Karin Bergström on: How to adapt your recruitment strategy to your company’s growth level

Karin Bergström on: How to adapt your recruitment strategy to your company’s growth level

  • 40 minutes
  • Candidate Experience, Talent Acquisition
  • Ep 34

When companies grow, the recruitment function also grows. In the middle of this growth, steps may get missed; processes can‌ turn chaotic and unstructured. Throughout this change, how can you ensure your recruitment process stays consistent and scaleable, no matter your company’s growth level?

On this episode of How We Hire, Karin Bergström, Jobylon’s VP People & Culture, talks about her experience of scaling Jobylon’s people function from a 20-person team to over 50 employees. Karin is well-versed in scaling a company and building ‌a lasting people culture. She shares her take on the importance of fairness, transparency, flexibility, and behaviour when getting clear about your recruiting efforts. 

Key takeaways

  • - How to set clear goals and behavioural standards when building your people function

    -Tips on competing for top talent when you’re early-stage

    -How to balance structure with flexibility when scaling

    -Ways to ensure fairness in your hiring process as you grow


On the show

Karin Bergström VP People & Culture, Jobylon
Linnea Bywall
Linnea Bywall Head of People & Operations at Alva Labs

Karin Bergström

Karin Bergström is the VP People & Culture at Jobylon. As the brains behind building Jobylon’s People function, employer brand, and cultivating a true happiness culture, Karin often speaks about employer branding, culture building, and recruitment. 

Linnea Bywall

Linnea Bywall is a former NCAA athlete turned licensed psychologist – and Head of People at Alva Labs. Linnea was recently listed as one of the most inspiring women in tech by TechRound and was featured as one of the 22 Innovative HR Leaders to follow in 2022 by AIHR Academy to Innovate HR. 

From attracting and hiring to onboarding and growing Alva's employees, Linnea's main mission is to change the world of hiring every day by challenging biases in recruitment.

Show notes 

  • Introduction-.1:37
  • Most rewarding part about building Jobylon’s team and company culture-3:41
  • How to create the most value in the company stage you’re at-5:48
  • Why your first and most important priority is always to understand the business goals-6:42
  • How to balance structure in your recruitment function when scaling: set clear behaviour and standards on how to act as an organisation-8:32
  • Why you should keep your job descriptions specific but equally adaptable-13:11
  • How to compete for top talent when you’re early-stage-14:03
  • Why employer branding can be your competitive advantage when starting out-15:09
  • How to adapt your hiring process from startup to scale-up phase-18:44
  • Most common mistakes in scaling your hiring process-20:55
  • The recruiter essentials every company must have when going from startup to scaleup-24:14
  • How to ensure your people and culture values live on throughout the entire employee lifecycle-25:04
  • Tips on tweaking your hiring process-30:47
  • How to ensure fairness in the hiring process as you scale and grow-35:41
  • Ways companies can measure the effectiveness of their adaptable hiring process-39:23

How We Hire Podcast Episode 34 Transcript

Linnea (00:06):

Welcome to How We Hire a podcast by Alva Labs with me, Lanaya, licensed psychologist and head of People. This show is for all of you who hire or just find recruitment interesting. In every episode, I will speak with thought leaders from across the globe to learn from their experiences and best practices within hiring, building teams and growing organizations. Our guest on today's episode is calling by some Calling is the visit of Purple and Culture at Jolong. Part is the brain behind the practicalities in building Job alone's, great employer brand, and enforcing a true happiness culture. She often speaks about employer branding, culture building, and recruitment. And today we're going to talk about how you can adapt your hiring process based on a company size. Welcome to How We Hire ka.

Karin (00:59):

Thank you, Lya. What an intro.

Linnea (01:01):

Exactly. A lot to live up to. Yes. Can we also say that we have been in a student specs together? Is that relevant for the audience?

Karin (01:11):

Don't know, but I love that we've been in a student, do you call it specs?

Linnea (01:16):

Probably not.

Karin (01:17):

Yeah. But we've been basically having a lot of fun together while studying.

Linnea (01:21):

Exactly. But now we're going to focus on our new passion, which is recruitment. So before we jump into that, so VP of People and Culture at jobal, you just tell us a little bit about your role, how you ended up there, but also about jolan.

