How to recruit faster: what we do to speed up hiring at our startup

OK, we’ve got a problem: the business is growing. It sure brings excitement to our CEO, but it also brings tons of trouble to our IT team, which has to keep up with the pace.

All our pizzerias are run by our own IT system. It’s responsible for every step of our pizza making.

By the end of 2016, we at Dodo Pizza had 154 pizza shops in 9 countries. Now it’s 247. The guys from the franchise department brag that by the end of the year it could be 300 easily.

The growth itself takes its toll on our infrastructure, which needs bolstering. The expansion also increases the demand for new features: the more people join our pizza chain, the more they expect from us.

Obviously, we need more developers to join our 60-person team. And we need them today (or even better, yesterday). The question is: how do you speed up hiring without compromising on recruitment “quality”?

You don’t want to hire just anybody and then fire them in two months because they don’t fit—and start over again. Increasing stuff turnover isn’t a good management practice. The hiring quality is as important as the speed of hiring.

Actually, quality IS speed—like ice is water (or “cola” is sugar).

So, our IT team has come up with four simple tactics that help us do good hirings quickly.

1. Speed hiring hack number one: a “test drive” day

After a candidate passes the first interview, we simply invite her to work at our office.

Take a day off at your current job—and come work with us. You’ll see what’s what. We’ll see what you’re capable of. That’s the deal.

Passing interviews is an art that can easily be mastered. It has nothing to do with real skills.

So we pick a real task from our backlog—a task that can be done in a day. And one member of our team works on that task with the candidate.

This test drive works both ways. Sometimes, we realize that the candidate isn’t as skillful or nice as we thought. Sometimes, the candidate sees that this job is not for her.

2. Speed hiring hack number two: same-day decision

At some companies of our scale (100–200 people working for the head office, >$10 mln in monthly sales), you can wait for weeks for the decision to be made.

We realized that we simply can’t afford mulling it over for that long if we want to speed up our hiring process.

Thanks to the “test day,” we know everything we need to know to make up our minds. Why wait?

After the test day is over, the candidate goes for a chit-chat with our CTO. After the talk, we make an offer (or we pass on it).

If the candidate doesn’t have other obligations, she can start working the next day. That’s what you call fast hiring.

3. Speed hiring hack number three: new employee checklist

It doesn’t end here, though.

The quality of hiring depends on two things. First: who you hire. Second: how you deal with the arriving new member of your team.

To help with the latter, we created a “new employee checklist.”

It’s a simple piece of paper that lists everything that a new member of our team has to learn over the course of the few first months at Dodo Pizza.

Does she have access to all the tools we use? Did she send an introduction letter to the team? Did she have a talk about agile development with our chief agile officer (yep, that’s a real title at Dodo Pizza—and a real job)?

Yep, that's him—Chief Agile Officer
Yep, that’s him—Chief Agile Officer

Checklists are widespread in our pizzerias. They are a key element of our restaurant management system. In this business, so many tasks need to be done every day that without listing them off you can easily miss something. We simply implemented this retail approach in our IT team.

4. Speed hiring hack number four: new member mentors

Finally, every new employee gets a mentor.

The mentor’s job is to turn the newcomer into a seasoned member of the team who knows the ins and outs of everything.

How do you cross off all the questions from the checklists? Where is the best spot to grab a beer after work?

And the mentor and newcomer also work on the code together for a few weeks—until the new employee feels confident enough to work with other members of the team. (We do practice pair work at Dodo.)

They also regularly have one-to-one meetings to talk about how things are going in general—and in casual chat, they address any issues that are bugging the new guy.

——

This is obviously not a comprehensive list of practices that can be implemented in a company to speed up hiring. But it works for us.

We’ll get back to this topic if our team comes up with something else to speed up recruitment even more. Or if we find out that these practices have nasty side-effects and don’t work as nicely as we hoped.

For now, everything works pretty well.

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