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Season 01, Episode 03

How To Hire: Designing Your Roles And Interview Process (Part 2)

with Sasha and Jake

About the Episode

Learn which parts of the interview, hiring, and onboarding process you can streamline by putting in the work upfront, what actionable steps you can take to ensure you hire the BEST candidate for your business, and how to define and document aspects of your hiring process, so you’re ready to scale! This video is part of our free, online 6-video crash course on “How to Hire At Your Startup” available on our YouTube channel.

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Full Transcript


Sasha: (00:16)
Hi, everyone. Welcome back to Venture Scaler. I’m Sasha. And today we’re talking about designing roles to join your organization and how to structure your interview process to adequately assess talent coming through your pipeline against the role in the rubric that you’ve developed. Sound good, everyone with us.

Jake: (00:35)
Awesome. Cool.

Sasha: (00:39)
Well, let’s start off with role design because I think this is the most underlooked and under-done. Is that the right way to say it. Um, process part of the hiring process. Um, I’m a big believer that 50% of the hiring process is done before you post the job, which seems like a lot because most people think you make the job and you post the job description and that’s, that’s your process. And I think that’s missing a huge component. And I’ve seen so often, or you see a symptom on the surface. You’re like, ah, we need to hire someone to solve that problem. But if you dig a little bit deeper than that’s actually not the problem you need to be solving, I think a really clear example of this is if you’re seeing this huge influx of support tickets, all of these technical questions and your support leaders like, Hey, we need more talent on this team.

Sasha: (01:26)
My team’s getting way overloaded. But if you would take a step back and say, why are we getting this huge influx of tickets? Is it because something in the product is broken, something in the code is broken. Maybe we should be hiring someone to fix the root of the problem rather than bandaid a solution on top. And so anytime that I’m hiring for a new role, I don’t just consult that team. I talk to every single hiring manager and every department, like, what problems are you facing? And we do this monthly. In a day. Back-to-back-to-back what problems are you facing? What talent do you need to help fix it? Are you bringing in someone to help increase the bandwidth? So I have more people doing the same thing, or do you need a new skillset to solve a certain problem that we don’t have on staff already? And try to massage an answer. It’s like a gross way to say it to try to figure out what higher you actually need to solve these problems.

Jake: (02:19)
Yeah, that’s a great point. So you’re going around to every team or even having teams come to you as like the head of people. Um, and you know, you’re thinking about the same thing. If you’re a founder, just like, you know, having different people that are leading different functions on your team and to raise their hand and say, Hey, I need, I need help. Right. So big struggle that I imagine that exists is that you don’t know, getting people to quantify or qualify who they need and why they need that person

Sasha: (02:53)
It’s yes. Right?

Jake: (02:55)
Yeah. Like how do you, I guess, how do you go about, you know, how do you know that there’s like the product problem and you don’t need to bring on a second or a third support person and how do you help hiring managers think through, okay, if you’re going to bring this person on, like, what are they going to do? What impact are they going to have? Do we need to bring, because it’s expensive to bring them

Sasha: (03:18)
Super expensive, time consuming to get them. They’re expensive to have them there and catastrophic if they don’t work out and you have to backfill them. Um, we did this exercise a couple of weeks ago as an organization. It was actually product research for Trainual to see the direction of the product, but it think it’s really pertinent here. Um, we’d ask everyone to use this like spreadsheet template. Like what have you done in the last two weeks? Like search through your emails and your inbox, go through your Slack messages, go through your calendar. Like, what did you do? Um, what, so we had an email Slack, um, the reoccurring activities you have on a weekly, monthly, quarterly basis. Um, and, and look at that, like, what are you doing? And if you’re asking for help on a certain thing, like, is that taking up 85% of your time, but you still have all these other things you need to get to.

Sasha: (04:06)
Um, like that’s what my CEO asked me when I asked to bring on someone to my team was like, why do you need to do that? What’s the pain point that you’re solving for here? Like, well, I’m spending nine to five on interviews all day long, and then everything else I need to do for the people function is being done from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM. And so it was like, okay, so we need to solve this recruiting problem. And these other like key people projects, um, to help free up your time. So you’re not working like 12 plus hours a day. Thank you. Thank you. That’s a simple example, but I think you were talking about like, how do you know whether it’s a support or the product? I think a lot of it is communication. So we do weekly one-on-ones I do a weekly one-on-one with every people leader and we do a weekly team sync as a leadership team.

