Build a team while you…build a team!?

According to a study on culture and motivation, play, purpose, and potential are 3 of the top 6 reasons people work. We think that hiring through Applied has a positive impact on the three simply by how the Applied Sift works.

Working remotely has made people feel further away from their team and the activities normally done for team building are much more difficult — or require a lot more planning, coordination and thought. Involving your team in hiring through Applied’s sift is an easy way to bring people together — team building while you build your team.

Here is where you really start to understand the secret sauce that is ‘Sifting’ otherwise known as reviewing at Applied. In this blog I’ll talk about what sifting is, why hiring this way builds a sense of play, purpose, and potential in your team, and why, as a candidate, it helps you trust the process.

Default Processes

Hiring for a role is one thing, building an entire team is another. At many companies, hiring is split between talent teams and hiring managers. Often, recruiters and talent managers are the gate keepers — they are the ones trusted to screen and shortlist candidates and hand over the baton (in so many words) halfway through the process for hiring managers to then takeover for the ‘in-person’ more in-depth assessment by conducting the interviews.

The composition of interviewing panels can be incredibly varied depending on where you work. Some team members are brought in last minute to do interviews — and some are never involved at all. Sometimes, the manager isn’t even involved in the process! When the interviewer isn’t on the same team as the candidate or isn’t a stakeholder/collaborator, as a candidate it’s difficult to understand why they’re in the room. And sometimes it’s the opposite — for some reason, as a candidate you’ve gone through 5 rounds and have practically met everyone in the company.

When your company is growing big and fast, it can feel like people have been thrust onto the team. And some of you are probably thinking so what? That’s how hiring works and that’s how scaling a company works. You can’t consult every person in the company before making a hiring decision — how inefficient!

Which is a valid point but if you want to ensure you’re building a culture of trust and inclusion, involving your team in the hiring process can really make sure that the inclusive culture you built at seed stage can scale. It feels like a missed opportunity not to bring people in and there should be a better and easier way to include people in the process. We really should be hitting two birds with one stone — team building while you build your team.

There is a way to hire where you can involve more of your team, work collaboratively with talent teams and give everyone in the company a sense that they have a say and impact on how the company grows around them.

Upgrading Your Process

Talent teams and recruiters are trusted and responsible for ensuring that the top of the hiring funnel is as diverse as possible. They seek out people they think will want to work at the company, post to a variety of job boards and build relationships with a broad range of communities and hiring partners. In a business sense, they’re all about selling and marketing the role and the company as an employer.

Applications at Applied look a bit different. Applications consist of anywhere between 3–5 work-related questions where candidates are assessed on whether or not they can do that specific job. Candidates are shortlisted based on their answers. It really takes away the need to have any sort of phone-screening process. We have a few blogs and articles on what work sample/sift questions are so I won’t go too into detail but you can read them here and here.

How we hire at Applied

The answers to these questions are anonymised, chunked, and ordered at random to reduce rank order effect. Meaning, that when you scan a stack of CVs you’re more likely to rate the top and bottom ones higher than the middle section. For reviewers, it also means that they can just focus on the answer to question 1 and whether or not it’s good across all applications, rather than context switching across questions.

Having Purpose

Who is best placed to review sift answers? And how many people should be reviewing?

Reviewing answers gives your team a sense of purpose and impact — employees aren’t there to just be a marketing manager or product designer, most want to support colleagues, help the company grow, and contribute to the mission. Reviewing sift answers gives people the sense that they’re being included in that journey of growth and have had a direct impact on who gets brought into the company.

The best people to assess these answers are the employees who will be working with these people the most anyway. They (should) have the knowledge and judgment to know if these answers are, not just correct, but good, great, and up to the standard that their team is looking for.

