Project Definition

Project Definition


Once the project team has been established, it is important that they get together to define the project requirements, outline the key objectives and discuss the optimization challenges that they are facing.

Some of the key questions to address:

  • What is the budget
  • What are the time constraints
  • What is the level of flexibility when it comes to budget and time
  • How does this hire fit within the broader context of a long-term hiring roadmap
  • Where is this information going to be stored, and is there a need for permissioned access
  • How frequently does the team need to meet to review progress
  • What does success look like

These are primarily “big picture” questions which frame the recruitment needs against the broader backdrop of organisational structure and strategy. Once those relationships have been understood, it is time to turn to the specific requirements.

Ideal Profile

Define the ideal profile, in terms of the following:

  • Hard skills (what the new hire will bring to the table on day 1)
    • Essential + Desired
  • Soft skills (what behavioural traits will be important in being successful)
    • Essential + Desired
  • Motivation (why this person wants to make this change)

Some of the factors that affect these definitions include: building for short term v building for long term, value driven business v outcomes driven business, desire to retain existing culture v desire to transform existing culture, immediate impact required v gradual ramping up.

Example is as follows.

Hard skills:

  • golang and/or c++
  • distributed systems
  • has worked on projects from ideation to production
  • 5-7 years of enterprise experience

Soft skills:

  • potential for leading a team
  • interested in mentoring + development
  • works well in an autonomous environment


  • not impressed by current state of market
  • disillusioned by small contribution in big company
  • interested by specific technical challenge

Interview Process

Define the interview process, in terms of the following:

  • Who is going to be involved
  • How will it be structured
  • What is the rationale for each stage
  • What are the ideal outcomes for each stage
  • What are the timelines for each stage
  • What are the feedback mechanisms that will guide the process

The major optimization challenge here is to build an interview process that is sufficiently rigorous to eliminate all unsuitable candidates, without placing unnecessary procedural barriers that discourage capable applicants from applying. A seven stage process will usually generate more useful insights about candidate suitability than a three stage process, but, the length of the process itself may become an obstacle. When thinking about this dynamic, the recruitment team should aim to remove as much friction as possible, without compromising unduly on screening rigor. An interview process that is simultaneously enjoyable and challenging is a standard feature of hiring at companies who have been successful in navigating this optimization challenge.

Search Strategy

Define the search strategy, in terms of the following:

  • Passive Strategy
    • Posting adverts and generating candidate flow via inbound responses
      • These adverts may be places on resources like LinkedIn, Job Boards, Industry Networking websites, and so on
      • The cost is best calculated in terms of total advertising cost, and time invested in screening incoming resumes
  • Active Strategy
    • Identifying candidates via boolean querying of web resources
      • These queries can be run against datasets contained on LinkedIn, Job Boards, GitHub, Internal Databases, and so on
      • The cost is best calculated in terms of subscription cost, and time invested in active outreach
  • Hybrid Strategy
    • Elements of both of the above

Fergus O'Brien
Fergus O'Brien

Fergus is a Talent Acquisition consultant, with experience in FinTech recruitment and executive search. He is an advocate of further learning and de-centralized education.