Karin (01:37):

Yes, of course. So my role today at jolan is as already VP people and cultures. So I'm basically heading up everything that is related to HR talent acquisition and started here three years ago. So it's been super fun to see not only the team grow, but also see how far we've gone in terms of our product development and growth. I would say overall, and I started at JobOne actually in a totally different role, worked with HR and recruitment for several years, but found job along, and it sounds super cliche, but I kind of fell in love with the whole culture, the product and everything. And I basically realized, okay, this is a company I need to be a part of this journey. So stepped into a customer success role and then I missed hr, I missed recruitment, so I got the opportunity to kind of go back, you could say and do that, but stay at this amazing company. So I'm very, very grateful for that.

Linnea (02:40):

And what does jolin do? I mean, we have an episode with your CEO Oh. But still for the ones that haven't tuned into that one or doesn't know what Jolin is all about, what is Joon?

Karin (02:50):

Yes, yes, of course. So Joon is short and sweet. It's a recruitment software and we work mainly towards enterprise and we help hiring managers and recruitment to be able to streamline their recruitment processes. So that's Joon in short.

Linnea (03:08):

And I think what's interesting in your role, I mean you have, as you said, work in recruitment for a lot of different companies before this, and now you have, I mean, Joon is still a somewhat small team, but you're working with larger companies. So I think you have a foot in several worlds, both the smaller scale up world, but also big enterprise world. But if we start in the little bucket where you spend most of your time, meaning job alon, what would you say has been the most interesting and rewarding aspect of building the team and company culture there?

Karin (03:41):

Yeah, good question. If you look at my background, I've been working before jablon at a larger corporate company. And before that at a startup like more I would say proper startup, we got an investment and then I sat there, I remember with a long list of recruitment that were supposed to be made yesterday. And so I think I have a lot of different perspective there in terms of recruitment. And I would say what's been most interesting with my role today at Joon is to be a part of a company that is still, yeah, we're scale up. We had some structures in place when I started. So when I started job developer team of 20 persons, and we didn't have a lot of structures in place. So the first thing I had to do was pretty much build everything in terms of how we recruit and how we set salaries and everything related to that.


So with that being said, I think what's been most interesting to see and what I learned at jolong, but also before that is that I think you need to be very open-minded when working with company culture and recruitment and be humble to the fact that one size doesn't fit all. You need to question things and try new things out to make sure it actually suits your company and especially suits the stage where you are at. So for example, at Joon, I mean when I started, it was a stage where we had to recruit a lot during a short period of time. So the first thing there was to put a structure in place that was priority number one. At my previous job the structures were in place, but at that company we needed to focus a lot more on candidate experience and how to make the processes a bit more efficient because there were larger volumes of candidates. So it was more that type of complexity at that company. So yeah, I would say you need to adapt depending on stage where you're, yeah.

Linnea (05:36):

And how do you know what to adapt to? How do you find out these are the most important pain points, this is how we can create the most value for the situation and context that we are in?

Karin (05:48):

Yeah, good question. I think of course you need to start looking at the actual data and also look at your challenges and the goals that you as a company. Because at Job loan, our challenges I would say was that we didn't have a sales team, for example. So I was very focused in the beginning to look at how can we scale an actual sales team, because of course that differs a lot if you're going to build a sales team or engineering team. So of course you need to first all look at, okay, what are our goals and what are our challenges? And then adapt of course, the processes. Yeah, based on that, I would say yeah,

Linnea (06:26):

It sounds like regardless of situation, you always need to understand the business context. Where are we heading? What is it that we have ahead of us, behind us and right in front of us and kind of adapt based on that to best support the organization.

Karin (06:42):

Definitely. And I think at Valon also, we had to work more with actually defining what are our business goals. So I think a lot of companies out there, perhaps they have a vision, but you also need to work boiling that down. If you look at for example, like OKRs, I mean that's just one way to do it. But I think those, as you said, the business goals are maybe the first party or the first thing you need to look at and adapt accordingly. Yeah, I

Linnea (07:09):

Love that you say that because personally I'm super bullish on having really clear expectations and goals. I think that helps in so many ways. It's not just to guide the organization in what do we work towards, it's also to guide everyone to work in the same direction and that all different departments can jump on that journey. So in my mind, I think alo, we often talk about the recruiter to be the gatekeeper, that they can be the hopefully voice of sanity in making sure is this the right role, is this the right criteria, is this the right process? Is this the right decision? And always having that objective mindset. And I think when you kind of really turn up the volume on being that gatekeeper and something that has been a large part of my role has always been to make sure that people know where they're running or what targets they're running towards. So don't even start a recruitment process if the department doesn't have a clear goal, a clear vision that they know what they're going to do. Because if they don't know, we won't know what we will look for. We can't sell the role, we can't pitch it. We can explain it. We can't set the right prerequisites or the right expectations. I think that speaks to so much,

Karin (08:32):

And I think that's super interesting. And I love that you said the word gatekeeper. I think when I tried to describe that which we were just talking about, I love to talk about context over control. I think also when you're scaling a company, it's so common that you think, okay, the more rules we set, the better. But I think it's rather the opposite. And I think the important thing is what you're just mentioning to set the context. And what I mean with that is not only setting clear goals, and I can honestly say that's something we're working on at job loan at the moment. How can we create the structure for that so everyone feels that, okay, my job is relevant because I can see that in the actual goals. So meaningfulness in that way, but also in terms of culture. So I see it as two sides.


