Hiring at Thyme Care
We sat down with our Recruiting Lead, Sarah Ruth Boyer, to talk about her background and how structured interviewing can change the game when it comes to sourcing the right candidates for your company.
“I don’t say it lightly, but building the Thyme Care team has been a great honor.”
Tell us about your background. What drew you into recruiting and what keeps you loving what you do today?
From my experience, most recruiters don’t set out to become recruiters. That’s certainly my story. My career took a bit of a winding path before I joined the recruiting team at Oscar Health. The thread that I can see in hindsight is that I’ve always enjoyed building processes and learning about people’s stories, accomplishments, and passions. Lucky for me, Cindy Gordon and Jan Fiegel from the early days at Oscar recognized that and convinced me to try my hand at recruiting. As surprised as I was, I loved it!
I don’t say it lightly, but building the Thyme Care team has been a great honor. There are two things that have drawn me to the early stage recruiting game: First, there’s nothing like the satisfaction of finding those few right people at an early stage of a business who add superpowers to it. I live for those truly value-add hires. And at the early stage, hires like these are all-the-more-critical. The satisfaction of hearing the team come back to me a year later saying, “There’s no way we could have done it without this person” is incredible. It’s not every hire, but that’s my hope. Second, the constant learning. I’ve had the opportunity to work with and meet some of the most inspiring and talented people in the world. I feel like I get to sit in seminar classes every day, learning from the candidates I meet and my team. I’m lucky to do what I do.
What’s one question you always ask during an interview? Why do you ask it? What does it tell you?
Lou Adler brought the greatest accomplishment question to the forefront of the talent world a while ago. I find the greatest accomplishment question more powerful when it’s contextualized in a competency that is critical for the job to be done. This is part of my competency-based, structured-interviewing philosophy. For example, instead of asking a candidate “what is your greatest accomplishment,” I like to ask the question within the context of the role I am hiring for. It might sounds something like:
- What is the most complex value-based-care deal you’ve negotiated and gotten across the line?
- Tell me about a project you’ve led from idea through execution that you’re most proud of?
- What is a process that you’ve built or improved that was hugely valuable to the business?
These open-ended questions leave room for me to dive into the details of the candidate’s accomplishments to understand their actual work (not the team’s work), its scope (was it really complex?), how they interacted with others (did they steamroll or collaborate?), how they solved challenges (did they think out of the box/creatively?), and what did the final result look like? I’ve found that candidates are usually excited to talk about the things they’re most proud of!
Let’s talk about scaling. Can you talk about some of the basic ingredients for success that you have seen in order to meet initial hiring requirements and then scale?
In early-stage businesses, there isn’t much process or structure across the org and very little process when it comes to recruiting. You’re starting from scratch. You also probably don’t have much in terms of brand recognition in the market, which makes it even harder to engage talent. You may not have a way to track candidates. That means, when you’re in the rush of day-to-day, talented people who are interested in working with you might fall through the cracks.
When I joined Thyme in June of 2021, I gave myself two OKRs for the second half of the year. One, to lay the foundations for a recruiting machine. Two, make the right hires, at the right time.
To lay the foundations, I needed to set up the infrastructure that would allow us to recruit at scale. I built a hiring process so our team could expect certain steps, stages, and structure to recruiting a new team member and that it was adhered to almost all of the time. We implemented Greenhouse to make candidate coordination and tracking a sinch. We also launched an async interview training so our team would have the tools to conduct structured competency-based interviews on their own. Then, we built out all of the templates needed to kick off a recruiting process: Template JD’s, an Interview Kit, a “How to Hire at Thyme Care 101” guide for hiring managers, and a Greenhouse 101 guide in case folks weren’t familiar with the tool.
I didn’t want Talent to be a bottleneck for our company’s growth and wanted to stay in sync with our leadership team to make sure we were hiring the right roles. We started a biweekly meeting with our President, CEO, Chief of Staff, VP of People, and Head of Finance to prioritize and focus on urgent, important roles.
Can you talk about how your personal philosophy to recruiting has evolved over time? What myth did you hold that you found to not be true?
“You’ll know it when you see it.” This statement is so rife with bias!
I’ve noticed that more often than not, “when you see it” from a hiring manager means one of two things: 1) The hiring manager doesn’t know what they are looking for in a candidate and has not defined the outcomes they need from a role or 2) The candidate was a fabulous communicator with great charisma who charmed their interviewer. It was eye opening learning from Lazlo Block in his book Work Rules that unstructured interviews have about a 14% chance of accurately predicting success on the job, meaning if we go into an interview and only have a conversation with a candidate, we’re unlikely to come out of it with great data on how someone might actually perform on the job. I try to stay away from that “know it when you see it” feeling as much as I can, as I’ve learned that, oftentimes, it can be a form of bias.
Another one is, “You can’t make a hire after seeing just one candidate.” In most cases this is true, but in some cases you are actually so well-calibrated against the role and market you can only interview one candidate. Especially if you have a structured-interview process with well-trained interviewers.
What one practice would you say has been highly impactful in your success?
Competency-based structured interviews! I like to take structured interviews (using the same interviewing methods to assess all candidates who are applying for the same job) a step further and couch them in competencies—those skills, abilities, or experiences that we have conviction would lead to a candidate’s success in the role. Measuring someone's ability to be successful on the job is why we're interviewing folks in the first place. And if we take care to build out interview panels like this, we are able to advance D+I within Thyme Care, which is core to our values. Asking every candidate the same questions about the same competencies about the same job gives us a consistent and unbiased way of evaluating a person’s ability to do that job.
As an added bonus, competency-based structured interviews help the folks who are coming through the interview process get a clearer understanding of what to expect once they arrive at Thyme.
If we’re looking for a hire to join our sales team, the most important thing to us might be finding someone with experience leading value-based care deals with payers. If that’s the case, we’ll build out interview kits that ask questions around how candidates have gotten big deals across the finish line, how they’ve navigated health plans, or payers in the past to get the business opportunity in front of the right person. We like to articulate both the objectives the new hire would need to accomplish and the competencies that would lead to accomplishing those objectives in our job descriptions. So, in a way we've taken structured interviewing a step further: We not only ask the candidates the same questions every time, but we do as much as we can to make sure those questions are tied to success in the role.
If you’re interested in joining the team at Thyme Care, check out our open roles. Or follow Sarah Ruth on Linkedin!