Behind the Scenes: A data-driven look at my hiring process

Behind the Scenes: A data-driven look at my hiring process

Two weeks ago, I announced that I was looking to grow our team and posted this job description for a Business Development Associate in NYC. The post received many thousands of clicks in just 12 days and although the position has a reputation of being notoriously difficult to fill, we were encouraged by the warm response from the business community. To date, we have received over 60 applications and resumes, with more hitting our inbox each day.

Because hiring is one of the biggest challenges I’ve had to address in growing my business, I’ve opted to share my process with the hopes that some of you may have helpful suggestions for ways to make it better and more efficient.

Here’s what I do once I receive an application:

  • Step 1 – Resume Review [60 candidates]: I spend between 30-90 seconds reading an applicant’s resume with only a quick glance at the education section. More time is focused on their work history, as I’m searching for a hint that the candidate would be a good fit for a business development role. However, I’m almost equally interested in any part that broadcasts the candidate’s personality including unique hobbies or interests. Lastly, I’m searching for reasons to disqualify applicants; reasons might include still-matriculated students or a long work history but a complete lack of business development experience.
  • Step 2: Emails to Candidates [28 candidates]: About 50% of applicants are disqualified during step 1. The remaining candidates receive an email linking to my postto ensure that they’ve read the uncensored job description. In the same email, I emphasize the centrality of cold calling to the role and recommend that we connect on a phone call if they are still interested. A significant number of my emails go unanswered but those who do respond should expect their email writing skills to be judged. It’s generally good advice to avoid a “TTYL” sign off.
  • Step 3: 15 Minute Phone Calls [11 candidates]: Just over 18% of applicants remain viable at this stage. During the phone interview, I begin evaluating even before the phone rings. I give them my direct number and wait to see if they call on time. If late, how do they handle the faux-pas? I may also intentionally create periods of awkward silence to gauge how the candidate responds. I’m not a fan of traditional interview questions (i.e biggest strengths/weaknesses) so I tend to pose probing personality-style varieties in an attempt to understand a candidate’s motivations and drivers. Yet most importantly, I’m looking for a strong mature phone presence and indications of a curious mind.
  • Step 4: In-Person Interviews [4 candidates]: Only 7% of the original group of candidates reach an in-person interview. I budget between 30-60 minutes and ask my partners to spend time with the interviewee as I both need and respect their opinions and also want the candidate to be a good cultural fit. The very first question asked is always: “why do you want this job” and while there’s no single correct answer, I’m looking to gauge how much thought the candidate has invested in this potential new career. But above all else, I am looking for one thing during the interview – an “it” factor. Some might describe it as a combination of innate drive and competitive hunger, but I’m simply searching for the difficult-to-define personality traits that top biz dev folks typically possess. The best advice I’ve received on this topic was from one of our current branch managers, who explained simply: “you’ll know it when you see it.”

Although this approach may elicit plenty of critique, it is designed to ensure careful time management. If you have helpful suggestions or guidance, comment below or email me at

NB: The future “Step 5” will describe extending a job offer to a candidate but while we have already interviewed several impressive applicants, we have decided not to make any offers until our process is complete. Applications still welcome here.

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