Sasha: (04:48)
We, and then everyone else has these like smaller cross-functional meetings. And then once a month, um, my director of finance, myself and each leader gets together in an hour long ops meetings where we review team performance, head count requests, our forecast, we review all of the budget and our metrics and how their team’s impacting those. Um, and then we do this all in one day. Like we just finished up our last round and there’s 14 requests for headcount. We’re not hiring 14 people this year. Um, but we started to like pick out some problems. Like there was a request for support for product, for engineering, for a database person. And they were all trying to solve the same problem. And so we’ve gotten in a room and trying to figure out like, that’s actually, they’re all the same problem. How are we going to solve it? And so that for those four requests boil down to one, and that’s what we’re hiring for

Jake: (05:32)
Super interesting. All right. So that’s definitely like a great system that you have in process. So like the other thing, if you’re talking about like a smaller team, right? Like if we have founders watching this, they’re getting ready to hire maybe like the first person on the team, things like that. Uh, two of the things I remember, like in us talking before was making sure that we have like a really dialed in job or like a description of the impact that they’re going to have, but then also having the accompanying job scorecard is what you’re calling it. So when you get to that point where you have like, you know, these four departments all trying to solve the same problem and it’s okay, well, let’s just hire this one person. How do you actually like, describe that person who you’re trying to hire on which team and what are they supposed to be doing. But then if you’re just trying to hire like your first growth person, your first product person, your first engineer, let’s walk through that job description and the job scorecard.

Sasha: (06:32)
Sure. So once you figure out, Hey, we need to hire this role, whether it’s talking to that one specific hiring manager, that entire team or multiple people, I just talked to them, like, tell me what problems you’re having, what this person will do, what their day-to-day will look like, what problems are solving, what systems they’ll be in and just get a clear picture of what they’ll be doing. I take a first stab at writing a job description, and we have a really simple template for hours. Um, we have a TLDR too long. Didn’t read one to two-second, one to two sentence blurb up top that really specifically dials in what this person will be doing. And we have a, what you’ll own and improve. And the three areas that they will be consistently working on not only to maintain, but like we say, in the title to improve upon and continue to iterate, we have a what you already know section.

Sasha: (07:19)
And we do, I like three. So we do three, three, um, that’s, that’s where you’re calling back to past experience and say, we’re hiring a social media person and we want them to help us go viral that example. Um, but we want them to have experience either building their personal brand or building a business’s brand from A to B. And that may be something that like they will identify with and that’s the type of candidate we want to apply. And then we have a, what you will learn section. And for us, this is so important. I think that’s missing from so many job descriptions because at you, we focus really heavily on growth path. We don’t want people to leave in a year or two because they get a better offer and a better role somewhere else. So we are transition planning is the wrong word, succession planning in a way. But figuring out where they, all of our employees will continue to grow within the organization, whether it’s horizontally or vertically. Aand that’s part of what’s written in that what you’ll learn.

Jake: (08:11)
I like that a lot, because especially when, like in smaller companies, when you’re more on the early stage path, you don’t have a whole lot to point out. Like you don’t have like a lot of, you know, your reputation, your reputation might not be as strong. Your online presence might not be as strong and you might not be able to compete with the salaries of the benefits of other, other competitors. So being able to talk about your mission, but then also like what’s in it for me as an employee. Like, what am I going to learn? I really, I really like that.

Sasha: (08:40)
You’re welcome. Um, but then our last section is how success is measured. And I think this is important because we, we have our, our, our metrics at the organizational level. We have five key metrics that we’re measuring. Um, we have department specific goals and then individual goals beneath that. And so they know typically we like to focus on the department goals. So there’s more ownership for the department growth, um, and how that impacts the organization as a whole, but like say for our paid ads manager that we’re hiring right now are two metrics that are listed, are new trials that are starting. These are driving new leads, new trials, um, and reducing our customer acquisition costs. Those are the two things that you should be focused on. Like, yeah, there are all sorts of other lag measures that we’ll be measuring, like in the grand scheme of things who cares, like be creative, figure things out.