So it's of course the goals, but it's also the behaviors. I think if you have clear circles, clear behaviors, like this is how we're supposed to act and behave towards each other and customers, et cetera, that is what we promote because that in the end will make us reach those business goals. I think that is the context. And if you set that, then the employees can operate within that context. They can make their own decisions or take their own decisions without having to go to their manager and ask for approval. And that also creates trust of course. So I think there's so many benefits with, it's easy to say I understand that. And again, it's something we're working on daily, set that context. But if you manage to do that, yeah, again, you have so many positive outcomes from that you create trust, you create meaning.


And also today looking at, I read the article about why employees leave their employers today. And I think it was super interesting and maybe not that surprising, I guess for you and I that are in this area, but it's not money anymore. Like money before it was a treadmill. And today that's replaced with meaningfulness that employees of course need to feel, okay, my actual work is seen and it's valuable. And it's not only, I remember when I started working at Recruit, I worked at this company that pitched a lot about the vision and we kind of saving the world. And I think that also slowly is starting to get a bit outdated. It's not about saving the world, it's more about the individual field that they contribute. I think that also is something we need to work on in terms of leadership as well. So of, there's so many different aspects to keep in mind, but to summarize it, if you managed to set clear goals, set the behaviors, I think you come a long way. And then you of course need to follow up on that and work with it continuously. It never ends, but yeah,

Linnea (11:24):

Exactly. And that's a good thing. And I think because one thing that came to mind, I mean, you said that having meaning we talked about goals. One thing that comes to mind is that did you know that only 50% of the workforce knows what's expected of them at work?

Karin (11:40):

Wow. Yeah.

Linnea (11:41):

I mean especially being, since we're talking about how to adapt your recruitment process based on a company size, early stage, it's often really, really hard to set super clear role descriptions because things will change. But if you can still set expectations and be honest that they will change. But that's also setting an expectation, right? Regardless of size, but be better than those 50%, I guess.

Karin (12:12):

Yeah. Well that's super interesting. I didn't know that. That's a crazy number. 60%. And imagine you could turn that around and imagine how that would engage those employees feeling that they don't have any direction. Yeah, it was interesting, but you said about role descriptions and that, remember several years ago, I was super, super keen on having these super detailed role descriptions. That was the most crucial part. And of course, still if you start a recruitment process, it doesn't matter if you're scale up or large corporate, of course you need to have when starting the whole thing, a clear idea, what are you searching for? Of course. But then in terms of having a role description with exactly on a day-to-day basis, that will change. So I think you also need to be open-minded for that. And again, more set the context and then the employee can come with their input and change that.

Linnea (13:11):

No, for sure. Our role descriptions are pretty much the targets for that role. What are the KPIs? What are you measured on? And then a few bullet points on ish, these are the areas that you're responsible for. And then we, as you say, try to, not saying we're successful always, but trying to lead with context in these are our values, these are the expectations, so that letting people operate in that context. But okay, I mean we are discussing now smaller companies that you need to spend the time to make sure that you can set targets, clear expectations are outspoken with your culture you mentioned. But how can you approach and select top talent when you are in this smaller phase when you're competing with these massive companies that can offer maybe higher salaries and all of that? What's your take on that?

Karin (14:03):

Yeah, I think that's a lot related to what we just talked about in regards to meaningfulness that today compared to a couple of years ago, again, benefits such as having an amazing office or having these crazy benefits, that is not the top priority. And I think because of that, the smaller companies that maybe don't have the same muscles as a large corporate, they can actually use that and make sure that they work with their employee brand basically from the first ad making sure, okay, how do we stand out that doesn't need to cost any money. That could be you promoting certain employees with small things such as quotes or a video of one of your employees and about what brings them meaningfulness at work. So I think, yeah, you should use that as a positive thing that you could actually pinpoint out what creates meaningfulness at your company and then promote that on the career page on your ads in the interviews, of course, because I think in the end then you will be able to compete even though maybe the larger companies have better benefits. But yeah, I think again, meaningfulness will have a stronger bait on candidates.

