A Hiring Process To Do The Heavy Lifting

Finding great people is one of the hardest tasks any business goes through. For a small, tight-knit company like Sense Worldwide it’s not too much to overstate that it’s potentially the single most important thing we need to get right. While we’re very happy to experiment in most areas, there’s not much room for experimentation when it comes to permanent hires.

As we transformed the business during this past year, we were very excited to bring new people into the business and have their energy and creativity shine. We knew that we wanted and needed new ideas to help us shape our business for the future and achieving a diversity of talent was very important to us.

Just a note here.This post is focused on how we developed our hiring approach for new, permanent staff. As a networked business, we work with people from all around the world on a daily basis. We have our Sense Network of creative collaborators; our bespoke networks that provide collective intelligence to our client business teams; and we have our wider network of freelance designers, videographers and consultants who partner with us on a flexible basis. Our networks are part of our DNA and essential to how we do business. We’ll talk more about how we work with them in a future post.

Sense Worldwide Careers

An Agile Recruitment Process

We knew that we wanted to hire great people quickly and efficiently. We had been inspired by lean thinking and agile working. We figured we should be able to design a hiring process that did much of the heavy lifting while leaving us free to focus our efforts where the human eye was most necessary. To this end we set out to establish clear goals, principles and a process that we were confident would get us to where we needed to be.

We set specific goals to determine the effectiveness of our hiring.

Goal #1: Hire the right people
KPI: Percentage of new hires still employed after 12 months

Goal #2: Hire efficiently
KPI: Amount of time spent on the hiring process per new employee

While we are not yet 12 months in, we are very confident we have hired the right people. We also know that we have spent only the time necessary to make our hiring decisions. This has been important for us as a business and it’s been valued by all our candidates.

Sense Worldwide Careers

We defined our hiring principles.

  • Hire for ability and potential, not experience or qualifications
  • Hire people who share Sense values
  • Waste as little time as possible for both sides

These principles have been a revelation. They have freed us to think about mindset and attitude over employment history and grades. We know we are hiring people who share our values and with whom we’re very likely to get along. We make informed decisions about who to hire quickly.

Our people should share common values.

Diversity is important to us and we believe it is essential for our collective ability to deliver great work. We have internal values that we often refer to when making decisions for the business. As we designed our hiring process we challenged ourselves to think how our values would translate into identifying the type of person we’d like to join the team and who we believed would be most likely to thrive. This led us to identify eight key personal traits that we wanted to explore through our application process.

  • Is curious and has an inquiring mind
  • Demonstrates a growth mindset
  • Has a capacity for critical thinking
  • Is equivocal and can handle uncertainty and ambiguity
  • Is able to join the dots and spot opportunities
  • Prefers simplification over complication … writes with precision in plain English
  • Is assured and can deliver high quality under pressure
  • Has energy and enthusiasm

Sense Worldwide Careers

We imagined the ideal person for Sense Worldwide.

In terms of spotting a great candidate from the many good ones, we set ourselves some criteria for judging the CVs / resumes that we received and the later stages of the application process that we established.

We were looking for an intuitively curious person who embodies the growth mindset. They should love asking questions and exploring ideas but know when to focus on doing over thinking. They should be comfortable with ambiguity and able to join the dots without hand holding.

  • Took a higher education course (university / college) … dropouts welcome
  • Second / third job (dependent on role) +/- experience of insight / innovation
  • Takes courses outside work (Udacity, Coursera)
  • Has a side project
  • Taken a big bet on themselves

We established transparent application.

Now let’s be clear, there are many ways a business could design its hiring process. There’s no clearly right or wrong way. We needed a process that would enable us to meet our hiring goals. To this end we knew that we needed a way to screen applicants before investing the time to get to know each other better. We also knew we needed the discipline to hold ourselves to account and to make our decisions quickly with as little delay as possible. We chose to be fully transparent with our application process so that all candidates knew what to expect and how long things would take.

From the outset all candidates know that to be successful they would need to commit 6 ½ hours to complete their full application process. They also know that if they respond to our emails promptly they will have a decision within a maximum of 7 days.

Each stage of the application process was designed to achieve different things …

  1. A questionnaire was designed to capture background information and to explore how candidates thought about concepts and ideas that are important to us. We knew also that it would provide the foundation for a great conversation during a later interview.
  2. An assessment is pre-planned to watch a TED Talk (the topic can vary) then provide an executive summary followed by the candidate’s own reflections. This was designed to test how the candidate handled writing under time constraints as well as their appreciation and views of a significant macro trend.
  3. An interview is our opportunity to get to know the candidate as a person. What are their passions? What makes them tick? What are their ambitions? It was the critical step in the process for us to understand if they would be a good for for the business and us for them.
  4. A workshop (for which they are paid) has been designed to be our final qualification. We should already be confident that the candidate had the right attitude, mindset and their ambitions aligned with ours. The workshop would be their opportunity to work on a real brief so we could see how they approached challenges, solved problems, and handled ambiguity.Click here to read more about it…

Sense Worldwide Careers

What we learned.

From a business perspective, our hiring process has been an unmitigated success. We attracted appropriate candidates; we made informed decisions quickly about everyone who applied; we offered roles to great people. We had very positive feedback from the people who applied (including those who were unsuccessful). Words used to describe the experience included “rewarding”, “refreshing”, “clear”, “transparent”.

“It was so refreshing to go through an interview process that really engaged both parties. I always want to work with brilliant, curious people and this process definitely proved that Sense Worldwide are not only a great bunch of inquisitive humans but also that they wanted to scope out whether I was as well.” Emma Skipper, Associate Director

“What I liked about this recruiting process was how open it was in regard to different sort of profiles (the ad called for creatives, university dropouts…). Because I didn’t really feel I was fitting in one particular box, it was a good opportunity for me to show what I could offer.” Eve Marx, Communications Assistant

**We are now looking to expand again as recent hires we grow. Interested in applying? Visit our careers page here for current opportunities.**