Hiring product designers: processes explained

The cost of a hiring mistake

Here's why hiring processes are so complicated and take a long time.
  • Hiring managers have to be very careful when choosing candidates because the process is lengthy, costly, and can affect their own personal careers if they make a mistake.
  • It is easier for companies to reject candidates if they are doubtful.

Imagine you are working on a scientific project, and you have to deliver results in a few months. If you are successful, you are getting paid, your work is published, and your career prospers. If you fail, you will have to start over again, but with losing precious time. In order to make it, you have a budget to spend on specialized equipment. Say you have to buy a computer to do all the calculations. It seems easy in the beginning: there are a lot of computers on the market. But some of them are not compatible with the software you intend to use, and some o them are overpriced, some of them are not powerful enough, and you will have to be very specific in your experiments because the underpriced computer might be slow.

The same works with hiring managers when they choose who to hire.

A hiring manager has to improve their team. A hiring manager has to achieve goals (or KPIs). The teams they are hiring have to achieve their goals. A candidate should be compatible with not only one team but with the whole company because they may end up in another team in a year or so (within the company: products evolve, teams being disassembled and rearranged, etc.).

A hiring manager has to consider all these factors before making a decision.

To check all that, there are (costly) procedures aimed to weed out candidates that most likely miss most of the criteria. Also, these procedures involve a lot of high-paid employees to form the most objective conclusion on a candidate (as humanly possible.)

So, hiring a candidate is not only a lengthy process but also very expensive.

  • It takes 3 to 6 months for any candidate to start performing at their peak abilities in any new company. So, add these months of investing in a candidate to the costs.
  • Now imagine there was a mistake in hiring a candidate, and a fresh employee leaves a company in 3 to 6 months. Add
  • the average 3 months of interviewing wasted on hiring that candidate AND add another half a year on interviewing and hiring another, and you will end up with an astonishing amount of money a company already spent.

Companies probably have that covered, but remember — a hiring manager has to deliver products with their teams, and if they cannot achieve that, they can't meet their goals, their personal careers stagnate, and they start losing their own personal money/gains.

It is worth mentioning that all the people that will interview you — engineers, designers, managers — have their own job. Not only do they spend paid hours interviewing candidates, but they are also doing it instead of what they were hired to do in the first place (engineering, designing, managing).

From a company's perspective, hiring a person consists of these steps:

  • Interviewing (paying recruiters and all the interviewers)
  • Team compatibility check (extra set of interviews with teams that follows the initial set of interviews)
  • Training new employees (usually up to 3 months)
  • A few months before a new employee learns the ropes, understands the processes, and starts delivering
  • Firing
  • Interviewing again

Mature companies can keep track record of how successful each hiring manager was in improving the team. Given the time, it is easy to see if their hires performed well and long enough. Any personal success might affect the salary or bonuses of each manager. So, it is also in their best interest to ensure the company they are rehiring for prospers. On so many levels.

As you can see, it is easier for them to reject a candidate if doubtful, even the slightest.

But their goal is to hire as many best candidates as possible.

They have to balance both.

Hiring party team's perspective
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