidates?
- Identify steps in your hiring process that various hiring managers handle differently. Brainstorm ways to add consistency to your hiring process so all candidates get a similar experience. For example, you might create interview question templates or create guidelines about how many of your team members should be present during interviews.
- Consider using an Applicant Tracking System that automates various steps of your hiring process and helps you communicate with clients more easily through text recruiting and email templates.