HubSpot’s recruitment team was recently handed a big challenge. They had to expand the sales team — and fast.
This was a mass hiring situation. The company had to hire an unusually large number of people in a short time.
To meet the company’s sales hiring needs, the recruitment team had to take the appropriate steps to make sure the effort went well. They started with what they needed (what was their goal?) and made a plan to reach it, according to Becky McCullough, vice president of global recruiting at HubSpot, a marketing and sales software company.
What Is Mass Hiring?
When the team hit a snag in executing their mass hiring plan — they didn’t have enough interviewers to get the job done — they reached out to other teams across the company for help. This collaboration, not to mention all the pre-planning that went into it, ensured a successful mass hiring process.
If your company starts to scale quickly, you might find yourself in a similar situation, with a need for mass hiring. Here’s how to approach it so yours, too, is successful.
Discover 16 strategies you need to evolve your recruitment efforts today.
Mass Hiring in a Nutshell
At its core, mass hiring means a lot of people hired in a short time frame. While the time constraint is definitional, there is no specific number of hires needed for an effort to count as mass hiring. It is unique to each company. For a company of 10 employees that usually only hires one person a year, hiring three people over the course of a month would count, for example. On the other hand, Google hires over a thousand new employees every month, but since that’s normal for the company, it does not count as mass hiring.
Mass hiring is a process rather than a specific outcome. It is more than simply hiring a large number of new employees, even though that’s the goal. The process behind mass hiring requires internal assessment, planning and collaboration within the organization. Successful mass hiring campaigns require considerable work before interviews ever take place. They also extend past when candidates accept an offer — onboarding plans and retention are also part of the mass hiring process.
Mass hiring is a good strategy for growing a company’s workforce rapidly, but it also comes with specific risks, especially poor candidate experiences. These issues can be avoided with proper planning, however.
6 Tips for Successful Mass Hiring
- Ask yourself questions to assess your needs. For instance, do you really need to mass hire? Do you have the necessary infrastructure? What does your company need from new hires?
- Plan for retention. This is a frequently overlooked part of mass hiring that needs to be part of the planning process.
- Make sure you have company-wide collaboration. Successful mass hiring is a team sport, not just a recruitment issue.
- Fix problems with the interview process early. Mass hiring means a lot of interviews and problems in the recruitment process can cost time and money.
- Be cautious of bias in your process. Bias can creep into recruitment when it is done at speed, so make sure your process is consistent and equitable.
- Keep candidate experience in mind. How you treat candidates sets the stage for how you treat employees. Make a good impression.
How to Do Mass Hiring Right
Mass hiring is all about planning. That’s not unlike any hiring process, but it’s even more the case with mass hiring, given the increased scope and the speed involved.
“Don’t jump into it,” warned James Durago, director of people operations at Molecula, an operational AI company. Instead, he laid the process out: assess where you are and what you need, plan out your hiring strategy, monitor and improve your interview process, and always keep candidate experience in mind.
Assess: Do You Have What You Need to Mass Hire?
Before starting the process, you need to determine whether you really need mass hiring.
If your company is going through a rapid growth phase and needs to scale its workforce to accommodate that growth, then definitely, you need to mass hire. But before you start thinking about bringing new people to the company, first look at who you already have.
“Your best hires could come from within the four (virtual) walls of your company,” McCullough said. “Retention, and more specifically, internal mobility is really important when your company is growing quickly.”
Growing the careers of people you have already invested in and who already know your company is a more efficient strategy than investing the time, money and resources into a mass hiring process. Besides that, developing current employees keeps them happy and engaged. McCullough said HubSpot does this with an internal job board and a Slack channel to encourage people to apply to open roles across the company.
If you do find you need to hire externally and you specifically need to mass hire, the next step is to know exactly what you are looking for. What roles are you needing to fill? What are their responsibilities? Who will they be answering to and what will they be doing?
McCullough described a failed mass hiring effort HubSpot had a few years ago as one that “put the cart before the horse.” They started interviews before they had universal alignment on the skills and attributes needed for the role or even consensus on the desired experience level they wanted from candidates.
“What ensued was a whole bunch of frustration, missing our hiring goal because of lack of alignment and a terrible candidate experience,” she said.
Knowing what you are looking for also means knowing and understanding what the company’s core values and needs are. This is very important in the mass hiring process and doesn’t get the attention it deserves, according to Durago.
