The 3 pillars to a great candidate experience:
- Think about and design the experience with the end in mind - from the very first engagement, do you see this person joining your organization?
- Create an open, transparent, equitable, and unbiased process that delights - open up opportunities for candidates to go explore. Provide as much exposure as possible.
- Have a process that is thoughtful and systematic in how you engage with talent from the very first impression to the very last conversation.
What else is covered:
- Avoiding interview fatigue in a remote & hybrid world
- Setting realistic expectations on skills-based needs, prioritizing, and aligning internally
- Why honesty in the offer process is crucial
- Incorporating TA as a strategic resource and better leveraging the available market knowledge
- Utilizing core values to adjust your EVP during changing times
- Aligning "internal" and "external" brand
BreakOut of the hiring noise with OutScout.
[00:00:00] Gareth Webb: Leif, how you doing?
[00:00:01] Leif Wennerstrom: Good. Gareth. How about yourself?
[00:00:02] Gareth Webb: Uh, Yeah I'm very good. Thanks for heading down to Austin again. You recently started your new position at Dialpad. How's that going?
[00:00:09] Leif Wennerstrom: It's fantastic. Yeah, I just joined Yeah.
[00:00:12] Gareth Webb: Our,
[00:00:12] Leif Wennerstrom: Our very first vice president, president of talent acquisition. Yep. Thousand employee. Company's gone through massive scale over the last. What stage are you at? Series D. Okay. So we just, we have about 470 million in investment. 2.2 billion valuation. Yeah. And we operate basically we build AI technology surrounding unified communication as a service.
[00:00:35] Okay. So that's the platform that we operate in. Yeah. Big need. Yeah. Everybody's trying to figure out where they go. And are you working in an office? Are you working from home? Where are you and how do you connect with other. [00:00:45]
[00:00:45] Gareth Webb: And I guess like anybody in any kind of, any questions around people starting a new, a big new thing what was the thing that made you decide on that as the next, big thing for you?
[00:00:57] Leif Wennerstrom: So I had spent four and a half years at Procore. Yeah. Which is a fantastic company. And I had a chance to join them at about 700 and I signed it about 700 by joining closer to 900 employees cuz they grew pretty quickly. Yeah. And between that phase and about 3,400 where they are today I had a chance to experience an awful lot of growth setting up international locations, going through an IPO.
[00:01:19] And so I felt like I had really had a great opportunity to go build something. Yeah. And as I reached that kind of phase of, this is a larger company. The question for me is like, [00:01:30] where do I really operate best? What do I love to do? What's really exciting for me. And, I had worked at a company called Cloudera at 400 employees, another company called sign at 200 employees, a company called Yext at 400.
[00:01:41] And so several sub 1000 person companies. But this was the opportunity to actually lead the function as opposed to being the go to market leader or one of those functions.
[00:01:51] Gareth Webb: So go to market was historically your kind of core, special specialist area.
[00:01:57] Leif Wennerstrom: That's where I spent my time.
[00:01:58] Gareth Webb: Yeah. Okay. And you come coming off the back of, did you not wanna take a break after IPO it took a week, it took a week
[00:02:06] Leif Wennerstrom: Part of it is, this is really funny. My wife looked at me and she goes, so how much time are you gonna take off? And I took a week and literally I was starting to work like my first day I was getting [00:02:15] emails. I'm like, Hey, we're. Because we were reading some of our systems and they're like, Hey, I know you haven't started yet, I'm like, yeah.
[00:02:21] And and I'm like, I'm just really passionate about building. Ironically enough, I work for a software company that serves construction. Yeah. So I'm a builder in a lot of different ways. And that was what just got my attention. And I was really excited about the just the opportunity to come in and build things from the ground up.
[00:02:38] Gareth Webb: So you, yeah, you didn't really need a break and they needed you in, so it was like, let's get on with it
[00:02:43] Leif Wennerstrom: pretty much.
