The Dover Way

We've helped hundreds of top companies make thousands of hires. Now, we're sharing our philosophy for how any company can run a world-class hiring process.

We call it The Dover Way.

Introduction

The way teams hire today is fundamentally broken.

Teams are rarely happy with their recruiting process. Hiring managers invest tons of time and energy into recruiting—on top of their day job— but are often unable to find and hire talent that meets their bar. Internal coordination is painful: there are always last-minute interview changes, missing feedback forms, misplaced resumes, and dropped candidates. And you’re never quite sure if you’re doing a good job.

At Dover, we think there's a better way.

The Dover Way is a method for companies to hire the right talent fast, solve the recruiting coordination problem, and create an incredible candidate experience at the same time. This approach allows your team to focus on high-leverage work, like finding job-market fit and closing candidates, instead the the more tedious and operational components of recruiting. It also ensures you keep your team happy, organized, and aligned. Hiring is hard — the Dover Way makes it easier.

Dover supports companies that buy into this philosophy.

We’ve built a unified platform that eliminates the administrative work required to do all the tedious tasks of recruiting, like outreach, scheduling, and internal coordination. Dover’s software simplifies and streamline all of the operational work that is critical to running an effective hiring process. And Dover’s services ensure your team is not just effective, but world-class.

The goal of this guide is to share our approach to hiring.

We’ve honed these principles over the last 5 years helping 1000+ companies with recruiting strategy, candidate management, and sourcing — leading to tens of thousands of onsites and thousands of hires.

Disclaimer

Our experience primarily comes from helping fast-growing companies hire for tough-to-fill roles. Dover’s philosophy will apply to you if you:

  • Have a high talent bar, and care a lot about the quality of each candidate you bring in

  • Invest in talent for the long haul, e.g. you aren’t in a high turnover industry

Disclaimer

Our experience primarily comes from helping fast-growing companies hire for tough-to-fill roles. Dover’s philosophy will apply to you if you:

  • Have a high talent bar, and care a lot about the quality of each candidate you bring in

  • Invest in talent for the long haul, e.g. you aren’t in a high turnover industry

Principles

Treat hiring as a whole-team sport

Too often, hiring managers see recruiting as a tedious task, and they expect recruiters to own it. This always leads to misaligned expectations and frustrations.

Hiring can’t be siloed off to a recruiter or recruiting team. Hiring managers are the ones to make the hire/no-hire decision — they need to drive the search. And the broader team must be involved in the interview process.

As a hiring manager, delegate and automate aggressively. Recruiting consists of numerous tiny actions stacked up, so removing any friction from your hiring workflow will reduce time investment and cognitive load for you and your team.

In short, the best companies ensure that:

  1. Hiring managers are accountable for filling their open roles.

  2. The hiring team (across hiring managers, recruiters, and interviewers) is aligned on what they’re looking for.

  3. Hiring managers are able to delegate all non-strategic work (like email outreach and scheduling).

  4. The broader team is involved in interviewing and is effectively trained for it

Learn from top companies

Regardless of your company stage or the role you’re hiring for, chances are someone has done it before. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. More often than not, we’ve seen that “creative” sourcing and interview processes do more harm than good. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by experimenting before you get the fundamentals right.

A few examples of easy best practices:

  • Make it really easy to apply to your job with a short, single-page form (not an email).

  • Make sure you have some info about your product, values, and team on your website.

  • Run a standard interview process: 30-minute phone screen, 60-minute technical assessment, onsite, and then reference checks. Always set expectations for the next steps at the end of each stage. Do a live debrief with all interviewers after your onsite.

Be prepared to iterate early and often

Hiring managers typically start with a clear(ish) picture of the ideal candidate and process. But, as you conduct interviews, your understanding of what the role entails should evolve. You’ll also learn how to improve your pitch as you see what resonates with candidates and what doesn’t.

If the best candidates don’t want to move forward after a first screen, your job pitch might not be resonating. If candidates withdraw later in the process, your interview process might be too drawn out and not compelling enough.

One corollary of this principle is that you should aim to do more first-round interviews than you think you need. This frequent “contact with reality” will give you data points on the candidate pool for your role, giving you more conviction when you do find the right candidate.

Diversify your candidate sources

There are only three channels to get candidates: inbound, outbound, and referrals.

Outbound sourcing is seen as high-touch and time-consuming, so some companies avoid it due to the perceived effort involved. Conversely, inbound candidates are often perceived to be lower quality, so many companies don’t post on job boards to avoid sifting through a pile of applications.

Top teams use a blend of all three channels. They set up a system to effortlessly get top candidates from each.

Sourcing is a numbers game — set up some automation and make sure you’re reaching out to at least 50-100 candidates a week. Most sourced candidates will be passive, so focus more on pitching than interviewing early in the process.

For inbound, set aside time to triage top applicants (usually <3-5%) quickly, as these tend to be candidates interviewing at other companies.

Encourage your team to submit referrals on a regular cadence (we recommend quarterly), and help them through the logistics of finding and reaching out to their network.

Lay the foundation for a great candidate experience

Many companies think you need to go above and beyond to create a great candidate experience. In reality, most candidates just want to hear back fast and know their next steps.

These 3 things will put you in the top 10% of companies when it comes to candidate experience:

  1. Schedule phone screens within 24 hours of when the candidate enters your process.

  2. Inform candidates at the end of each interview stage when they’ll hear back and what the potential next step will be (and make sure this is, at most, a few days).

  3. Save 5 minutes for candidate questions at the end of each interview.

Getting these basics in place gives you a better chance of not losing top candidates.

Reduce emotion by operationalizing

Disorganized hiring can often feel overwhelming, especially when you’re context-switching between strategic work and tedious tasks. Rejecting candidates is emotional, and moving them forward feels like a commitment. This is a big part of why hiring is hard.

Top teams operationalize hiring with the following strategies:

  1. Define specific objectives for each interview stage. Set clear evaluation criteria within each round. For instance, your job in a first-round interview is solely to determine if the candidate qualifies for the next step in the process — you’re not making a hire/no-hire decision. This clarity can simplify decision-making and reduce emotional strain.

  2. Make it easy to action candidates. Have a consolidated view of all recruiting tasks in one place, and set aside time weekly to get to inbox 0. Scheduling and rejection templates can alleviate some of the stress of taking action.

  3. Keep at it! Remember that hiring is probabilistic; by definition, you won’t know if you’re successful until you make the hire.

Make your company an amazing place to work

You can’t source, hack, and scheme your way to hiring great candidates. You have to truly be a great place to work and showcase that to candidates.

The first way to do that is to define your company values and ensure you’re creating an environment in which your people are thriving. When people love working at your company, they will refer their friends, and this creates a virtuous cycle.

You should also apply company values in your hiring process. Showcase these values on your team and careers page, so candidates can self-select in or out. Bring them to life further with employee blogs written about their experiences on the team. Present your company as a place where the best candidates want to work, and they will.

Dover builds products to help companies follow these best practices by default. 

Sign up now to put them into practice.

Dover builds products to help companies follow these best practices by default. 
Talk to us to put them into practice.