Our Senior Product Manager, Lubomir Malo, explains where organizations are going wrong when hiring digital talent – and how they can go about improving their digital recruitment.
We all know just how costly hiring the wrong person can prove.
This is especially true for smaller digital teams, where every individual’s work has a huge impact.
Select the wrong candidate once or twice and your business will probably recover.
However, hire the wrong candidates repeatedly – in any department – and it’s quickly going to become detrimental to your business.
Before joining Yieldify, I interviewed for a product role at another young startup in London. My two separate interviews with the co-founders both ended with the same question:
“What do you think about our current product?”.
I was then expected to walk through the application and pitch ideas of what I would change if were the product manager.
This is actually quite a common approach to interviews, not just for the product, but for a wide range of digital roles such as online advertising or on-site optimization.
And this is where a lot of companies are going wrong…
It may seem counter-intuitive, but my experience both interviewing and hiring potential employees have taught me a key lesson:
If you want to build a world-class team, don’t evaluate candidates based on their ideas or even their past accomplishments.
Let me explain why.
Ideas are hard to evaluate
If you ask candidates about their ideas on your current online marketing strategy or on-site experience, there is no concrete way to evaluate how good these ideas are without running an experiment and looking at the data.
The truth is, not even an experienced marketer can predict how a specific message or creative will perform. From my experience, some of the most impactful online marketing campaigns I have seen were ones which my colleagues with years of experience said would never work.
With a number of candidates pitching multiple ideas, you are very unlikely to go out and test their hypothesise before you make someone an offer.
It’s human nature to favour candidates who have similar ideas to your own. This means that if you’re using the perceived quality of ideas as an important selection criterion, you risk hiring not the best people, but those with views most similar to yours.
Past accomplishments are not a good measure of future success
Another common selection method is to look at the candidate’s past accomplishments and projecting them onto the new role.
The problem with this method is that past accomplishment are often not repeatable, and hence offer limited information about how the person will perform at your company.
Luck and specific circumstances are at play:
In one of my previous roles I achieved a 300%+ increase in monthly traffic from one of our top channels. However, this was partly due to a suboptimal strategy before I started, and partly due to luck and timing. I can say with confidence that I would be very unlikely to replicate that accomplishment at a different company.
It’s all about the process
If you want to build a world-class digital organization, you should focus on bringing in people who know the right process.
Instead of asking candidates about their thoughts on your current on-site experience, you should ask them how they would find out what to focus on and how they would test their hypotheses.
Instead of asking what their past accomplishments were, you should ask how they achieved them, what approach they used and how they would be able to replicate the process in their new role at your business.
It is people who follow an established process that delivers value repeatedly.
So, what is the right process?
Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula – although there are many wrong approaches, there isn’t a single correct one.
However, I would say good processes are usually:
– iterative with continuous improvements over time
– driven by hypotheses
– based on evidence and data
Next time you’re hiring, find candidates whose work is shaped by these processes and you’ll be sure to add value to your team.