How We Hire: The 4 Key Changes Disqus Made To Its Recruiting Process

disqus_meetupAt last night’s TalentOps Meetup, Helen Laroche presented a case study on how the team at Disqus has made four simple yet significant changes to improve their recruiting process. Being a high-growth startup, Disqus wanted to implement a process that would scale with the company. After consulting with her peers at organizations larger than hers, Helen and her team implemented a new model that would prepare the company for its ambitious hiring goals.

1. Created a Toolkit 

Helen says that the initial hiring process relied on blunt tools to assess candidates. Instead, the hiring team redefined the candidate assessment process by building interview toolkits. Including canditate scorecards allowed them to build a list of desired attributes and assign them to specific interviews, giving direction and purpose to each member of the interviewing team.

Before posting a job description, the hiring team decided which skill-based attributes would make a candidate successful for the role. They also defined the company’s values. Is this person curious, passionate, and helping to build or maintain communities?

2. Added A Coding Test 

This was an easy improvement that made a huge difference for Helen’s team. As part of the application process, technical candidates were asked to complete a 2 hour coding test. This not only added a “smoke test” to technical roles, but also protected the interview team from wasting any time.

Since implementing this, they have weeded out 20% of applicants.

3. Restructured The Interview Team 

Disqus found that they were often falling into “nice guy” syndrome (“He seemed like a nice guy so I guess we should move him forward”). They realized that they needed one person to be the ultimate decision maker, so they restructured the interview team so the hiring manager makes the ultimate call. “The hiring manager is the General Manager of a baseball team, interviewers are scouts that determine if the candidate has attributes or skills that make him or her qualified,” Helen says.

4. Standardized Our Interview Process – Across All Roles

Here’s the standardized format for all Disqus interviews:

Mandatory homework upfront (2 hrs)
Behavior call (30-60 mins)
Skills assessment (60-90)
Onsite interviews (2-5 hrs)

In this format, the entire first call can be a non-technical person. It has worked well at keeping interviewers accountable while making sure that the they were getting info they need.

So, Did It Work?

Yes – giving interviewers direction allows hiring managers to make decisions with more clarity. The new structure also moves more quickly when candidates are on site.

“In the past we would get stuck, now there’s one person that makes the decision within 2 days.”

Helen also offered a parting thought from their CEO: “look for presence of strength, not absence of weakness.”

See the presentation below:


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Talent Operations