Three Strategies for Interviewing Candidates – Startup Recruiting Guide

The recruiting process can be time consuming and expensive. Here are few tips to help you interview and hire great candidates.

Recruiting new employees is one of the most pivotal moments in an early startup’s lifecycle. Time and resources are scarce, so finding qualified candidates quickly becomes a top priority. For any startup leader, it’s necessary to take ownership of the recruiting and hiring duties, at least for the first few hires, as they are going to set the tone and define the culture of your company for years to come.

The recruiting process can be time consuming and expensive. Harvard Business Review reports that bad hiring decisions result in high employee turnover rates. Plus, the estimated cost of replacing a salaried employee is close to $7,000 dollars. The interview process is a good way to weed out candidates that may look good on paper but don’t have the skills or personality to fit in with your company. Here are a few tips to help you interview and hire candidates:

  • Review samples of a candidate’s past work and/or have them bring it in and walk you through it. This could be a personal portfolio, blog, website, or code repository. You want to test that they can articulate the process of building on an idea and how they worked through challenges they came across.
  • Host a group interview and have candidates work on projects in teams. This helps you identify which candidates work well with others and are not afraid to be outspoken when needed. You can also get a glimpse of candidates with great work ethic.
  • Present a problem that your company is currently facing and have the candidate work out a plausible solution on a whiteboard. Whiteboard challenges are a great way to test the candidate’s skills, ability to think on their feet, and their ability to communicate effectively. If the role is a bit more technical, an individual timed hackathon is a great option to consider.

We know that building out your team can be challenging and time-consuming. That’s why, we built Smartly, where you can efficiently browse and connect with high caliber candidates for your open positions. Also, in our previous post we covered some great options for choosing an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) for your startup, you can find that here.

Sign up or head back to Smartly Talent to browse our candidates today! And, while we are in beta, your first hire is free.

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Guide to Setting Up Recruiting at a Startup by Smartly Talent

When short on time, how do you efficiently source, interview, and track talent?

It’s difficult for early stage startups to find talent when they need it. In fact, startups are often hiring for a role a month after they needed the person for the role. The last thing there is time for is hiring, but there comes a point when new talent is needed to scale. When short on time, where do you start to source talent? And once you have a list of candidates, what are you using to interview and track processes? When you are looking to fill more than one position, it’s time to start building your recruiting processes out.

The first step should be getting an affordable and functional Applicant Tracking System (ATS). A simple ATS is key to maintaining a talent pipeline, keeping track of candidates’ interview progress, and their offer status. Otherwise, you may lose track of people and resumes, or worse, forget about a candidate and give an applicant a bad experience. This is because an ATS helps you keep track of candidates so they stay in the loop about their interview status and feedback. Here are a few great options as you pick your ATS:

Product: Price:Notable Feature:
GoogleHireFrom $2400 to $12,000 per yearIntegrates easily with G Suite apps
Greenhouse$6600 per yearTailored Interview Kits for every candidate and position
Lever$4000 per year
*Price goes up as employee size goes up
Create individual and full job sites and landing pages
WorkableFrom $600 to $4800 per yearBuilt in social media recruitment

We recommend GoogleHire because of its ability to integrate easily into existing Google Suite software and its price point. As a startup that uses Google’s productivity suite, we find value in being able to find, track, schedule, and message candidates in one platform. You can easily have your team collaborate in hiring decisions as well.

Google Hire ATS
Our choice for an easy and affordable ATS is Google Hire!

This is the first in a series of articles about setting up recruiting at your startup! 

At Smartly, we know that scaling your team is challenging and time consuming. That’s why we built Smartly, where you can efficiently browse, vet, and interview high caliber candidates for your open positions. And, while we are in beta, your first hire is free. Sign up or head back to Smartly Talent to browse our candidates!

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Smartly Tips to Reduce Bias During the Hiring Process

Here are a few tips to help you better evaluate candidates and improve your hiring practices.

Harvard Business Review cites that “fair hiring methods increase the level of productivity and innovation at your organization, and can even improve employee retention rates.” At Smartly, we believe that all candidates deserve a fair chance at being considered for roles they’re qualified for. Some common hiring biases include: age, disability, nationality, race, color, religion, and gender. Our hiring engine allows employers to evaluate candidates based on a candidate profile, which is designed to showcase: experience, skillset, and potential. In an effort to reduce unconscious bias, we give employers the ability to browse profiles without pictures or names. Check it out in Smartly Talent (log back in).

