Job hunting can be daunting. Many candidates would like to get the process over as quickly as possible. But, an extended recruiting process benefits candidates and companies.
This blog shares insights on the StarFish Medical hiring process from recent hires, Master Planner, Paulina Osuna and Senior Software Engineer, Russell Haley, our People and Culture Director, Pamela Potts, and the company founder, Scott Phillips.
Scott, you started the extended recruiting process many years ago. What was your thinking and why did you choose it for StarFish?
Scott Phillips: I got a lot of advice from different advisors over time. You should be careful about who you hire and not worry about how much you’re spending in terms of (interview) labor. Technical interviews, team interviews and longer form, historical-based interviews are all part of what it takes to really understand somebody. This includes the decisions they’ve made, what kind of relationships they have, how they talk about their past and what’s been exciting and important for them. It’s very important to be methodical because I think there is a natural tendency for interviewers to fill in the gaps. I know a number of times where I’ve had a candidate say some early things that seemed very interesting and positive. I’ve intuited ideas about them which I subsequently learned were not correct. It’s important to find those things that would make a candidate a poor fit for us, or StarFish a poor fit for them, and save everybody a lot of trouble.
Pamela, you have gone through the recruiting process and are head of the process now. What are your thoughts on the experience as a prospect and an employer?
Pamela Potts: It is interesting to have gone through the process myself before I had any input into the process. I was living in a different country. It took seven months from the time that I started talking until the time I showed up. Part of that was a delay because I needed to move.
But I was really impressed by the process itself and it’s part of why I decided to pick my whole family up and move them across the continent and up one country, There were so many people involved in the conversations that it gave me an opportunity to see how the company was viewed from a lot of different perspectives. That was really helpful. I also got to see how people interacted with each other. For example, there were two people in an interview with me. I watched how they were dealing with me, but also how they were dealing with each other. That was very helpful.
I had an opportunity to ask questions to a lot of different people. The question that I asked everybody was, “what’s the culture like and what do you like about working at StarFish?” There wasn’t a single response or description that gave me any concerns. Everybody was thrilled to be working for StarFish. It’s been a long time since I’ve been a part of an organization like that and I was delighted to find that type of organization again.
When I got here, I was a little bit leery of tinkering with the process. It obviously worked, because I’m here. At the same time, there are market realities that we’ve had to adjust to. Now, with COVID, we’ve had conversations to accelerate this process without losing what makes this process effective. What are some of the tweaks and the changes that we can make to be effective in this new recruiting marketplace? How do we make sure that we can still effectively suss out the individuals who are going to be successful here? We want candidates to have the opportunity to see whether this is the place for them or not. I think we’ve been pretty effective at that. And we certainly don’t take six months to hire.
Russell and Paulina, please tell us about your experiences with StarFish recruiting.
Russell Haley: I got a phone call from a recruiter who had seen my resume. They said, “There’s a great local company looking for a new senior software position.” I applied and went through two mostly technical interviews and everything was very good. Then we went through the extended recruiting process and partway through that interview, there were some concerns and the process was put on hold while the interviewing manager discussed the concerns with the other parties. Director of Product Development, Michael Lubben, gave me a phone call. We had a good chat and talked about the hiring manager’s concerns. In the end, it worked out. The long interview had been a bad day for me. And everybody was happy with the responses I gave to Michael Lubben.
I bring this up because it’s really important when you are working closely in a high stress environment to understand if you can work with the people. I understood the concern. Can we work with this guy or is he going to be a sore thumb all the time? Thankfully, we were able to work through that and come up with a good working relationship. I’m happy because I really, really feel like I fit in here. It’s one of the few jobs where I actually feel like I fit in with the culture and the innovative culture, the let’s do it attitude. And I think that’s really important.
Paulina Osuna: It was a little bit different for me because I initially applied for a different position and didn’t pass the first screening. Then I got approached based on a recommendation from the Supply Chain Manager, Kathy Young that led to a conversation with the previous Manufacturing Director. I submitted my resume, he reviewed it, and had a conversation with me about the Master Planner position. I came over for an interview in Victoria because I was based in Vancouver, and we went through two days of interviews with everybody.
I believe that an extended recruiting process benefits candidates because it allowed me to have a sense of the company, the culture and the exact requirements that the company is seeking for this specific position. It’s also an opportunity for everyone to get a sense of how a candidate will fit into the company’s culture. My case was a little bit unique because it took time to set up the master planner position as a new kind of production support person. I was contacted once a month throughout a period of six months before I actually had the final conversation about my contract. Once that was agreed, I went through the process of validation and the contract.
The interviews allow for candidates to really feel and sense the environment that they are going into. To me, it was a big thing to realize that people are proud of what they’re doing and they are excited by what they’re doing. It made me want to be part of that environment, contribute to society with my work, and be proud of it.
Paulina and Russell, have you interviewed folks using the process?
Paulina Osuna: I’ve participated in a few interviews with candidates, but not on the extended recruiting process, just a portion of it. I’ve interviewed to get to know the candidate and try to understand if they will be an option for the company using the limited knowledge that I have being an employee for less than a full year. Once you go through the process, you understand exactly what the company is looking for and why we are using the process. We are trying to recruit the right person for the job. And in order to do that, you have to put into perspective whether the candidate has the knowledge for a specific job and if they are going to be productive and able to deliver within the stress levels of the position. It helps shape how you approach the interview questions that you’re going to ask to assess both their personality and knowledge.
Russell Haley: On a technical level, a recent candidate looked amazing. I liked him because of his attitude. Talking with other managers, we began to ask the question, “This person is quite difficult. Are you going to be able to work with them if they insist on a certain thing?” And that changed the conversation enough that people thought, “well, hold on, let’s keep drilling in on this.” And in the end, the candidate actually crashed and burned himself. He did it to himself. To me, it proved that it’s very important to go through this extended process..
Scott Phillips: Literally, if somebody is the wrong fit in the company, you spend months chasing around the bush trying to figure out “What’s wrong with this, how are we going to fix it? Have you tried tinkering with this, that and the other thing?”
Wouldn’t it be better if you could just identify the people that are going to be a fit? Our job isn’t to hire everybody. Our job is to hire people who are fit for us. People who are going to be passionate about what we do and about making our clients successful. They’re not going to be prima donnas. They’re going to fit the core cultural aspects of our company. Only certain people are wired like that.
Russell Haley: I’m very pleased that StarFish is considerate enough of employees, candidates, clients and everybody involved, that they spend this much time and effort to make sure that everybody fits nicely.
Paulina Osuna: I think that the openness that StarFish has in its recruiting process is really key in communicating to candidates 1. the reasons why or why not they were able to go through the process, and 2. to really understand how the process works while they are going through the process.
Pamela Potts: We do have a more extended recruiting process than many other organizations, but if you make it through, you’ll know whether we’re a good fit for you or not, and we’ll know the same about you.
Scott Phillips: Well, you know, there was that beer ad for Alexander Keith’s. They said “those who like it, like it a lot.” That’s essentially our job, to figure out who those people are for StarFish. It costs a lot for an organization to hire the wrong person, but it costs even more for a person to take the wrong job. Our EVP of Strategic Relationships, John Walmsley, once said to me, “the first rule of recruiting is don’t ruin anyone’s life.”
Astero StarFish is the attributed author of StarFish Medical team blogs. We value teamwork and collaborate on all of our medical device development projects.