It all started around a table, it is 12:30 in the OCTO office, people are having lunch and chatting about the latest trends.
I’ve been in charge of recruitment for OCTO for the past 4 years and I just went through an awkward moment with a candidate during an interview. I was about to tell him about OCTO when he cut me off: “Don’t bother, I know what an IT consulting company is, you guys all work the same, right?”
However, OCTO is far from being an average IT consulting company. If we consider our entreprise, what we offer to our clients, and our values… It’s quite clear!
That’s when I decided to reach out to everyone: Hey Octos, what was your first impression of OCTO? What makes us different, according to you? And I got dozens of answers:
- “Our culture of sharing”
- “To me, it’s our expertise. We don’t fake it here, we work with some technical geniuses”
- “What makes us different is how we stand up with conviction! I’m proud to be an Octo and the missions I work on.”
1pm: I just realised something simple; what makes us different is who we are, and our way of working. It’s our desire to share, our strive to continuously try to get better at what we do and all the rituals we set up to reach these goals.
I thus wondered how could our process of recruitment be challenged and improved, so it would really reflect OCTO’s culture? Let’s probably start by applying one of the principles we use in our work: the fail fast approach, which enables experimentation without being scared of failing.
At that time, the whole HR team was in a beta testing phase, in which we would try out new ways of assessing our candidates’ mood.
During the first interviews, in order to show our differences, I thus tried to curb any question or fear from our candidate by getting out of the standard interview and give them a taste of OCTO, while meeting our teams.
- One of the candidates I met was telling me she wasn’t sure about the consulting part of the job. I thus organised a lunch for her with a manager of a team, so she could ask him all the questions she wanted.
- Another candidate who was coming from a start-up and who was working on the development of a product wanted to know more about the way we worked. We invited him to our office so he could have a look at how we worked on products at OCTO.
- Another quite suspicious candidate was looking for a company with a strong expertise. An IT consulting company didn’t seem to be the best place to grow to him. I thus offered him to come to OCTO and have a chat with our teams.
- We also invited some candidates to our BBLs* in order to show them that while our consultants work on missions at our clients’ place, OCTO still remains a strong sharing community.
These actions designed “a la carte” seem to be a really productive model. The transparency of this process allows the candidates to have a first insight of the OCTO environment while considering our offer. Is also insures us that the people we recruit also endorse what OCTO has to offer.
This led us to emphasizing even more on the OCTO environment and our rituals during the first encounter between the candidate and the recruiter.
At that stage, I didn’t fully capture the satisfaction of the candidates I met. However, I received a few emails telling me how much they appreciated the experience and it encouraged me to pursue.
Emphasizing OCTO’s differences while approaching a candidate is one thing, we then had to make sure our difference was still obvious during the interviews. We thus decided to try out a new format of interviews. The goal is to the candidate lead the interview, so he can be proactive in the discussion:
We thus ask the candidate to draw his profile and visually express what he’s actually looking for. This exercise actually requires a real introspection for the candidate who needs to create a synthesis of his expertise and emphasize what actually motivates him. We must admit the first moments looking at that empty white board must be a bit confusing.
But isn’t it always a bit stressful to experience something new? The best thing to do then is to go step by step, listen to yourself in order to be able to create. That is the point of this exercise we called: DRAW ME YOUR PROFILE.
Most of the candidates are pretty pleased with the result of their work. The exercise usually allows them to visually express their projects and their expectations. The visual and creative part also give them a clear and personalised vision.
The exercise is particularly interesting for more senior profiles, as it might be tedious and pointless for them to just enumerate their experiences, especially when they have been working in the industry for more than 8 years..
Most of the feedbacks we get are really positive and the candidates often admit feeling proud of their own mental road map.
As a recruiter, “Draw me your profile” gives me a fresh approach of my job. Letting the candidate leading the interview brings him to reflect on his significant experiences. For us, it is a way to get a deeper comprehension of the profile we’re looking for. The feedbacks we got from the first candidates who tried “Draw me your profile” enticed us to be more open about this exercise we propose to our candidates.
Some of them were surprised and sometimes even a bit confused by this exercise they weren’t expecting.
That’s why, even though we don’t clearly explain the nature of the exercise, we usually warn the candidate before the interview that he’s about to experience something new.
To make the exercise even more effective, and because being creative without inspiring material makes it harder, we created a “creativity box” the candidate can use to draw his best profile. Pencils, markers, stickers, post-its, we keep adding more tools to the box, based our candidates’ feedback.
After each interview, we usually ask the candidates for their impressions. Obviously, these feedbacks can be biased by the ongoing process of recruitment and it might be hard to assess their genuineness at this stage. That’s why we thought it would be important to measure the satisfaction over the whole process.
We thus created a form we send to all the candidates who have gone through a process of recruitment at OCTO. It gave us a satisfaction rate for the HR interviews so we could update our actions accordingly.
We were quite pleased with the results and we outlined a few points we could improve.
The form is like a picture of the context at the time of the interview. The results we get push us to transform our interviews to make them even more “OCTO like”.
We also discovered on the HR market some recruitment tools such as playing cards. The recruiter offers an interactive interview using different cards the candidates will pick to randomise the interview.
We tried one of these “ready to use” games during some interviews with our candidates. We really enjoyed the fun touch it brings to the interview, as we focus less on the formal context but more on a fun ludic dialogue. However, we noticed that this type of tool wasn’t adapted to any type of profiles and could limit the dialogue. We still really enjoyed using these during our annual interviews within OCTO.
To completely re-define our candidate experience, we organised a workshop with one of our UX consultant, in order to imagine tomorrow’s recruitment process at OCTO. We invited a few Octos for a brainstorm session. Confronting the HR vision and feedbacks from the Octos led us to the emergence of new ways of working. The actions outlined revolved around the creation of a guided visit of our offices as well as a new type of interview more focused on a balanced dialogue between the candidate and the recruiter.
To conclude on all our experimentations, it is quite obvious that building a tailored process is time consuming and can be hard to implement. It requires the implication of many people and a strict upstream organisation. However, I remain convinced that offering a transparent and kind process is precious. It clearly communicates on OCTO’s sharing culture. It also saves time to the candidate, who can quickly project thanks to this immersion.
From the HR point of view, it also highly improves the process as it personalise it and dig deeper into each candidate’s aspirations, and his match with OCTO’s culture.
In other words, it’s a win-win situation.
What are the next steps, were you about to ask?
Keep challenging ourselves and welcoming feedback to improve! Innovation is about continuously trying new ways of working and that’s what we strive to do, in order to make our recruitment process reflect the missions we do for our clients – authentic and high-quality.
* BBL : Brown Bag Lunch, having lunch while sharing about a defined subject.