Linnea (15:19):

And I guess to some extent that's free as long as you tell that story in a compelling way. I think the employer brand also, I mean you're a lot better employer branding than I am, but in my mind it needs to set the tone. So if you are this large organization, if you have a video of an employee, maybe that is actually a production and it's someone that can record that is recording, whereas smaller company, it's okay if it's your iPhone and there's, you make mistakes and you can giggle a little bit. It's like if that actually represents where you are at, I think that's fairer and more honest and not something that you should see as, oh, we're not good enough, we're not going to do it.

Karin (16:03):

Yeah, it's better to just also try things out. As you said, it could be a super basic video. I know a company that we use what's called Life Inside where the employees can just upload a video of themselves and then that video is shown in the ads. So we'd be using that. So I mean, as you said, it's more authentic also. And again, if you're in a startup scale up phase, I think the best thing is to just try different things out and see, okay, what actually works for you? So yeah, definitely agree that you don't need to have a production team to be able to do those type of initiatives. Yeah,

Linnea (16:40):

I think one thing that I've actually used Jo as an example when I discussed employer branding and how you can compete without just competing for salaries. I think one thing that I think at least both Jolen and Alva had tried early on is to pick something that stands out and use that as this is how we do things here. We chose to have a lot of vacation. We have 35 days of vacation per year. I know that you moved the office to a different location. Can you just quickly, what is that and how has that helped in attracting talent?

Karin (17:12):

Yeah, I love that you bring that up because personally that's something that I look forward to every year. So first of all, we are a very remote team and we're not alone with that. So basically a job line, you could work anywhere as long as you can do your job. It's up to you to decide if it's the office here in Stockholm or yeah, we have employees in Brazil, Portugal, Finland, et cetera. So at least one time per year we kind of move, or I would say rather we gather the team from all these different remote locations and we find a spot where we work together for a couple of days. And of course that's amazing just to get the opportunity to actually meet up. Last year we went to South Africa, and I remember it was several of my colleagues that I recruited that I hadn't met. That was amazing. And again, it's not like this conference. Of course we do fun activities as well, but the whole idea is that we actually work from that location as well.

Linnea (18:11):

And I think that's such a good example of small things that you can do a lot of. And that says a lot about who you are as a company, even if it is early stage when most candidates won't know who you are. I think that's a fun, playful way to show off your employer brand.

Karin (18:29):

Yeah, definitely. Yes.

Linnea (18:31):

Okay. Okay. So we've talked a little bit about early stage. How would you say going from startup to scale up, how would you adapt the hiring process in that phase?

Karin (18:44):

Yeah, I think when you're in a scale of phase, and also I guess when you're at a large corporate company, maybe you have an in-house recruitment function, I think you need to of course look at the structure for how you recruit, but you also need to streamline it. Of course, usually you maybe have a lot of different stakeholders involved and you need to make sure that the communication is working. You have hiring managers that haven't met before. So I think when talking about larger companies, maybe I think a hiring software or HSS of essence there when everyone's scaling. And also in terms of attraction and sourcing, I think you need to also spend resources on that and make sure you actually build your talent pool and attract candidates. And I would say also, I think this is something that talk about a lot when recruiting and not only focusing on skills, but also look at culture fit, look at potential, and yes, spend time on that and really try to pinpoint out, okay, what type of candidates do we want to find?


And also, of course, look at the current team and try to find a diverse match there. Because I think also looking back, I worked at companies before where we had different assessments and we did profiles based on, okay, who's the top seller in this team? And then we tried to find persons that were exactly the same. And again, depending on what stage you're, I think that could be a good thing to do. But I think for example, at Joon today, if we look at our different teams, I would love to do the opposite. We would love to create more diverse groups. So I think using, for example, Alva assessments and those type of tools, you need to do that, but be cautious. And maybe also question how you use assessments. And just related to diversity,

Linnea (20:45):

I mean going from smaller company, larger company, what would you say are the biggest or most common mistakes that you do in scaling your hiring process?

