Process with a Purpose: How To Improve Your Hiring and Interview Process

By |2018-10-30T14:20:57+00:00April 17th, 2018|Executive, Executive Search, Interviews, Job Search|

This is a post from Max Hansen, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Y Scouts.

I have been incredibly fortunate to be part of the Y Scouts team that has successfully pioneered purpose-based recruiting and more specifically, purpose-based leadership search.  We set out to disrupt the future of the recruiting and search industry. Our purpose is to transform how people and companies connect to work that matters. Our mission is to connect 10,000,000 people to work that matters.  Now, nearly eight years into our journey we’ve learned some incredibly valuable lessons we are honored to share with you. We believe in an abundance mindset and knowledge economy. Whether we work directly with companies and do all the heavy lifting for a critical CEO search or someone reads this blog post and makes the smallest change to better their internal hiring practices—We are fulfilling our purpose and achieving our mission faster.

We firmly believe purpose, values, and cultural alignment are critically important to achieving the best possible outcome when it comes to complete fit in hiring A-Players—Or what we call, Organizational DNA.  Organizational DNA continues to be the bedrock of everything we do. In just a handful of weeks, we will be publishing our first book titled Hiring on Purpose. The goal of the book is to not only to share new insights on hiring but to also provide prescriptive steps to hiring purpose-aligned and performance-proven talent.

Today I want to focus on the importance of having a sound repeatable, predictable, scalable, and adaptable hiring process.  If you don’t have a proper hiring process, quite frankly, you can throw purpose, values, and culture right out the window. I’ve seen companies with the best of intentions with their well-articulated mission and values utterly incapable of hiring to them.  In fact, in some cases, it’s a distraction to the other important piece of the equation which is professional competency fit.

Is the person we are interviewing a cultural fit and can they achieve the most critical success outcomes for the role?

This is not meant to be an either/or situation but rather an and—Process trumps purpose and values whenever it comes to the hiring process.

Here are the 5 most important questions to consider to improve your hiring and interview process:

Does our organization have a clear and concise documented hiring process that is followed by all?

We partner with several companies that do not have a documented hiring process.  Not only does this process need to be recorded but it needs to be posted somewhere for everyone to see and follow.  That includes all you maverick Presidents and CEO’s that think you can just smell talent when you look at it. Create a documented process then conquer and divide.  It is critically important for the leaders of the company to follow the process and lead by example. Your team will almost always prioritize their work and efforts based on what is most important to their leaders.  Hiring is a full-contact sport that everyone needs to be involved. If you’ve passed hiring off, you should consider re-engaging with it. Every hire should be viewed as an opportunity, not as a task.

What are the behaviors and attributes we are looking for that align with our values and our culture for this role?

To successfully vet candidates aligned with your company values you must understand the behaviors you’re looking for through specific examples or proof points provided by the candidate.  It’s essential that you begin the interview here versus focusing on professional competencies and experience. A lot of times we see companies making this process a lot more complicated than it needs to be.  In most cases, companies have too many values to determine fit in the interview process.

As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t have more than 5 values in play during the interview process. And it’s essential to include specific behaviors that are relevant to your culture that define your values with specific interview questions available to everyone involved in the hiring process. (see number 1) Ideally, you want to whittle it down to 3 attributes and behaviors you are looking for in spades that cover all the values.  I’m not saying your values are not important—They absolutely are. For those of you that feel like you’re killing it with the way you interview to values, rock on and skip to number 3. For the rest of us that see this as an area of opportunity I offer you the Y Scouts Leadership Model which consists of merely three elevated behaviors:

 Relentless Learning

 Developing Others

 Driving Results

I challenge you to take your current core values, norms, commitments, and philosophies and see if you can bucket them into our three elevated behaviors of exceptional leadership for hiring A players.  We have yet to see any significant gaping holes these three behaviors do not cover. Now just craft some questions to these behaviors and determine what you’re listening for during the interview. Boom.

Define the role real-time looking into the future.  What are the success outcomes of the role? In six months, one year, and 18 months—what will have happened to determine whether or not this role/person is a success?

I’m still blown away how most companies create job descriptions.  Typically, a hiring manager asks someone in HR to help them write a job description.  The hiring manager usually gives a bit of input, and the person in HR who supports the hiring manager’s needs googles the title of the role, finds one that is similar, and copy and pastes it.  Then they proceed to customize it a bit by adding a laundry list of responsibilities and experience.

What are you missing when you do this?

First off, an actual functional snapshot of what success looks like in this role at your company vs. the company that kind of wrote it who likely copied it from another company that didn’t write it.  Second, it’s too much data to interview someone within your defined process. Third, it’s typically not forward-looking and only captures a limited perspective. In most cases, job descriptions usually have a short shelf life, and they do not account for the most critical outcomes in the next six months to a year.  These are the outcomes you need be clear on to craft your behavioral based interview questions to make sure the candidates moving forward through the process can perform at a high level.

Do all the members of our team involved in the hiring process consistently leverage interview guides and hiring rubrics?

Out of all the “misses” we see in the hiring process this one is probably the most common.  If you’re only able to remember one thing from this list. Remember this one. An interview guide is the hiring processes’ best friend.  The majority of interviewers are completely outmanned in an interview. Your only hope is an interview guide with structured questions to enable you to either substantiate your initial positive bias of the candidate or overcome your initial negative bias of the candidate.  

We are all human and its human nature to judge someone. It’s nearly impossible to overcome your judgment without a planned set of questions. The long-term pay off of interviewing objectively is two-fold, you end up hiring the best person for the role and you avoid hiring people exactly like you creating groupthink.  When this is done correctly there should naturally be diversity amongst the team. If you don’t believe in diversity, this list doesn’t apply to you, and I can’t help you.

One more important point about interview guides is to use it as a scoring rubric.  At this point, you already have the questions right in front of you, just agree on how you and your hiring team are going to score the answers or data points discovered in the interview.  The scoring system you use is entirely up to you.

The only rule that is important to apply to how you score is the following: You either positively observed the data or behavior with an objective reference point, you negatively found data with an accurate reference point, or you did not see.  It’s ok if you didn’t observe what you were looking for. It’s not ok if you have a gut feeling with nothing objective to substantiate it. Executing a great hiring process is hard enough, eliminate the guesswork as much as possible.

How do we measure the success of our hiring process and are we using the information for continuous improvement?

Your hiring process one of the most important processes (if not the most) you’ll need to continue to evolve.  It’s critical for hiring managers to interact and share what is working and what is not before making systematic changes.  Identify your strong hiring managers and have your weaker interviewers shadow them for training. You also want to make sure you find one or two simple measurements to help you determine positive progress over time.  

Start with the more relaxed measurements that would be considered toward the top of the funnel. While the end goal is to increase retention there’s a ton of other things to measure further up the funnel. Since hiring is likely not your primary focus, make sure to measure outcomes for at least a month before making adjustments or even a quarter depending on how often you’re hiring.  Some suggestions on measurements could be: How many candidates or what percentage of candidates did we vet out of the process? Or the rate of accepted offers?

Hiring process trumps everything.  Come to think of it, I can’t think of any popular culture rich and performance-proven brands that were built without establishing a sound hiring process.  Can you?

Maybe the place to start measuring is how often are we following our documented hiring process?  If the answer isn’t 100%, you have some work to do.


Y Scouts is a purpose-aligned, performance-proven leadership search and development firm focused on transforming how people and organizations connect to work that matters. When you’re ready to hire a new leader, Contact Y Scouts. If you are looking for your next leadership role within a purpose-driven, performance-focused organization, please join the Y Scouts Leadership Community.