The 5 Sprints of Agile Recruitment for Start Ups

Posted on 7th August 2017

At, we focus on working with high growth tech start ups in London.

As a Partner, I usually work with and manage up to 4 clients (start up size can vary from 20-50) at any one time. This means I can be managing anywhere from 10-15 product and engineering roles.

It can get hectic.

Today, I’ll be sharing the process I follow to help me manage my time and ensure my clients get the right candidate at the right time.

Sprint 1 – Define the role.

Sit with the CTO and/or the Engineering team and together we’ll define:

  • Why this person needed?
  • What they will do over the next 12 months?
  • Why would a top person want this job?

Once we are all in agreement the job description is created and posted live on the career site.

Sprint 2 – Hiring process. Keep it simple.

I find simple and repeatable processes will always result in the right hires for each client.

The process I typically follow for recruiting Engineers are as follows:

  • Phone Screen with myself
  • Coding task. I always stress is a task put together by the business. Whether it’s a Frontend, Backend or QA test it should come from within the start up. In some cases, clients will wish to use Codility. If this does happen, then I will get the prospective candidate to speak with the CTO before taking this task.
  • Onsite Interview: 4 interviews (all in one visit) that each focuses on a different topic. Topics usually cover;  coding, design, behavior and selling the business to the candidate.
  • Interview Team Hiring Decision. Try to give an offer/decline within 24hrs.

I find for this process works well.

The interviewing team must be well-trained and aligned, they must be asking the right questions. I too as the recruiter for the business must be well calibrated and iterate how I work, so I can refine targets and goals.

Sprint 3 – Workflow.

To help optimise time and ensure that projects are delivered, I make sure that I am based onsite with a client at least once a week.

As I never have a set desk it’s important that I use reliable tech to record, measure and monitor all activity. Most of my work is recorded in Avature, a CMS used by the entire team.

It allows you to set up each of your client’s email accounts within the system, so messaging is very straightforward.

Avature also allows you to track emails including opened and links clicked. It means I can do my heavy messaging and tracking in Avature and keep live candidates engaged.

The biggest benefit of using Avature for me is I can visualise all the candidates in the process and where they are. Be it sourced or at contact 1, 2 or 3, this helps me spot potential pipeline problems before they become a crisis.


Sprint 4 – Metrics.

It’s important to use recruitment metrics to ensure that I am adding value to our client and to ensure that the business is meeting the right type of candidates.

  • I always apply a strong filter at the top of the funnel: focus on quality, not quantity.
  • Work with a lean pipeline. In my experience, you can meet your hiring goals without making the interviewing teams see an excessive amount of unqualified candidates.
  • I am a non believer in recruitment being a ‘numbers game’. I think this is where our model of embedded partners really works, as we’re well calibrated with the business needs.

Sprint 5 – CI (Continuous Improvement).

I always ask for feedback from the start up. I look at ways of how I can iterate on the processes we have set out above. We always look at ways to improve efficiency, effectiveness and the candidate experience.

I provide weekly reports to each business by every Friday afternoon. This will collate trends and data, plus feedback from candidates who have been approached.

This is the only way to maintain a strong hiring partnership that allows for continuous improvement to occur.


Written by James Peters, Partner. James is currently consulting with Farmdrop, StreetTeam, OpenSignal and ZegoCover.

We work with high growth gaming studios to ensure they hire the best staff for their companies and their environments. We work with you, on site, as part of your team. We’ve helped to build teams for Supercell, Klarna, Farmdrop and more. If you’d like help building your team, get in touch here .


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