Life at Cleo

Talent Corner: How Huddles Foster Informed Hiring Decisions

We've recently reformed our Huddle process. Jack, Senior Tech Talent Partner, explains what Huddles are and how they can make a difference when making hiring decisions.

Image of Jack Prior - senior tech talent partner at Cleo

It's crucial for companies to not only find the best talent but also to ensure a fair and objective hiring process. Smaller companies - not exclusively, but generally Series A to C businesses - often struggle to structure how to make hiring decisions at the end of an interview process, whilst maintaining a non-partisan approach. The solution to this, on paper, is fairly simple. Some companies might call this a post-interview wash up, but at Cleo, we have Huddles.

We’ve recently reformed our Huddle process here at Cleo, and it’s not perfect (yet!). Hopefully this post might be useful for either a Hiring Manager, or someone in Talent, to help understand how we can solve the age old problem of “how do we make a yes/no hiring decision at the end of a process”.

Firstly, What is a Huddle?

A Huddle is a collaborative meeting held after a candidate's final interviews where all  interviewers gather to discuss feedback, make hiring decisions, and determine the appropriate level for the candidate if they are offered a position. Huddles not only streamline the decision-making process but also foster open communication and ensure that hiring decisions are based on objective observations from the interviews.

The simple aim here is for a Hiring Manager to walk through each interview and gather objective feedback on each stage, breaking down in isolation what that interview is trying to measure, as well as gathering any positive or negative flags that might have arisen. Walking through each interview in the meeting together, however, allows us to see those positive or negative flags holistically across a whole process.

In an ideal world, after walking through the feedback of all interviewers, you would have a clear decision on whether we want to hire that person and what level we’d like them to join us at. 

Okay, sounds good. Why should I care?

The Power of Collective Insight

One of the key benefits of a Huddle is that it brings together multiple perspectives, providing a more comprehensive understanding of a candidate's strengths and weaknesses. By including all interviewers, Hiring Managers, and relevant members of the Talent team, Huddles ensure that all aspects of a candidate's performance are considered, reducing the risk of bias or an uninformed decision.

Enhanced Decision-Making Process

The structured nature of Huddles encourages a thorough and objective assessment of each candidate. Participants share their observations in a systematic manner, focusing on specific competencies and alignment with company values. This ensures that decisions are made based on concrete evidence rather than gut feelings or subjective impressions.

It can help alleviate false positives on candidate feedback too. It is often the case that a candidate might receive all Yes’ at interview stages, but every interview has a ‘Yes, but…’ in their feedback. For example, if every interviewer is concerned about a candidate's communication skills, but are willing to pass them through as a ‘Weak Yes’, then the Huddle allows everyone to discuss that negative signal. They can then decide whether it’s a strong enough negative signal to not move ahead with an offer. 

Some businesses might hire this candidate on the basis of them being “all Yes’”, without digging into detail, and end up finding the candidate and business are not a great fit for one another because of something that could have been flagged earlier.

Improved Feedback and Candidate Experience

Huddles also emphasise the importance of providing clear and constructive feedback to candidates, whether they're offered a position or not. By having detailed discussions during the Huddle, Talent teams can better understand the reasoning behind hiring decisions and relay that information to candidates, ensuring a transparent and positive experience for all parties involved. In turn, this feedback also allows the Talent team to calibrate more effectively on each role, understanding why someone doesn’t quite make the cut if they’re rejected at the final stage.

Consistent Evaluation and Levelling

Huddles enable a consistent evaluation process, which is particularly important when determining a candidate's appropriate level within the company. Every candidate that reaches this final stage will be discussed in a Huddle, meaning that every interviewee will receive the same level of thought and consideration around whether we should hire, and at what level. By working through the Huddle process, in tandem with a competency framework for each role, we’re able to confidently progress to hires knowing the decision has had care and attention put into it.

Ongoing Process Improvement

The Huddle format allows Hiring Managers and Talent to understand how the interview process itself is working. 

Are we missing signals at final stages, because we haven’t asked those questions in enough detail earlier on?  Are interviewers struggling to gauge seniority at any point, and do we need to revisit the competencies for this role? Are we measuring the right things to make an informed decision? 

These are great qualitative data points for anyone looking to affect change in their own interview processes.

In conclusion, Huddles are helping transform our interview processes by fostering informed, objective, and fair hiring decisions. By bringing together multiple perspectives and promoting structured discussions, Huddles enable us to better evaluate candidates, ultimately resulting in a stronger and more cohesive team. It’s a great structure to have in place that can scale across all areas, and set your hiring team up for success long-term.

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