How international companies Trivago and Scout24 use structured hiring to create long-term hiring success

Team leader presenting at meeting

9 mins, 7 secs read time

In an ideal world, recruiters, hiring managers, and everyone else involved in the hiring process would be perfectly aligned, as they all have the same goal: to make great hires. However, this magical alignment isn't always the reality, since the typical interview process leaves a lot up to chance: who performs the interview, what skills are assessed, which questions are asked, how the questions are evaluated and how inclusive your process is. That’s why it’s essential to have a structured hiring process in place.

In our recent live virtual event, How structured hiring leads to better outcomes, we brought together global talent experts who are leading the way in structured hiring and making smart, data-driven decisions – Alison dela Cruz, Talent Recruitment Lead at Trivago, and Matthias Schmeißer, Director of Talent Acquisition at Scout24. They joined Greenhouse leaders Jacqui Maguire, Senior Director of Talent Advisory, Colm O’Cuinneain, General Manager of EMEA, and Jon Stross, President, and Co-founder, for an impactful conversation on how standardizing your process can make your hiring team more effective.

The live discussion was filled with actionable insights that can be applied at any organization, so we’re bringing you some of the highlights and key takeaways – from advice on how to get company-wide buy-in, to tips for using data to your advantage.

What is structured hiring?

Jon kicks off the conversation by breaking down the meaning of the term “structured hiring.” Structured hiring is not about making decisions based on gut instincts (hello, bias) or duplicating interviewing efforts, which lead to frustration and wasted time.

Instead, it’s a deliberate process for sourcing and evaluating candidates, and using data to learn, iterate, and improve hiring outcomes. This structure helps reveal the right candidate based on their actual ability to do the job.

Jacqui describes the key components of structured hiring, which are explained in detail in our eBook, Structured hiring 101: Your blueprint for success.

  1. Role kickoff and scorecard creation: Articulate what short and long-term success looks like for the role and defines the desired candidate attributes.
  2. Interview planning and interview kit creation: Clearly define the purpose for each interview and the associated attributes that will be assessed.
  3. Sourcing and interviewing: Run an efficient and informative interview process using the scorecard and interview plan you created.
  4. Roundup: Gather evidence and data to inform the hiring manager’s decision in a structured roundup. Systematically review the data and feedback on the final candidates to come to an evidence-based decision.

Secrets to success in structured hiring

So what does all of this look like in practice? Offering a comprehensive and detailed understanding of how to build a winning hiring strategy, talent experts Matthias and Alison provide tangible advice that drove real results at each of their companies.

Ensure team alignment

Get everyone involved

Structured hiring is synonymous with alignment – alignment on what the priorities are for the role, which attributes are most important, and what interview questions you’re asking the candidate.

Structured hiring is rooted in what we assess for every candidate… we recognize that different job profiles have different needs, so we assess on the same criteria derived from our values.
–Alison dela Cruz, Talent Recruitment Lead at Trivago

Alison explains, “When new people start at your company, it’s important to get them up to speed on your company’s processes. People may have worked at other companies and interviewed in different ways, so it’s critical for them to attend specific training. We do still ask that each person bring in their own personal experience as a way to get people to connect and get on board.”

Companies that are high on the Hiring Maturity curve, don’t only have recruiters brought in and involved in hiring – it involves everyone in the organization.
–Jon Stross, President and Co-founder at Greenhouse

Change company behavior

It’s important to recognize that “commitment and alignment are crucial for working with hiring managers and the greater business,” as Matthias points out. But it isn’t always easy. There’s often resistance when you’re trying to get people to work in a new way.

One pro tip is to break the ice with data. The moment you bring proof with data into the discussion, it’s much easier to convince people of the value of being involved in the hiring process. Matthias says that they’ve “had hiring managers who have been with the company for 10 years who have asked why they need to fill out candidate scorecards.” It’s the responsibility of the talent team to explain the purpose and value of structured hiring – from filling out scorecards to prioritizing DE&I – so these tasks don’t seem like pointless requests from the talent team.

To ensure that everyone knows that this is a collective responsibility, talent teams should reiterate that all structured hiring goals stem from the overall company-wide objectives and key results (OKRs). You need the business to be on board to make an impact.

Use data to your advantage

Set up your data

Before you can kick off any successful hiring strategy, you need to have the right data in place. Matthias shares that when he started at Scout24, “it was a real challenge not having any data, or only having fragmented data. So the first step was to ensure that we not only had the right recruiting data in place, but the most consistent data.”

