How To Create a Lean Interview Process In 6 Easy Steps

Authored by Kayla Brehm

Published on June 29, 2015

The lean startup methodology has been gaining momentum for years. Focusing on nimbleness and speed, it relies on customer feedback and research to adjust major decisions rather than intuition to create the ideal product. But how can the lean methodology influence departments outside of product and engineering?

Recruiting at startups can (and has) become a costly and convoluted space. Teams new to recruiting have dozens of platforms to choose from claiming to be the best in the space – but one size does not fit all. Strategies that work for teams in the hundreds may not make sense for those yet to break ten people. Customer service teams, who often double or triple in size in short periods of time, feel this pain.

How can early stage startups create a lean interview process? Consider your options.


1. Determine the process

Save time and ambiguity by creating a structured process that each person/position will follow. We at Help try to follow the four step process below. While some positions may require more steps than others – more junior positions may not require as many steps and vice versa- we’ve found that this has really set us up for success.

Many startups love giving out projects to prospects to get a better idea of fit. For customer service teams, in lieu of a technical interview, have your candidates go through a few sample tickets. For our recent Account Executive position, we had our top candidates prepare and give a demo of our product. In doing so, we were able to get a peek at what they would be like in the position and in front of our customers.


2. Referrals

You don’t need to hire an outside recruiter to find top talent. Take advantage of your internal network. Have your hiring manager ask the team if they know of anyone looking for new opportunities. Get creative and try reaching out to people via LinkedIn or Twitter.

If your approach is more cold, try the below template.

Hey [Name],

I hope this finds you well! I’m reaching out because we at x have a position open that I think may interest you. I’ve included a link to the official job description below. Feel free to get in touch if you’re interested in chatting or have any questions.


It’s best to customize these as much as possible when reaching out. Good candidates get emailed by recruiters all the time. Make yourself stand out. Did they have a project that you really admired? Mention it! Find a way to make a connection.


3. Communicate and be nimble

You can never over-communicate during the interview process (internally and externally). It’s important to keep your team and candidate up-to-date about what’s going on. Post-interview, consider your conversation. How did it go? What went well? What didn’t?

If you can, tailor the feedback form to reflect each position specifically. On a higher level, we like to address:

In our feedback form, I’ve found the “additional comments” section the most useful. It’s a great place to put in if a candidate brought up a good point or asked something specific about the company. Be candid – the more information you have, the better.


4. Be efficient with your team’s time

By continuing to communicate, you’ll find that sometimes processes need to be adjusted. Over time, we noticed that during our onsite interviews, our team spent hours away from their work interviewing even though they all knew the candidate wasn’t a good fit for the position. We started doing a brief pulse check after each onsite interview (we have as many as 5 in one day during an onsite) to make sure everyone is making the best use of their, and the candidate’s, time.

When we were small enough, we had every person on the team meet with each candidate. As we grew, we still wanted to maintain that process, but it just didn’t make sense anymore and wasn’t logistically possible. It’s also important to remember that it’s okay to take time during the interview process to make sure you find the right person for the job.


5. Ask for feedback

Just as you consider customer feedback in the development of your product, it’s important to consider the experiences of your team and previous candidates as you develop your interview process. The feedback will not only help you improve, but could potentially create company promoters. You never know, maybe they’ll send someone your way that is the perfect fit. I recommend using Google Forms or Survey Monkey to create a survey. Both have existing templates that you can work off of and tailor to your liking.


6. Invest in a platform that works for you

Perhaps most importantly, invest in a platform that really fits your company. Like I mentioned above, there are many out there to chose from. It’s important to first consider what you’re hoping to get out of the the technology before investing.

Important to consider:

The ideal platform has everything you could ever want. But some features you just don’t need right away. Consider what’s most important given the particular stage of your company/ team.

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