Specifically, companies need to ask what traits make people successful within their organization. The answers are different for every company and finding them requires some organizational introspection, he said.
For example, when Durago was leading recruitment teams at Google, one of the key traits of a successful employee was the ability to navigate ambiguity. At a startup like Molecula, however, resilience is a far more important trait. Knowing what traits make someone successful at your company is as much a part of the hiring process as knowing what traits are needed for the specific job you’re trying to fill.
If companies don’t know what that success trait is for their employees, “I would say, start there,” Durago said.
Don’t Overlook Your Infrastructure
After the questions “Do we need to mass hire?” and “What are we looking for?” comes “Can we mass hire?” As in, do you have the infrastructure for it?
Infrastructure can mean many things. It can be physical infrastructure. For instance, do you have the physical office space (if you are looking for in-person employees) and the computers with the necessary software and licenses for these new people? It can also mean monetary infrastructure — do you have enough money to support these new employees? If not, those issues need to be addressed first before proceeding with the mass hiring process.
But there’s also the less tangible social or organizational infrastructure: That means assessing your ability to retain and support those new hires after they say yes.
“Retention is part of infrastructure,” Durago said. “People often forget that once you bring in all these people, you have to take care of them.”
Assessing if you can take care of new hires means making sure you have the necessary onboarding materials, a plan for their onboarding experience and answers to their questions and needs as employees. Do you have onboarding materials? Are they up to date? Do they address the specific concerns of the roles you are pursuing in your mass hiring effort?
In addition to onboarding materials, Durago suggested mapping out what candidates’ experience with the company should look like from when they apply to a position to at least 90 days into their employment. He also pointed out employees — old and new — need to understand where they fit in the organization, what is expected of them and how they will be evaluated.
“Retention is part of infrastructure ... People often forget that once you bring in all these people, you have to take care of them.”
“Employees also need to understand how they can navigate their career, so having a clear job architecture matrix that everyone can see is going to be useful to keep folks around,” he said.
Lacking these materials and plans risks bad candidate (or new employee) experiences, which can sour the relationship at whatever stage it is in. If the experiences are bad, candidates will decline offers or recently hired employees might leave. Both mean wasted time, money and emotional capital that goes on both sides of the hiring process.
Organizational infrastructure also means having the recruiting team in place and well equipped for what they’re being asked to do. A mass hiring event is by definition outside the norm for your company and your recruitment team. Starting with the recruitment staff you already have, make sure they have the tools they need to make the process as streamlined as possible. Durago advised optimizing the person who will be running the mass hiring process and identifying where potential bottlenecks might arise for them.
“An example of that would be, if they’re spending so much time just scheduling interviews, make that person hella productive and go buy recruiting slash coordination slash scheduling software,” Durago said. “It’ll give you time back.”
In addition to making sure existing recruiting staff have what they need, you need to make sure you have enough people to do the new and bigger job of mass hiring. Recruiting teams need to be appropriately staffed in anticipation of business growth rather than in reaction to it.
“This requires working closely with finance and operations to build capacity models that forecast when, where and how to scale your team to keep up with recruiting efforts,” McCullough said. “When done well, recruiting teams are prepared for whatever aggressive goals come their way and can easily dial up or down the velocity of their hiring strategy.”
Plan: How Are You Going to Mass Hire?
So, you have what you need to do mass hiring. Now you need a plan. The best plans come with tangible goals.
“The most successful mass hiring initiatives are ones that start with the goal you’re trying to hit — say, 100 software engineers in three months — and then, using the data you have on your hiring process, work backwards to determine the number of candidates you need at each stage of the process in order to hit that goal,” McCullough said.
Once you have those goals, you can map out a plan with hiring milestones and deadlines that need to be hit at each stage. And everyone involved with the mass hiring process needs to be very clear on what is expected of the interview process. This means picking your interviewers carefully, setting expectations on how many interviews each interviewer should do each week and pre-booking time slots for interviews to minimize scheduling problems, according to McCullough.
“No matter your timeline, you must still be equitable and intentional with how you design your hiring process.”
Mass hiring is defined in part by its constricted timeline. But the time constraints can’t become an excuse to let quality in hiring slip. This applies both to the quality of candidates and the quality of their experience. The biggest mistake companies often make when doing mass hiring, according to McCullough, is that they focus too much on the volume of candidates they get, rather than the quality of hires they ultimately make.