Karin (20:55):

I think one thing is that you perhaps have a recruitment process in place and you take those things off, but you don't have the other parts of the whole machinery in place, such as salary process for example. Or you don't have an onboarding process in place or exit process. So I think when you reach that stage where you know how to have a structured interviews, you use your assessments, you use cases, you have all those core bricks in place, it's important to not forget. But then what happens when we actually onboard that person? How can we make that efficient and how can we of course get the person that we are hiring up and running in the best way possible? So at Jolan, I think that was also something that we faced that we set our recruitment process, but then we didn't have the other parts in place. So that was the next step for us to build. But I would say also the salary. I know you and I've been talking about this a lot,


A lot. There's different ways to do that and it takes time. I would love to talk to anyone doing that quickly. So I would say, yeah, the whole salary view, it's something that we've been spending a lot of time on at Lon and today we base that on our values. But again, that's one way to do it. And I realized, okay, in two, three years, yeah, it will probably not look the same. We will need to treat that as we grow. So yeah, I would say scaling a company and when you have the basics in place, it's important to remember reviews, performance vetting goals, all of these things that we've been talking about and that you actually have a structure for that. I

Linnea (22:41):

Think this is so fascinating because in my mind, the recruitment process in itself should probably not differ a whole lot between if you're hiring for small startup, fast growing scale up, large enterprise, you should still have those elements of assessing in an objective way. You should have your structured interviews, you should ideally have your cases that obviously the role descriptions will differ because it will be more generic, do a little bit of everything in the beginning and then more and more specific and specialized. But I think it's interesting what you point out is that maybe the biggest difference is everything around the hiring process. I think this is why, at least in my mind, the people world is so fun because everything is connected to everything. And it's so easy to think that hiring, it's just my hiring process, but everything is connected to the employee journey really becomes powerful, is when everything makes sense. When we can use our values and our culture in our hiring process to set the right expectations together with our goals, and then we can onboard in a way where, I mean, that to me is true operational excellence and it's really, really hard. And just out of curiosity, in what order have you built this? What was your first thing, what was your second thing? What are you focused on now? What haven't you got started with? Happy to share mine.

Karin (24:14):

Yeah, no, but I love that whole advisor gather. I agree that looking at recruiter processes, there are certain things that you should have. It doesn't matter if you're a big company or startup, but the things around it is as crucial. And I think those parts are easy to maybe forget or take for granted some time. And at job law, when I started, first thing was to set our recruitment process and the structure for that, but then we realized quite quickly we do not have, for example, looking at our culture, we felt like, okay, we have a very strong culture at jablon, but what is that? So one of the first things I did after setting the whole recruitment machinery was to actually look at, okay, we talk a lot about happiness at Jo. What does that mean? I mean, happiness is different depending on who you're talking to.


And our values is passion for business, passion for product, passion for people. Again, it doesn't say anything if you don't narrow it down, okay, what is that actual behaviors? So that was my second thing to do to actually try to boil it, thought, okay, what are the behaviors? And then of course, step number two in that whole process, how can we make that visible and also measure that when we recruit, when we have our onboarding, when we promote, and also salaries. So that's why we try to, again, talking about that whole employee life cycle, we didn't want our values to end up just in the recruitment process, but also to follow through the whole employee life cycle with the salary. But that again is, I mean it's an ongoing process. Right now I'm looking into, okay, we have our yearly salary reviews. We need to incorporate our behaviors and set our goals in a more clear way throughout the year.


Maybe some super basic, but that's something I'm looking into right now. How can we do that in, I would say an easy way for all managers for them to be able to follow up on that. And I've been talking about the importance of having a recruitment software, what you just said the other part, onboarding and salary. Okay, what systems, what tools are you using there? And that's something also we're looking into like, okay, we have several different tools at the moment. Okay, how can we boil that down into perhaps one or two? So everything is streamlined, a lot of things to work on there, but again, we will always have to tweak as we grow. And I guess that's fun as well. But I would say now I'm stuck in and we've been talking about that goal setting and how do you do that? Because I mean, it's hard and

Linnea (26:56):


Karin (26:56):

Hard. We can do it in so many different ways.

Linnea (26:59):

Yeah, I think, and just to share, it sounds like we have a similar playbook to some extent. I think the way that we have built out the people function here at Elva is pretty much following the employee journey. So we also started out with the hiring process. We set our values super, super early, and I think that's probably one of the best things that we've done, but we're not ever done with that, as you say. But we set that really early, second or third I guess came onboarding to really try to make that as efficient as possible. And then kind of goal setting, making sure that people know what's expected of them, and then I guess came to some extent like engagement, leadership development, when people start leaving, you need to develop your exit process a little bit as you go, but then also professionalize it.


