Hiring Rapidly and Time Efficiently

Ian Yamey

CTO at QuadPay



In my previous job I needed to hire a new engineer every two weeks for the remainder of the year. The company was growing quickly. Hiring rapidly was essential to meeting the company’s ambition. To keep up with expansion, I needed to hire across all levels: junior, mid, senior, as well as engineering management. The real challenge wasn’t simply hiring but making sure that the hiring didn’t destroy our product momentum.

Actions taken

Front-loading the design, coordination, and preparation of the entire hiring funnel was extremely important. I made sure that all of the roles had a clearly defined job description, interview plan, and compensation strategy. Headcount, seniority, and salaries were all preapproved by the stakeholders and every interviewer knew exactly which qualities they were expected to screen for in a candidate.

To ensure a distributed workload, we set up hiring teams. In our case, the engineering manager that led each squad was made responsible for the hiring process.

We treated the hiring process as a product. We experimented, launched, iterated, and set clear metrics to define success. Here are the three metrics that we used to hire rapidly while refusing to lower the bar on quality:

  1. Percentage of hires coming in from referrals -- We increased this from 10% to 30%. Our medium-term target was 40%.

  2. Time taken to make a decision -- From the moment we first screened a candidate’s application to the moment we either submitted an offer or passed. The industry average for making a decision was 30 days. We were able to hit 14 days. Our goal was that candidates should have an answer in under 10 days. We’re almost there!

  3. Face-to-face interviews to hire ratio -- This measure was an important barometer of quality. It measured ifour sourcing, brough in the right quality of candidates, and ensured that our engineers didn’t spend hours conducting technical interviews for candidates that didn’t end up receiving an offer. 

A final factor in making the hiring process as efficient as possible was a bit of a risk. We reduced our interviewing process down to four hours, on-site, and in one session. While we previously had several rounds of interviews, we decided to eliminate giving any candidates an assignment and have all interviews take place in one day. This was initially a big leap and we feared that weaker candidates would make it through to the on-site interviews thus being a drag on the engineering team’s calendars. However, the risk paid off and this turned out to be a very important change. Speed to hire is so important in closing the best candidates. We were able to meet great candidates, guide them through the funnel quickly, and bring them on to the team where they began making big impacts and performing well beyond our expectations.

Lessons learned

  • In the beginning we had a smaller team and I was in charge of all parts of the hiring process. I was sourcing, screening, managing the interview plan, extending offers etc. I was the bottleneck. I “gave up some of my legos” and trained up the managers of each squad to do their own hiring for the teams. Now I hold the hiring managers accountable to the above metrics and aid in unblocking any challenges that they have. I am still involved in the interview process but mostly to get candidates excited about the company and to ensure that candidates are going to raise the bar for our culture and for our capabilities.
  • Think of the hiring as you would a product, in spite of the fact that the cycle time is shorter. Hiring has a pipeline just like product development, metrics to measure it, observe cycle times to push things through, ensure all the requirements are defined up front, and have someone to alleviate any blockers just as a product manager would.
  • When hiring quickly it’s important not to let quality fall to the wayside. Especially when it comes to the values and culture of the organization.
  • The role of CTO or VP of Engineering with a growing team is that you are the product manager of hiring, the product manager of culture, and you must hold everyone accountable for quality. In essence, it is a people and process role.
  • Every hiring process is unique. Every company, every culture is unique. But just like we do with most things, the process starts from experimentation, measurements, and iterating until what you’re doing feels right. Remember, though, what is right for a company of 40 is probably not what is right for a company of 60 or 100 people.
  • In hindsight, I think I held on too long to the notion of giving candidates an assignment in between the screening call and the on-site. It added days to the process. After all, I kept it out of fear, fear that maybe somebody wasn’t good enough for the position and fear of wasting people’s time. Turns out, it wasn’t as strong of a signal as we thought. Plus it added at least 7 days to our decision. I should have given it up earlier.

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Ian Yamey

CTO at QuadPay

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