Just Digital’s formula for hiring great people

- Practices & Exercises

by Louise Brace

We definitely don’t have a typical hiring process at Just Digital in Brazil. You could say we use a fairly unique recruitment process to bring on board new collaborators. We don’t use traditional methods, such as using a third party hiring company or recruitment manager. When we believe there is a need for extra resources we share the hiring decision and process with all our current employees, in a democratic fashion.

At the beginning of this process we create the job role. If the role does not exist we hold a collaborative meeting so that everybody is aligned with what to expect from this new role. An example is when we hired a Quality Assurance person for some of our teams, we made at least one member of each team take part in a consensus, which was disguised as a fun activity, the result is the following board:

Just Digital hiring process

Once we have agreed on the job role, we post it on as many job boards as possible and ask our employees to share on their social media channels. Any collaborator can introduce friends to the job role, if he believes that his friend has what we are looking for. And of course any person that is already doing a job in the company is free to apply for the new job role.

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Candidate Selection

Even the CV selection is handled in a collaborative way. We post all received CVs on the company board and everyone is invited to browse and make comments as to whether they believe the candidate should or should not make it to interview selection. At least two employees have to agree with a like or dislike icon, together with constructive comments. If we see very differing opinions, we make a consensus and if the candidate passes, he proceeds to the interview stage.

We organize the interview appointment via email, inviting him to the interview, together with a lot of information about our culture and a link to our self booking calendar; where the candidate can select the best date and time for himself. This saves us a lot of time, rather than the exchanging of emails or phone calls.

No phone calls? Yes you read it correctly. Up to this point we have not exchanged a single spoken word with the candidate and there is a good reason for that. We are a digital business and we simply don’t like to hire people who don’t read email, or can’t use a web app to make and save an appointment to their calendar. Of course we’re always on hand to help a candidate with any query they have regarding the interview.

Our interviews are collaborative and open. Everyone in the company is notified when an interview will take place and can decide if they want to participate or not. We leave this decision to the employee, as we trust them to make the decision if this interview is important for them.

We do have two restrictions when it comes to our employees taking part in interviews: we can’t have more than six interviewers, or else it’s impossible to complete the interview with a one hour timeframe; and people who will work directly with the candidate are given preference to attend the interview. Other than that, anyone can join, whether they have worked for Just Digital for one month or five years, it doesn’t matter the role, as long as they have an interest in the selection of the candidate.

The interview

Just Digital Interview process

The interview takes place with the candidate and six interviewers and the chat starts rather like a pub talk. We don’t go in for intricate code tests, we only want to know where and how the candidate evolved through his working life, what he likes and dislikes, what method he uses to learn new things and is he aware of new market trends in his domain?

We like to create an informal atmosphere so we can deeply understand the person, just like on a first date! Another important point is that we never reveal our roles to the candidate at the beginning of the interview, we only reveal our names. We do this so that during the interview, the candidate doesn’t feel intimidated and so that we can see how well he relates to our team, independent of knowing the role or position of a specific employee.

One fun aspect is the question technique. What questions should we incorporate into the interview? As every employee has taken part in at least one interview (even if it was his own interview), he will already know what type of questions we ask and which give us the best feedback about a candidate. Basically every interview is different, but the good questions that are important to us and the candidate are always included. This creates a kind of ‘Good Questions’, or ‘Best Practice’ culture and it was created without even realizing it!

At the end of the interview we explain that our company has a culture of transparency and evaluation and we invite the candidate to take part in our five minute evaluation session about the very interview that he just took part in. The candidate sees this as an opportunity for improvement and immediate feedback about his interview.

The only condition is that during the initial evaluation the candidate remains as a listener; we give them space to feedback towards the end. Since we started the open evaluation sessions, we haven’t had a single candidate refuse to take part.

During the evaluation session each of the interviewers take a quick vote, much like the planning poker process. It’s not a vocal vote, we raise our hands and vote simultaneously with the gesture that represents our opinion.

  • Hire
  • May hire, but I have objections / comments
  • Not hire

After which, each interviewer states the reason behind their vote. As the candidate is still in the session we try to direct our comments to them, as feedback. A similar model to the feedback wrap. You could say we are offering career counseling to the candidate.

At the end we provide time for the candidate to reply. We believe this to be the most important part of the interview: How the candidate reacts to transparent feedback. After their feedback we repeat the planning poker vote to give a chance for every interviewer to change his mind after hearing the opinions of their coworkers and the feedback from the candidate. This is the final vote, which we take forward, along with the feedback from other candidate, to make the final hiring decision.

In the majority of cases we see all candidates leaving with valuable and transparent feedback, whether positive or negative. It’s career counselling on a very open and honest level. This is the very minimum we give to candidates who have shown an interest in working with Just Digital and who took the time to chat to our team and listen to our feedback.

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