Some quirky team of awesome engineers. Obviously.
Every time we are interviewing a candidate, may it be over the phone or in person, we invest significant time selling our team and company. We pull out our best story as we want them to get excited about joining us. We usually start by selling the company’s mission: “We’re changing the way [some-awesome-mission-statement-goes-here], by using [ridiculously-unique-technology]”. Then comes the PR quotes we got from TechCrunch, who invested in the company and why we’re going to be a 1 Billion Dollar business. Exciting!
But it never ends there.
Our team is even more amazing, so we continue to dazzle our poor candidate with some more information: “Three of our engineers are top contributors to [drop-cutting-edge-framework-name-here]! We have also [name], who helped creating [some-cool-monthly-meetup-group], and…”
The result: we say way too much, sometimes spending 30 minutes sharing information the candidate will never remember, yet we feel as if we missed out selling even more.
It’s not about us
“The interview is about the candidate, not about my team, my company or myself.” — It took me a lot of time to fully act upon this understanding.
I want them to get excited, but I know that many of them don’t have the attention span to process everything. They are nervous and tired, and I totally get it – interviewing is hard. Remember the time you were looking for a job? how many companies have you met? how many times you heard their pitch and completely forgot about it 5 minutes after the interview?
Focus on getting to know your interviewee.
Inspire them in “offline mode”
When I interview candidates today, I invest no more than 2-3 minutes in selling the company & team. In order to be effective, I’ve created a short “pitch” I memorized, so I could use it during phone-screening or in-person interview, without being afraid to forget something crucial.
Then, there is a little email marketing trick I’m using – I’ve got an email template ready, with awesome stories about the company & team:
- A short paragraph about the company.
- The best 2-3 articles about the company – can include a blog coverage, fund-raising or anything else that shows your unique strength.
- A sentence about the hiring process – how many technical interviews, how many HR interviews, how long does it usually take to complete the process.
- “While we are capable of moving very quickly during the hiring process, it usually includes 3 technical interviews in addition to some more of a “get to know you” and “culture fit” with our [HR/CEO]. If we believe there is a great fit on both sides, the entire process can be done in less than a week.”
- List of the personal blogs of your teammates. Just make sure they are okay with sharing it.
- If some of your teammates contribute to Open Source projects or regularly provide answers at StackOverflow and Quora, write it down:
- “We believe in giving back, so here are a few open source projects we contribute to: [ ... ].”
- If you decide to choose StackOverflow or Quora, simply pick the best 2-3 answers and share those.
- Hackathon projects are a great way to show your culture, so include a video to those as well, if you have any.
- For example, in our latest hackathon at Commerce Sciences, we’ve built a Nerf Gun with a web interface, named “Hit The Geek” (Video)
- If you have someone who is about to give a lecture, add “P.S. We have our own [employee name] giving a talk at [conference name + date]. You should come!”
An effective phone-screening process:
Having your email template ready, you can easily use it to save time while interviewing over the phone:
- Introduce myself and do a 2-3 minute sell. At this stage, I’ve got my “short sell pitch” ready and memorized.
- Explain that I’m going to send her some material on us – “Well, I could blabber for hours about us, but I don’t want to take too much of your time. I see that the email I’ve got is [some-email], is that correct? If you don’t mind, I’m going to send you an email right now with some information about the company and the team. It will include some of team’s blogs and contribution to various projects. This way, you can read more about us, and get to know us better, by looking at the things we do, in your own free time.”
That’s it. All the rest of the conversation can focus on the candidate – like it should.
The right balance at the right time
Using this email format has helped me focus on listening instead of talking. I leave it to the candidate to decide how much time to invest in reading the email. I try to make it as interesting as possible, so it would be obvious how strong the company and the team are. Also, you will win some bonus points as your candidates could see your passion and strength.
A good friend of mine shared her point of view to the impact of receiving this email, from the candidate’s standpoint:
I was on the other side of these phone calls for quite a few times, but I remember very little “selling pitches”. There were some, probably, many maybe, but they just flew by me. Maybe because I was a beginner. Having a pretty good interview run back then, and practically having the privilege of choice, I think something like a selling-pitch email would have made a world of difference in my case.
In the tough recruiting arena, it’s worth thinking outside of the box. You’re fighting to get these candidates, have you done everything you can to make them realize you’re something completely different and better?
P.S. did you check my latest side-projects? sign up to get some awesome tips for free!
1. SoftwareLeadWeekly — a free weekly email, for busy people who care about people, culture and leadership.
2. Leading Snowflakes — The Engineering Manager Handbook: practical tools and techniques for programmers who want to lead