Sasha: (09:27)
And like, those are your two North star metrics. I don’t know if you can actually have two North stars, if that defeats the North star. We have two North stars, but that’s what you should be focused on. And that’s how we design our external facing job description, impact, description, impact, whatever you want to call it. Um, but it’s how you’re attracting candidates externally. But then while we’re building that, we also translate that into a job scorecard, which has similar information. But it’s internal facing. And so this has some of the logistical information who they are title, who they report to, who their direct reports are. We have a purpose statement, so it’s this one sentence why we hired this person, the problem they’re solving, why we care that they’re an organization

Jake: (10:08)
You’re forcing people on your team, or like the hiring manager to like, think through why, why am I going to be bringing this person on? What’s the, what’s the purpose, the intention. So I like that, like a forcing mechanism. And then the other elements of the job scorecard then like, what are those?

Sasha: (10:27)
Yeah. So we’ve had, this is from the scaling out methodology and we’ve put our own spin on it, but we have three focus areas. And so if you come into your role and you do nothing else, like focus on these three things. And so for one of my direct reports, her three focus areas are employee engagement, diversity, equity, inclusion, and benefits. And under employee engagement is onboarding and some other smaller pieces, but she knows like most of her activities in her role, whether she’s thinking about how to do incredible, cool new initiatives, or just like task checking, it’s all around those things. And so she knows like these are what’s important to me and what my role is doing and how it impacts the organization. And then we have a separate section for key roles and responsibilities, which is the laundry list of all the different reoccurring activities or ad hoc projects that they may be doing.

Sasha: (11:16)
And that’s a larger list more than just three of the focus areas. Yep. Then we break down the success metrics. We have a baseline growth goal, and then how we’ll specifically pull those. So we have some, like we’re measuring, um, improvement over time on certain projects. So I’ll use my team’s example. Again, we have an onboarding program and it’s gotten substantially better over the last eight months because I’m measuring her against how she’s improving each time. And now the feedback is glowing and it’s like, what else could we do to make this better than nothing? Cause it’s already fabulous. Um, but it’s this improvement mentality. Um, and goal completion metrics.

Jake: (11:54)
So the job scorecard, this is why I like it so much. Like one is it acts as a forcing mechanism to get you to put down on paper, why you need to hire this person and what he, or she’s going to be working on. So you actually get to see like, does this make sense? Can I actually justify hiring this person because it’s going to be expensive. It’s something a lot of time with the pay them salary there’s benefits. So do we actually need this person to come on? But then it also acts as a tool that you get to use during onboarding. She’ll talk about later, but you get to like show that to the employee and very clearly demonstrate, Hey, this is what you need to do. This is why we hired you. Here’s what you’re going to be held responsible for. Here’s the roles and responsibilities that you have and that sort of thing.

Sasha: (12:43)
Yeah, no, absolutely. I love it. And the what you’ll learn section in the job description translates into growth path on the job scorecard. And so depending on the manager, there’s either just a list of different career paths they could choose, or like in the case of my team, I’ve built out the next job scorecard for that next role. And I’ve identified key areas that need to be improved in order to move up into that role and what a promotion path looks like. And that obviously takes more work. And if you have a team of 10, that may be less feasible from a time standpoint. But I found that it’s been incredibly helpful in driving the right behaviors. Like here’s what you need to be doing now. Here’s what I need to see improve before we get to this next spot. And we align projects and, um, and key initiatives, quarter over quarter to ensure that they’re learning those things. Right.

Jake: (13:29)
That’s fantastic. Thank you. All right. So just got done talking about the designing the role and the role, like the role description using the job scorecard. So talk about designing the role, let’s get into, uh, the interview process. So I actually liked designing the structure around what that interview is going to look like. Yeah.

