November 13, 2023

Onsite interviews are better**


Partner at Hirewell. #3 Ranked Sarcastic Commenter on LinkedIn.

**At least they can be better, if you know what you’re doing.

Onsite interviews are better. At least they *can* be better, if you know what you’re doing.

👉Because they offer far more ways to enable a great candidate interviewing experience.

Story time. A year ago we had a client in the regional banking space looking to hire senior level tech people (software engineers, product managers, etc.)

A few of their key parameters:

  • Onsite work
  • New York City or San Francisco
  • FAANG tier talent (people from or the skill to work for Google, Meta, etc.)
  • ~30 hires
  • 4 months time frame

And did I mention a regional bank? Not a whiz bang AI/crypto/whatever the next big eye popping startup trend is. And they didn’t have the internal bandwidth to do this.

So we did something (spoiler: not so) crazy: event-based hiring.

In a nutshell:

  • 3 day hiring event. All onsite.
  • 10-15 people from the client actively engaged throughout.•25-30 pre-screened people invited.
  • Day 1: cocktail mixer. Meet the whole team. And everyone you could potentially work with. Ask whatever you want. Walk away and don’t come back for day 2 if you want. (No one bailed.)
  • Day 2: 1st round of interviews. Everyone met the team. Every candidate knew if they were invited back to day 3. Zero slow feedback. Zero ghosting.
  • Day 3: 2nd (final) round of interviews. Offer or no offer decision by the end of the day. Zero feedback drag.

We did 3 of these events. All hires were made on time. Hiring goal achieved.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think it was a crazy idea when we collaborated with our client on it at first. But it worked because of 3 things:

1. It was a superior candidate experience compared to a bunch of Zoom interviews and a tech assessment.

When everyone runs the exact same playbook, you look and sound like everyone else. No matter how slick your pitch is.

In person communication matters.

2. The entire organization was engaged and onboard.

Execs, hiring managers, HR, recruiters. Everyone was open and honest with the candidates.

More importantly: they were both literally and figuratively present.

3. Time boxing. Debriefs and next steps happen on an exact schedule.

There were no lingering feedback delays. Putting people on hold to wait for more candidates, only to later have them lose interest.

The biggest challenge to volume hiring is interview process drag. The feedback loop problem.  That was completely eliminated.

When you put those 3 points together, something magical happens: offer/acceptance conversion rates skyrocket.

The last event? 11 offers. 11 acceptances.

Most of the hiring landscape is obsessed with building a big funnel. I.e. more candidates will fix the problem, let’s hire a team of recruiters plus a handful of contingent firms. Spam everyone and onesie-twosie hire all year.

But successful hiring has always been about attracting talent all the way through the process. Getting a high rate of acceptances. Not just filling your inbox with applications.

Partner at Hirewell. #3 Ranked Sarcastic Commenter on LinkedIn.

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