[00:02:44] Gareth Webb: Very good. You are still betting in onboarding at dialpad. So I like, we'll go back to the pro core experience, which I think like it's on a lot of people's career bucket list, to join something, that's working, having some growing pains, but then [00:03:00] getting the um, the, whether it's a box checked or just like a win on the resume. Like not smooth journey either. Cuz I remember like talking to you during the pandemic and you were like, yeah, there's all kinds of like things to navigate and then the IPO happened when exactly was, it was, it
[00:03:16] Leif Wennerstrom: May literally a year ago this week.
[00:03:18] Gareth Webb: Right.
[00:03:18] Yeah, like your time there was is like your, you know, let's probably say that's your big resume win. Taking them through IPO and being like influential in scaling the headcount from, sorry, what was it when you joined
[00:03:33] Leif Wennerstrom: closer to the 800 range. Yeah. And now pretty, I think they're close to 35, right?
[00:03:39] Gareth Webb: Yeah, crazy. What do you, what are the things there's obviously never one thing, like what, what did, what made [00:03:45] that happen from a talent acquisition perspective? Beyond product and beyond backing, what, what made that happen in your eyes?
[00:03:53] Leif Wennerstrom: So it was really fortunate. I worked by for a guy named Steve Meer as the VP of TA mm-hmm
[00:03:58] He was actually the head of TA for Lucas. All right. This is somebody who actually sat in a room with George Lucas and helped him interview. Okay. He ran a 200 person org at Yahoo and he was living in Los Angeles and Procore's in Santa Barbara. And this is in 2017. Were, everybody's going into offices, pre pandemic, right?
[00:04:17] Yeah. And so one of the things that he had a vision for is, we always heard the, Hey you're in Santa Barbara. I don't wanna live in Santa Barbara. How do you flip the script and make your location a competitive advantage? Okay. [00:04:30] So Santa Barbara was one hub. Austin became into second hub, eventually scaled to London, Sydney, Germany, right. all of the world. But as we started thinking about that, the thing that became really important is how do you. Candidate experience front and center. Right? And if you think about, especially the timeframe that we're still in kind of 2018, super competitive for talent, right? It became more competitive through the pandemic because of the great resignation, but just getting talent on board was really hard.
[00:04:58] So we thought about candidate experience in a way that really thought backwards in the same way that you think about, hiring somebody. That's the way that you're going to differentiate and make this location in Santa Barbara win. So the executive level, right?
[00:05:14] We brought in [00:05:15] talent that was interviewing at tier one bay area companies. They flew down for the day. They spent the day with us and we had feedback. Like, I don't know whether this is a vacation or an interview. Right. I mean, It was awesome. They felt at home, they felt connected. And the goal, what we were trying to get to is how do we make this. Our decision, right? At the end of the day, when it comes to recruiting, if the experience is so amazing and you determine the fit, that candidate is likely to come to work for you. And so thinking backwards, we always thought about the entire design of the interview process of delighting the candidate.
[00:05:51] Yeah. Making sure that the experience is amazing so that when we got to the end, everything was transparent. Everything was out in the open. We talked about comp, we [00:06:00] talked about all these things. So that by the time we were, at that onsite sitting in a conference room, we're like to go yeah, like we've talked about comp, what did you think?
[00:06:08] Can you start in two weeks?
[00:06:09] Gareth Webb: Is this is this largely at the exec level?
[00:06:12] Leif Wennerstrom: Exec level, but then we brought it down to the, entry level, right. Customer support, sales development. And some of it is we really invested heavily in this candidate experience in doing that, the way that we thought about it is in really three pillars.
[00:06:26] First pillar is, as I said, think about the end in mind, when you think about can experience the, from the very first engagement, right? Do you see this person joining the organization and what are you doing from a candidate experience, design experience backwards to get to that? So that was the very [00:06:45] first piece.
[00:06:45] The second piece from a candidate experience pillar is. And when I think about that the biggest pieces are, can you create a true, transparent equitable offer? Can you be open and honest about other candidates? Can you talk about this in a way that's really transparent.
[00:07:01] So everybody understands, like this is where you are in the tail end, right? The second pillar is obviously as you get to the interview phase. So we did things like we created a blueprint, right? Construction technology. You build a blueprint. Yeah. When somebody interviews, they have this web based form, that's their blueprint.
