How to Create a Fast, Efficient Hiring Process (Without Hurting Quality)

The other night, I was doing some light planning for our implementation of Fuild (our wicked fast, custom web development process).

I reviewed an old flow chart of the system as I listed down key features.

At the end of this session though, I thought to myself, to get the process going, what are the two things we need?

We need clients flowing in who want to purchase our custom website development services, and we need a team of people large enough to accommodate the influx of demand.

But how to efficiently address the latter problem?

I believe the most efficient and effective recruitment plan goes like this:

  1. Write personal, practical job description(s)
  2. Post online and get free distribution
  3. Send applicants to a form to fill in their information
  4. Evaluation past work and ability
  5. Filter out applicants
  6. Schedule interviews to test for cultural fit with company
  7. Provide work sample
  8. Evaluate results and decide to continue to hire applicant or not

This process is broken down into 3 easy to read sections below.

Writing Job Descriptions & Getting Distribution

First, you need to write clear, distinct job descriptions. In a job description, talk about what the person in that role will be doing on a daily basis.

Will he be sharpening pencils and making photocopies of stuff? Or will he be designing  skyscrapers?

Also make sure to leave out fluff language like “hardworking” or “dedicated.” That sort of thing is crap. The right applicant will be those things and the wrong ones will not turn away just because you wrote “hardworking” and “dedicated.”

I also recommend sounding personal and “un-corporate.” Afterall, “corporate” has a negative connotation to begin with and no one wants to work for an organization where they feel small or unimportant. With the recession and millions being laid off and out of work, sounding like a real human being wrote the job description can be a huge advantage.

As far as getting distribution, there are hundreds of websites out there. So far, I don’t have much experience outside of the big one’s like Craigslist and Oodle. I recommend those, especially since they are free and receive a large amount of traffic, so it’s much more likely that people will see your job post, and (since life is a numbers game) you’ll get more applicants.

Evaluating and Filtering Job Applicants

Talent in the web design field can be hard to filter since much of the judgement about what is high quality work and what isn’t, is qualitative rather than quantitative.

Let’s boil it down though and use PetoVera’s problem as our example, and focus specifically on website designers. We will assume that web designer means someone who creates

  • Website layouts
  • Photoshop mockups
  • HTML / CSS / jQuery webpages
  • Logos

The problem for each of these is that there’s ambiguity about what it means to be produce these in a high quality way. Let’s try to eliminate some of that ambiguity using the example of logos.

What makes a high quality logo that most people would agree upon and that can be easily rated or observed objectively?

  1. A good logo is easy to read (e.g. it is not in some weird cursive style that makes you squint or guess)
  2. An effective and memorable logo visualizes what it represents. For example, the Burger King logo conveys the image of a burger on a bun.
  3. Finally, this overlaps with #1 a little, but simplicity is key. In other words, don’t be afraid of plain, old text.

These examples still rely on the subjective judgement of whomever is evaluating the web designer applicants. However you can bring the judgement call closer to an objective one by asking the recruiter to give a numerical rating of 1 to 5 for each of the above areas while also providing clear examples of what constitutes a 1 or a 5.

Furthermore, it might also be effective to have 2 or more people providing ratings for the same applicants and then averaging the ratings together.

Once you have the ratings, you’ll want to determine the threshold for applicants to pass from the evaluation phase to the interview phase.

For instance, if the sum of all the ratings for an applicant is greater than 50, the applicant will be scheduled for a personal interview with the person in charge of talent recruitment.

For all of the applicants who do not make the cut, be sure to inform them. This is an opportunity to explain why they didn’t make the cut and, if you’re open to the idea, invite them to apply again in the future with tips for how to improve.

Personal Interview and a Work Sample


In the personal interview, all you’re seeking is to get a sense of whether or not this is someone who you and your colleagues might enjoy working with. A few pointers:

  • Don’t focus on work related questions (which may sound counter intuitive to some) that test their technical knowledge. Instead focus on having a real conversation with them, one that tests their inter-personal skills and how they interact with you, how they respond to a tough or potentially sensitive questions.
  • Have the interviewer record a rating of the conversation with a written explanation as to why.
  • Once again, set a minimum threshold number (e.g. only those with a rating of 8 or better get promoted to the next phase which is the work sample phase)

Once you determine that the applicant is worth giving a work sample to, you now need only decide the scope and nature of the work sample. The nature of the work sample should be tied directly to the position he or she is applying for.

The work sample should be real work, not a made up test.  If your company ends up using the work, the applicant should be compensated for it, even if you don’t hire him or her. It’s the right thing to do, so make sure you do it otherwise you might get a bad rep.

As for the scope of the work sample, I recommend keeping it limited to work that requires a minimum of 5 hours of effort, but no more than 10. The work delivery timeline should be 1-3 days.

If he doesn’t deliver within the agreed upon timeline, no matter how nice of a person he is, don’t hire them.

If they do deliver, evaluate the quality of the work in the same way we evaluated the quality of logo design. Make sure the person performing the evaluation has specific examples he can reference for the ratings so there’s no ambiguity.

If the individual completes the work sample on-time and within budget, at that point I would consider hiring them or at least letting them know that you’ll be collaborating on more projects on a freelance or consultant basis in the future.

Summing Up

This system is not perfect, no system is. The point here is to implement something that works, that’s fast with low overhead to setup, and that is fairly efficient.

Remember, you can always optimize it later and tweak it based on your company’s needs.

What are some suggestions for improving this process?

What other business processes or systems would you like to see discussed here?

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