All posts by Hayley Chazan

The Simple Way to Rank Job Applicants [With Free Template]

The Simple Way to Rank Job Applicants [With Free Template]

Ranking job applicants is the best way to find a qualified candidate in a stack of resumes. But it’s key to begin with an end in mind—unclear expectations will lead to vague job postings and lackluster candidates.

Once you’ve sorted through applications and start scheduling interviews, it’s time to think about a ranking system to compare candidates.

How do you rank job applicants?

Although the practice sounds like something out of a business textbook, ranking job applicants is a practical approach to hiring used by countless successful entrepreneurs.

Imagine you’re hiring a designer. Say you’ve determined they must have one year professional experience, design education, Photoshop proficiency, and are comfortable on a remote team.

Outline your requirements. Usually these qualifications should be on a scale of 0 to 10. Look through your job posting and pull out necessary skills and backgrounds needed to make the role successful.

Measure applicants against the system you’ve developed. Say an applicant has been a freelancer for six months. They’d receive a 5/10 for experience. But, it’s clear from their portfolio that their Bachelor in Fine Arts (7/10) has made them more than proficient in Photoshop (10/10). Considering their freelance work has prepared them for some remote team work (6/10), this candidate seems promising with 28 of 40 possible points.

To make this easy, we built a super simple (and free!) spreadsheet to help managers rank job applicants. Download it now.

Simple but not easy

Just because ranking job applicants is simple in theory doesn’t mean it’s easy to execute. You need to think carefully about what makes an ideal candidate so you can assign an appropriate value to the criteria you’ve decided to assess.

You must also determine the best method to test your criteria. Deciding on the best approach depends on what type of skill you’re ranking.

Hard Skills

Hard skills are tangible abilities developed through experience and education.

For most positions, there are some hard skills necessary to even be considered for a role. A developer, for example, must know how to code in certain languages. Use the required skills section of your job posting to set criteria for hard skills.

But even if someone claims on their resume to have a computer science degree from MIT, you should assess their actual ability. Have them complete a relevant programming challenge before the interview and assign a score based on their performance.

Soft Skills

Soft skills go beyond the resume and include intangible qualities like leadership, cultural fit, and being a team player. Although many recruiters place a greater emphasis on hard skills, it’s often the intangible x-factor that makes a new hire a superstar in your company. Ignore soft skills at your peril!

Interviews are the best way to assess soft skills. There are two good approaches:

  • Situational questions: See how candidates would react in different scenarios. For example, “What would you do if your supervisor refused to give clear direction?” The question is theoretical, but the answer provides insight into how a candidate approaches their job.
  • Get personal: Dig deep to figure out if you want a candidate on your team. Cultural fit is vital, especially at a startup. Open ended questions like “where are you from” and “what’s your greatest accomplishment” tell you a lot about a candidate’s personality and motivations.

Assigning a score to soft skills is trickier than hard skills. Although you can try and anticipate responses to certain questions, it’s usually best to go with your instincts when judging things like cultural fit and initiative.

What if candidates are similarly ranked?

If two applicants share the same rank, start by reviewing how you weighed various criteria. Maybe you said you valued design education and ability equally. But perhaps you interviewed a candidate without any formal education because they came highly recommended. When they completed the sample assignment, you were blown away by their grasp of your brand. As a result, they received a similar score as that candidate with the prestigious fine arts degree whose sample work was a bit “meh.” You may want to rethink how much you value the education requirement.

When two candidates have the same hard skills, entrepreneurs rarely regret hiring the one who seems like a better fit with the team and vision. Remember, you want someone who will be happy growing with the company. That’s priceless.

Finally, involve your team. Introduce top candidates to colleagues. Ask technical experts to review candidate’s work samples to see if there’s something you missed, and even ask them to assign scores for criteria like technical ability and personality fit.

Ranking saves all kinds of trouble

You’re systematic in everything else you do, from accounting, to product development, to marketing and sales. Hiring your team – the future of your company – should be no different.

Ready to rank job applicants? Download Authentic’s free candidate ranking tool.

Why and How Startups Should Hire Remote From the Start

Why and How Startups Should Hire Remote From the Start

Building a team in a traditional office environment is expensive, especially if it’s in a tech hub like New York, San Francisco, and Austin. In these places, startups compete for limited talent and expensive office space while trying to build a new company.

That’s why startup founders should consider hiring remote when it comes time to build a team. Let’s discuss why and how remote employees could work for your startup.

Why Remote Teams Are A Great Option for Startups

With location out of the equation, remote teams unlock new opportunities for startups. Founders and team leads should consider the following three perks when deciding if remote teams are the right fit.

1. Access to talent
Finding the best talent is one of the biggest challenges facing employers. By hiring a remote team, you increase the size of your talent pool because you can hire people located anywhere in the world, or at least in the same timezone.

Because of this, remote work improves your chances of attracting the best and brightest. Many talented web creators are looking for more flexibility in their day-to-day lives, and being able to provide the freedom of remote work can give you an advantage when competing against tech giants for talent.

2. Cost
Hiring a remote team saves money in the short and long term. Not having a physical office means no monthly rent payments and less money spent on office supplies. Onboarding remote employees also means you don’t need to pay salaries to meet living standards in large cities.

Startups can use these savings to invest in employee training or work retreats. These perks create a happier workforce and a more cohesive team—not to mention, more profit!

3. Performance-based results
Remote teams send your employees a simple message: you care about work that moves the company closer to its goals. Without requiring a physical presence, employees have to point to performance to show that they’re contributing on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

By letting employees choose the workplace that suits them best, remote teams are also given more opportunity to be creative and productive.

