One Simple Hack to Hire Great Talent With 50% Less Effort

Building a team is arguably the most exciting part of being a manager. Finding a great person for your team is one of those “booyah!” moments. Getting to that moment is very hard.

Think about all the time and work involved between the thought “My team needs to grow!” and the moment a candidate begins her first day on your team: approving a budget, writing job requirements, coordinating with HR, sifting through resumes, screening prospects on the phone, conducting initial interviews and then second-round interviews, discussing candidates with your team, making an offer, coordinating start times. It’s exhausting just thinking about it.

Luckily, there is a better approach. Try this simple hack to cut your efforts in half when looking for new candidates:

Add a hurdle to the application process to make it more difficult for a candidate to apply.


(Jimmy getting his hurdle on)

Create a Google Form or Word .doc questionnaire that requires applicants to answer a few open-ended questions. I like to keep the questionnaire under 6 questions, requiring under 30 minutes to complete.

Here’s an example I’ve used for an entrylevel position. 

“But Dan, why would I want to make it harder for people to apply?”

I know, I know; this idea sounds counterintuitive. But the most time-intensive part of the hiring process is screening and selecting candidates, and this hack will streamline that process. Adding a small hurdle to the application gives you a few huge benefits:

  • You’ll eliminate applicants who are just blasting their resume to every job under the sun. This type of person won’t apply with a small hurdle in place, which will reduce the number of resumes you’ll need to review.
  • Candidates who move past a hurdle have already proven they are willing to go “above and beyond.” You’ll be looking for and asking about this kind of behavior during an interview anyway, so why not gauge it right from the get-go?
  • You’ll learn more than what’s found on standard resumes and glean insight into candidates’ writing ability. Writing is important in every job (everyone writes dozens of emails per day), and the questionnaire will give you a glimpse into candidates’ ability and style.

Noah Kagan of SumoMe is the king of application hurdles. Whenever he has a job posting, he creates a small hurdle to help deter bottom-of-the-barrel applicants.

A few closing thoughts:

  • Adding a hurdle cuts out the lowest-quality applicants. It doesn’t guarantee that every person clearing the application hurdle will be great, but reviewing a smaller, more qualified pool will save you a ton of time.
  • When building your hurdle, be sure to include a couple questions that pertain to the actual job. Are there certain baseline skills the job requires? Ask candidates to give specific examples of times they’ve used those skills. Does the job require creative thinking? Provide a hypothetical situation and budget, and ask candidates to detail a hypothetical proposal.
  • Experiment with the types and difficulty levels of hurdles. The more time-intensive the hurdle, the less applications you’ll receive.


What hacks have you used to improve your hiring process? How can you use hurdles outside of the hiring process?


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