And then I mean, yes, we spent a lot of time pretty early on the salary process for sure. And I think now we have a version of a lot. I think one thing that we have not gotten started with yet, or we have embryos of everything, but I wouldn't say that, oh, we've nailed this and that's learning and development because it's just something I've had to push ahead of me. But I really like to pick up on what you just said here at the end. It's like you need to start streamlining finding the right tools. And I think that really speaks to the journey that you're on. You start implementing different things and all of a sudden it gets complex. So then you need to go back a little bit and make it easier. Because I think the more you scale and the larger the organization gets, the more complex it gets. And all of a sudden it's not just, oh, I have one manager in sales to help and one in product. It's also like I have five managers in sales in five different continents and they're now working in five different assessment tools or recruitment tools, and now we need to streamline. So I think it's always about putting the building blocks and then taking a step back and making sure that it's aligned. I dunno long rounds here,

Karin (29:04):

But I think that is also super interesting talking about different systems because I think also I need to remind myself, sometimes I have these demos for different type of systems that could provide me with different type of parts. It could be engagement service or whatever. And I realized, okay, of course it could be beneficial for us to buy one of those systems, but it's all about also of course, how do you use them? And making sure that, for example, different training. I know leading learning, I've been using that at previous jobs, but also realized quite quickly that that was an amazing benefit to have at that workplace, but no one used it. So what I want to say is that I realized, okay, if you invest in a certain tool, for me at least, and at job loan, I want that to make sense. And of course I need to feel that it doesn't only cover one need, it needs to be, I think something that actually provides not only the managers support, but also the employees at the same time. And of course, you need to make sure that the organization is using it. And not only me working with hr, I think it's a nice to have.

Linnea (30:16):

Exactly. You don't want to be the process owner of a process that everyone hates and no one uses or see them benefit from. I think that's my nightmare having the profession I have. So I 100% resonate with that, but okay. So if we then talk a little bit about modifications. We said you have to build and adjust. What modifications have you found effective for the hiring process when it comes to scaling it up from early stage to lid or stitches?

Karin (30:47):

To take an actual example from Joon when I started was that of course we had a recruitment process. It was interviews, but for example, we had one step in the process in the end that was lunch together with the team. And when you hear that, of course you can say, okay, that sounds nice. It's the opportunity for the team to meet the potential new colleague and vice versa. But that was one thing that I removed, I would say that was the first thing I decided. It was kind of like kill your darlings kind of moment, because I realized that was something everyone loved. Everyone was like, no, we should have these FCAs and lunches. But I realized first of all, of course that was not, it was not efficient, it was not scalable of course took a lot of time for everyone involved and perhaps it worked when we were like 15 employees, but when you're 50 or a hundred, I mean that's pretty much impossible.


And of course there's also, if you look at having a step in that process, it's super biased is what I want to say. So of course those lunches was based on gut feeling. It was definitely not a structured interview, if that sounds. So I would say one thing, when you modify your processes, I would say yeah, kill your darlings. I guess everyone has one step in their process that are maybe not that unbiased and that, or maybe a step that the founder started with when they created the companies several years ago. I would say that is one thing that we did at jolong,

Linnea (32:23):

I can really build on that. To me it's about scaling efficiency so that you need to actually, as you say, kill your darlings, remove steps, but remain kind of the accuracy objectivity, but also because something around that I think is challenging. When you're working in recruitment, you often know, okay, we need to have these steps to make a informed decision. But then you have the hiring manager that often wants to have that lunch or get the sense for the candidate, get under the skin of the whatever that is so that they can feel that they're making an informed secure decision. So I think to me it's like the modifications is often to save time, remain quality, and kind of keep that sense of trust for the process. And I think that is a fine balance. Do you have any tips or tricks on what you've done to improve on that area?

Karin (33:20):

I think that's a very good point because again, when I started at Joon, people at Joon thought maybe we had a recruitment process in place. And I think if I wouldn't have, for example, had these sessions talking about, okay, why do we have a case in our process? How does the proper recruitment process look like? I think if I wouldn't have done those type of sessions with the team and with the managers, I don't think that what you were talking about, I don't think that already we take that again. So I think it's super important to communicate to the team why are we having the certain steps that we have in our process and actually educate them. So I've done several of those sessions talking about like, okay, why do we use assessments in our processes? If you don't do that, then you will in the end, you will have managers who will, as you said, jump in and say, you know what? I think we should have that extra lunch or have that extra. And again, the recruitment team has to be the gatekeepers there, but it's hard to be gatekeeper and create consensus and get a buy-in from the managers if you don't educate them and inform them while you're doing this

Linnea (34:30):

And recruit at the same time because you also have a thousand roles that you have to fill. Yeah,

Karin (34:35):

And so I think it's super interesting that you mentioned that. How do you get a buy-in from managers? I think that's crucial because if you don't get that in the end, for example, at my previous job, I mean it was super common that the managers went to external firms, for example. They had their processes, they looked for other things in terms of culture. And I think with that experience as well, I realized at that company, if the managers would have got more training or more education, why for example, we use our in-house recruitment team at this company and the benefits with that. I think if we would've talked about that more, I don't think the managers would have turned to external firms, for example. So yeah, super interesting.

