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Agile HR, Part II: A Recruiting Story

Written By
Emily Friedrichs
Associate Editor

For an explanation of Agile methodology and how it’s demanding major changes to Human Capital Management, read Agile HR, Part I.

An Agile Recruiting Case Study

Avature’s recruiting team has been applying Agile principles to HR projects involving change management and improving day-to-day operations. In line with principles from the Agile software manifesto, Denise Dresler, Talent Acquisition Director, sought to welcome and harness change while redesigning the recruiting process, provide continuous delivery in short timescales, and work with stakeholders throughout the project. With the help of Matias di Tada, VP of Product Engineering, and other hiring managers, the team used an Agile approach to maintain quality of hire while extending offers to the best candidates sooner in the highly competitive market for software developers.

The Business Need

The call for innovation came after a candidate was fast-tracked through interviews only for the candidate to state in the final interview that he did not have the disposition to work in rapid release cycles—a fundamental feature of Avature’s Agile development model. While this scenario was particularly striking, it underscored a deeper problem: it was taking too long to filter out unsuitable candidates, and the delays led to higher drop-off rates and longer time-to-fill. This misalignment between the Hiring Managers’ needs and the interview process revealed a need for a new approach.

Building a Solution

Dresler had previously worked in consulting at Avature, where she built background knowledge of Agile recruiting by working hand-in-hand with customers in the implementation stage to address clients’ needs, such as developing new functionalities to help them hire the very top technical talent. Di Tada needed to make sure Avature was hiring the right kind of talent to continue its growth, and so was already taking an active role in hiring decisions when the opportunity to revamp the hiring process arose.

Rapid Prototyping

After analyzing what was and was not working, Dresler and di Tada designed a minimal viable product for selecting which candidates to send offers of employment. They wanted to implement technology and selected Codility, a technical assessment solution, as a replacement for a time-consuming technical interview. They tried this change with just one candidate, without process changes or global rollouts. The intention was to experiment and harness change while developing the solution.

Collaborating During Workshops

Dresler and di Tada gathered feedback from all parties who had used the trial process. In the next iteration, they led a workshop with all hiring managers to identify “what great looks like” in terms of both soft and technical skills. In the interim, the workshop participants were assigned the task of evaluating various proposed assessment methods. To finalize changes, participants defined the new interview strategy during a second workshop. Hiring needs were grouped into related areas, and each area went through the workshops using a model of incremental change within a short time frame.

Achieving the Desired Outcome

The final product is a recruiting process where steps occur simultaneously and roles are grouped into areas. Candidates complete either a junior or senior Codility assessment relevant to their area, and this step is integrated right into the workflow of Avature’s recruitment software. This differs significantly from the original recruiting pipeline, which was sequential and moved candidates towards a specific position. In a joint webinar with Codility, Dresler and di Tada share more details of how they managed change, developed their prototype, and engineer small-scale, low-cost improvements.

“Going Agile” Results

By implementing the agile principles of collaboration, feedback loops, and rapid prototyping leading to continuous improvements within short time frames, Avature’s HR team made significant improvements to their recruiting process. Candidates’ time-in-process went down significantly, leading to more competitive hiring, and 140 hours of interviews were saved. Innovation was achieved because Avature’s recruitment CRM and Applicant Tracking System enable leveraging the right data, adapting processes to specific needs, and creating a robust test-and-learn environment.
Adopting Agile practices also increased communication between stakeholders and visibility into the process for all parties. The workshop format fostered interesting conversations around issues such as fairness and bias. By using Agile’s “customer-centric” approach, Talent Acquisition came to better understand the impact on and tailor to hiring managers, which in turn increased buy-in. For Dresler, when it comes to recruiting, “the magic of agility is that it’s innovative and customer-focused.”

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