[00:07:18] And they can connect with our ERGs. Or they can connect with really anyone they want. So we open up the opportunity for candidates to go explore other stakeholders in the organization because [00:07:30] we really, the, what we found. And we were really fortunate. We had a really strong culture that it wasn't about trying to block the candidate into, Hey I like, this is what you're seeing.
[00:07:41] We really want to expose as much as possible. We found that as candidates dug deeper into who we were, they really became more engaged with us. And so our job was really to expose really everything. And one of the core values is openness. Yeah.
[00:07:53] Gareth Webb: So would
[00:07:53] you, would
[00:07:54] you, you would like with each position you're hiring talk about where they needed to be, what the comp was, how the total package, all that was upfront.
[00:08:04] Leif Wennerstrom: As much as possible. So obviously the world has compensation ranges. Yeah. And so if I'm interviewing you and I think that, listen, I think you're an IC four, I think you're gonna come in as an IC four and this is the range for it. [00:08:15] And okay. People in all different areas, as much as we can.
[00:08:18] Expose the opportunity of this is realistically. And, if you're more, if you have more experience than somebody else in that same category, we should be paying you appropriately for that. And again, it's never gonna be perfect, but to the best of the ability, think about packages that are fair and equitable and unbiased.
[00:08:36] The biggest thing that we have is, oh, candidate comes in, they're connected to a really good buddy of somebody and they get a better deal because they know somebody than the person who doesn't know somebody yeah. As much as possible. Try and root that out and make sure that we don't let that happen.
[00:08:50] And that we're really thoughtful about that.
[00:08:51] Gareth Webb: Okay. And so you talking about Can that experience being something that you guys, you think you got [00:09:00] ahead of it because you kind of had to because of location and you used it as like a, as a competitive advantage rather than a hindrance. But like, why not just at the very beginning, why not just be in the bay area?
[00:09:11] What was leading to it, being down there and being in Austin? Cause Austin was like a, at that point, a growing tech hub, but it wasn't like what it is now.
[00:09:19] Leif Wennerstrom: Yeah. Some of it was Toi, the CEO and founder. Really wanted initially when the company was built, if you go back to 2002, it was somewhat of a lifestyle company.
[00:09:29] Company really didn't grow. And then when it started to take off they were adamant about really creating an experience for their customers, an experience. And they, they didn't necessarily wanna be another tech company in the bay area. So in doing that right [00:09:45] as time went on, they didn't make as much investment.
[00:09:48] And especially like through the pandemic, they invested in a lot of different areas and during the pandemic, they invested anywhere. It became almost fully remote and some roles are still now locally identified. But during that time, they started to realize the very first employee value proposition as a company was, look, if you went to U C S B, you live in Santa Barbara, bring your dogs to work and you surf at lunch. What became really evident is that the employee value proposition over time had to change. And it aligned with our core values, it aligned with, what you could do. And more importantly, the impact you can make and a promise between the the employee and the company.
[00:10:28] Yeah. That really made it [00:10:30] tight cohesion. And so that, that became the shift and that can really be anywhere.
[00:10:35] Gareth Webb: And so you, it was more of a lifestyle business earlier you saying the people that weren't, there are a bit more lifestyle oriented until it started getting quite serious and growing towards goal, which was
[00:10:47] Leif Wennerstrom: about 2014, the company was about 75 employees, 75.
[00:10:51] Yeah. And then the company started to really accelerate, from 75 to 800, by the end of 2017. Okay. So it went from this, beach community, right to, oh, we're gonna build an office in Austin. Oh, we're gonna set up Toronto. Oh, we're gonna do this. We're gonna do that.
[00:11:08] Oh, we're gonna Sydney gonna London. It just took off. Yeah. Again, the shift went from, I am a company [00:11:15] that you know, is about the beach and dogs and, know, coming to work. Sounds good. Yeah, but this is really what we're doing. We're creating a compelling vision for your professional career and the career ladders and how we designed all the different, phases of growth.
[00:11:28] If you were in an entry level seller, what was the next phase? How did you go become, emerging markets? Mid-market majors.