Smartly Feature to Reduce Bias
Access this setting in the “Preferences” section of Smartly Talent

Here are a few other ways you can reduce bias in your hiring process:

  • Implement a blind CV policy that omits name, gender, and nationality from candidates’ profiles. This helps ensure that a candidate is judged on their merits and achievements.
  • Establish a uniform vetting and interview process. Standardize questions, by using a uniform script. This helps ensure that candidates of all background are asked the same screening questions.
  • When asking personality and behavioral questions, be sure to ask questions that are gender neutral and test temperament required to excel in the role and a team setting.
  • Also, having multiple interviewers at each stage ensures a diversity of perspectives when it comes time to evaluate a candidate post-interview.

We hope these tips help you better evaluate our candidates and improve your hiring practices! Head back to Smartly to browse our candidates!

And, while we are in beta, your first hire is free!

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How to Effectively Reach Out to Candidates

Here’s how to get the most out of your initial interaction with desired candidates for open roles at your company.

Finding a high caliber candidate in a pool of 1000s of resumes can be incredibly hard. Even when you find that one candidate you think is “perfect” from a big pool, you never know if their aptitude, skills and work ethic matches the attributes you see on their resume. To counter this problem, the brain trust behind Smartly built an education platform and hiring engine that work hand-in-hand to attract students from top schools and with great experience. Moreover, the candidates in Smartly are learning while working full time; they’re motivated individuals with the work ethic and drive to be constantly improving. It took years of content development and fine-tuning to ensure that Smartly’s learning programs and hiring engine are optimized to allow you to source, connect, and hire only the best candidates.

At Smartly Talent, we know that sourcing candidates is only the first move in the chess game that is a recruiting process. After matching with potential candidates, it’s important to swiftly reach out to move from match to qualified connection by piquing their interest in the role that you’re trying to fill. The initial contact you make with them often sets the tone for the rest of the recruiting process. To make things a little easier for you, we came up with a few tips on how to craft the best message(s) to reach out to our candidates. Here’s how to get the most out of your initial interaction:

1. Share briefly what makes you interested in the candidate’s skillset and identify any commonalities you may have with them or they might have with the company. Begin by asking for a conversation rather than giving a long spiel about the company and the role you’re trying to fill.

  • If their hobbies or interests align with something that you’re into, this would be a great way to open and build a connection.
  • Also, express what about their experience interested you.

2. State what position(s) you are recruiting for (i.e. title, team, and location).

  • You may also choose to go into some detail about the role, company structure, and perks to get the candidate excited about speaking with you further.

3. End with a time-specific call to action. Suggest a time and date (or two) to speak more about the role you’re trying to fill.

  • This could be a link to your calendar so they can pick a time and slot to speak.
  • You could ask for a phone call or a video meeting if there is mutual interest as well.

Here’s an example:

Hi Sally,

We are hiring for data scientist in our San Francisco office. Your experience at Company A suggests you might be a good fit. I also noticed you studied at University B; many folks in our office went there and I am happy to connect you with an alum.

Would you be interested in connecting about the data scientist role? I am free on Wednesday from 9-11am.

Best,

Jason

It’s important to remember that the candidates are often busy in their day-to-day. It’s best to give them a couple of days to respond to your message.

We hope these tips help you better connect with our candidates! So sign-up or head back to Smartly to browse our candidates today!

And, while we are in beta, your first hire is free!

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Smartly Talent has High Response Rates!

Smartly Talent makes finding talented candidates easy by increasing the chances you’ll hear back from those you reach out to.

At Smartly Talent, we know how hard it is to build a team of all-stars. Casting a wide net by posting on job board sites and hoping to find the right candidate(s) can be time-consuming and frustrating.

Our platform is an intuitive end-to-end solution that seamlessly connects employers with talented Smartly candidates. Not only are our candidates vetted, coming from a variety of top schools and top companies, but they’re also responsive.

After going through our employer-candidate connection data, we found that 89% of employers received responses when they wrote to candidates through Smartly. That means, if you send messages to 10 candidates through Smartly Talent, you’ll likely hear back from eight to nine of them!

We make finding talented candidates easy and have systems in place so that you hear back from those you reach out to.

Connect with Candidates for your openings today! While we are in beta, your first hire is free. So sign up or head back to Smartly to browse our candidates today!

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How Smartly Talent Works for Candidates

While Smartly is known for pioneering one-of-a-kind, online MBA & Executive MBA education programs, we also take pride in our budding career network, Smartly Talent. Smartly Talent is designed as an employer first career network, which means that employers browse our candidate profiles and reach out if and when they think there is a fit for their openings. This is our way of closing the loop in the hiring process—we teach you the skills necessary to advance your career, then we help you get hired.

