Topics: HRExaminer, John Sumser, by John Sumser

HRExaminer article image with logoIf you’re even listening only a little, you will have heard of Greenhouse. The New York City based Recruiting startup generates a lot of attention and industry buzz. They are the current darlings of the fast-growth, venture backed, startup set.

The core product is a suite of tools that proceduralize great recruiting. From the moment you initiate a job inside of this system, the goal is to deliver a hiring process that identifies, tracks and measures your success at doing what you set out to do. Each step of the hiring process is informed with the details you tell the system are important.

I’m afraid that sounds so obvious that you might miss the point.

To use the Greenhouse hiring system, you begin by telling the system a lot of detail about the skills, values and qualifications you seek in a qualified candidate. Then, at every step (from filtering to interviewing and more) the system prompts you to get what you said you wanted from the process. This includes a structured interview process that specifically targets the things you want and makes sure that interviewers are assessing those things.

I think this is a first.

The Greenhouse system is designed to constantly (but gently) reinforce the “Why?” part of the hiring process. Rather than an endless supply of behavioral recommendations, the system helps focus the efforts of people who have minor (but critical) roles in the process. It’s a surprisingly respectful bit of system and user interface design.

For example, if I am one of the team interviewing prospective candidates for more than one opening (this happens a lot), Greenhouse will supply me with a description of why I am interviewing and what, in specific, to look for. You might even think that structured interviewing is woven throughout the offering. Every step of the hiring process, when you use Greenhouse, has a specific objective to uncover a specific piece of information.

The real secret sauce is Greenhouse’s capacity to aggregate and report the data it collects with this highly structured method. Because the process boils down to making a checklist and then checking it off, it is easy to build aggregate pictures of the decision process. The Greenhouse display of the results of an interview process is gorgeous and informative.

The company is not actively building its toolset to solve the problems associated with serving jumbo-sized enterprise level clients. Some of the reporting and segmentation required to effectively deliver value there would be hard to develop while maintaining the current quality of the offering. That’s okay, the target market for Greenhouse is fast growth companies with less than 5,000 employees. They have some work to do to effectively serve the higher range of their target. They assure me that they’re on it.

For the entire life of the online Recruiting industry, there have always been solutions that require a very structured approach. It’s usually the case that the proponents of those tools cannot imagine how someone would do it otherwise. Yet, recruiting practice changes very slowly even in the face of great new tools.

This is largely because the majority of recruiters are shouldering a workload that more reasonably belongs to the hiring manager. As Recruiting solutions scale, they become increasingly driven by administrative and logistics concerns. It’s often the case that the hiring manager’s needs are largely unconsidered.

The Greenhouse solution is a step in the right direction; towards well informed administrative processes.

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