[00:11:35] Gareth Webb: Okay. So going back you talk about the pillars of candidate experience that you think are what Procore cracked and did very well, maybe ahead of time from some other brands.
[00:11:46] You talk about like designing the cus the candidate experience with, so you like with the hiring mind at the very beginning, not oh, let's figure out if they're any good, then get to the next step, which I think most companies do. They're like, let's have an initial conversation. Let's [00:12:00] see it. Let's talk about second conversation.
[00:12:01] And that's, in my opinion, a very waste. Use of everybody's time, but it's not intentional enough. So you are like hyper intentional around making sure that anyone who's coming into process could like, we are trying to find out reasons why not to hire them rather than can we put them through to the next step.
[00:12:19] So you're saying you experience was designed with the hire end mind is okay, let's figure out the fit. So that's the first bit
[00:12:27] Leif Wennerstrom: that is and very specifically around, three areas, right? The technical competency. Are you a technical fit for the role? Yep. The second competency, are you a values fit, right?
[00:12:38] If you're not a values fit, right? Like engagement ends pretty quickly. Yeah. Third fit is leadership. [00:12:45] Trajectory. Can you, if you're at a manager level, are you a future VP? What kind of trajectory do you have? Yeah, so right. The technical fit and the leadership fit is where we spend our time.
[00:12:58] The. The culture, the values was really like a one or a zero either. You're really a strong fit. We think that you would really integrate really well. It's just really hard to, train for that. And teach that. And so we really focused on that. And then
[00:13:11] you said the second pillar was more around like transparency and what was the third pillar?
[00:13:16] So the third pillar is how we engage with talent. So think about this as a sales funnel or recruiting funnel. Yeah. The tail end is a close that's the first pillar of how do you make sure that you're thinking in the end of mind and everything you do, the second pillar being, look, when I'm thinking about the [00:13:30] experience showing up, how do we delight you? How do we make sure that, again, you leave that interview saying, I wanna work here. I don't think I want to do this right now, but I would recommend this to other companies. Or I, this is a company I could work for, or this is a company somebody else would wanna work for.
[00:13:49] Gareth Webb: Yeah. Like not for me. Great place. I'll yeah.
[00:13:52] Leif Wennerstrom: I'm not at a place. This is the right job. This is what I wanna do. But this is, these are amazing people. And I wanna share it's my network. .
[00:13:57] Gareth Webb: And then the, and then you're saying like the top of funnel piece, like how you engage.
[00:14:03] Leif Wennerstrom: So part of it is we rolled out technology. We used a technology called gem, which is technology that, that built kind of top of the funnel in the way that we approached talent. We started build talent communities. We started build, [00:14:15] we hired a brand person that became not just our TA brand person. We built a brand function inside the organization.
[00:14:23] So a lot of organizations will make the mistake and go, let's build this external. The challenge is if you don't have that in the inside, right? Yeah. Then you don't have somebody thinking about the engagement and the employee experience that you have. , it becomes really obvious when people interview.
[00:14:39] Gareth Webb: Yeah. Like it's superficial, just someone's plastered out some employer branding, and then it doesn't feel the same when you come
[00:14:44] Leif Wennerstrom: in and then you show up, you're like this, isn't what I thought. And so you have to live it and you have to ensure every thousand to that 3000 person company has warts and challenges and so forth.
[00:14:54] And, you have to be really honest about that as much as possible. At Procore, we would actually allow, we [00:15:00] train our recruiters to give feedback right. To the best of our ability, if it didn't work out. And if somebody made it to an onsite, it wasn't an email saying, Hey, you didn't make it. Sorry, but Hey, let's set up five minutes. Let me give you what we learned, what we think. And again, sometimes you can't always give all the feedback, but you give the best feedback possible that allows that candidate to at least understand like how they did.
[00:15:22] Gareth Webb: So if they did an onsite, they got a call?
[00:15:25] Leif Wennerstrom: They got a call, yeah.
