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How I automated my hiring process to save time and find the right people

A few weeks ago I needed to find a new Community Manager for Siyelo CoWork, a shared office space that we run in beautiful Cape Town.

I prefer to source candidates online myself, using essentially the same tools and job boards recruiters ask a hefty fee for. In South Africa popular boards include BizCommunity, Careers24 or even Gumtree.

The problem is, when you put a job ad out there, you have to do the filtering and qualification yourself in order to shortlist candidates. This can be really time consuming if you get a lot of responses

My experience has been that I’ll get a lot of applications, many of which are from people pushing their CV out to as many job ads as they can, regardless of their suitability for the role. In order to find the right candidates, I have to do some kind of (automated) filtering because I simply don’t have the time to process them all. I want to focus on the people who are truly interested and able to do the job.

Also, our Community Manager role requires someone with lots of personality who is able to build and promote our community (online and offline). This kind of interpersonal skill is difficult to gauge from an online form, CV or cover letter. In the past we’d do screening calls over Skype for shortlisted candidates. This was incredibly time consuming, and prone to failure (missed appointments, bad internet connections etc).

Why Automating Your Hiring Process Is So Valuable

There are a lot of reasons to automate your hiring process, but what makes it worthwhile to me are these 3 huge benefits;

Finds the right people

Finding good people is hard. It’s even harder when your signal-to-noise ratio sucks.

For me this starts with some pretty basic things;

  • Can they follow instructions?
  • Have they even read our job spec (You’d be surprised how many don’t)
  • Are they a good fit for the role?
  • Are they motivated enough to follow our process?

Saves time

An automated hiring process saves you a ton of time. The recruitment industry exists, in-part, because sourcing candidates and filtering them is such a pain in the ass.

On a previous hiring spree for a similar role, I had in excess of 100 applications. I read, responded to and filtered each one individually. I can’t tell you how long it took, but I remember how awful the whole ordeal was.

A good automated process should also be quick to set up. You shouldn’t spend days creating a system that saves you hours of processing job applications.

Avoids outrageous recruitment agency fees

Setting up something like this can save you the usual 15-30% fees that recruiters charge.

For some roles their fees can be justified, but in many cases you might find more value in automating your filters & pre-qualification steps.

What’s a good process look like?

It really depends on your situation, and the role that you’re hiring for. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach here, but there are some key features of a good automated hiring process;

Just enough effort

Your application process should be harder than asking someone to forward their CV to an email address.

Justin Brooke provides some good insight into what questions to ask in an online application form.

You can optionally (and automatically) then ask them for;

  • more information / to answer more questions (e.g. a coding test),
  • do a video interview (see below)
  • to book a follow up meeting with you e.g. using tools like Calendly or ScheduleOnce

You want to set the bar high enough, but not too high! This can be difficult to gauge, so experiment a little.

Enable the candidate to show off their skills

A great trend in hiring today is video interviews. These allow you to see how someone presents themself, in an asynchronous manner. My friend Nigel is tackling this problem over at Astronaut, and so are platforms like SparkHire.

If you’re like me and don’t want to integrate with a platform (yet), here’s a great idea from Everlane - use Snapchat!

Snapchat for hiring!


Avoid email inboxes (as much as you can)

Email sucks for processing job applications. A better way to do it is to make sure you have an online form for your job application, which asks the right questions, and is the first link in your automated hiring funnel.

Jack Smith describes a great use of an online form + Zapier to get this job done.

While email sucks, it is ubiquitous. If you’re using Google Apps/Gmail you can get a lot done with filters and aliases. You might find Parser by Zapier useful if you do go this route.

Here’s How I’ve Done It

For the Community Manager role, I needed to come up with a hiring process that;

  • filtered out unqualified / disinterested people
  • enabled people to communicate and express themselves.
  • automated the above steps in a way that engages the right people

In my case, the process featured;

A Short Application Form

Instead of providing an email address that candidates can send applications to, I set up a a short application form on our jobs page.

This form is intentionally short and easy enough to fill out. Note I ask for a link to an online profile, rather than a PDF or Word doc attachment. This is because I want candidates who are comfortable with marketing themselves (and thus our coworking space) online.

An Autoresponder

Our application form is backed by FormFerret which processes the form submissions for us. While FormFerret saves these submissions, I don’t monitor the FormFerret inbox at all however.

FormFerret allows us to set up an auto-responder that will reply to the email address that the candidate gives. I found this awesome autoresponder template from Trello.

So when a candidate submits an application, FormFerret will send them my email auto-response, with instructions of the next step. In our case, we modified the Trello autoresponder slightly, and ask them to record a quick SnapChat video about why they’d be a great Community Manager, and ask them to email it to our jobs inbox.

FormFerret autoresponder template

A Better Inbox

I monitor our jobs inbox for these (qualified) applications. It’s a lot easier and less time-consuming to process, since it contains fewer but very high-quality job applications, which I can do when it suits me.

These short videos allow me to get a sense of what somebody is like, how they come across, and ultimately enables me to make a better hiring decision for the Community Manager.

How To Apply This To Your Business

If you’re not already automating your hiring process to some extent, I hope this post inspires you to do so. And if you are then I hope that you’ve gotten some new ideas to make it better.

Asking your candidates to perform a few simple steps that reduce the burden on you and your team is incredibly valuable, and helps connect you with the right people. For me automating the hiring process in this way has been hugely effective.

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Glenn Roberts

Technologist, Entrepreneur, Partner at Siyelo

Published . All content copyright Glenn Roberts © 2016. All rights reserved.

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Glenn Roberts

Tech, Startups, Digital Nomad Life

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