The Keys to Hiring Remote Employees

It’s clear that remote teams offer major perks to startups operating on a lean, performance-based model. Hiring managers and startup founders should keep in mind that hiring for remote jobs is different than for traditional office environments. Keep these four strategies in mind when building your first remote team.

1. Hire employees made for remote work
Remote work isn’t for everyone. Hire people with remote work experience, or who want a flexible work environment. Most great remote hires share common characteristics like being tech-savvy or having strong communication skills. To find the best talent, use a tailored job board like Authentic Jobs.

2. Be clear about your expectations
Nothing is worse for business than a boss with ambiguous expectations. From the first job interview to the team Skype meeting, tell your team what you expect from them. Holding people accountable is important in any management role, but all the more so in a remote work environment.

Setting clear procedures will help. For example, a specific time each week for a one-on-one phone call with team members keeps everyone one track.

3. Focus on outputs, not inputs
Like I pointed out before, great remote workers focus on performance instead of logging in. When hiring remote employees, give them the freedom they need to perform. For example, flexible work hours let people work when they’re most productive. This shows you care that the work gets done rather than when it gets done.

Of course, not all roles can offer flexible work times. Many teams have “core hours” when meetings and collaboration take place so employees can structure the rest of their day for their work and lifestyle.

4. Don’t think it’s easy to transition to remote later on
The best time to start building a remote team is with your first hire. If you make the decision to switch to remote later on, you run the risk of isolating employees who aren’t comfortable with a remote arrangement.

A blended model is usually awkward and leads to a “two-team” approach. You definitely don’t want your team to think employees who work from home are less important, or that remote work is a cushy arrangement for slackers.

Is A Remote Team the Right Choice?

Working remotely can have enormous benefits for your company and your team. It unlocks access to new talent, lets you save money, and puts the focus on results.

When hiring remote teams, it’s important to hire personalities fit for remote work and to be clear about expectations from the start. With these tips in mind, startups everywhere can build remote teams that are poised to disrupt markets far and wide.


Ready to find the perfect remote hire? Try Authentic Jobs.

How to Spot a Superstar in a Stack of Applications

How to Spot a Superstar in a Stack of Applications

Hiring has never been tougher. Thanks to the rise of job boards and sites like LinkedIn, employers now receive hundreds of applications for positions ranging from entry-level graphic designers all the way up to CEOs.

Missing out on top talent is a costly mistake – not only will it slow your organization’s growth, but you can be certain your competition is waiting in the wings to sign the best and brightest to their team.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you sort through an avalanche of applications and find that next superstar hire.

Start With The Goal

You think you know what you want. But do you really?

Planning ahead to truly understand what you’re looking for before you even write the job posting will not only make your life easier, it’ll also lead to better candidates applying for the position.

After all, a top-tier applicant isn’t going to bother applying for a job description that’s gibberish – and they’re certainly not going to pursue the opportunity if you can’t explain the position clearly.

Think about the intangible qualities that make the position you’re hiring for unique. Are you looking for a graphic designer or an art director? Perhaps the job posting was titled “head of sales” but what you’re really looking for is a right hand. Or maybe you insisted that next programmer be based out of your Bay-area office, when in reality they could work remotely.

The point is, you need to have a vision for every position you fill. Take the time to truly understand your expectations before looking for talent.

Make Three Lists

After you understand your vision for the role, make three lists:

Must haves
These are the qualities, experiences, and skills that are essential. For example, if you’re hiring a programmer, they need to know how to code in specific languages.


Nice to haves
That programmer mentioned above obviously needs to code – but what if you’re a small startup and everyone needs to chip in? In that case, you may want a developer with industry connections to help with business development.

Deal breakers
This is the list of things that makes a candidate a non-starter. Perhaps most of your team is working remotely now, but you need to hire an entry-level member of the marketing team to double as an office manager. In that case, refusing to relocate would be a deal breaker.

Start Sorting – Ruthlessly and Immediately

Sorting through mountains of resumes, cover letters, and portfolios can seem daunting.

It’s tempting to put off the hard work of doing a deep dive into the applications you receive. It’s also tempting to steal away a few minutes here and there to glance at resumes as they land in your inbox.

The better approach is to schedule a few hours every couple days to dig in and review each application. As you do, sort them based on the three lists you made earlier.

Reject anyone who lands in the deal breaker category immediately, and set aside candidates who check off the must have boxes. If someone fits into both the must have and nice to have categories, schedule those interviews right away.

Candidates who surprise you (in a good way) may also deserve special treatment. If someone has gone above and beyond to make a creative application or if they bring something exceptional to the table (such as experience working for your competition), consider putting them at the top of the interview pile – even if other applicants look better on paper.

Know When to Wait

Some candidates might not meet the must-haves or the deal breakers. You shouldn’t have to settle, but you don’t want to close the door on a good candidate.

It’s best to wait on these applicants and return to them later, so put these folks in another folder. If a candidate seems to have the right qualities to fit in with the team but doesn’t quite meet your expectations for this particular role, file his or her resume away for future reference.

If you don’t find someone who feels right after the first round of interviews, take a second look at this pile. Ask yourself if a “must have” quality may be better suited for the “nice to have” list. If there’s someone in this category you like, introduce them to some trusted colleagues. Often your coworkers can provide a good gut check about whether or not that applicant will make a good fit.

Good hires can change the game.

Finding your next game-changing hire is easy when you follow these four steps. Start by doing the hard work of understanding your own expectations. Then divide those expectations into three lists and triage the candidates in a way that makes sense for the role.

Happy (head) hunting!


Hire your next superstar on Authentic Jobs.