When scoring sift answers, as a reviewer you:

  • get a sense that you are being involved in something really important to your team and company
  • feel that the hiring managers and company trust you to make these judgements and assessments
  • have a direct impact on who gets hired by scoring the applications
  • see the wide range of talented people that want to work where you work
  • get a sense of who someone is and how they will work with you/their team based on their answers
  • you get to see the potential the team could have by hiring one of these candidates

Depending on how your company sets up reviewing in the app, it means that each person on your team has had the chance to have a few touch points with more than one candidate. It means that they’re included, and not just on a superficial level to ask a question, they actually had an impact in that candidates overall score — and that means a lot.

The number of people reviewing will require some speculation and finger in the air calculation. A higher volume of applications usually means you should have a higher number of reviewers. For lower or manageable amount of applications, we’ll have a standard of 3 reviewers. Having more reviewers reduces the time burden to review applications — although, it’s worth mentioning our initial study concluded that the Applied Sift saves people time compared to a traditional CV sift. This means that the weight of hiring new employees is spread across the team and generally saves time in the long run.

💬 Made reviewing a lot quicker (saved hours wading through CVs and cover letters) and was better able to separate each applicant from their application than I have previously been able to.

💬 A good process that gives all candidates a chance.

💬 smooth and effortless approach to analysing large numbers of applicants

💬 This was a really efficient way to grade candidates, it’s all consistent — not like rooting through CVs

💬 Fair system, easy to use and incredibly time-efficient

💬 In the space of a few weeks I’ve been on both ends of this process, first as applicant and now as reviewer. It is so much easier to keep focused on the actual answers compared with more traditional application reviewing, and that’s really welcome.

A sense of play

A lot of people we know enjoy reviewing sift questions on their phones. Wait — did you just say people enjoy it?

💬 I’ve really enjoyed the process and feel this has given me a new and welcomed perspective to shortlisting!

It’s so easy to navigate and gives reviewers a sense of play. It’s pretty clear that humans like judging other humans — we like voting for our favourites on Eurovision, we ‘like’ linkedin posts, and retweet our friends, allies, and idols. This translates into how we sift people in hiring — In Applied, there is an added bonus for reviewers because they get to see how they reviewed in comparison to their colleagues and see if there were similarities or differences in the assessments.

Does your review and interview panel have health disagreement? or too many great minds that think alike?

There are a few people who have likened it to Tinder or a Buzzfeed quiz — I’m not sure how we feel about that at Applied. Or maybe it’s because your mind isn’t as drained looking at wildly different CV formats and trying to process them in the same way with increased context switching 🤯.

Candidate Experience

I’ve talked to people directly about their interviewing nightmares and when there isn’t a genuine process, candidates start to doubt the company as a whole. Remember, interviews and applications are a two-way street — they’re for the candidate to assess the company just as much as the company to assess the candidate.

We’ve had so many reviews from candidates on the platform commenting on

  • how their views of the company using Applied became even more positive after finishing the application
  • that the questions gave them really great insight into what the job would be like
  • they got a better sense of who they would work with and what their team was like
  • they felt like they could really do the job and were excited to hear back — regardless if the news was negative
  • they ENJOYED filling out the application 😱

The greatest thing about filling out an application via Applied is that not only do companies get to see the potential candidates have, but candidates get to see that potential in themselves through the questions they answer. It’s really a win-win!

Second Brain Thinking

When recruiters and talent managers only review CVs to shortlist for interview, they’re relying on proxies and signifiers that are flawed and perpetuate systemic inequalities.

The average time it takes people to review a resume is about 7 seconds. The amount of shorthands and heuristics we use to do this is devastating. We need to slow down, so that we can act fast and not be so reliant on these shorthands.

This goes back to how the role is constructed in the first place. When a role isn’t designed well and becomes a mish-mash of what other people don’t want to do it can have a domino effect. How a role is designed can swing total motivation by 87 points.

This is all to say that, by bringing in your team earlier into the hiring process you can create a sense of play and purpose by showing them not just the potential they have to impact their team and company, but the potential often overlooked candidates can have before by joining the team.

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