By Angela May
Hiring is a challenge in any organization. You must do your best to express the needs of a complex position in a concise description, attract high-level talent using limited tools, and at the end of the day… hope for the best.
At a small organization, every new hire makes a substantial impact, for better or worse. Adding a third member to a specialized team will make a far greater impact than adding the fifty-sixth member to a team of fifty-five. As such, hiring is a high-risk (and proportionally expensive) process that must be undertaken with great care.
When we hire for these crucial roles, we’re not only evaluating for the already high bar of technical skill required to complete the work at MistyWest. We are also evaluating the candidate for cultural fit — which from our perspective is even more crucial. No resource is an island at MistyWest, and we owe all of our greatest achievements to teamwork. Will the candidate work seamlessly with the existing team? Do they communicate effectively, and how will they respond to the inevitable pressures of the role?
Adding a third member to a specialized team will make a far greater impact than adding the fifty-sixth member to a team of fifty-five.
It is a lot to evaluate in a short period of time, and the tools we have available to complete this assessment are limited at best.
The first stage of the hiring process is of course determining what roles we are hiring for, and why. This is a strategic process involving many members of the team, and a keen eye to the type of work we are hoping to undertake in the near future. Through this process we define the skills that a candidate must have and the skills that would be nice to have. We define a profile of what we would consider to be the “ideal candidate” in terms of skillset and years of experience.
From there our job posting is constructed and distributed. We make every effort to recruit through our local network of contacts in the industry, but we also post the list more broadly to public job posting sites. Throughout the year, we also undertake a number of strategic initiatives to meet and identify talent throughout our local network: external networking sessions, technical events and the university co-op programs are all methods we use to identify potential candidates.
A pool of potential candidates is identified through this process. Candidates who do not meet the minimum criteria for skillset and level of relevant experience are dismissed, and candidates that may meet the criteria are put through to secondary screening by more members of the team. This stage usually involves a prescreening call. The call has a few key goals:
- Verify or clarify the candidate’s experience
- Determine the candidate’s motivation for applying and compare with the longer term goals of the role being hired for
- Preliminary screening for fit
Candidates who seem viable or require further evaluation are invited to interview. The interview process is an exchange – each party must try their best to communicate their skills and each is evaluating the other group for fit. It’s not the ideal method of revealing this, but it is one of our more effective tools. The interview usually incorporates an assessment of technical skill. Depending on the role and the background of the candidate, this may include a software test, a design problem, or technical questions. Fit is assessed through questions relating to the candidate’s ethos, long term goals, intended career trajectory, and personal passions.
After a successful interview and onboarding negotiation (which involves role definition, compensation and timing), the employee enters their hiring probationary period. During this time we define some goals of what the new employee needs to demonstrate in order to ensure long term fit. The new employee is evaluated at regular intervals during this period, and if all goes well we have a new Westie!