Sasha: (13:51)
So we kind of any organization I’ve been at, there’s been a standard process where there’s a people ops interview, a hiring manager interview, some sort of team interview and some sort of project. Um, but I like to ensure that all of our processes are flexible. And so it varies slightly depending on the hiring manager and the team. And that’s what I’ll work with each hiring manager on, in the, like, after we’ve finalized the drop scorecard, like who needs to be involved in this interview process, right. One to evaluate the candidates properly and two to give the candidates a clear picture of who they’ll be working with. And it’s almost a selling point, like what employee should we put in front of the candidate to sell them on working?

Jake: (14:28)
Yep. That’s a huge point. So here, we’re talking about kind of like assembling your interviews squad. So it’s helping you understand who are the people that need to be involved. Right. And I’ve, I’ve done that intentionally. Like there was times where like, I really want to bring this person in to interview because I think, you know, he’s going to be telling, he’s just going to have a great story to tell that really lines up with, you know, bringing somebody on, getting them excited. I might not bring this other person in because maybe he’s a bit of a downer or, you know, I don’t know, whatever. Sure. Right. Putting the best foot forward, getting somebody excited about the role, but also making sure that you’re aligning to, to hit and dig into the right things. So I think that’s the other part is you’re, you’re picking out the right people, but it’s also very intentional because not just because they’re cool or something, but because they can actually dig into certain aspects of the job that you need to hire for.

Sasha: (15:26)
Right. Um, and typically we’ll get into this in a different video around what the screening interview looks like for the first time you’re hopping on the phone with the candidate. Um, but in that call with me, I’m evaluating their fit with the business and why they want to work here. And I’m also evaluating their fit against the role based on past experience, but more importantly, what they want to be doing and their passion. Um, I’m a big believer that you’ll be much more productive and much happier in your role if you like what you’re doing. Um, so like check or no check on the people ops interview. And then you move into the hiring manager interview where you do a deep dive into past experience, um, behavioral interviewing to evaluate past performance against potential future performance at your organization. And then you have all of these other remaining areas on the rubric and the job scorecard that you’ve created, that you need these other folks to evaluate for.

Sasha: (16:16)
So maybe you’ve done a deep dive into the basic skills on the job scorecard, but you want to evaluate it against different traits or behaviors, or like we have a very unique sales cycle and we want to understand all the different specifics around their past environments and how that could potentially translate. And that’s why you assigned specific parts of the rubric to different interview workers and they develop questions. So everyone’s questions are I have them all in one big Google doc to start, we review to make sure like, they’re fair questions. We know what we’re asking in those questions. And then I build feedback forms. So it’s repeatable and consistent for every candidate.

Jake: (16:53)
Nice. So a few points there. So we’re not going to go into the like deep dive into any individual role or position right now because it all depends. It depends on your company, the unique problem that you’re trying to solve, if we’re even like talking about sales, it’s like the type of customer you’re going after the cycle. There’s so many different nuances. So it’s hard to go into a specific example, but when you were bringing other people in your building that like that interview squad, you want to think about what are the gaps like? Especially if like, as a hiring manager myself, it’s like, what are the gaps that I need someone else to help me dig into? Right. Right. So I’m a really bringing in my, like my technology director to come in and like, Hey, I need to just understand this candidates ability to dive into the technical aspects and can they, do they understand this tech stack or language?

Jake: (17:50)
So bringing in like this engineer or this, you know, director to help ask about those questions, right. I might bring somebody else in because I don’t know, maybe this person needs to be talking to clients. So I want to get like, just a better understanding of how do they handle these types of conversations. Can they, can they like hold their own in the room and like talk about these certain things. So it all depends on different aspects of the job that are going to be important, which all goes back to that job scorecard and the rubric.

Sasha: (18:19)
Absolutely. Which again goes back again to all of the preparation prior to posting the job. Like up to this point, we haven’t posted a job yet. We’re still doing all this legwork to set up our process ahead of time to make sure once you post the job, you can move very quickly and everyone’s on the same page to evaluate properly. So you have a great candidate experience. Um, we went through the assembling your interview squad, aligning their questions to the rubric, making sure those questions are consistent. It’s really hard to actually evaluate a candidate against another candidate if they’re being asked different questions. Um,

Jake: (18:53)
I would, even if you can try to keep the same people that are interviewing consistent through the process too.

