How Do Candidates Describe Your Hiring Process?

Question for all my seasoned designer friends:

Think about your last job hunt. What adjectives would you use to describe the hiring process you experienced?

Jared Spool

This started off as a long rant on twitter a few years back — and since I’ve recently had a similar conversation while helping someone with their hiring process, I thought it worth digging out from the hellsite and putting somewhere more useful.

Jared’s question is a great one. What words would candidates in your hiring process use?

Here are some I’ve heard and used — on both sides of the hiring equation.

The bad:

  • Long.
  • Disjointed.
  • Repetitive.
  • Unrealistic.
  • Exploitative.
  • Opaque.
  • Anxiety-inducing.

The good:

  • Short.
  • Clearly defined.
  • Informed.
  • Challenging.
  • Coherent
  • Comprehensible.
  • Balanced.

Lets dig into some of the experiences behind those words.

The Bad

  • Long — You don’t value your or my time. You spread out interviews & exercises over weeks. Dates get moved. Decisions never get made. I’m always waiting to hear back from somebody. You seem shocked when you finally come back with an offer that I already got another job.
  • Disjointed — The recruitment process doesn’t feel predictable. Interviewers contradict each other. etc. Job roles and requirements seem to change. Trivial questions get asked, and trivial exclusions applied, at the end of the process rather than the start.
  • Repetitive — Different people ask the same damn questions multiple times in multiple interviews, wasting your and my time. Nobody seems to be talking to each other inside the organization. You sometimes expect different answers to the same questions. There’s always “one more” person to talk to.
  • Unrealistic — You want somebody who is awesome at illustration, and JavaScript, and user research, and CSS, and UI design, and usability testing, and interaction design, and service design, and HTML, and survey design, and animation, and customer interviewing, and…
  • Exploitative — You value your time way more than mine. You want me to jump through take home exercises that would take days to perform at a reasonable level before you even talk to me. You treat me like an idiot and expect to prove otherwise. You don’t answer my questions.
  • Opaque — You don’t let me know how the recruitment process will work. How long it will take. When I can expect a decision. What the salary range is. Who I’ll be working with (seriously!). What I will be working on. How you work. You expect me to sign an NDA and non-compete.
  • Anxiety-inducing — I don’t know what’s happening. I don’t know why it’s happening. I don’t know when it’s going to be happening. I don’t know who is making the decisions. I don’t know why.

The good

  • Short — You know what you’re recruiting for and why. So you only ask me to do relevant things. You value my time, as well as your own. Time spent is appropriate on both sides for how invested we are in working for each other. Commitment builds over time.
  • Clearly defined — You know what you’re recruiting for and why. So you have roles, and skills, and the behaviours you expect to see down cold. Everything from the job advert to the interview process shows that.
  • Informed — You know what you’re recruiting for and why. Along with how that fits into the larger UX/design/product world. You understand how those skills fit together. How likely you’re likely to find them in one person. How expensive they may or may not be.
  • Challenging — You know what you’re recruiting for and why. So you focus on the areas that are actually significant to the role. You can ask tricky questions on how I’ve solved problems in the past, rather than random hypotheticals that bear no relation to real work.
  • Coherent — You know what you’re recruiting for and why. So I never wonder “why did you ask me that?” or “what’s happening next?”. Every stage of the interview process from start to finish is built to recruit people with the abilities you need.
  • Balanced — You know what you’re recruiting for and why. So you’re approaching the recruitment process as a conversation. It feels fair. You want me to be confident that I can work with you well. I want you be confident that I can do the job well.

And yes — with different sets of jargon this applies to recruiting product people, or developers, or content people, or data people, or… anybody really.

If you’re having problems hiring go ask candidates how they would describe your hiring process. Ask the people you hired, the people you rejected, the people who you wanted to hire but rejected you.

It will almost certainly be interesting.

TL;DR: Please understand what you’re recruiting for and why.


Published: May 9, 2024