Interview Stages

Matthew Ferguson
Matthew Ferguson Member Posts: 7 Contributor
First Anniversary
edited October 2020 in CS Org Conversations
Hi everyone,

I'm interested to know people's views on the interview processes at their companies and what has been most effective for them in finding the balance between a swift process, but one that enables a full evaluation.

I've recently joined a company as Director of Customer Success and we are hiring 3 strategic account managers before the end of the year to manage our largest and most important clients, or partners as we call them.

The process for hiring was as below.

Interview Process
1. Director of Customer Success
2. VP Customer Success
3. Senior Account Manager and AVP Sales
4. SVP Revenue
5. Case Study Presentation (group)

But given the restrictions with calendars, there was often more than a week between each phase, meaning it felt long to me, at least based on experience at other companies. We're removing step 3 to streamline things but I was interested to hear what other Directors / VPs have as their hiring process for critical, strategic roles.

What number of phases of interviews do you have and have you changed it over the last year? Have you found any specific steps or tasks to be particularly effective? Do you find that there is a point at which the length of time in the process becomes problematic for the candidates?

Any feedback and input would be greatly appreciated.

Kind regards,


  • James LaRiviere
    James LaRiviere Member Posts: 7 Contributor
    First Anniversary
    edited October 2020

    Hey Matthew,

    This is a very familiar problem! For feedback, it looks top heavy in terms of executive involvement. I think getting rid of step 3 could be a good beginning, have you thought about moving the VP chats closer to the end? This could help you speed up the process as you won't need VP involvement until the end where you've narrowed down your list of candidates. I found blocking off a recurring spot on their calendar helped with scheduling.

    Included the hiring process we ended up with below: 

    1: Hiring manager/HR does the first interview, narrows down the list.
    2: Project is sent out to candidate
    3: Hiring manager reviews the project, narrows down the list. 
    4: Candidate presents in a larger group (in my previous org it was implementation and success) group asks questions on the project/candidate. Group decides if the candidate moves to the next stage.
    5: Candidates are brought in to chat with the CCO. 
    6: If the parties give a green light the hiring process begins. 

    I found 3 weeks was the sweet spot in terms of time to hire. It gave us enough time to vet the candidate without keeping them in limbo.

    Hope this helps!

  • Matt Myszkowski
    Matt Myszkowski Member Posts: 143 Expert
    First Comment Photogenic First Anniversary
    edited October 2020

    My current SAP hiring process for CSMs is:

    1. Initial screening by TA/Recruiter
    2. First interview by Regional Director (hiring manager) - general competency based & CV review
    3. Second interview by Senior CSM from relevant team - focussing on key components of CSM role such as outcomes, change management & success planning
    4. Third interview is presentation to panel (Regional Director, CSM, VP of CS & one guest from CS stakeholder) - We provide case study 7 days in advance with customer situation asking 3 questions for them to resent on
    5. Final stage is informal chat with VP (me)

    This usually starts with 10-8 candidates reducing to final 3 for case study stage.

    Hope this helps.
  • Matthew Ferguson
    Matthew Ferguson Member Posts: 7 Contributor
    First Anniversary
    edited October 2020
    @James LaRiviere

    Hi James,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. I agree that 3 weeks is good to aim for. Much more than that feels like it's too onerous and maybe we risk losing the candidate to another company.

    Interesting that your project is sent out relatively early in the process. I hadn't really thought of bringing that up the process in order to narrow the candidates down.

    These three roles alone will be responsible for the vast majority of our company's revenue, so a lot of importance is being placed on it, hence both the VP / SVP involvement. I certainly see your point though.

  • Matthew Ferguson
    Matthew Ferguson Member Posts: 7 Contributor
    First Anniversary
    edited October 2020
    @Matt Myszkowski

    Hi Matt,

    Thank you for taking time to respond.

    I do see the logic in your approach. Perhaps we are putting the VP / SVP too far towards the start. I do see the value in moving the presentation to being before VP / SVP conversations.

  • Effie Mansdorf
    Effie Mansdorf Member Posts: 76 Expert
    First Anniversary
    edited October 2020
    I'm currently hiring and this is the process:

    1. HR resume screening - to filter out the relevant candidates.
    2. Global head of CS ( hiring manager) - interview of about 30 -60 minutes depends on the candidate. This is the second level of "filtering". Here I assess both candidates knowledge in CS methodologies.
    3. Sales Director - candidate works closely with AE.
    4. Head of PS - candidate works closely with PS
    5. Presentation - assignment given with 1 week to prepare. presented to head of CS ( ME)
    6. CRO - Go /no Go

    Presentation is done at the end for two reasons:
    1. Gives the candidate an opportunity to meet other team members to "interview" them as well. We found that candidates are hesitant to invest in the presentation, when not knowing much about out company.
    2. At this stage, only the qualified and serious candidates come through, making for a better quality candidate and decision.
  • David Jackson
    David Jackson Member Posts: 36 Expert
    First Comment
    edited October 2020
    Lots of good advice to which I wold add one thing.  

    Have the candidate interviewed by peers or, if you are hiring for a head of, by members of the team they are managing.  In my experience, this input is very insightful.  Peers know the job better than you and will test to ensure they are getting a colleague thy trust to do the job and can work with.  If hiring for a head of, its important they can command the respect of their team and only the team can really tell you that.  I recall one team telling me they thought one candidate could do the job but would be challenging for them.  I hired him and he was a great success.  

  • Craig Jackson
    Craig Jackson Member Posts: 23 Thought Leader
    edited October 2020
    Very interesting to see both the similarities and the differences here. Personally I try to limit my recruitment process to a 5 week turn around. 

    Generally advertise the role for a 2 week period whilst reaching out to my network, take a week to review applicants with HR team and set up interviews - where possible I limit to 4 candidates. 

    1. 1st stage with myself and a member of the HR team. Focus on validating experience and assessing personal fit
    2. 2nd stage (depending on experience) - short presentation, this will usually be focussed around trends we are experiencing at the time (its always good to see how people outside of the organisation have addressed these)
    3. 3rd stage - we are generally at a point where we have 1/2 candidates preferred and set up a call with the team to see fit. 

    Undermost circumstances we can generally fit the 3 conversations into a 2 week cycle. Naturally the timeline shifts based on the individual and internal commitments but generally pretty good at achieving this. 

    I've always believed job hunting is a very daunting and challenging prospect to most candidates. I try to respect this by making the process as quick as possible, communicating the process from the outset and its helped me retain preferred candidates who already have offers on the table.