[00:15:26] Gareth Webb: How people held accountable to that? Cause that's difficult. Like people, everyone wants the feedback, but sometimes it's not taken too well. And some then people don't love to give it. And it's we have a similar rule here.
[00:15:36] It's yeah, no bad news over email, like bad news should be done on the phone because it gives the chance to like break the tension around the bad news, be like [00:15:45] the truth bomb, so to speak, but then it can be discussed and negative feelings can be dissipated. And it can be the, to your point, like the door being left open potentially, or at least people.
[00:15:56] With so much email and so much ghosting or notifications, like the call is probably the most human way of doing it. So how did you, how did you as a business, hold everybody accountable to that?
[00:16:05] Leif Wennerstrom: So part of it is it was just part of the expectations, right? In all of our, decline outreach.
[00:16:11] Yeah. We would send a decline, but a prescripted, if somebody sent a note, and it was at that phase, it would say, Hey, listen, let's grab five minutes to chat. Okay. And the reason why it was so important, and the reason is I actually had experience eight years ago and I interviewed with a huge tech company that I won't name.
[00:16:28] And I had a great [00:16:30] recruiter and I didn't get the job. I got the decline call and I'd never gotten a decline call. I didn't interview that much. It isn't me, but I just, hadn't been actively interviewing and I get a call. He's listen, it's just, it's not gonna be a fit. The team met.
[00:16:44] And they're looking for a little bit more of this than that. And. And I felt way better about it than well, let's stay in touch, right? Yeah. It was very honest and authentic. And actually that person came and worked on my team for a while. Because I was so impressed with the way this recruiter handled it.
[00:16:58] And so again, I think in the world that we're living in, it's hard to do that, but it's such a differentiator when you can create that experience that says, Hey, like you put a lot of time into this, if you think about the time that both parties spend going all the way through an onsite.
[00:17:14] It's a [00:17:15] huge investment in what the outcome that I want as an employer is to the best of my ability. You walk away feeling good about the time invested. Doesn't matter if you work for us or not. Do you feel good about us as a company when we say it's not a fit, And that's hard to do but that's the aspiration it's never perfect. We try and hold recruiters accountable, but that's the north star.
[00:17:38] Gareth Webb: Yeah, I think, if you assume that nobody likes to be rejected in the moment at all, like just, that's such a hundred percent, like that's the layer of we know that to be true.
[00:17:49] Yeah. But humans tend to go away and be introspective, even if they're angry about something and go away. And probably the likelihood is in 24, 48 [00:18:00] hours or a week, they probably feel much better about it. And they may have got over the emotional part of why they got rejected. Cuz I like I've been on the receiving end as well.
[00:18:08] Not agreed with it. And then over time thought, maybe if they've arrived there, then I didn't portray myself as well. Or I didn't get that point across. And I think as long as you can't do that with every person that's gone through a screen or an application, but to your point, I think, yeah, if they've done an onsite, they've kind of earned the right to.
[00:18:29] Leif Wennerstrom: Hear from you.
[00:18:30] Gareth Webb: Yeah. And then they may not love hearing it, but they will most likely go on and feel better about it. They might not feel great, but they'll feel better about it. And then they'll realize, yeah maybe I it's me that needs to do some work. Did you have [00:18:45] coaching, like going into the details a little bit here, but cause I think it's important.
[00:18:48] Did you coach on how to deliver those? Or was there training on that?
[00:18:51] Leif Wennerstrom: We did and it's also hard, some feedback, there's some elements of it that you just can't give feedback on. But some elements that are pretty clear and transparent. So the way that we did it right.
[00:19:02] Is number one, like the recruiter would send it out, but the recruiter could really build the note. Again, we assume that a, recruiter's gonna build a relationship with a candidate and try and understand it. And just based on the signals and cues. Figure out like the best way to deliver this. And so in some cases, it's, Hey, Gar.
[00:19:21] Um, We think we've landed on a conclusion and, real competitive, like clues that you could put it in the email [00:19:30] that would start to let down the conversations. So the person enters the conversation going. I'm probably not getting this, but I wanna talk to him. Yeah. Or, Hey, listen, it's just, it's about figuring out the right way to read how the candidate showed and figure out the way to do it in a way that, that gets it across and to the best of the ability.
