Separating the wheat from the chaff

TL;DR: Referral recruitment 1–0 Direct applications

Unlocking tech talent stories

June 24, 2014
Recruiting is not a “piece of cake”

The reason behind it tends to relate to the fact that, on a daily basis, our team has to deal with different (yet specific) requirements that each job position has. Plus, managing expectations between candidates and clients demands a huge investment of time and resources… And, it’s no different when we become our own client 🙂

Growth hacker, join us!

In the middle of May 2014, we posted a needs-to-be-urgently-filled-in Growth Hacker position on our own platform, therefore, opening the gates for everyone to apply or refer someone to work with us. Not only did we post it on, we also decided to include other recruitment platforms.

This decision allowed us to (1) have a wider sourcing reach and (2) to compare ourselves with other well-known regular job boards. In doing so, we got some pretty interesting results.

How it went down

72% of the applications we’ve received came from regular job boards. Only 22 applications were submitted through our platform (the remaining 28%). It makes sense as our competitors have been acting longer on the market and their online reach is beyond comparison…

However, excel doesn’t lie! Quantity doesn’t always match quality (“quality” meaning the number of applicants which matched the requirements provided to fill the position).

In fact, let’s consider the stages we went through in order to better understand what happened:

  1. Pre-filter candidates by matching their skills with our requirements.
  2. Send out a challenge for those who matched the basic requirements.
  3. Face-to-face or skype interview with those candidates who responded to the challenge and made an impression 🙂
  4. Lastly, a final interview with both founders, Oliveira and Paiva, and our social media advisor: Domingos.
Rejection reasons
  • A few direct applications were so lame that they even failed to get our name right or, even worst (?), it was just an empty application with one pdf attached to the e-mail… These weren’t considered for obvious reasons.
  • El numero uno reason was linked, obviously, to those candidates who failed to match the basic requirements.
  • Many candidates who, after an initial contact, (re)checked the basic requirements decided to remove themselves from the process.
  • Lack of candidate availability and unsynced salary expectations played a role too. Several candidates weren’t able to meet our expectations.
  • Several candidates had no startup culture whatsoever. Their behavior showed us that they’re money-oriented which does not cope with a full-time startup job. Cash comes if you do a great job. Else, startup dies.

Although it’s quite normal to discard the majority of applications received (unless we’re recruiting collectively), it’s also true to say that we were genuinely surprised by the amount of applications rejected before step two. It looks like challenges are a great way to separate the wheat from the chaff.

No rejection was sent without a sound argument supporting it as it should be (but we know employers usually don’t).

What happened was…

We chose 4 finalists:

  • 25% candidates came from direct applications aka other platforms.
  • 75% candidates applied through a referral.

One finalist dropped out because, even though there was great fit, joining us full-time would risk her studies and, therefore, we both decided not to move forward.

Final round

Basically, only 3 (out 8 candidates who submitted the challenge) went through to the final interview.

One candidate arrived 15 minutes late for the final interview. That can’t happen. If you’re going for a job interview: don’t ever arrive late! It shows lack of commitment. And, no, a late train is not a good excuse…

Surprisingly enough (!), the final two candidates came to us from referrals. So, I guess, referrals do work.

PS: Who joined us? More news on that very soon 🙂

Maria Inês Marques

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