Another potential risk when companies are trying to fill a lot of roles quickly is that it’s easier for biases to surface in the process. McCullough said that setting clear expectations for interviewers submitting feedback on candidates and making decisions can minimize bias in the process.
“No matter your timeline, you must still be equitable and intentional with how you design your hiring process,” she said. “That means starting out with getting alignment across every member of the interview team on the highest priority attributes and skills you’re seeking in candidates, and how you’re going to evaluate them in every stage of the process.”
The importance of cross-organizational cooperation and involvement can’t be overstated. If the company is growing rapidly, that affects everyone, not just the recruiting team. It’s a team sport.
“Even the best laid mass hiring plans will fail if the entire company isn’t rallied around the goal,” said McCullough. “Once we have alignment on what we’re hiring for and the operating system to support it, we engage our coordinators, interviewers and hiring managers to rally around the effort.”
Interview, Iterate and Improve
For many candidates, “mass hiring” might inspire visions of rapid-fire interactions with recruiters that feel more like speed dating than an interview or being herded into a group interview with several other candidates. These interview strategies are just potential tools, but they might not be the best for your company or provide a good candidate experience.
“With group interviews, it’s easy for certain people to dominate the conversation and make it difficult for others to speak up, which is counter to our goal to level the playing field for all candidates,” McCullough said.
“It should be seen as an honor to interview and not a chore.”
There are several styles of interviews that might fit your mass hiring plan, but whatever style you select, the process doesn’t stop when the interviews start. You’ve got to keep track of all the moving parts — your interviewers, especially, and where improvements can be made.
Durago’s recruitment team, for instance, has a very prescribed interview plan and they monitor interviewers through the process. This monitoring includes regular debriefing meetings with interviewers to hold them accountable to the plan. He stressed the importance of making sure they are getting the information asked of them. Since mass hiring means a lot of interviews in a short period of time, any problems that arise in the process, especially early on, need to be addressed.
“If you see that your interviewers aren’t aligning to what you’re asking of them, you gotta fix that,” he said.
Start with switching an interviewer out for a new person, Durago suggested. If the new interviewer isn’t aligned with the plan, that likely means there’s a more systemic issue. Perhaps expectations or the consequences of a bad hire or poor candidate experience are not clear. If that’s the case, explain those details.
Problems with interviewers may also point to a lack of the company-wide collaboration necessary for a successful mass hiring effort. Shifting the perception on interviewing could help fix this issue.
“It should be seen as an honor to interview and not a chore,” Durago said. Interviewers are, after all, ambassadors of the company and potential future supervisors and teammates to the candidates they interview. They play a massive role in candidate experience and set the tone for your new employees’ relationship with the company.
Focus on Candidate Experience for Successful Mass Hiring
You want to ensure the best candidate experience possible. Mass hiring means a lot of candidates are likely to have contact with your company in a very short period of time, so the experience — good or bad — of your hiring process will be amplified.
Companies cannot afford to ignore how candidates feel about them throughout the hiring process today, said Durago. The pandemic made many workers reassess what is important to them. How employers have treated them has been high on that priority list and how you treat a candidate in the hiring process is an early indication of how you might treat them once they are an employee.
“I can’t stress enough that mass hiring doesn’t mean you’re losing that personalized experience for candidates or compromising the quality of the hires you’re making ... It means you’re streamlining your systems and processes so that they are equitable, fair, inclusive and support your company in scaling.”
Companies that are not concerned with candidate experience through the hiring process are going to fall behind in the current job market, according to Durago. “Or you will continually hire the same people,” he said. “And if you’re hiring the same people, how do you expect to grow and innovate?”
There’s a lot that goes into a mass hiring effort and there’s a lot going on when interviews start happening. It may be a situation that the company, let alone the hiring manager, has never dealt with before. There will be a lot of change and a lot of opportunities for the quality of the hiring process to slip and negatively impact both the company in terms of lower-quality hires and candidate experience. You must guard against both, according to McCullough.
“I can’t stress enough that mass hiring doesn’t mean you’re losing that personalized experience for candidates or compromising the quality of the hires you’re making,” she said. “It means you’re streamlining your systems and processes so that they are equitable, fair, inclusive and support your company in scaling.”
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