How betterment built an effective in-house recruiting process

Informal team meeting in office lounge area

3 mins, 22 secs read time

Imagine you have only a single recruiter on your team, no consistent process, and 200 open positions. Eek! What do you do?

Christina Kane, Head of Talent at Betterment, found herself in exactly that position. Want to learn how she quadrupled her company's headcount by shifting to an in-house recruiting team and Structured Hiring? Read on!

Building an in-house recruiting team

Back in 2014, Betterment had 45 employees, all based in New York. Up until that point, they’d had a single recruiting coordinator. This coordinator’s responsibility was mainly to wrangle in the troops (i.e. the hiring managers). But there wasn’t a solid approach to handling applications and interviews. Everyone was interviewing in their own way. Christina knew that a process needed to be put in place if they wanted to meet their aggressive hiring goals.

Plus, at the time, 20% of opens roles were being filled by agencies. So Christina set out to build her own recruiting team in order to reduce agency costs and provide more structure internally. She ended up hiring 3 recruiters, 1 sourcer, and 2 coordinators. Since making these hires, the recruiting team has hired over 200 employees to date and reduced agency dependency to 4%.

Securing hiring manager buy-in

Building out the recruiting team was an essential step, but it didn’t solve all the challenges Betterment was facing. Recruiters needed to build a partnership with hiring managers so they could understand the existing interview structure and formulate strategies on how to improve it.

Betterment did just that.

Fortunately, they had supportive hiring managers from the get-go. This made it easy to focus on kick-off meetings where recruiters and hiring managers would sit down and articulate what the new role meant, how the person would fit in with the team, and how the role would impact the company. The kick-off meeting allows both the recruiter and hiring manager to be on the same page—they’ll even use this time to screen candidates together.

After the recruiter and hiring manager hold a kick-off meeting, there will be a separate kick-off meeting with all interviewers (even those who are subbing due to bandwidth constraints). This kick-off meeting outlines why everyone is being asked to be involved in the interview process and describes which characteristics the ideal candidate will have. This meeting ensures that everyone who’s involved in the interview process is aligned from the outset. On top of that, it also improves cross-functional collaboration internally.

Eliminating culture fit interviews

Part of Betterment’s old interview process included a culture fit interview. But after digging into their Greenhouse data, the recruiting team decided that the culture fit interview was not the best use of interviewers’ time. Instead of holding separate culture fit interviews, they decided to incorporate elements of the culture fit interview into all the other steps of the process. By looking at their company mission and vision and speaking with hiring managers and interviewers, they were able to identify 16 competencies.

After collecting all this feedback, they discovered everything was pointing to three hiring values: horsepower, passion, and openness. Instead of conducting one dedicated culture fit interview, now every interview needs to map back to these three values.

Betterment wants to continue to bring on people who will listen and grow within the company and they discovered one 30-minute interview isn’t enough. Now, they ask every interviewer to tie their core hiring values with a candidate's answers and see if there is a fit.

Final thoughts

Creating a more Structured Hiring process takes support and innovative ideas that are unique to your company’s values and mission. The Betterment team learned that having more structure allows the recruiting team to better manage the interview process and create realistic expectations for a candidate. And it also means that the company, interviewers, and hiring managers are more thoughtful with feedback, motivated to move faster, and have a better understanding of exactly what they’re assessing during each interview.