There’s one tab that’s always open on Anton Bernstein’s browser—a Google Doc striped with yellow and green highlights.
Buried inside all that neon is a game-changing tool that Anton, the CEO of Highrise, uses to source, vet, and hire the most talented employees.
The kicker? It usually takes them just a week to bring a new teammate on board. “When people satisfy our requirements, we hire them right away,” says Anton.
We talked to Anton to hear how his hiring holy grail works—and how you can copy it for your small business.
Inside the role document.
“We’ve had a lot of hits and misses with hiring,” says Anton. So when one of their employees didn’t work out, Anton and engineer Josh Johnson investigated.
“We listed out what we actually wanted to look for and that became the role,” Anton explains. “And the next candidate we hired was a successful hire and is still here. It played a massive difference.”
That list turned into the role document. The doc is basically an abstract that captures the essence of a dream candidate. It’s created by the person’s manager and then workshopped by the rest of the team.
Here’s what the Google Doc looks like, broken down section by section:
Section 1: What would a successful candidate look like?
Fill in the blank: An successful candidate in this role will…
– …bring in 20 more clients.
– …be a part of big-picture decisions about the future of our business.
– …actively step beyond the scope of their role to contribute to the company.
Section 2: What would an unsuccessful candidate look like?
Now, do the inverse. An unsuccessful candidate would…
– …require significant “hand-holding” to get started.
– …be defensive or territorial over their work.
– …be afraid to stray from convention.
Section 3: What skills are required for the role?
Get specific about the must-have skills needed for a person to crush it. This helps screen candidates and shapes the interview questions that test their knowledge.
– In-depth experience dealing with customers.
– Solid experience with Adobe Creative Suite.
– Some experience with C++.
Section 4: What would a successful first year look like?
Write down your company goals and how the role would help your team achieve them.
– Successfully open up a new store.
– Sell 1,000 subscriptions.
– Get us to $3 million in revenue.
Section 5: What are the core competencies needed?
Dig into the broader traits an ideal candidate would possess.
– Decisive: Must be willing to try things quickly and make quick decisions. Must understand that it’s better to fail fast than cycle in indecisiveness.
– Good communicator: Must be able to set their own schedule and clearly communicate requirements to others.
– No ego: Must have strong opinions on how they think things should be implemented but be willing to “check their ego” at the door and recognize the ideas of others.
Section 6: General thoughts.
Here is where you can add any additional thoughts that don’t fit in the sections above.
– This role only requires ~2 years of experience and doesn’t necessarily need a “senior” title.
– The goal is for this person to eventually take over [X] part of the business.
Then, one person goes in and groups the top themes that emerge. They rank each one using green highlights for priority-one areas and yellow for priority two.
The manager then schedules a video call to review the role doc with the rest of the interviewers. They run down point by point and vote on how much of a priority each bullet should be.
Once the doc is locked down, it’s extremely easy to translate it into a job description that will attract their dream candidate.
How the role doc transformed Highrise’s interview process.
The role doc is the guardrail for the entire interview. “Saying someone is good or bad is so subjective,” explains Anton. “This sets the interviewer up to ask targeted questions. It makes the interviewer confident.”
Each interviewer’s job is to make sure every bullet point can be graded as either:
The goal is for the whole team to say “all the priority-one things are satisfied.” If a bullet is a top priority, then it can’t be left as unknown. If it is, the team has to schedule a follow-up interview to see if they can reach a solid satisfactory or unsatisfactory rating.
Because Highrise has 13 people spread across five countries, the role doc has been a vital way for everyone to get on the same page. Before the doc, Anton says his team “would interview in the way they knew how, using golf ball riddles and other questions that might not have applied to the role.”
Now, the questions they ask test the granular details that everyone is already in agreement on. “When you’re growing really fast, getting buy-in from everyone is really important,” says Anton. “Otherwise, it slows you down.”
The role doc = the quickest way to hire an amazing candidate.
The role doc has given the Highrise team some serious hiring horsepower. Since rolling it out, 30 percent more candidates accept their job offers, and it takes half as much time to get to the final offer stage.
“Knowing what you want is a gradient,” says Anton. “You can have a rough idea or you can really know. And that clarity is when you can do what you really want to do.”