[00:19:47] Creates a good experience. When it's never a good experience. But it can be right. If you think about how to do it, especially if it's the not now, probably later, you're lacking these skills. We look for this skill on this level. You're here, let's talk in a year. Those are great messages deliver.
[00:20:05] The harder messages are, you just don't match our values. And that becomes the debate. What do you mean I'm not open? What do like that's a harder conversation to have we, [00:20:15] again, it's easy to say. Like we just didn't see the match from the way that we operate as a company. Yeah. But that opens up the what do you mean?
[00:20:23] I can't, yeah. Tell me what open. Yeah. And so you have to be careful about that. And it's yeah, it
[00:20:27] Gareth Webb: get too personal. Yeah. Some someone has different beliefs or,
[00:20:31] Leif Wennerstrom: or they just showed up with way you may be a super opera person, open person, but you showed up for the interview and Hey man, you just came across this way.
[00:20:37] Gareth Webb: Yeah. Like too guarded. Or
[00:20:39] Leif Wennerstrom: you're probably not this from everything you and I have had together. I didn't get this when you showed up, this is what they thought. So yeah.
[00:20:46] Gareth Webb: Yeah. I mean, it doesn't have to be Back to the whole point of feedback is like everyone says they want it.
[00:20:51] They don't always like getting it, but like actually up, I think upon reflection yeah, that that's how I am with feedback. I get it. And I'm like, okay, [00:21:00] just throw it at me. But then over time it will absorb and I'll process. It I'll be like, yeah, that some of that's fair.
[00:21:05] Leif Wennerstrom: So for the last starting in November of 2000 the C HRO that joined Procore, her name is Pat Waters.
[00:21:10] She was the C of, of ServiceNow LinkedIn. And the greatest thing I learned from her is feedback is a gift. Yeah. No. Now some people get a gift and they don't want that gift. Yeah. But it is a gift. And if you look at it as a gift and are thankful for it, somewhere along the line, you might learn that, wow, this was really awesome.
[00:21:28] I'm glad that they shared this with me, even though it hurt. Like when I got that reject conversation, my first instinct was well that I spent all this time. I got on plane. I went over and the reality is. When I got that feedback, I actually, I was, I wanted it to be [00:21:45] my decision. I wanted them to say, I would wanna hire you and me decide not cuz I actually didn't want the job.
[00:21:49] But I wanted The power to decide. And so part of like when you created an amazing candidate experience is the employer, has the ability to say, Hey listen, you showed really well, you were a great fit. Everything seemed like, but we just, it's not the right timing.
[00:22:02] This is what we're looking for. There's a lot of reasons. But yeah. That's, and it's hard, but I think in the world of professional recruiting, that's what Fs, why we don't have bots. Why we don't just run recruiting process with, non-human people trying to, digitize it. I don't, again, people talk a lot about artificial intelligence and is it gonna replace recruiting?
[00:22:22] And I think, the world will live in eventually will be. The differentiator for how recruiting takes place is the level of [00:22:30] humanness that you bring to the engagement. It won't be the ability to screen. It. Won't be the ability to use this stuff. It's the human interaction and sure machines will get better and better, but that's the piece that I think is really what makes us different than machines.
[00:22:43] Gareth Webb: Yeah. I completely agree. I think if there's a way of deploying AI technology software to do some of the heavy lifting and the, minimizing data loss that happens like in, in a talent funnel or within an organization, but the delivery of just simple stuff, like the delivery of an offer, like the opposite of giving negative news, I find that so many companies deliver offers terribly because they just they're like, oh, we've got to the end.
[00:23:11] Now then here you go. And actually that can in it, in the same [00:23:15] way of keeping your employer brand In high regard through delivering bad news. Delivering good news. And in the right way, it can if some doesn't mean they're gonna take that cuz there's other things out there and we see a lot of companies get that really wrong.
