This post draws from Data-Driven Recruiting Episode 65, where CodeSignal Co-Founder Sophia Baik talks with Ariana Moon, Director of Talent Acquisition at Greenhouse, about TA strategy, structured interviewing, assessing “soft skills,” and more. In this excerpt from their recent interview, Baik and Moon discuss how Greenhouse keeps DE&I top-of-mind in their TA strategy while hiring at a breakneck pace.
Sophia Baik (SB):
How would you describe Greenhouse’s overall talent strategy and how talent acquisition fits into it?
Ariana Moon (AM):
When it comes to where and how we target our hiring efforts, and how we think of a more holistic strategy around that, it’s definitely been an evolving conversation throughout the ambiguity of last year. To contextualize a few things — in the span of a few quarters, we’ve been through a hiring freeze, a period of tentative hiring, and today, we’re back in the fast lane and hiring at record speeds. As a reflection of that, within the past quarter, my team has tripled in size to support the hiring needs of the business.
Going back to talent strategy — despite all the uncertainty in the world around us, the thing that has remained intact is our commitment to hiring the right people for the job in a structured, equitable, and inclusive way. A lot of companies will throw around terms like “top talent” or “best candidate”, but at Greenhouse we take the time to question how we’re defining things like “top” and “best.” We want to challenge ourselves to think in ways that prioritize someone’s potential to grow rather than their track record of already having done certain things.
For example, we encourage an open mind towards folks making career transitions or those who come from untraditional backgrounds. That’s really where structured hiring comes in handy, because you can build an interview process that tests for relevant transferable skills and not have to rely solely on what is static on a resume.
I think the other thing is that we’re users of our own software. My team has a personal goal of trying to be power users of our own software and uphold a high standard of excellence around hiring practices. We see hiring as very much an org-wide responsibility, not just the job of TA or a recruiter.
The past few months, a big part of our strategy has been really galvanizing the greater organization to maximize our ability to have high-potential candidates and as diverse representation in our pipelines as possible. One thing that’s become clear to me is that TA can’t do this alone. No matter how much we succeed in bringing people into the pipeline that are diverse in representation, if the pipeline and the hiring decisions themselves are not inclusive, you’re not going to make progress towards DE&I goals that you have.
This brings us back to what you touched on earlier — which is that, in order to have successful talent acquisition results, it’s not just about the tools you use. You also need a strategy and philosophy of how you want to approach hiring. And it seems like at Greenhouse, you really combine both. You’re enabled and accelerated by the tool, but it’s also the way you think about talent acquisition and how it’s so important for growing the company and making the company successful.
Company values like DE&I — you’re thinking about it also as, “how can we go beyond resumes and really see potential better?” Because the easiest thing to do when everybody is so busy and you need to hire at high volumes is to just look at resumes and search for keywords. And if I don’t see the right keywords, I’ll pass and move on [to the next candidate] because it’s a numbers game. It takes a lot of commitment and discipline for an organization to say, “no, that’s not how we want to hire.”
Yeah, I agree. It’s hard to challenge traditional ways of thinking about reviewing resumes or recruiting. There are a lot of shortcuts our brains take in order to make a task easier. But making a task easier doesn’t always translate to being more effective in terms of having diverse representation on our team.
Again, diversity isn’t just about hitting a number or increasing the sense of belonging on your teams. It’s also ultimately tied to the success of your team. There’s so much data out there that says the more diverse your team is, the more successful your teams will be.
It’s work to challenge the status quo or a profile that hiring managers default to and are most familiar with. But if you keep hiring only for that one profile, then you’ll have a bunch of folks with the same background or the same kinds of identities on your team. It’s often the more difficult thing to do, but if you truly have a commitment around inclusive hiring and DE&I, checking and challenging the way you’ve been doing things will pay off in the long run.
I totally agree with you, and I think that’s part of the reason why I’m so passionate about the mission that CodeSignal has as well. Our brains are wired to have confirmation biases or see patterns that make sense. So if we want to hire in an inclusive way, we have to challenge our own brains and habits – even if that means hiring takes a few weeks longer.
It also takes guts for a recruiting leader to say, “no, this is not how we are going to make hiring decisions because that’s not true to who we are and who we want to be.”
I do think there needs to be executive team commitment. When it comes to emphasizing DE&I, understanding representation at your company, enhancing people’s sense of belonging – that’s not just just TAs’ job. It has to be something that the entire executive team wants to commit to and help the greater company understand that it’s a priority.
A lot of the times, folks in the People space—whether a Head of DE&I or a Head of Talent Acquisition—will shoulder the responsibility around DE&I initiatives because they tend to have the most expertise and focus around that. But at the end of the day, hiring and promotion decisions are made by the leaders across your company — and that’s why it really matters to get your executive team on board.
Have you noticed how Greenhouse does hiring and TA strategy differently than your previous workplaces or observing other [companies]?
When it comes to DE&I, Greenhouse is light years ahead of anywhere else that I’ve worked, and I feel fortunate to have grown so much at Greenhouse.
What I’m really proud about is that I do have an executive team that is working with me as a partner. They want to understand where and how they can help, they want to push their managers to get involved so that the burden around diversifying the hiring pipeline isn’t just falling on my team.
That’s a really unique thing to have at a company, especially when you’re growing so fast and you’re under so much pressure to respond to thousands of customer needs. It’s the great leaders who have the ability to step back and think about their people and their health, their morale, their sense of belonging. These things are really easy to deprioritize because they’re not as connected to a number as obvious as how much revenue you’re generating. Nonetheless, the really awesome leaders that I’ve encountered are the ones that weigh the importance of that people piece as heavily as the revenue piece.
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