6 Takeaways for an Effective Hiring Process

I recently set out to hire someone to manage our operations at SmartLogic. In hiring for this position, it became clear to me that I’d do well to reflect on the process and share what I learned. I hope this nuts-and-bolts article provides tangible takeaways for hiring managers designing new interview processes, e.g., for new positions being introduced into your company.

There are any number of tactics I could share about interview processes, but I will focus the tangible takeaways on those tactics that I think deviate from conventional wisdom about how an interview process ought to be designed and conducted. I am also sharing all the artifacts I used in the interview process in hopes that they may give you some ideas.

This article is written from my perspective as President of SmartLogic. In my role, I designed and executed the interview process. To paint a more comprehensive picture, I include insights from Su Kim, who experienced the process as an interviewee, and who ultimately accepted an offer to take on the role.

Throughout the article, I will share the actual documents, questions, spreadsheets, and artifacts I used when executing this interview process. If you want to dive straight into those artifacts, they are here:

  1. Job Description: Director of Operations Role (Jan 2024)
  2. Director of Operations Hiring Guide (Feb 2024)
  3. 60 min Virtual Interview with Yair
  4. Candidate Spreadsheet: Director of Operations 2024 Interviews

Takeaway 1: Center yourself around the one goal of hiring.

Before we do anything, we need to center ourselves around our objective for hiring.

Why do we hire? A company hires to build capacity and to get more work done. To bring on people with experience in different areas so that we can execute a greater breadth and depth of work. Hiring is an exciting time – jobs are being created, and new people are brought onto a team, with each person materially (pun intended) changing the fabric of the company. Hiring is also a high-stakes time: mistakes will cost you dearly.

What is our goal in hiring? This may sound obvious, but all decisions need to be oriented around our singular goal: get the right person on the team. All other decisions you make must be in service of this goal. Is your interview process not getting the information you need to make a decision? Then change your interview process. Is your interview process taking longer than you’d like? Fret not: you will never regret taking another two weeks to get the right person on the team, but I assure you, you will regret bringing the wrong person onto the team in the short term, medium term, and long term.

Takeaway 2: Share your interview questions with the applicant.

Best practices tell us to tell the applicant the steps / rounds in the interview process. Yes, do that. That is table stakes.

I’m advocating taking this one step further: share the actual questions you will ask in the interview process. In my first email to the applicant, in which I invited them to a 60 minute interview round with me, I shared the entirety of what the round with me would entail: 60 min Virtual Interview with Yair (PDF).

The PDF details the four components of the interview round, a list of ten questions from which the applicant could answer, and a task I asked them to complete within 24 hours of the interview round.

Why did I share the list of ten questions with the applicant? A few reasons:

  1. Why not? I am not trying to hide anything in this interview process.
  2. This allowed me to run a more expeditious interview process, allowing me to speak to more candidates with minimal prep.
  3. The interview process needs to allow me to elicit information from the applicant that will allow me to complete my goal: get the right person on the team. To the extent to which it allowed the applicant to prepare and think of anecdotes to my questions, wonderful.
  4. To the extent to which this allayed an applicant’s anxieties in an experience I understand to be fraught with them, wonderful.
Su’s perspective: I was job seeking full time when I applied to and interviewed with SmartLogic. Part of what made SmartLogic stand out to me as an interviewee was the transparency taken in this first step. It demonstrated an alignment with company values, and leveled the playing field so that I as a candidate had the opportunity to come equally prepared to the conversation as my interviewer. In turn, all this led to trust and credibility being established quickly and made SmartLogic a company I was all the more eager to join. Interviews are ultimately a two-way street: as much as a company is assessing for the right candidate, candidates are also assessing for the right job and company culture. Yair’s approach to this first step won points for me even before our first conversation. In short, the goals Yair pursued in this step were all met.

Takeaway 3: Use a question bank

I presented the candidates with a list of ten questions they could answer. I was very explicit that I did not expect them to answer all ten questions in the 30-40 minutes they had for this part of the interview. (Despite my explicitness, some candidates insisted on answering all ten questions individually in detail, which was exhausting, but I digress.)

Each of the questions tied back directly to one or more of the requirements on the job description. The requirements inform the interview process. When you get clear on the requirements, the interview questions should naturally follow.

Everybody has a set of unique experiences and unique strengths. Providing the candidate with a question bank and empowering them to select the questions they wanted to answer gave me insight into how they saw their relative strengths.

All ten questions were in the interview round, the entirety of which I shared with the applicant ahead of time: 60 min Virtual Interview with Yair.

