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The CEO of HiredHippo talks recruitment and retention

HiredHippo is a wildly successful recruitment platform that uses sophisticated tech to connect the right people to the right jobs. Talent that joins SalesCamp will have exclusive access to HiredHippo services and get matched with the top high growth companies.

Recruitment and retention is more art than science

According to Adam Gellert, the founder and CEO at HiredHippo, the recruitment process is more of an art than a science.

He should know. HiredHippo is a wildly successful recruitment platform that uses sophisticated tech to connect the right people to the right jobs. At Palette Skills, we think they can offer great insights about not only recruitment, but about retention as well. HiredHippo has helped leading startups like LumiQ, Leyton and FundThrough, along with larger companies such as TouchBistro, Xello and Black+Decker. Their mission is all about connecting enterprise with best-fit talent that aligns with company values.

CEO Gellert shared some his thoughts, tips, and tricks with us, and we think they’re worth sharing with you. So let’s dive in!

Ace Your Interview

Gellert stresses that doing well in an interview is key, and his advice is to be prepared. “There’s no ‘best-kept secret’ to acing an interview,” says Gellert, “but there is a handy acronym to help candidates prepare for them. You have to do your PREP!”

PREP stands for potential, research, enthusiasm, and polish.

  • Potential: “You’ll need to show, either through previous experience or lack thereof, that you’ve got the potential to be successful in the job within 30/60/90 days. Can the interviewer see you in the role already?”
  • Research: “Show that you’ve researched their company, the opportunity, and the person you’re meeting with.”
  • Enthusiasm: “Can you show how much you care about the business problem you’ll be solving in that position? Did you show up with good, positive energy to the point that your passion for the role is infectious?”
  • Polish: “You only have 7 seconds to make a good first impression. Did you show up on time? Did you treat everyone (waiter, barista, reception) with respect? Did you push in your chair or hold a door open?”


For Gellert, if a candidate can demonstrate these four qualities to the hiring team, they’ll be in the best possible position to land the role.

What If You’re In The Interviewer’s Seat?

Here’s where things get interesting. So what if it’s you that is asking all the questions? Says Gellert: “Your responsibility is immense, and it’s impossible to ask all of the right questions. But there is one you need to ask, and it’s this: What is your next career?”

That’s because alignment at the beginning of the hiring process is more likely to reduce costs, improve time to fill, and result in a long-term fit. Gellert stresses that a focus on understanding what motivates people to  change careers leads to a better sense of how candidates can match and align with what you’re after as a hiring manager. “And,” says Gellert, “even when you do ask all the right questions, you’ll still end up being surprised by the candidates who make the biggest impact.”

“I’ve looked back at my 15+ years in recruiting,” says Gellert, “and asked myself what all the hires still working at the same company 3, 5, and 10+ years later have in common? And the answer is that they were not the candidate the company expected. The fact is, resumes are a poor predictor of success. More often than not, hiring managers don’t know what they’re actually looking for. Most companies make hiring more complicated than it needs to be.”

Hire the lazy person?

If that’s true, it means we should probably be looking at candidates differently than we’re used to. Gellert cites Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who has often been quoted as saying “I always choose a lazy person to do a hard job, because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”

So what does this mean when it comes to evaluating the people who are applying for your positions? “Candidates are often criticized as being lazy if they don’t go through a long application process, write a resume and cover letter, only to never hear back or be turned down after 5 rounds of interviews,” Gellert points out. “Hiring should be easy, but there are so many ways it gets overcomplicated.”

We asked Gellert to spell this out in detail, and here’s what he told us:

  • You interview someone great but continue looking for someone better.
  • You take longer than 48 hours to give candidates feedback.
  • You allow someone not working directly with the hire to have a veto.
  • You have the decision-maker be the last interviewer rather than the first.
  • You don’t build a work environment for top performers.
  • You hire people like yourself instead of not like yourself.
  • You put candidates through more than 4 rounds of interviews.
  • You test candidates on something irrelevant to the job they’ll be doing.
  • You misunderstand the business problem the job solves.
  • You misrepresent the job and work environment.
  • You focus on getting recruiting right but forget about onboarding.
  • You forget alignment is the most important part of the fit.
  • You consider passion a bonus instead of a staple.

Build Better Relationships!

Great relationships don’t start with someone getting tripped up.

So why would we want to do that in an interview? Gellert tells us that “the interview questions I hate are the ones where you try to get someone to make a mistake, or ask a question that nobody can answer. We should be rooting for people to be a part of our team, and not starting out by hoping they will fail. We need to be inclusive, not exclusive.”

Recruiting In A Candidate Driven Market

In a post-pandemic world, candidates have more power and choices than ever before. With time to reflect during extended lockdowns and the rapid increase of net-new jobs in the market, candidates are approaching their career choices in fundamentally different ways, making it even more of a challenge to attract top-tier talent.

Gellert sees this over and over again in his leadership role at HiredHippo. “We are seeing the number of companies struggling to attract and retain talent rapidly increase. It’s no longer about the candidate gaining the approval of the recruiter, because it’s a two-way street.”

The CEO recommends some basic steps to take to improve your recruiting process, and win over the right candidates for the roles you have:

  • Spend time getting to know your target candidate.
  • Source and interview for alignment.
  • Think about the candidate’s user experience.
  • Ask for feedback and iterate.


You Control The Experience

Hearing from Gellert about these challenges is refreshing, because from where he sits, the founder of HiredHippo sees both sides of the recruitment and retention experience clearly. He’s motivated by a sense of curiosity when it comes to hiring, and it shows in the way he follows up with people, to find out what they think, and about why they make the decisions they do.

“One of our candidates had multiple competing offers,” Gellert tells us. “I asked them why they ended up accepting our client’s offer, and they told me that the entire interview process was beyond incredible, and that they truly felt wanted.”

“In the end,” says Gellert, “Hiring is easy. You just need a better hiring tool. You don’t need to see more candidates to make a hiring decision, and you can respond back to every candidate who applied. You can hire your best talent in under a week, and you can do it by spending less time interviewing and sourcing.”

“How do I know?” asks Gellert. “I know because our clients do it all the time. And that’s where HiredHippo comes in.”

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