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As Strong As Your Weakest Link: The RPO

Season 2: Episode 5

The meeting with the RPO Manager (the person who so many of the stakeholders had counted on and had managed to disappoint them all) was all set. However, based on the rumors and feedback I had already received from asking around my expectations of the discussion had drastically reduced.

While waiting in the meeting room for her to join me, I decided to go through her Linkedin profile. Based on her background, she has been in the industry for around 14 years but most of that experience was with various recruitment agencies. I guessed she knew how to hire and deliver for her clients but she had no experience driving recruitment from inside a startup.

“Aha” I thought “ this must be the main reason why she hasn’t been successful in setting up a scalable hiring process but was only closing positions”.

She walked in. We shook hands and she welcomed me to the recruitment team with a big warm smile. Before I could ask her any questions related to the hiring, she started talking.

Maria, I have been firefighting here everyday to close the open positions. Believe me, hiring the best talent out there for a company without a brand isn’t an easy thing. Despite the fact that my journey here has been a roller coaster ride, at the end i have proven what can be done and that with huge success’.

“Interesting” I was nodding my head in disbelief. Then I started asking all of my questions at once.

“What is the engagement process you have been following? How do you keep your stakeholders informed on their hiring numbers? Who decides on the hiring numbers, sourcing mix and recruitment spending?’

She looked at me with calm and self assured expression. ‘See, you have to understand here. We advise the founders on what is best for the company based on the quarterly number projections. We also have an agreement on the cost and the billing. Regarding the candidate engagement, we have a tracker which we share with the leaders on a weekly basis. They are all aware of how many positions are opened, how many were filled in and of course the hiring cost involved.’

I asked her the same question which I asked to the founders:

  1. What was the sourcing mix last year?

Silence. It took her a few minutes to respond. “Well, mostly RPO and few employee referrals. I don’t have the metrics for Employee referrals. For this we need to ask HRBP.

I was already feeling my disappointment piling up.

OK, I see.

2. Which tool we use to track recruitment metrics?

She responded: “We only use excel sheets”.

3. What is the cost per hire?

Her response: “We don’t have complete visibility of the logistics and seat cost so its difficult to comment on it”

4. What is the quality of hire score?

Her response: “We never measured it”

5. Do we have any data to help us analyze the past performance of the hiring?

Her response: “We have been doing much better and offer drop out ratio has come down to 40% from 50%”.

From her answers, I could sense that my fears have been re-confirmed. She has been driving the hiring without setting up a process, without any visibility, nor a plan. To me this seemed like there was a recruitment agency hired to sit on our premises and ad hoc fill in positions. I knew I had to start from scratch. My first priority is to define the hiring metrics to track. How will I do this? I need some help.

I quickly jotted down:

I need to:

  • For the time being, come up with a master tracker sheet which can help track all departments, candidates, sources, hiring manager, interview stages, offer date, joining date etc

  • Get the conversion numbers for the engineering hiring so I can plan the hiring for the Head of Engineering

  • Set up the interview process

  • Calculate the budget for hiring

  • Define the metric for cost per hire

With my notes and clear mind in place I was ready to face my next obstacle.


Maria -

Recruiter, Problem Solver @ Growing Startup

Learn through Maria's experiences and people she meets along the way how to solve every day's hiring challenges in a fast paced growing organization.