We share a lot of resources on how technology enables better business, but we have not shared a lot about how we use technology in specific business processes. At Smart Dolphins, we use Microsoft 365 apps to enhance our efficiency during recruitment.
We are growing and have gone through several rounds of remote recruiting during the past year. Each time we do this, we try to improve the workflow and reduce the time spent. There is still so much more we could do but but here’s a few specific changes that have been impactful.
In this podcast, COO Jesse Smith and President Dave Monahan share how Bookings and Teams have streamlined our recruitment process.
- Phase one: A 5-15-minute initial Microsoft Teams video meeting (recorded) is scheduled via Bookings
- Phase two: A 30-minute Microsoft Teams video interview is scheduled via Bookings and recorded
- A Teams channel is created during recruitment for storing, sharing and collaborating
- A OneNote notebook is created to store and share information on each specific candidate
- Phase three: A second 30-60-minute interview is scheduled via Bookings (recorded)
Phase one of our recruitment process begins with an initial (5-15 minutes) conversation with an applicant. Traditionally, this conversation would have been considered a “phone screening” and it was always scheduled by email; we would batch a few and offer the applicants a window of time to book them. After that, we would volley back and forth via email and agree on a time. This worked, but it was clunky process, especially in a round of recruitment where we get roughly 100 applicants and we do 15-30 of these chats.
About six months ago, we adopted Microsoft Bookings to help streamline the process of scheduling these meetings (and other external meetings). For recruiting, we can create a specific type of “service” in Bookings that defines it as a 15-minute recruitment appointment. Then, we send these applicants a link that allows them to see our availability in the calendar and book themselves during a convenient time. This has saved us 5-10 hours this year after spending about 30 minutes setting up the service (easy).
Bookings can also automatically create a Microsoft “Teams” meeting for these appointments. A video call is a significant upgrade over a phone call. The added information and value gained from the visual experience is exponential-like in its effect. Additionally, we are able to make a much stronger connection early in the process. We are often hiring techs, so we take note if someone stumbles on the technology part of this process as a bonus.
The greatest improvement we have made in this process is recording these initial conversations and subsequent interviews (of course, we ask for permission). When we get down to the final candidates, we review the previous conversations as a whole and make a better assessment. We can also share these recordings with others involved in the hiring process — allowing everyone to see a more holistic view of the applicants’ journey through our process. Sometimes a second interview will hinge on the next interviewer watching the recorded first interview and weighing in — potentially saving this step.
Another benefit is having a centralized environment to share and collaborate on the recruitment process. We have four or five managers at Smart Dolphins involved in recruitment. We now set up a private channel in Teams where we have our conversations and we can start a thread about a specific candidate and just store all the documents and everything else we need in that Team.
In addition to Microsoft Teams and Bookings, we also make use of OneNote. We create a OneNote notebook that’s part of the Team where we can share interview notes or the applicant’s information like their resume. This is particularly useful in the future if the candidate re-applies. But generally, it keeps us organized and fosters better collaboration.
Microsoft Teams has transformed the way we work at Smart Dolphins. Teams has helped direct the information and discussions that arise from recruiting. This is substantially more efficient and secure. Instead of files and messages dispersed, we have a private recruitment channel where we gather the documents, interview recordings, and discussions all in one secure location.
Again, we are only scratching the surface with these improvements made possible with technology. With greater care, intention, and guidance, we plan to integrate more of SharePoint, Power Automate, and other Microsoft 365 tools into the evolution of our recruitment process. The value of successfully hiring the right person in a convenient manner cannot be overstated. Having the ability to continuously develop this process with readily available technology is becoming increasingly indispensable in business.
Click to read the full transcript
Dave: Hello, Jesse, how are you?
Jesse: I am good. How are you, Dave?
Dave: I’m good thank you. Today we are going to talk about recruitment. We have just started a round of recruitment here a couple weeks ago. We are actually recruiting in Vancouver, if anybody knows anybody out there, let us know; that would be great. But we’ve got an extensive process and we have had one in place for a long time. Hiring is really important. I remember one of our Dolphins at one point said it was like the Navy Seals, trying to get a job here, it was very intense, but we try to make it efficient. And certainly Microsoft 365 has helped a lot with that. So I thought maybe we’d just share some of those things today. How’s that sound Jesse?
Jesse: Sounds awesome.
Dave: Good. Yeah, maybe I could share sort of the process from the user perspective and being you are the IT genius here behind Smart Dolphins, you could talk some of the technical stuff that happens in the background security and all that. Yeah.
One of the first things that we do is a phone screening. So that used to be quite an arduous thing. We would select a candidate then go back and forth via email trying to figure out a time that’s going to work and then schedule a phone call. So we have since moved to Microsoft Bookings, which ties right into our Outlook calendars this makes the booking of the phone screens a lot easier. And those are done through webinar face on their side and goes right into our calendar and creates a Teams meeting as well, which is great.
