Optimize your Hiring Funnel

Trevor Orsztynowicz

Hiring software engineers has always been problematic and today’s market is even more challenging. The influx of capital into the industry, combined with an overall lack of experienced talent has resulted in a highly competitive market. You likely won’t be able to compete with many larger companies on total compensation but you can stand out in other ways that give you an advantage in the market.

If you’re a hiring manager or thinking about hiring people at your company, something you can do to make your life easier is to optimize your hiring funnel. Here are a few techniques to do that.

1. Measure your Hiring Funnel.

If you haven’t already you should define and measure your hiring process. This means instrumenting conversion rates and counts between each step. After you’ve started measuring you can ask and answer some questions. How long does it take to review resumes when people apply? How long does it take to get them through the first real-life interview? How many people pass the technical evaluation stage? By understanding these numbers you can figure out what a reasonable cycle time is for someone going through the process, and use that as your actual target. By moving people through the funnel at a reasonable pace, you have a higher chance of converting (hiring!) them if it’s a good match. By measuring you can see where the bottlenecks are and address them appropriately.

2. Provide Timely Notifications

Many candidates have experienced getting a rejection letter 3 months after applying for a job. If you’re addressing the backlog system try and do so in a timely fashion. Let candidates know whether or not you’d like to advance someone to the next stage of the process and schedule that appropriately. If a candidate is being asked to advance to the next stage, then give them the tools and information in order to be prepared.

If a candidate is not being advanced, then at least have a templated email explaining the situation and invite them to apply again in the future. By being transparent with where people are in the process you’ll develop a reputation of being transparent and respectful of peoples time.

3. Appropriate Feedback

If someone doesn’t make it all the way to getting an offer, you should provide reasonable feedback. This givethem the opportunity to improve or at least understand your perspective. For example, if someone is doing a technical assessment and they do poorly on architecture or design questions, you can suggest that as an area to look into prior to re-applying.

There are varying views on providing feedback to candidates during hiring. In some places this feedback may expose you to some kind of liability. I’ve yet to see this happen in real life but you’ll have to consult with your People or HR team to see what they think is appropriate.

4. Set the Stage

Every candidate should know in advance what the steps are going to be for the hiring process and typically how long it will take. An interview takes a huge amount of time on both sides so by giving people the information up front on the interview cadence and the evaluation criteria you’ll have higher quality conversations.

5. Ask for Feedback

Finally, ask successful hires what might make the interview process easier or more enjoyable. I typically do this as well as encourage people to take notes during onboarding to make the next hire more frictionless. If you collect enough feedback you can figure out what kinds of steps to take to improve the process over time.