Education and Technology companies are gaining size and impact. There are now 14 EdTech unicorns (private companies with a valuation over $1B) according to Holon IQ. In total, they have raised almost $7 billion over a ten-year period. So, the stakes are high in EdTech to grow, and no asset is more important to sustained success than human capital.
We may have a biased view on this, but our clients have given The Renaissance Network continued feedback that our sticking to a deliberate process is key to our success in securing top talent. We recently brainstormed on five steps that are often undercooked or overlooked when securing new executives and team members.
1. Face to face meetings
We are seeing a trend toward time-crunched hiring managers relying solely on video interviews for all role levels. There is an ease and speed to “digital” interviews, but you invariably miss crucial information about body language and culture fit. Without meeting a candidate in person, you cannot see how they treat the employee who greets them. You will fail to spot if the candidate has considered the details (details count!) of coming to an interview including bringing a pen and notepad, researching the dress code, and navigating the commute on time.
There are also mutual benefits as an in-person meeting allows both the hiring manager and candidate to fully engage without distractions that arise in remote conversations. Finally, the visit to the office may benefit the candidate through more important questions answered about physically working at your firm which can help them make an educated decision come offer time.
2. Meet a candidate multiple times
Everyone has good days and bad days. When a candidate brings their “A-game” to an interview we, as the interviewers, feel good that this is a serious contender and one that we could work with or present to our clients. Some candidates make a good first impression by making sure the details of their interview are done correctly, providing excellent examples in their answers, and showing positive energy; they make us like them. But can the candidate repeat this impression a second time? A third?
You are not hiring someone who can put on a great performance. You goal should not be to hire a talent who is “performing,” but rather shows their authentic self. Meet them multiple times and even in alternative environments to ensure they bring their best every day.
3. Sleep on a decision
Your position may have been open for a long time and you have finally found the right candidate; you want to (and need to!) get them on board immediately. For example: you finally found the VP of Sales you have been looking for with in-depth K-12 STEM sales team-building experience; you want to hire them. When you finally find that perfect candidate after a long search, there is a level of excitement, relief and hope. We all have these feelings as hiring managers, and this can be a good sign. However, these emotions can inadvertently influence our decision because we want this to work.
Take a night to sleep on it, reflect, and in the morning, think again about any pitfalls that might be hidden in making this hire. Think about the top three reasons why NOT to hire the person and how it COULD negatively affect your business. If you can reasonably counter these arguments on the next day then go for it.
4. Use data to support your conclusion
If you started your hiring process later than you would have liked, and you have a deadline to meet, it is reasonable to want to rush through the process to make the hire. Should you skip critical steps? You know you need to ensure you get the right team members to meet the candidate and weigh in with their impressions. You might recognize that the candidate should be given a chance to demonstrate key aspects of the role through a practical presentation. We find that the most common missed step is failing to gather objective data in the hiring process to remove the influence of ingrained biases and subjective opinions. Relying on gut feel, personal connection and intuition in the process can come back to bite you if the data does not support these potentially emotional conclusions.
Data can include:
- Assessment with behavioral and cognitive measures specific to the role
- Reference checks with aggregated anonymous responses relevant to crucial aspects of a position
- Confirmation of success milestones through formal background checks and online searches
- Behavioral-based questioning to get real-life examples
- Gathering verifiable numbers associated with the person’s performance (sales quota attainment, marketing conversion rates, company growth rates, etc.)
5. Your needs can change
A hiring process can range from 30 to 90 days. The needs of the business can change during the time it takes to complete the search. Are there significant company or departmental initiatives that have been introduced during those 2-3 months? Have the capabilities of the team closely associated with the new employee raised or lowered? Will a new key customer or the loss of a significant client shift the skills or experience that you require? Has a macro event, like the delay of an education funding bill, affected the roles you will hire? Finally, has new leadership entered the firm through an ownership change or new board influence? Before the final offer is sent, complete a review of factors like these. Check in with stakeholders across the company to test if commercial, organizational or even cultural changes have occurred. Then decide.
Building out and retaining a high-performance team is clearly a pillar in annual business plans and long-term strategies. Skipping steps in candidate engagement, stakeholder management, and objective data capture will cost you either in unrealized growth or a new employee’s success on the job. We hope these five tips will help you accelerate your organization’s impact and revenues through securing great new hires.