I joined Twitter in early 2012 during a period of rapid growth. While the product was a global sensation, the company's headcount and revenue outside the US were small and I was one of the executives hired to change that.
Later that year, in our EMEA headquarters, we encountered a similar hiring challenge to that faced by many startups at their Series A and B stage. Having built the team from 1 to 20, it was now time to hit the accelerator: 100 hires in a year with very limited resources (just one full-time recruiter).
The cultural DNA of a team is encoded in its early employees and I committed to interviewing the first 50 hires personally, no matter how senior or junior. That meant a lot of interviews. 473 in the first year, according to our much-hated ATS, Jobvite.
@stephenmc: 473 interviews, multiple offices, some singing, daily meatballs (horse?), a LOT of laughing, hyper-growth. My 1st year at Twitter...done.
(The horsemeat scandal was a thing back then.)
Hiring consumed at least 30% of my time. Some days were memorable …
@stephenpmc: Halloween interview panel in # TwitterDublintoday. More creepy than spooky. cc @ JoinTheFlock
As I mentioned in a recent post about hiring from multinationals, our recruitment efforts relied on four channels:
- Inbound. While we received plenty of inbound applications through the website, the quality was poor. We hired fewer than 5%.
- Sourced. Outbound sourcing worked better, but was limited by the bandwidth of our recruiter, who was already buried under an avalanche of abysmal inbounds.
- Agencies. I screwed up on this one. We used two agencies, thinking it would foster healthy competition. But they competed so aggressively that they bombarded the market, hitting up the same candidates again and again. Within months, seemingly every qualified person in The Netherlands had been contacted more than once. It damaged Twitter's employer brand and it was a major regret for me.
- Referrals. The saviour.
Referrals were by far the most effective channel in terms of quantity, quality, cost, and time-to-hire. With a concerted push in one quarter, we made 13 referral hires off an employee base of 20.