  • Joining Smartly Talent: If you are accepted into the Business Certificate, MBA, and EMBA programs, you are automatically eligible to join our career network, Smartly Talent. Just make sure that you have set your profile to “Active” in the Careers Preferences tab. If you aren’t a Smartly student, you can still apply to join Smartly Talent by applying here. You can find some tips for how to make your profile stand out to employers here.
  • You are liked!: If an employer has expressed interest in your profile, you receive an email prompting them to respond to the employer – you can either like or pass on the employer.
  • It’s a match!: If you like the employer back, the employer receives an email alerting them of the good news!
  • Connect with the Employer: We now have a match and anyone can kick off the conversation to see if it will be a good fit. We recommend starting the conversation as soon as possible! A polite “Hello, nice to meet you! I’m curious to learn more about your open roles” or something similar should jump-start the conversation.
  • Receive Interview Requests: Employers can schedule interview requests with students over Smartly Talent’s messaging platform.
  • Keep in Touch: We realize that everyone’s busy, but if you haven’t heard from an employer in more than a week, we recommend sending another message to check-in!
  • Get Hired! Let us know anytime if we can help you in your career journey.

Occasionally, we will share an Employer Spotlight email to support you and our companies by sharing a few of our employers with you, our students, and then proactively suggest viable candidates to those employers.

Questions? Feel free to email Smartly Career Services at hiring@smart.ly!

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Smartly MBA Student Spotlight: Hafeez Dhalla

This week, we chatted with biotech expert Hafeez Dhalla, who is in currently in our Fall 2016 class and about to graduate. We learned more about his MBA experience and what’s in store for him post-Smartly. Browse, connect, and hire candidates like Hafeez on the Smartly Talent Network.

Tell us about yourself.
In 2012, I finished a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at Duke, where I researched an imaging technology that provides ophthalmology surgeons with a cross-sectional view of the tissues they are manipulating – a different vantage point than they can achieve from the top-down view through a microscope. After graduating, I initially followed an academic path as a postdoctoral fellow at MIT.  I then had an opportunity to join my Ph.D. advisor’s startup, Bioptigen, which was trying to commercialize a technology similar to the intraoperative imaging technology I worked on in graduate school. At Bioptigen, I saw this product from the research phase, through product development and ultimately into commercialization. Bioptigen was then acquired by Leica Microsystems, and I moved from an engineering role to a commercial one. Now, as a product manager, I work directly with surgeons in an upstream marketing capacity, gathering feedback and defining requirements to improve the product. I am also still the resident technology expert, and so I still perform a fair amount of technical work as well. I had wanted to do an MBA to support my new commercial role, but it was difficult to find the time or the funding to do it. That’s when I found Smartly. It seemed like a natural fit – the classes were the right size and could fit it into my schedule whenever I had time. It gives me the knowledge I need for my new commercial role without the rigid structure of a traditional MBA.

How has the Smartly curriculum helped you?
I use it all the time. For example, the digital marketing course has been really useful of late. We’ve been looking at digital marketing campaigns for one of the products that we’re launching. While I’m not directly involved in the downstream marketing work, I do work closely with the marketing team and help to develop content for their campaigns. Knowing what they’re talking about (for example, when they discuss inbound and outbound marketing) has been invaluable. A lot of the content that I develop is tailored to inbound marketing, but they’ll create outbound campaigns to draw people into the technical pieces that I create.

What have you enjoyed about the MBA so far?
How bite-sized the classes are. I’m pretty busy. I have a young kid and another on the way. I have a full-time job and some investment activities on the side, so my days are pretty full. When I was thinking about doing a weekend or executive MBA, I wasn’t sure how I could squeeze it in. This has been great.

What are you hoping to get out of Smartly Talent?
I took on this MBA to help me with my current career path. Of course, if I were able to find something that would be a good fit for my experience and skills, I would be interested in learning more.

What are you hoping to do after you graduate?
The knowledge base provided by Smartly has been valuable and will continue to be valuable in this new career path that I’m on. Looking towards the future, I’m not sure if I want to stay on the commercial side or move back to the technical side. I like what I’m doing right now where I’m straddling both. I would love to have a career that maintains roles in both product development and product management.

Which industries are most appealing to you?
Medical technology and medical devices. I’m also interested in renewable energy and global health. Anything that addresses large overarching problems in the world.

What is your long-term career goal?
I’m hopeful that I can make an impact on the world and make it a better place through the development and commercialization of technologies in these spaces.  I think I can best do that through a product development or product management role, especially one in which I can leverage my technical skills.

What makes you a great job candidate?
I am pretty persistent, and when I get into something, I’m very dedicated to it. I’ve been working on this same technology for over a decade, trying to develop a product I believe in and bring it to market. That experience has been valuable in that I’ve been able to take something through multiple phases: from conception in the research lab to product development in a startup to global commercialization in a multinational corporation. I’ve learned a great deal through these experiences; from the rigors of academic research, to addressing more practical concerns in product development, to now navigating commercial challenges in product management and new product introduction.

Are you looking to hire MBA candidates like Hafeez? See them all by signing up here.