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A ‘product’ approach to hiring

Nasser Oudjidane
December 19, 2022
A ‘product’ approach to hiring

In our task-orientated work lives, thinking outside the box can sometimes feel like a luxury. But in this blog, we’re sharing some bright ideas on how hiring can be more like building a product, helping you to eliminate bias and boost retention.

Applying product principles to the way you hire

Hiring is not just about the team you build – it’s about the process itself. We’ve been reading up on Dan Pupius, a former Googler who helped build Maps and Gmail, who’s well worth following on this subject.

This First Round Review piece highlights some of Dan’s insights from his time at Google, where he reportedly felt like he “snuck through their interview process – renowned for being an intensive, multi-stage affair that has since been grafted and replicated throughout tech”.

Dan later became Head of Engineering at Medium, where according to the article, he “wanted to build a recruiting system that wouldn’t have the same blind spots [as Google]”. Today, he is co-founder of Range, a communications tool, and remains an advocate for applying well-known mechanics of product development to the hiring process.

Here is a summary of Dan’s playbook according to the piece:

  • “Every interaction with a candidate must have purpose, yield data you can learn from, and fit into a bigger vision for what you want to accomplish.”
  • “You want to document the system you devise somewhere central and shareable. Consider it a living document that can be changed over time as you learn more.”
  • “You need a comprehensive definition of the type of person who will succeed at your company specifically. What is unique to your company and your mission?”
  • “Agree on the data you won’t be looking at…For example, at Range, Pupius and his co-founders have specified that they won't place any weight on what schools people went to, their grades, previous companies, who they know, etc.”
  • “You want to have a sense of the team composition you’re aiming for at any given time.”

There’s lots of useful information in the piece, and it even includes a handy chart which interviewers can use to grade candidates (DNO stands for ‘did not observe’).

The importance of the EVP

As Dan has alluded to, a product approach to hiring depends on knowing who is right for your company, and how they might align with your core mission. This is where the EVP (Employee Value Proposition) can help you put flesh on that bone. The EVP is all about defining your proposition to candidates, which is about more than just a pay packet. There are lots of opportunities to flesh out why your company exists and where it’s going, including:

  • Your job ads
  • Your non-monetary benefits 
  • Your organisational culture.

In a competitive market, money alone isn’t necessarily going to sway the top candidates, so it’s worth embracing a methodical, product-style approach to implementing best practice at all candidate touchpoints.

For tips and insights on how to develop a successful EVP, read our EVP blog, and check out the Intrro toolkit for more useful resources.

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