Applying Structure to Hiring Processes is Essential to an Organization’s Success

Kean Wong

Former VP of SW Engineering at Pebble



14 years into his career, Kean had accumulated a high degree of experience with hiring at various organizations across a number of differing engineering disciplines. It was then that he joined Facebook and finally observed a hiring process that truly succeeded. At Facebook, he learned more about hiring and how to structure the hiring process within the first month than he had in the previous 14 years.

Actions taken

Kean realized that many of the problems that he'd observed previously, which are common to engineering organizations in general, were related to hiring processes. So, when he joined Pebble, he adapted the structured style of process he'd observed at Facebook.

Kean identified the shortcomings of common interviewing techniques, such as having a disjointed interview process with different interviewers asking the same questions to candidates, or questions around the same technical topic. This technique often produces a void in information about specific areas for candidates, primarily those that involve how the person would work and collaborate as a team member. It (surprisingly often) also produces gaps in a candidate's technical skillset, if no interviewer covered an area, or went into sufficient depth.

Similarly, he recognized a missed opportunity for learning from previous hires as companies grow. Repeatability is essential to all processes, including hiring. For example, when hiring a large number of candidates of a similar experience level for a similar skillset, applying a well-thought out and consistent structure to the process eventually provides you with a common calibration point for future hiring decisions. You can see that in the past, people who answered the same general questions in a particular way were more or less successful than those who answered differently.

Through years of experience observing hiring processes at varying companies, Kean has found that having a well thought-out, structured process candidate assessment process can have a huge impact. This involves clearly defining the role, and structuring interviews, phone screens, and even resume screens to enable effective hiring and instructive debriefs.

Lessons learned

Devote time to developing and maintaining a well-structured process for hiring at your organization. Establish repeatable screening processes, send out topics for what each of the interviewers should cover, and facilitate structured debriefs. A structured hiring process is also a great way to make a positive impression on potential candidates - you can lose great candidates if you have a poor process, as it could reflect poorly on your company. Moreover, Kean observed over a 90% long-term success rate for hires since structuring the hiring process at Pebble. The value of that effect on the company as a whole is immeasurable.

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Kean Wong

Former VP of SW Engineering at Pebble

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