Elizabeth Benson, 34, VP of human beings and corporate culture at TechPlanet Inc., a Menlo Park, California-based IT-support company that has more than 20 offices nationwide.
What’s Your Problem?
“In the initial stages of a startup, you have a great idea — but that’s about it. To turn that idea into a business, you need human beings. We’re opening a new office every week and hiring about 100 people a month. But these days, people have a lot of options when it comes to where to work and find fulfillment. How can we keep pace with our hiring needs and find people who fit our company’s values?”
Tell Me About It
“We look for people who approach customers as human beings, not as transactions. But after you’ve listened to thousands of rehearsed job-interview introductions, everyone starts to sound the same. And it’s difficult to tell if applicants have the team-building skills necessary to succeed here. We need a process that maximizes our time and gives us a gut check.”
What’s Your Solution?
“On Fridays, every office holds a First Event, where all job candidates are invited to have lunch and chat with our partners in a casual setting. For the candidates, it’s about intensifying desire for the job. For us, it’s about seeing who’s good at talking to strangers, who shines at networking, and who has good presentation skills. About half of the applicants are invited back for the Final Hurdle, a three-hour event that includes games and role-playing.
“During the Final Hurdle, we look for certain skills: Is this job seeker comfortable dealing with new people? Does this person have the willingness and personality to do whatever it takes to solve a problem? That’s the kind of all-out commitment we need.
“Our two-part hiring process seems to be working. Every person on our current team was hired without a headhunter, and our attrition rate is less than 12%. And we’re having fun.”
Contact Elizabeth Benson by email (email@example.com), or visit TechPlanet on the Web (www.techplanet.com).