Set up a hiring process that values culture-fit and performance
Hiring the right people is always a challenge. Many businesses end up making bad hires because they rush the hiring process when there is a pressing opening, or because they don't know exactly what they are looking for.
Another common mistake is hiring people simply because they come in cheap, instead of hiring them because they are a good company fit and are qualified for the job. What seems to be cheap at the beginning ends up being quite costly, because these below-average employees end up hurting the overall performance of the company and are barely contributing in any way.
Buffer has focused on designing a process that ensures the hiring of employees who not only are good performers, but also fit the company culture. In order to not make mistakes due to time constraints, it is crucial to take the necessary time to make an in-depth analysis of the job requirements and write a detailed job description. It takes 4 to 6 weeks on average for Buffer to complete the hiring process for one opening.
The candidate should be the one that fits the job description, and not the other way around.
Specify with your team the new mission and perfect job description
The process starts by asking yourself some key questions:
- What are the skills, personality traits and qualifications needed for the job?
- What are its goals?
- What does the new employee need to accomplish in a year for it to be considered a good hire?
- What would an excellent candidate get done during his or her first 45 days on the job?
- Who is going to be involved in the hiring process?
Everyone in the team should answer these questions independently, and after a team meeting takes place to get everyone involved in the hire on the same page. Then, it's time to write a job description. When everything is clear beforehand, it makes for a more impartial process and it's easier to only focus on the candidates that tick all the boxes.
Share the job offer internally before doing so externally
Whenever a new position opens up, Buffer lets other employees have the opportunity to apply for the position if it suits them. At Buffer, many employees have switched positions before and having this advantage is justified because they have been trained at the company to develop their skills and competences. They have at least a full week to consider whether they are interested in the new opening or not. If one or more current employees want to apply, they'll go through a special interview process. In addition, Buffer offers them the possibility of working in the new role for a trial period: if after 45 days they decide that they want to go back to their previous role, they can do so.
If nobody inside the company is interested in the job, the offer will be made public.
Use the right tools as support
- Homerun: Buffer uses Homerun as their applicant tracking system.
- Textio: it predicts to what degree the job offer will be effective at recruiting the desired applicants. It's also a tool to improve the job description.
Publish the job offer
When a company with a strong culture and good reputation publishes a job offer, many people will apply for the opening.
At Buffer, it typically takes 4 to 6 weeks to hire someone.
- During the first half of this process, Buffer wants to focus on reaching out to underrepresented groups (i.e. women, minorities). The following are some of the resources they use at Buffer to reach out to these:
- During the second half, they reach out to all of their sources:
- Emailing their "Interested in the Buffer journey" mailing list.
- Industry-specific sources.
- LinkedIn and Twitter.
Candidate reviews and interviews
Candidate reviews (1 week): with the support of Homerun, all of the people involved in the hiring process review candidates individually, with an emphasis on their experience and signs that suggest they are a good culture-fit. A small group of candidates is chosen to advance to the interview process.
Culture and values interview (2 weeks): before going through these interviews, Buffer writes down the same questions, in the same order, for each candidate, as well as what type of answers they are looking for. This makes it more impartial. The key here is identifying whether the candidate would be a positive addition to the company's culture, and whether he or she would be happy working in the environment they would encounter.
Experience interview (2 weeks): this is the time to evaluate the candidate's experience. A quick practical exercise can be helpful as well.
Final interviews: these are meant to gather further insight on some important parts of the role that might not have been covered thoroughly.
Meet up to make the final decision
Finally, everyone that has participated in the hiring process chooses who they think should join the company. Then, a meet-up takes place to discuss the different candidates and to pick the best one for the job. A scenario where there isn't a consensus best candidate is anticipated at the beginning of the process, when someone is designated as the final decision maker - he or she has to make a decision based on all the information and opinions gathered.
Once a candidate is chosen, his or her level of experience is taken into account and his or her salary is established according to Buffer's salary formula, as well as the training plan the candidate needs.