Sasha: (18:59)
No, I would, I would say that’s not even an option. They have to be the same. There you go. Must, must be the same questions. Must be the same people because otherwise you’re getting very diff like Jake and I think very differently about things. And I’m going to say one thing, he’s going to say another thing, even if we’re asking the same questions,

Jake: (19:14)
Right? So that way you’re able to compare apples to apples each candidate, and you’ll start to also over time, create your own benchmark in your head of what’s really going to meet the Mark. All right. That’s a great, great tip.

Sasha: (19:31)
Thank you. Yeah. So you have your questions, your interview squad, your job scorecard. Um, and then the only other piece, if you are using an applicant tracking system, this is where the automation and the process comes into play. So for a real life example, I use Lever as my applicant tracking system. Once I get those questions and the, the why behind why we’re asking what we’re looking for, I add those questions and the interview notes into feedback forms, one per interview. I build all of those out. So it’s easy to just attach and it’s, um, it’s the same for every interview. We actually all work on an email campaign together, each team, which is everything from what the candidates need to know before each, each interview, how we introduce all the team members over email, through loom or different pictures or LinkedIn or bios. Um, how we talk about our culture. We talk about the role. We build out all of that together. We get approval from everyone involved to make sure it feels authentic. I build all of those email templates out in lever. And then once I post the job and I start the interview process, we can move really, really quick.

Jake: (20:35)
Yep. And that’s, that’s the point. That’s why we put so much emphasis on everything happening prior to even posting the job so that once you do post yeah, pull the trigger, you’re moving through that really quick. Everything’s set up emails are triggering off. Your entire team, knows, know what their job is and the interview process and where they’re going to be involved. And you’re able to move candidates through a really streamlined candidate experience. So they have an enjoyable, awesome time interviewing with your company. They don’t, they don’t get to see all the behind the scenes work. They just feel this awesome. Awesome. This

Sasha: (21:17)
And the only other thing I’ll note is I’ve been at organizations with a younger employee, demographic, many of whom have never interviewed before. They don’t know what they’re doing and like no shade. That’s totally fine. Um, but it’s really important that they do know what they’re doing, and they do know how to ask the right questions and properly evaluate candidates. Um, and they’re being fair to the candidates that are spending a lot of time and effort interviewing with you

Jake: (21:42)
That they don’t do anything illegal. Very,

Sasha: (21:44)
Very important, so, so important, but they’re also their representation of the business too. So if you have an inarticulate person who doesn’t know what they’re talking about, doesn’t know what they’re hiring for. It reflects really poorly on you as an organization. So I have developed hiring training for everyone across the organization, like a blanket training and then specific training for technical interviewing for leadership interviewing. And for those that have never really been, um, on interview teams or hired before we do mock interviews. And we ask them to pretend like they’re interviewing me and see how they interact and what their biggest pain points are. And we provide feedback to make sure, like that’s a growth area for them. They’re continuing to get better, but it also reflects better on the organization and provides a better experience for your candidates.

Jake: (22:29)
Great points. Thank

Sasha: (22:30)
You so much, Jake. I needed that. Oh,

Jake: (22:33)
Let’s wrap up. Let’s do it. So we talked about designing the role and then also the interview process. So in designing the role, big thing, there is just to make sure that you have justification as to who you need to hire, what role and, and why you’re hiring them. And the easiest ways to do that is to put together a really strong job description that outlines exactly what they’re going to be doing, what they’re responsible for, what their goals are. And then also using that to create a job scorecard so that you can use that to one validate that this is what they’re going to be doing, but you can also share that with the employee when they come on to show them what they’re going to be working on. Second is the interview process. So we talked about really assembling that interview squad. So all the people that are going to be involved, making sure that you have the right people digging into the right things that you’re designing the interview questions in the right way, again, against that scorecard.

Jake: (23:33)
So that you’re hitting all the right points through the process. You’re not repeating or being redundant and making sure that the team is really well-prepared and that they are trained up and they do. Don’t nothing illegal. And they also just put a really strong face and they’re going to give a great impression to the candidates going through the process. That’s a great summary. Let’s delete the entire video and just nailed it. Nailed it. All right. So thank you so much for watching our video. Um, I’m Jake and I’m Sasha. See you next time. Thank you.

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