In order to get consistent data, he set up streamlined reporting processes in Greenhouse to uncover key areas for improvement. This helped reveal essential insights – like what conversion rates looked like and where there might be recurring problems in the recruiting funnel, holistically.

Having the right data is key for knowing the right next steps.
– Matthias Schmeißer, Director of Talent Acquisition at Scout24

Track the right metrics

There’s obviously a plethora of important recruiting metrics to track and measure, but it’s clear that some metrics are more intriguing to the wider organization. Here are a couple of metrics that helped move the needle with leadership teams at both Trivago and Scout24:

Offer acceptance rate:
This is incredibly important for understanding whether all that time and cost invested in recruiting paid off at the end of the day. It allows you to see how successful your team is at bringing candidates on board.

And no matter where in the world your company is located, Alison says that there’s an additional caveat to note: “Our challenge this year has not only been about if candidates are accepting the offers, but also if the candidates are actually starting the roles. With everything going on in the world, it’s much harder for people to get working rights in different countries, so there are a few additional hurdles for everyone to get through.”

In an added perspective on offer acceptance rate, Matthias suggests that you should also be tracking how competitive your offers are. If you’re $10K or $15K below market value or you don’t have the benefits that people actually want and need, it will be much more difficult to improve your acceptance rate.

Your offer acceptance rate tells a big story. It’s like a canary in a coal mine for predicting what’s actually happening in your recruiting process.
–Jon Stross, President and Co-founder at Greenhouse

Employer branding:
Both Alison and Matthias make it clear that measuring employer branding is a priority for their teams. At Trivago, applicants are usually users as well, so it’s important to them that their employer branding is unique and effective.

It can be difficult to measure this metric but, as a start, the Scout24 team looked at the conversion rates of the applicants who came in through specific employer branding sources, like their newly designed job ads, and tracked how many of those made it to the first round of interviews. This way, they were able to identify where quality candidates were coming from, and which sources they could improve on.

Think long term

There’s a variety of techniques you could use to source and attract candidates – and recruiters might be tasked with hiring 10 programmers, today. It’s important to note that there’s a lot of value in long-term brand-building techniques, like building and nurturing relationships with candidates. Even if they take a few months to pay off, your quality of hire will most likely be very strong.

Link recruiting criteria to job performance

While it’s obvious that recruiting criteria and job performance are linked, once teams make a hire, they often forget about the job description and initially listed needs of the role. Performance management is usually owned by HR, and recruiting belongs to the talent team. Yet the criteria for how you recruit should be the same criteria for a person’s performance in the job.

Alison explains, “It’s one thing to get someone in the door, but how do you know that that was the right person, 6 or 12 months from now? In order to understand your quality of hire, the needs of the role must tie into the day to day of the business. It’s all about consistency in recruiting, but that consistency needs to flow into the employee lifecycle.”

It’s also important for preventing attrition. If people are hired with an understanding of the needs of the role, and they are trained based on these expectations, they are more likely to stay. According to Matthias, this holistic alignment “is where the magic happens.”

Constantly adapt your sourcing strategies

The year 2020 has proven that anything is possible. It’s clear that talent teams will always need to stay agile and ready to adapt at a moment’s notice. Alison explains the way her hiring team has evolved their sourcing strategy to be more “appealing as a brand” and get more people into their hiring pipeline. She says, “It’s hard right now in the travel industry, due to travel restrictions, so our candidate targeting has had to adjust to this. We’re now proactively looking for people who are willing to take on the challenge of restarting our industry.”

At Scout24, they’re constantly facing the challenge of learning new ways of working. Their recruiting team is sourcing, hiring and hosting trainings to coach team members on interviewing and anti-bias practices. And there’s the added challenge for their team to also be marketers, to get a better understanding of how they can campaign to get more people in the door and give people reasons to join the company. “You need to be a better sourcer than a recruiter these days,” shares Matthais.

Talent teams need to constantly learn new skills – from tracking the right metrics to proving the value of their process to the wider organization. Yet Alison and Matthais make it clear that implementing structured hiring is not only possible, but a repeatable blueprint for success.

Can’t get enough of structured hiring? Tune in to the full event recording here.

Micah Gebreyes

Micah Gebreyes

is a Senior Manager of Content Marketing at Greenhouse where she develops and leads the content strategy for Greenhouse blogs, social media and thought leadership newsletter, Modern Recruiter. When she's not working to bring the brand story to life, she enjoys spending time with her Pomeranian, Cashew. Keep the conversation growing with Micah on LinkedIn or through the Greenhouse LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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