Some teams wait for the right candidate to discover their careers page and apply for the right role at exactly the right time. Others proactively seek out talent, but struggle to land on a unique recruiting strategy that generates consistent results. If you ask us, SocialCops, a data intelligence company headquartered in Delhi, India, is onto something special: a company-wide, day-long ‘Hiring Day’ challenge to drive their hiring goals.
During SocialCops’ first challenge this past summer, team members raced against each other to write blog posts, promote jobs in their various networks, and set up coffee meetings with candidates. The Hiring Day challenge may be a new tradition, but it has already spurred the SocialCops team to connect with more candidates and showcase their company culture more holistically. Armed with other innovative recruiting tactics as well, they’re determined to engage more team members in hiring and completely immerse candidates in the employee experience at SocialCops. We chatted with Co-founder Prukalpa Sankar and Content and Partnerships Manager Vasavi Ayalasomayajula to learn about their innovative hiring push.
Can you tell me more about SocialCops?
SocialCops is a data intelligence company that brings the entire decision-making process onto one platform — from collecting data to visualizing data via easy-to-use dashboards. We work with the Ministry of Rural Development in India, Unilever, Gates Foundation, and over 150 organizations in more than seven countries.
We take pride in the fact that our team is comprised of entrepreneurs and not “employees”. When we hire, we look for people who are passionate and mission-driven in everything that they do. Our hiring philosophy stresses finding the right candidate for the role as well as building the right role around the candidate’s skills and passion. You’ll probably never love 100 percent of everything you do at work, but if you love 90 percent of the work you do – it probably works better for the recruit as well as the company.
We’ve heard about your Hiring Day Challenge, and it sounds so interesting! How did you come up with the idea?
At SocialCops, we care deeply about the people we hire, and every one of our team members being deeply connected to our mission and vision. As we grew as a team, we realized that it was important for the entire team to be involved in the hiring process — after all, the people who join us directly impact our teams and work. Moreover, with time, we have realized that the power of networks is simply amazing. At SocialCops, we have had a 16 percent ROI on referrals.
Hiring Day is an effort to bring the entire team together to build this culture. We started the concept last year, and we’ve had three hiring days so far. They are not all structured as challenges, this is the first time we’ve tried that concept. We’re still experimenting. We typically try and center every hiring day around a different theme, but the guiding philosophy remains the same. Everyone contributes in whatever ways they can — through referrals, writing blog posts, creating new hiring challenges, or coming up with innovative ideas for hiring campaigns.
What tangible results have you seen from the Hiring Day Challenge?
Our past hiring day lasted six hours – and we divided up into four teams to tackle a whole set of challenges related to hiring. We created a whole set of activities a team could execute – for example, writing a blog post would get you 100 points. On the other hand, one referral would get you four points, posting a job in a community would get you five points and so on, so forth. We also had points for innovation and creativity which resulted in some really innovative videos and hacks.
Ultimately, our day resulted in nine blog posts, five quora answers, 83 referrals and hundreds of shares on facebook and other communities through the team and their network! You can see all of the results below. Everyone on the winning team got pen drives as prizes, and two other winners got Amazon vouchers.
How else do you encourage employees to get involved in hiring?
In general, we proactively ask for feedback from multiple people on our team and have them participate in everything from writing job descriptions to interviewing. The goal is to create a feeling of ownership and responsibility among the different teams at several stages of the hiring process.
What are those stages of your hiring process?
Our interview process is structured carefully to optimize for the right kind of hire. We try to give candidates a taste of what it’s like to be at SocialCops, and we try to understand if this is the place they’d like to spend the next four to five years of their lives. This is extremely important for us, and it shows in results — we have not yet had a candidate decline our offer.
Often, we have candidates work on a real-life problem that we are facing at SocialCops in their process. Outbound marketers build geographical expansion plans, designers design for the hardest interfaces we’re aiming to build, and back-end engineers are presented with the hardest scale challenges we’re solving for. They aren’t alone in solving these problems. We often brainstorm with them and give them ideas on things we’ve thought about in the past. We believe that candidates who have made it onsite are already capable on an individual level.
Once a candidate passes the skill check, we test them for culture, passion, and other qualities that are important to us. We go beyond the traditional “strengths” and “weaknesses” and instead, we try to understand the person behind the resume. What shaped their early childhood and their decisions? Why are they doing what they are doing? What do they want to achieve? What makes them proud?
Then, the final step is for us to test how candidates would fare in the team environment and culture of SocialCops. We invite them to spend two days in our office meeting the team and working on a collaborative assignment. This has been a great addition to our hiring process because we judge candidates not just on their skills, but also on hard-to-measure qualities like teamwork, collaboration, dealing with feedback, and handling uncertain situations.
Why do you have candidates work on real-life problems?
At SocialCops, we firmly believe that hiring is a two-way fitting trial. The person needs to be perfect for the job and the job needs to be perfect for the person. Transparency is a core value for us at SocialCops, and we try and showcase what it’s like to candidates even before they join our team- with all the good and the bad.
We also invite candidates to our weekly Friday Demos wherein the teams demonstrate what they built that week and garner feedback from the rest of the teams. They are encouraged to ask questions and even give feedback before they join.
What does a typical new hire’s first week look like?
A typical first week for a new hire comprises of various interactive onboarding sessions on our platform, culture, and team-specific onboarding. Since data is the core of everything we do, we also get our new hires to work on a short data challenge — where they get a quick taste of sourcing, cleaning, analyzing, or visualizing a small data set. The first week culminates in the candidate introducing themselves — their interests, stories, and journeys — to the whole team.
After having settled down in the team for a week, the new hires are all geared up for their “hack week” — a real-life problem statement, this time with increased complexity. The objective of the hack week is to get the new hires to push their boundaries and by the end of the week, not only get a hang of the scale of problems they’d be faced with from here on, but also experience the sweet taste of accomplishment very early on in their journey at SocialCops.
How has Lever supported hiring at SocialCops?
We’ve been using Lever for about a year, and we love it. We did a lot of research before choosing it. We liked Lever’s sourcing extension and the fact that it was built on top of email. It also helps us track all our applications, referrals, and sourced candidates through all stages of our hiring process. We have linked all external job postings back to Lever and integrated with email to keep everything easy and accessible in one place.
Our favorite part of Lever is report generation to track hiring metrics. Insights from these numbers help us identify what channels to focus on and plan our hiring better. Last month, for example, we realized that our ROI on referrals was 16 percent compared to a less than 1 percent ROI on inbound applications and a 0 percent on outbounds. That really helped us place higher emphasis on referrals from the team.
Whenever we learn about the innovative hiring strategies of teams like SocialCops, we’re inspired by their commitment to building the right team.
Do you have any hiring tactics you’d like to share with us? As always, we’d love to hear about them at firstname.lastname@example.org.