Jesse: So not really a phone screening anymore. It’s a short Teams meeting…You do video with those too?
Dave: Video as well. Yeah. So that’s another part is throughout the process, having Teams, videos, it’s really convenient, a lot less lead time, people getting here in the office and all that, and then the video calls are recorded, we can share these with other people that are in the recruitment process and really they don’t necessarily have to sit through the whole interview, they could maybe go to certain point points and yeah. So pretty powerful.
Jesse: Yeah. Bookings, for anybody that doesn’t know, is a lot like Calendly and it’s actually free with most Microsoft 365 subscriptions. So we’re not paying anything extra for that. It’s great.
Dave: Absolutely. And easy to set up, I think it took me like 20 minutes or something to set it up. I guess the other thing is, we have numerous Dolphins involved in our recruitment process, it could be four or five people. And so we set up a private channel in Teams where we have our conversations and we’ll start a thread about a candidate and just store all the documents and everything in there and the conversations. It’s all kind of in one spot. It’s not emails back and forth. It’s not some verbal conversations, although it could be a little bit of that, but the main stuff is captured and stored privately in a channel in teams. So that’s really helpful.
Jesse: We use the channel essentially for talking about the applicant, then we also use a OneNote notebook that’s part of the team. So it’s shared with all the team members and it’s also private. And then we are able to create a new section in that notebook where we can share interview notes or the applicant information like their resume and stuff like that also, so it’s been really great for keeping it all organized.
Dave: We can end up with lots of different documents and notes and putting all that in one place is huge. Also even just going back, we recruit again next year and somebody applies again, we can kind of go back to all that stuff, search for them in teams and pull up Bob Smith and others. My memory is not great. So it’s nice to have that there as well. So having it all glued together, you get to the final stages of assessing an applicant, maybe just reviewing it one last time, it’s all there together and you can see the whole recruitment journey if you will. And so that can be really good. So that’s some of the highlights.
Jesse: It might be valuable maybe just to walk through our recruitment process.
Dave: Sure. Yeah.
Jesse: We have a lot of success I think. I know hiring is a really big challenge for lots of companies and us, but I do think our process has been finding us some good Dolphins the last few years, so maybe walk through it.
Dave: We obviously post a job and a job ad and we get applicants. We do have an applicant tracking software that’s outside Microsoft 365, that collects things and does some of the process. We do an initial assessment, does this look like somebody’s got some potential and then we’ll send off to the second phase. We ask a couple questions, get them to do a little bit of homework. And if that looks good, that’s when we will proceed with the phone screening. Phone screening is a 10 or 15 minute chat guided by a few basic questions with basic filtering going on there.
Jesse: And what are you looking for with those first two steps?
Dave: Good question. So that first step is really should they really have applied? We get a lot of applicants that just…they’re a farmer or something. Nothing against farmers, but they’re not in the IT business, right? So that kind of rules out a bunch of people. If we are looking for somebody a little more senior, or maybe junior or with a certain type of skills or whatever, we’ll filter on those basic things. Phone screening is a little bit more of that, we want to see some level of fit there, some kind of Dolphin feel, some professionalism, but some personality. And then phone screening goes to that first interview and more of the same, are they a good culture fit? The first interview is with myself and somebody else.
And then we’ll also do a second interview, which is sort of more the skills in the seat. Is this the right person for this particular role we are looking for? We will often then do an onsite shadowing session. So the applicant comes in and just hangs out for an hour or maybe half a day or something to see the real work, meet some other people, some other Dolphins, see our office. You get a good feel for a company by seeing their office and from there with some due diligence, reference checks, that type of thing. And then we can make an offer and potentially onboard.
Jesse: Yeah. Great. Yeah. Lots of steps.
Jesse: We have I think, hired people without doing all the steps at times, but also gone through most or all the steps and feeling really good about someone and ended up not going with them because of some reason. I do think that it’s been valuable and we try to minimize the amount of pain we’re putting on the person having to go through it. Keep the process short as we can, and yeah, it’s very important to find good Dolphins, is how we have gotten such a good team.
Dave: Yeah. That’s the power of looking at your process, looking at technology. Specifically, some of the things, we’ve worked with Microsoft 365 to really make that process as efficient as possible. And again, that experience that you’re putting someone through is their first experience with you. If they’re going to be a Dolphin with us, it’s their first experience and first steps of being a Dolphin. And so you want that to be great, right? And not make it cumbersome.
Jesse: Yeah. And in the past it has, I think, it’s been a bit too much too. We have been trying to do most of these steps and having people come into our office and do interviews and all that. Technology’s made it a whole lot less painful for everyone.
Dave: Absolutely. And as you say, it’s super critical for almost any business, finding people. The talent war is real.
Jesse: That’s right.
Dave: Good. Well, hopefully that’s helpful for folks. We’ve got a blog related to this as well. So we’ll conclude this with that. And thanks for listening. Thanks Jesse.
Jesse: Thank you Dave. Enjoy the rest of your day.
Dave: You too.