Linnea (35:19):

And I think because at the end of the day, all companies want to have an accurate process where they hire the right person for the right job in a well hopefully fair way as possible. And in your mind, how can we ensure that fairness in the hiring process as we scale and as we grow?

Karin (35:41):

I think the first thing that you can do that is pretty easy start is to look at who's writing your apps. So for example, if you look at fairness, say for example, you want to attract more women into your engineering team. I mean, we all know that it's harder to find female engineers in today's job market. So one thing there that you can, instead of just, there's less female engineers out there, so you just have to buy that. Okay, we will not find anyone, female engineers, you could actually first look at, okay, could we actually get a female engineer writing our ads? There's different type of tools out there actually that you can use where you can copy paste your ad and you can see, okay, the wording that we used in this ad, does this wording actually attract females or not? Can

Linnea (36:32):

You share what type of tools have you used that you liked?

Karin (36:35):

Yes, Textio is they help you make sure that your ads and the copy that you write is you minimize biases. And you can actually make sure that, again, if you have an ad written by a male engineer, that ad will probably attract main engineers. So Textio the one example of a company that you can use to, first things first, look at your ads, what audience do you actually attract to get a more diverse pool of candidates applying? And second thing I would say also, if you look at your sourcing list, if you have a full-time sourcer in your team or you have someone responsible for that, make sure that the type or the list of candidates that you source, make sure that that is 50 50 even though it will be harder to maybe find FEMA engineers. But if you just put that extra time and effort and actually having a list with 50 50, then again you will of course increase the old some finding a female engineer. So that is just an example of how you could actually work proactively with the diverse time, your candidate pool, and in the end, hopefully your team with the ads and the list. Yeah,

Linnea (37:49):

Yeah. I really like this because in my mind, again, it's all about accuracy. Finding the right person for the right job and giving everyone a fair chance to prove if they are the right person. So I think at the end of the day, you should choose the one that's the most suitable for the job, as long as you've done the work of giving everyone a fair chance throughout your process. I think the two examples that you raised of how you source and how you describe write the ad, describe the position are two great points of leveling the playing field so that everyone will have a fair chance so that the best person actually can get the job. Because I think the traditional way of hiring where, well, I mean you source only in your own network, you have a very generic job ad you have subjective methods, you might end up with a good hire based on luck, based on the majority of people are decent, but it's not giving everyone the same chance to be successful and it's not optimizing to truly find the right person for the jobs. I think great examples of how you can build fairness in a scalable way. So great. Okay. And final question before we start wrapping up. In your mind, how can companies measure the effectiveness of how they have adapted their hiring process? What should or shouldn't you track?

Karin (39:23):

I think that question is super broad. I think it might have a separate session only about that because of course it depends on what you need to focus on and what you change. So say for example, we take the example I just talked about, that you actually change your ads or you change your application form, then of course you need to look at conversion rate is a great example. And actually look at, okay, do actually convert new type of candidates into the process. So I think you have to look at the data of course and do a AB testing depending on what type of tweaks you do. And also I think one thing that I look a lot at is drop off rate. For example, why do certain candidates drop off in certain stage of the process? And so that is one thing I usually look at and try to understand.


I think this is of course all about curiosity and look at your numbers and try to ask questions like, okay, why are candidates dropping out after the first interview, for example? And really try to question the type of steps you have in the process and making sure that it makes sense and it's a reason behind each and every step. Again, clearly links don't have a step in your process that doesn't provide you with any information. But I would say one other thing is also look at your bottlenecks. So also look at where candidates get stuck. So yeah, I would say conversion bottlenecks and also the drop off rate. And before you do that, of course you need to know what you're looking for. And I would say also try to focus on one thing at a time. It's hard to see a trend if you start to tweak everything at once.


You end up with a big question mark in the end. So take it step by step, start to tweak One thing, it could be the ad, it could be the application form, maybe you remove the CV instead you have only screening questions like what happens do you get a higher conversion rate? And it doesn't matter if that conversion rate maybe increases, maybe the candidate quality decreases. Okay, maybe you should go back to what you did before. So yeah, it all ends up with asking the right question before you do the tweaks and then do it step by step.

