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Talent Innovation Summit Countdown: Cirque du Soleil Unveils their Stand-out Candidate Experience Tricks

Ever wondered how Cirque du Soleil creates such surreal, immersive shows for their audiences? Or how performers master imagination-defying acrobatics while also telling powerful stories? Yeah, we’ve wondered that for a while too. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to answer that for you at our Talent Innovation Summit.

What we can give you, however, is a look at the magic behind their remarkable candidate experience. As Cirque du Soleil’s Head of Recruiting Strategy and Candidate Experience, Xavier Poulin-Gladu is helping his team shape every interview process into something both unique and meaningful. And on September 19th, he’ll give us a window into the process changes that have made that possible. Before then, though, we asked him about the most “Cirque du Soleil-esque” part of his candidate experience, his favorite hiring story, and more. To see what Xavier said, read our interview with him below.

What intrigued you most about the Cirque du Soleil team before you joined?

The richness of the different backgrounds team members have. Before I joined, everyone I met during the recruiting process seemed to have such an interesting background, whether it was at Cirque  – having worked on different shows around the world and then coming back to Montreal at the International HQ, or at other great companies. I was so curious to learn more about everyone.

It’s incredible to believe given the transformation you’ve driven, but this is your first real recruiting-related role. What made you move into the field?

In my previous work experience, it is fair to say our HR business partners knew me very (or too) well because I kept referring people I knew in my network. I remember telling one of my sisters – who I used to work with – that after our digital media careers, our second career would be starting a headhunting firm together. Ultimately, my digital media career took an unexpected direction much earlier than expected because I found a field that I love. It’s at the intersection of business and psychology, two great things I am passionate about.

If you had to pick one, what would you say is the most unique or “Cirque du Soleil-esque” part of your candidate experience?

I would say that just like any of our shows, the characters and decors are unique. If you come for an on-site interview at the International HQ, you could cross paths with our CFO, a show technician coming out of a production studio, and an artist in training all in the same minute. Seeing all of this happening while walking to the interview space is quite unique. In Las Vegas, we do lots of interviews in theatres. It could not be more Cirque du Soleil-esque!

How do you ensure that your employee experience mirrors your candidate experience?

It’s pretty simple, our candidate experience is pretty much ‘what you see is what you get’. We are not in the business of overselling it to candidates; we want the level of experience in the candidate phase to be consistent with the level of experience employees live.

Can you tell us your favorite hiring story from start to finish? Why did it stand out to you?

This summer, after receiving 287 applications for our Talent Internship position, we made an offer to two candidates to join our team. At the very end of the process, we received outstanding recommendations from their network to vouch their hire. They did amazing work throughout the summer and it was extremely refreshing for the team to work alongside such talented young people. The story ends very well too, since we were able to offer a permanent position on my team to one of them, while the other one will be staying a bit longer with us to help our Talent Development and Culture team.

What are you most excited for at the Talent Innovation Summit?

I am very excited to meet with other Talent Acquisition professionals and attend the different sessions, to get a grasp of what are the trends in the space. Also, I’m looking forward to reconnecting with the amazing Lever team.

Have you learned any circus tricks since you joined Cirque du Soleil? Or, if you could be in any Cirque show, which one would you choose and why?

I think I would definitely be a Touring Show in a Big Top: a show that travels around the world and visits different cities for a few weeks while offering its guests an intimate atmosphere to watch a mind-blowing show. That resonates a lot with me.

Editor’s note: Now, you can watch the recording of Xavier’s session on Cirque du Soleil’s candidate experience here!