What I’ve learned from interviewing 100s of Recruiting teams.
I’m Kenny Mendes, and I lead People & Operations at Coda. Prior to Coda, I scaled Box from 40 to 1,200 employees. At Box, I ran a comprehensive People Analytics research initiative to understand what factors predict top performance in hiring. I also teach a class called
, an exclusive cohort-based class designed for CEOs who want to build world-class teams, and I regularly advise founders on team building. Over the years, I’ve interviewed hundreds of executives and recruiting teams, and I closely studied what sets exceptional hiring practices apart from the rest. I’ve seen teams have wildly different ways of solving a common set of problems, and I’ve shared the most insightful approaches below.
My goal for this handbook is to pull out the most interesting bits from those interviews and create a definitive guide that will enable you to significantly improve your recruiting team’s rituals. It includes templates, specific customer stories, and even resources from my hiring course. These strategies have helped companies like Pinterest, Uber, Spotify, Square, and more stand out in highly competitive markets.
Feedback & Ideas
If you have feedback on how to improve these guides, or ideas of your own rituals you’d like to add, please
Common patterns for recruiting teams that run on Coda.
Pattern #1: Recruiting & hiring manager hubs help consolidate context scattered across tools into a single source of truth.
Problem: Wasted time and unnecessary manual effort clogging the hiring process.
Most recruiting teams we talk to have accumulated a long list of specialized packaged software: a tool for sourcing, scheduling, candidate tracking, feedback tracking, the list is endless. As a result, important context ends up being buried in a handful of different places. When a recruiting team shows us their starting point, almost every time, they pull up a collection of docs, sheets, and standalone software.
Navigating ten tabs for one hiring process might be the norm, but upon reflection, it seems nuts. Recruiters and coordinators end up spending lots of manual time keeping hiring teams up to date on progress for every role search. As a recruiting leader from a major tech company shared:
We’re creating candidate updates, sourcing reports, interview schedules, feedback trackers, and are constantly coordinating across with multiple departments. These details become outdated the moment they're distributed.
The downside of this tool sprawl is the creation of isolated repositories of crucial data. Jumping between them is not just time-consuming but also inefficient.
Recruiters often find themselves wasting time transferring data between tools or filling out the same templates across multiple platforms. This redundant effort, though often unnoticed at the organizational level, burdens the already-swamped recruiter. One recruiter mentioned that before Coda, almost 50% of their time was consumed in such tedious work.
Solution: A single hiring hub for your source of truth.
As a recruiting leader, we’re used to running lean. It’s important to have processes that are organized, efficient, and automated.
Pattern #2: Sourcing & selling to outsell and out-hustle the competition.
Problem: Recruiting is sales, full stop. Without the right tools and rigor, teams will fall short in closing the strongest talent.
You can’t wait for top talent to come knocking. Competition for top talent continues to be fierce. With candidates flooded by opportunities, recruiting teams need to stand out from start to finish. Without the right set of activities, hiring managers are faced with paltry pipeline and have to pick between candidates that don’t meet their criteria. Recruiting teams will work hard to convince passive candidates to interview, only to see them withdraw after poor experiences during the interview loop.
Solution: Stand out in the hiring process. Be disciplined, organized, and incredibly compelling from start to finish.
The best recruiting teams are both aggressive and consistent about building a strong pipeline, with an emphasis on passive candidate outreach. They collaborate closely with hiring managers to research and map out the talent market, identify leading candidates, reach out, and passionately pitch them.
An org full of expert sellers.
Imagine a recruiting process where a candidate is blown away by every single touch point they have with the company. A process like that doesn’t happen naturally. Rather, the recruiting team works to build a sales-oriented hiring culture, methodically training every recruiter, hiring manager, and interviewer to be phenomenal representatives of the company. After all, it’s that group’s job to convince these candidates that they’d be crazy not to consider joining this company.
Pattern #3: Disciplinedevaluations drive stronger hiring outcomes through principled decision-making.
Problem: Slow or wrong decisions leading to painful hiring mistakes.
Decision-making, particularly around candidate selection, is a topic I frequently discuss with other recruiting leaders. Concerns often range from “decisions taking too long” to “hasty or gut-based decisions leading to wrong and costly hires.”
In these scenarios, I usually ask them to showcase the thought process or describe the forums (meetings, documents, etc.) where these decisions happen. Many teams point to important data points scattered across applications, docs, interviewing platforms, candidate submissions, and Slack. Teams regularly miss the opportunity to review the complete set of data in aggregate, and often made the hiring decisions based on just the most recent part of the interview process, like the on-site.
When it comes to making a final call, you’re left with 30+ data points and a mountain of feedback to parse through. It’s easy to misinterpret what signals matter when they’re fragmented like this.
It’s also important to carefully audit each interview prompt and make efforts to verify its accuracy. Is it a true indicator of a candidate’s ability? Are you seeing patterns of false positives (saying yes to poor candidates) or false negatives (rejecting good candidates)?
Solution: Systematic, valid, and predictive processes that guide the right hiring outcomes.
Invest in supplementing your interviews with rich data from references. We’ve linked the template on how to run great reference checks below. Tracking these references in one centralized place allows your whole team to see the rigor placed in collecting and interpreting references, and why it’s such an important part of the final decision.
Thoughtfully construct an evaluation system that covers everything from how resumes are scored, what interview questions are asked, and how they will be graded. When it comes to the actual interviews, remember that traditional 1-1 interviews are some of the least predictive and accurate methods of assessment. To get better signal, create work sample tests that simulate the type of work the candidate will be doing in the role.
One very useful pattern we observed was organizations that stack-ranked their final candidates. The forced ranking let people argue for which candidates were preferred and why.
Additionally, people often worry that if they call candidate-provided references, they’ll only hear glowing reviews. However, with the right script and tactics, you can uncover rich information about the candidate to aid your hiring decision. We’ve linked how to do that below.
Pattern #4: Closing toolkits to seal the deal by systematizing attracting and closing the best candidates.
Problem: teams wasting time and valuable opportunity by losing candidates at the finish line.
Solution: Systematize your closing strategy.
Recruiting teams have to master the art of the close, and use every tool at their disposal to win the candidate. The best organizations realize closing is a team sport, and leverage multiple well-planned touch points to keep momentum high and win over talent.
The most basic starting point is to create a centralized Offer Tracker so the full recruiting and leadership team knew of which candidates were getting offers and how they could help close.
It’s important to remember that closing starts from the very first conversation with a candidate, and it’s important to provide guidance so that every person in the hiring process can be well-versed on the company pitch. Coda’s Pitch Training Guide has been adopted to create a consistent approach and train and certify people on different portions of the pitch. It was key to remind team members that being a great pitcher/story-teller takes practice, and the team would invest in building comfort with each other to do weekly practice sessions. The Coda team even made learning the pitch a part of new hire onboarding.
Employees often struggle to understand compensation, especially when other elements like equity or bonuses are involved. Top companies found ways to accompany verbal offers with tangible tools that the candidate could use to understand the value of their offer across various growth scenarios. This approach helped shift candidates away from thinking of equity like a low-probability lottery ticket to a meaningful part of their compensation, and dramatically improved close rates in companies that deployed it.