Linnea (41:44):

I mean, to me, I think this, it's pretty much putting on your science coach and treating your hiring process if it's a laboratory and no researcher would ever change all the conditions at once because then you don't know what's actually causing the effect. I think that's a metaphor. That's super helpful. And then what you said, it's all about linking it to what the goals actually are. And just one quick double click. I think this would be interesting based on your experience when you've looked at drop off rates, can you share a tweak that you've made that's improved the drop off

Karin (42:23):

Rates in our processes? We had some issues with our processes. It took a lot of time in the middle. So in the second interviews we realized, okay, we had a lot of drop offs and the candidates taking on other offers and accepting other offers instead of continuing our processes. And I think the reason or what we could see in the data was because of the time, so it was us not being quick enough with feedback and quick enough with responding and keeping the candidates warm. So we realized, okay, we need to optimize this a bit. Having those type of follow-up emails, making sure that the candidates feel seen and heard throughout this process, but also again, making sure that the managers know exactly, okay, after my interview with the candidate, what's the next step? So I think in the beginning we had to inform hiring managers about, okay, what responsibility do you have in this process? Instead of HR or basically me having to poke them and say, okay, are we proceeding or not? So I think what we could tell with our dropoff rates was that we had to be more efficient and educate again, the managers a bit more on how to act and follow up better with the candidates

Linnea (43:43):

And how much powerful it can be to nudge the hiring managers. When you have actual data of like you are losing the people you want to hire, you're setting yourself in a much harder position because of this, rather than coming as like now you're going to have to be quicker. And that is just so much more powerful. I think that's a great example of really trying to iterate, learn, think of or focus on one thing at a time. I think that's great.

Karin (44:11):

Yeah. And have you had any of those?

Linnea (44:14):

That's a great question. I think we got feedback that our structured interviews were a bit robotic from a few candidates. Most liked it, but a few candidates, it felt too static. So what we did based on that was that we created a more clear intro, the interview will work like this because of we will handle it like this because of so that we tried to be a lot more explicit with the purpose and the overall condition of the interview, both in when we sent out information ahead of the interview and then during the interview. So that's one of those small tweaks that I think improved our process a lot. Not necessarily based on dropoff rates, but still based on, ooh, there's something here that we don't want to schedule. We need to solve this. So I think that's an example.

Karin (45:10):

Yeah, I love the whole thing. We also started doing that using a tool you could say, for helping the candidates before they step into queue. So they get in the welcome email, welcome for an interview. They also get a little link like this is how the interview is going to work. And here you can read more about our values. And these type of questions usually pop up so you can actually, again, leveling out the playing field by actually giving all candidates the same type of resources and information so they can actually perform in an interview. Because we all know that certain people are super good at the interviews, they know exactly how to answer certain questions, and some can they maybe have their first interview. And so I think that is a great point to actually give everyone that little first introduction even before the interview. Yeah,

Linnea (45:59):

So time flies when you're having fun. One final, final question, Karen, what's an important lesson you would like to share with the audience in your background? As a experienced recruiter?

Karin (46:15):

Yes. I don't think I mentioned that at the beginning, but I would say especially when you're scaling a company and recruitment to prioritize and not do everything at once. So looking back at a previous job that I had where I got a list with 15 employees that were supposed to be hired yesterday, I didn't question and I didn't challenge. So I think that's something that I bring with me a lot to dare to challenge, dare to question why are we recruiting these roles? And also do not start working with the processes based on what hiring managers that are screaming the loudest based it on, okay, what's the foundation here? For example, at that company, the foundation, which makes sense, it was product company, it was the product we need to find engineers. But since I had this list with 50 different type of roles, it ended up with us recruiting, for example, sales Cs first, because that was easiest to find. So I think that was maybe sounds like a rookie mistake, but something I think about quite often that at that time I was kind of my first job in recruitment. But if I would've done that today, I would definitely not build the whole

Linnea (47:28):

Car at the same time. I would have started with the basic things first and then on top of that, built the rest. So yeah, I would say when you work with recruitment, prioritize and Derek challenge and as you said, be the gatekeeper and question things, I'm going to sum that up as go back to what's the goal for the organization and that department, what's most important, and then gatekeeping, gatekeeping, gatekeeping. And on that note, Karen, thank you so much for joining How We Hire. It was a pure pleasure to speak to you as always. Thank you too. And I guess we need to do a separate episode on Gatekeeping Gate, just episode about that. So many episodes, nobody, it was lovely. Thank you so much. And for everyone listening, thank you too. Hope you enjoyed the episode. Please connect with me and Karen on LinkedIn to continue this discussion and hope to hear from you again in two weeks when there's another episode of How We Hire. Until then, talk, talk, talk. Bye bye.