By Ian Giles
Finding the best talent is one of the preeminent investments a company can make in building a competitive advantage. Every company wants to hire the top talent it can afford, so it needs to define a quality bar and find ways to verify which candidates meet these criteria.
At Crossover, we have over 5,000 candidates apply for jobs each week giving us a fantastic opportunity to learn how to do it well.
Lukasz Sieczkowski has the challenging job of defining and managing the testing processes for our aggressive hiring needs. With close to 100 roles to fill each week, he had to find a way to scale and continually iterate our processes to improve the volume and quality of candidates we hire.
Who are you and what do you do at Crossover?
My name is Lukasz Sieczkowski. I joined Crossover in December 2017. The teams I manage are responsible for the testing and the application processes. Our team puts in place all the tests, and we make sure the tests work properly and discover the top talent.
Why do you think this topic is important for readers?
Human capital is one of the most important investments for most organizations. Getting the best talent is the primary enabler for business success.
I believe if companies can find a way to find the best people, they can realize a better return on their investment. Even if companies are investing a substantial amount in recruiting it is wasted if they are using an incorrect process.
Crossover has developed a repeatable process for finding top talent. It’s not easy to implement, it’s a lot of work but it delivers results, and it’s worth it. We aren’t talking about a significant monetary investment but a time investment.
If you make the wrong hiring decision, it’s going to take 6–9 months to find a replacement. It’s a lot of time and money wasted so the best use of time is creating repeatable processes for consistently selecting top talent.
What are some of the greatest changes you’ve seen at Crossover over the last 6 months?
One of the most significant changes in the organization was hiring Vice President level roles as product managers for different functional divisions. The divisions are Engineering, Finance, Marketing, Product Management, Professional Services, Sales, and Support. The VP’s take care of establishing the quality bar for each role. They are experts in their fields with many years of experience in these types of roles. They make sure we identify the right skills needed for the job.
Another change is our Bootcamps. This is a 4 week paid training program where you learn the skills needed to succeed in the job. We believe this will make a big difference in finding the best candidates for the job. The training program help candidates understand what we do and how we do it. It allows them to get to know our culture and processes to see if they like working for Crossover. Bootcamps will enable us to look at the candidates for a few weeks doing what they will do on the job. It helps us to understand their talents, skills, and their attitudes. At the end of the 30 days, if it’s the right fit, we will know before hiring them.
How does XO determine the right skills and experience for the quality bar?
The product managers are senior executives with many years of experience who are experts in their fields, so they know what is needed. It’s not like a recruitment analyst or HR manager that tries to identify the skills required for a position on their own. Our product managers work with the Hiring Managers to determine what exact requirements are needed.
We also analyze the people we hire who have succeeded on the job. This data helps us define the typical characteristics of these candidates and these are the traits we look for in new candidates.
We also analyze the people who have failed. Not just in interviews but also on the job. We are working on a process that tells us when an individual fails an interview, and it triggers an update to the hiring team to let them know someone got to the interview stage that shouldn’t have got through. It means the candidate wasn’t appropriately filtered.
Every week we analyze interview results and adjust our tests to make sure we don’t make the same mistakes again. It’s not a one-off process, it’s an iterative approach of improving our quality bar and testing based on the results.
Why do you use hands-on testing questions?
We believe that the best predictor of success is whether the candidate can produce a similar work product to what they will be doing on the job. By using the hands-on tests we are able to more accurately validate the actual skills. For example, for a Technical Product Management position, we ask a candidate to create a new software specification, or we ask the person to find mistakes in an existing spec. Then we simply compare a candidates submission to a real work product to assess if it meets our quality bar.
Why are old tests susceptible to fraud?
If you have a test and it’s in the public domain for some time, it will get propagated to different websites, and people will try to work together on creating solutions. That‘s why we make sure that our tests do not stay up for too long. We keep refreshing them or completely changing them, so people use their skills to answer our questions versus finding ways to hack our process.
How much time does it take to take tests and why is it this length?
Because we analyze candidates from different angles and we use four separate assessments, it takes around 3–5 hours to complete. The tests are as follows:
- Basic fit based on experience
- English proficiency
- Hands-on skills
It’s worth taking the time to finish all the tests because we evaluate every single complete application to find the top talent.
How did Crossover scale from hiring hundreds of people to thousands in a few months?
We are growing very quickly, and our needs are unlimited. So, we had to transform and that’s why we devised our methods.
In general, we use three principles that allow us to scale.
Simplicity allows us to grow and run a large volume processes. We make our processes simple to make sure we don’t have to spend time understanding them, and this makes it easier to change them if we need too.
The second part is standardization, so you don’t have to analyze the differences in types of processes. Our recruiting method is the same for every position regardless of what organization you will be working for. There’s no difference between sales and marketing when it comes to the process. Questions may be different based on the job, but our method is the same.
Automation is the last aspect of our fast-paced growth. If you want to run large-scale business processes, you have to automate. We have automated a large part of our testing process and specifically grading. Having automatically graded testing allows us to individually evaluate the people who have the best test results.
What would you change about the testing approach? What would you like to try?
The Bootcamp is something we are trying, and we will receive some data soon to tell us how useful it is. We are pretty confident it will be a groundbreaking activity for verifying applicants.
I think Artificial Intelligence could help us to automatically improve our tests by learning the common characteristics/skills candidates should have by examining interview results and job performance data of hired candidates.
If you would like to learn more about the jobs we have available please visit our crossover.com/jobs