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Five Secrets to Successful Hiring

by Katy Ganguli

We often hear from executives at high-growth companies that it’s a challenge to simultaneously run a team and fill open positions. Leaders are under pressure to deliver results, so hiring activities are often ad hoc. However, when hiring leaders do not adhere to a structured process or prepare well for interviews, the process becomes inefficient and generates poor hiring outcomes. This is particularly problematic for software companies as the market for top talent is extremely competitive. 

Successful hiring is important because there is a lot at stake.  As an example, a successful Inside Sales candidate (an “A” player) typically delivers 15-25% more ARR annually than a B candidate.  Hiring 5 more A’s than B’s each year could generate $1 million more in annual growth. This is hugely meaningful compounded over many new hires per year in a business where the incremental ARR growth from A players is also compounded over several years. 

Our experience has shown that 3 main challenges affect hiring effectiveness:

  • A focused, coordinated recruiting process can be time-consuming, but this level of sophistication is essential to attract top candidates, quickly identify them in the pipeline, and keep them excited throughout the hiring process. 
  • With access to more recruiting channels than ever before, recruiting teams face a dizzying volume of potential candidates. It’s hard to discern which channel is best and to curate a set of top candidates to move through the process. High-growth companies need a way to quickly filter the pipeline and separate the wheat from the chaff.
  • Traditional hiring techniques are insufficient; the data shows that candidate interviews provide only a 10-15% lift in hiring success rate compared to hiring based on resume alone.  Industrial/Organizational experts have devoted considerable energy to this topic and have consistently found that the best way to increase the odds of hiring successful employees is to use a properly designed, multi-measure pre-hire assessment with both cognitive and behavioral elements, along with interviews. 

To address these challenges, here are 5 tips we find most helpful:

  1. Target and attract the right people – top candidates need to feel compelled to apply for your open roles. Sophisticated, modern talent acquisition teams use analytics and a marketing approach to achieve this.  This entails asking yourself what differentiates your company or product from other employers. Why do candidates want to work for you versus another high-growth company?  A candidate attraction model based on a survey is a helpful tool to inform your candidate messaging and channel selection.  The data becomes particularly powerful when analyzed in conjunction with pre-hire assessment results. Collecting and analyzing this data will help you identify recruiting tactics to attract a higher percentage of top-tier applicants.  
  2. Use a pre-hire assessment to focus interview efforts on high potential candidates – use a multi-measure pre-hire assessment with both cognitive and behavioral elements at the top of the recruiting funnel to filter out candidates with a low likelihood of success.  This improves the quality of candidates progressing through to the in-person interview stage and improves recruiting efficiency.  Be disciplined about using the assessment as a Go / No-Go filter and interview only those candidates who pass.  Beware of referrals from current employees – there is a temptation to allow them to proceed immediately to the interview.  To remove bias in your recruiting and maintain quality, require referrals to take the pre-hire assessment, like everyone else.
  3. Use a skills-based test to evaluate domain expertise – as a complement to the pre-hire assessment, a skills-based test, like a technical work product or case study, is important to provide firsthand knowledge of how an employee will perform in the role on Day 1.  This enables you to estimate the training and management needs for each candidate and conduct a more meaningful comparison.  For instance, for developers who need to code in Javascript, a timed case study provides an additional data point in your selection process.
  4. Train and resource the interviewers – train interviewers on how to conduct a skills-based evaluation.  Prepare an interview guide with sample questions and ideal response verbiage that interviewers can leverage to prepare for the interview.  Make it easy for hiring leaders to succeed by training them on advanced tools like the pre-hire assessment and a scorecard.  This upfront preparation will pay off in dividends to ensure the hiring leader selects the right candidate for the role.
  5. Implement a structured and candidate-friendly process – in a competitive talent market, it’s critical to demonstrate that the company cares about its employees.  The most effective way to do this is to genuinely care about the candidates in your process.  Simple tactics go a long way, like timely and clear communication and a reasonable number of steps in the process with visibility into those steps upfront.  Candidates select companies based on their impression of the professionalism and culture during the recruiting process. We’ve observed that successful teams consistently implement these 5 basic steps in their hiring process:
    • Generate pipeline – often handled by internal and/or external recruiters
    • Filter – a multi-measure pre-hire assessment to filter candidates at the top of the funnel
    • Assess – initial screening interviews, most likely conducted via phone but possibly in-person
    • Diligence – evaluation of a sample work product or a skills test, in-person interviews with key stakeholders, and reference checks
    • Close – candidate-driven meetings and information requests, and often done in parallel with reference checks 

To solve for some of the common recruiting challenges, Insight Partners has developed and funded Insight PREDICTIVE – a custom pre-hire assessment program tailored to the needs of Insight’s high-growth software companies. The program is available to all portfolio companies free of charge and has three major components: 

  1. Candidate attraction survey – This short survey generates insights that help portfolio companies attract more top-tier candidates.
  2. Multi-measure pre-hire assessment – Insight completed a thorough diligence of the market and partnered with a vendor whose tests generate an average 29% lift in employee productivity and a 48% reduction in turnover.  
  3. Interview guide – This resource for interviewers includes structured questions and ideal response verbiage that can be used to create a more targeted interview.

The result of putting all these tips into practice?  Far better hires for the company with far less work for recruiters and hiring leaders. Contact Onsite’s Talent Center of Excellence if you would like more information on our hiring best practices. 

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Katy Ganguli, Vice President, Talent COE

Katy Ganguli

Vice President, Talent COE

Katy Ganguli joined Insight in 2018 as Vice President on the Insight Onsite team. She works closely with the executive team of portfolio companies to accelerate growth, build teams, and scale operations.    Prior to Insight, Katy ran TravelClick’s digital media services business. In this role…

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