How to make hiring less painful

Hiring is both incredibly important and incredibly time-consuming. We may be able to help.

What does hiring typically involve?

Running a hiring round can typically involve anywhere from 40-100 hours of work across several weeks. You’ll need to:

  1. Create a fitting job description, advert, and application form
  2. Decide where to post the job and conduct personalised outreach
  3. Design interviews, assessments, trial tasks, and mark schemes
  4. Decide how to weigh the various data points you’ll collect, including CV, application form, screening call, assessment, trial task, interview, references, etc.
  5. Screen applications based on CVs and other predefined criteria
  6. Communicate with candidates throughout the process, including coordinating meetings and sending out rejections
  7. Conduct and evaluate screening calls, assessments, trial tasks, and interviews
  8. Follow up with references
  9. Extend an offer and decide how to hire the successful candidate(s)
  10.  Onboard your new hire!

Make it less painful for the employer

Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to make this all go smoothly! Here are some tips we’ve picked up along the way:

  • Plan ahead. Lay out the hiring process with key dates, like the application deadline, assessments, trial tasks, interviews, and ideal hire date. (Marking trial tasks can be a real time sink, so err towards overestimating how long this will take.) Make sure your team knows when they need to put in time; the CEO may want to scan applicants at some point, but probably shouldn’t be involved in initially evaluating CVs. Decide who will do the final interview with the candidates. Check in each week to confirm whether you’re still on track.
  • Be efficient with your outreach. In the EA community, high-quality candidates often come from the same few sources, like the 80,000 Hours job board and the EA Newsletter. Other valuable avenues include High Impact Professionals, Successif, Magnify Mentoring, and High Impact Recruitment — plus there’s a handful of Facebook groups and Slack workspaces that focus on job opportunities. These avenues are likely to bring in far more qualified candidates than traditional job boards or search engines. It’s also worth reaching out to specific individuals who are well connected in the community.
  • Ask the right questions in your application form. Besides assessing suitability for the role, the application form is a great opportunity to ask candidates about their notice period (to help you plan down the line) and their preferences around sharing their details with other organizations hiring for similar roles. Avoid unnecessary back-and-forth by asking these questions up-front.
  • Invest in an applicant tracking system (ATS). If you have a website built on something like WordPress or Wix, you may be tempted to rely on its native form builder. We’ve found that this introduces friction when it comes to extracting the responses into a database for analysis, or updating the form’s questions down the line. We’d recommend using a flexible solution from the get-go, like Airtable or Google Forms.
  • Make use of automation. You’ll be emailing candidates regularly. Use template emails with mergefields to pull specific candidate details (e.g. their name) into the email body; and set up automations to email candidates in bulk, according to the stage of the process they’re in. SendGrid is a free Airtable extension that makes this pretty straightforward.
  • Test your trial tasks. Make sure they’re trying to test the right things, as per the role description for the job. Check that they aren’t too difficult or time-consuming to mark, and try to mark tasks anonymously to avoid bias. (You might ask someone else on your team to anonymize the answers first.)
  • Consider hosting a virtual Q&A session. This gives candidates the opportunity to ask questions, either by submitting them beforehand or asking during the session. You can record the session and share it on your website to anticipate common questions applicants may ask. (You can also draft and iterate upon a set of FAQs on your website throughout the process.) This gives the candidate the opportunity to meet the team and see if they would be excited to join the organisation.

Make it less painful for the candidates

It’s easy to forget how costly the application process can be for the candidates, too. Be mindful of their time and emotional engagement, and appreciate that this application process is their first impression of how your organization runs. Here are some suggestions:

  • Help them plan ahead. Be up-front about timelines and the steps they’re expected to take. Let them know if things change as soon as possible. For example, if you said you’d get back to someone “within the next week”, be aware that they’ll likely be checking their inbox daily during this period. (Consider giving a concrete deadline instead, like “Wednesday EOD”.) 
  • Give honest feedback. Each applicant deserves feedback on their application. This can be reasonably generic at first — you don’t need to give personalized feedback to anyone you immediately reject, for example. But it’s still valuable to let them know how many high-quality applications you received, or the things that successful candidates often demonstrated. As the hiring round progresses, give increasingly detailed and personalized feedback. If a candidate just finished a 4 hour written assignment, consider arranging a quick call or spending 10 minutes writing up your thoughts.
  • Encourage people to request adjustments to the hiring process. Candidates have different levels of flexibility and capacity. Encourage candidates to let you know if timelines are too tight, or if a full 8-hour work day isn’t possible because of their current job.
  • Don’t let anyone fall through the cracks. An oversight on your end is indistinguishable from being ignored from the candidate’s perspective. Double-check that all candidates have heard back — candidates that have bad experiences applying to your organization may discuss those with other members of their community, too.
  • Consider paying candidates for their time. Candidates who make it to the later stages of the process may spend several hours completing trial tasks. Not all job seekers have time to devote to extra unpaid work, so consider giving them something in return — perhaps a fair market freelance rate for this sort of task (although this may depend on your recruitment budget). Paying candidates also signals that the organization shows respect towards its staff, and helps establish a level of trust.
  • Give the successful candidate a stellar onboarding experience. Clear and thorough internal resources (like a wiki, employee handbook, and common workflows) are enormously valuable to the new joiner, and help them get to grips with their team and workload quicker.

Recently, the EA Forum ran a Career Conversations Week which attracted a lot of valuable posts. We especially liked this one which includes some other hacks and pitfalls around improving the hiring process.

Getting support

At Impact Ops, we’ve run several internal hiring rounds, and five external hiring rounds for some of the organizations we’re supporting. We’re really proud of the feedback we’ve received so far:

“The support on the hiring process has been excellent! And I’ve found all the communication to be clear, prompt, and helpful.”

– Josh Rosenberg, CEO at the Forecasting Research Institute

“Sara is such a pro. She was always organized and prepared and made the entire process as painless for us as possible. We are also very happy with the ultimate hire.”

– Michael Page, former CEO at the Forecasting Research Institute

“[It] was awesome how fast this whole thing happened … And how well-organized it was and smooth and adaptive to my needs!”

– Vael Gates, Founder at Arkose


Our mission at Impact Ops is to enable high-impact projects to grow and thrive. In service of this mission we’re excited about supporting early-stage organizations to manage their hiring rounds — by freeing up team members’ time, reducing bias in the process, giving candidates constructive feedback, and building trust between the job seeker and employer.

If you’d like support running your next hiring round, please get in touch at

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