On a related note: skip the hypothetical questions, e.g., “What would you do in <hypothetical> situation?” I much prefer a behavioral question instead. I’d rather know what a candidate has or hasn’t done in a given situation, and what they learned from the experience, rather than speaking hypothetically to what they may or may not do. GPT is great with hypotheticals; I work with people.

Su’s perspective: As a job seeker, it’s common to feel like you are at the whim of a company or an interviewer, and that you don’t have any control over the conversation or situation. Allowing me to choose my strengths and drive the flow of the interview put me more at ease, and I was therefore able to be more confident in answering the questions. It’s a win-win for both parties, and made for a very positive candidate experience.

Takeaway 4: Don’t be afraid to step back, assess the situation, plan your next steps, and move forward again

In conducting my first wave of interviews it became apparent to me that, while the candidates were great, I needed to change something in order to attract a different audience that might better meet the (evolving) long-term goals I had in mind for the position.

So, after thinking about, and gaining more clarity on, my long-term goals for the position, I did four things:

  1. I asked two colleagues to help interrogate my thinking
  2. Added a few more responsibilities to the job description
  3. Increased the pay range
  4. Reposted the job description to my LinkedIn

Centering my thinking on the goal – get the right person on the team – made it clear to me that these steps would get me on the right path.

During this time I also decided to change the title of the role from Director of Operations to VP Operations to more closely align with the responsibilities I wanted this position to assume.

Takeaway 5: Use and trust your rubrics

It is best practice to use rubrics; there’s nothing innovative about this takeaway.

What I didn’t realize was to what extent using the rubrics I created would bring clarity to my concerns and uncertainties I had about the answers some candidates provided to certain questions. I’ll illustrate a few examples of the rubrics I used.

At the beginning of my interview with each candidate I walked through each of our four company values (Trustworthy, Pragmatic, Always Learning, Intentional). I gave an anecdote of how we embody that value, and I asked the candidate to speak to the value and share an example back with me. I used this rubric:

0 - Maybe/No 👎👎 1 - Yes 👍👍 2 - Outstanding 🤗⭐
Does not give a case or anecdote as to why the value is important to the candidate; OR answer provided shows a different understanding of the value Provides a convincing case for why this value is important to the candidate but doesn’t provide an anecdote Provides an anecdote clearly showing how the candidate has embodied this value

I used zero-based numbering, not just because I’m a programmer, but because if you fail the answer you get zero points.

After the interview I asked the candidate to share a writing sample with me. This is how I rated it:

0 - Maybe/No 👎👎 1 - Yes 👍👍 2 - Outstanding 🤗⭐
The writing sample is created specifically for this interview and/or does not speak to any of the job requirements. The writing sample was manufactured for this role and ties back to the JD - OR - is a real world example but does not tie directly back to one or more of the job requirements. The writing sample is articulate and a real world example that speaks directly to one or more of the job requirements.

At times I had misgivings about a candidate’s answer to a question. And while I couldn’t always pinpoint the source of my discomfort, I simply rated the answer using my rubric, and then the path forward became clear. Trust the process.

View the rest of the rubrics I used in the Director of Operations Hiring Guide.

Takeaway 6: Organize your results into a spreadsheet

I invited 22 candidates to interview with me. Three backed out after I sent the 60 min Virtual Interview with Yair (PDF), which for the record I appreciate – I’m not trying to waste anybody’s time nor have my time wasted. So, I spoke with 19 candidates. My sense is that conventional wisdom would say this is a large number of candidates to interview, but I was focused on the goal: get the right person on the team.

To keep myself organized, I created a spreadsheet. Each candidate had one row. I had columns with my rating for each of the values, questions, and assignments I rated. There were additional columns for status (in play, disqualified, etc.), sum of the ratings, and my “hot take” on the candidate. I applied a simple formula to the ratings, increasing the weight assigned to the candidate’s answers to the 10 questions in the question bank. From here, I could easily sort and assess where I was and how the process was unfolding.

I know each ATS has a pipeline of candidates, showing the different stages they’re in. And of course I use an ATS to track the bevy of candidates we get for each requisition we open. But for my money, a spreadsheet gives me the flexibility to organize information I want in the most accessible format to me.

View the spreadsheet organizer I used to organize the interview results.


We know that hiring is important to get right. As the hiring manager you are ultimately accountable to the results of the process. Being methodical, focused on your objectives, and introspective with yourself, can, in my experience, increase the likelihood that you get it right the first time.

As of press time, Su has been on the team for ~3 months. I’m very happy to have Su on the team, contributing to our short-term and longer-term goals.

I hope you can take some learnings away from this article. If you have any reactions or thoughts, please share them with me!

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About Yair Flicker

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