[00:23:28] And so yeah, I think that's where the humans should come in, where there's like the relationship building. There's the the really critical moments during a process and it's the, and the rejection, the bad news, the great, the good news should be done very well. And it the best clients that we have or the best companies we work with, like they're pretty slick on all fronts and it's doing the basics well, minimizing mistakes being thoughtful about each step.
[00:23:52] What are the things that you've on that on the subject of like making sure that the bad news is delivered like that with Procore, [00:24:00] you've gone into Dialpad I guess like you're there to build it out right. And address things. What are the things that you adamant you'll taking there and what are the things that you are thinking?
[00:24:08] I've gotta create from scratch.
[00:24:10] Leif Wennerstrom: So first of all, my offer experience was amazing with, my now boss in the interview experience was amazing. So when I had a chance to come, I actually came to uh, revenue offsite, and I had a chance to meet key stakeholders that all happened to be in Austin.
[00:24:28] And it was just this interactive experience where I really got to experience the company. And so that's what pulled me along it's in the DNA of companies. So the way the Dialpad operates, right? If you look at our kind of culture we care a lot about experience, right? We build [00:24:45] technology that, that helps you work beautifully work from anywhere, work, how you want.
[00:24:49] Part of that is you have to have a really strong internal people brand. So the DNA and like what I call the, the framework of how the company's set up is correct. Like anything else? I go back to when we were a thousand employees and we had manual processes and we had emails doing stuff, as you grow in scale, it becomes more systemization. Do you build technology that allows the heavy lifting to take place while you have professional recruiters can experience coordinators that are really geared in, on creating an experience? So that's, you know, in my first 30 days, that's kind of my takeaway is it reminds me, and in fact why I took the job, it reminds me a [00:25:30] lot of where Procore was several years ago.
[00:25:32] So part of it is my key takeaway is, again, I'm in that phase of, what I call blocking and tackling, or, the basics of, okay. Do we have consistent reporting? Are we selling the company correctly? Are we, this are recruiters trained, right? Do we have the right mechanism in place? And one of the things that attracted me is that we have a large international expansion.
[00:25:54] We have a team in Buenos Aires. We have a team in India. And so in those locations it creates more of a challenge to create a consistent experience around the company in different geographic locations. So it really comes down to it, forces back to the core values, right? You, if you have the core values that make the company operate a certain [00:26:15] way, doesn't matter.
[00:26:16] The language doesn't matter. The geography, right? The values, the culture may be different in Banglore than it is in Buenos Aires than it is in San Ramon. . But it's the same. So I'm in the phase now where I really see the opportunity to build out um, have a team in place. That's fantastic.
[00:26:33] Gareth Webb: How big is the team now?
[00:26:35] Leif Wennerstrom: So the team is 20 people. How big was Procore when you left? 70. 75. Maybe more, maybe it was 80. Yeah. But so part of it is 20 person team. When I joined Procore at the size, it was like 17, 18, so same thing. And then it's how do you build a momentum? Right? As long as I've done this you always win with talent when the experience is amazing for them. Yeah. And if it isn't and if you don't hire them or they [00:27:00] don't accept you, then you know, you have their network for all intensive purposes. If they have a great experience, if they have a poorer experience, you don't have their network.
[00:27:11] Gareth Webb: Yeah. If you don't cover the basic base as well, and you. Don't treat people well, like the whole experience has essentially been a waste. Whereas if you don't get the hire or the win, or you don't get the job, if you don't get the hire after the process and it's done badly, then that whole yeah.
[00:27:29] Leif Wennerstrom: It's the network effect of this was really bad. The recruited to know they're doing like all the feedback that you see as you look at, social media and so forth. It amplifies cuz people will go, oh, I got a call from Dialpad. Let's see. Oh, and we have a [00:27:45] 90, I think we're 94% CEO approval rating.
[00:27:47] And our CEO created the technology behind Google voice and. There's a compelling story of why, right? We're in this race and competing and we're very different than other platforms, however, the end of the day, that's valuable, but what's the personal experience of working here. What's it really like to work there? And how do you open up the window to that through your interview process as transparently as possible.
[00:28:12] Gareth Webb: And do you, is that, do you have you join there cuz you, you like the product, the culture, the vision is the, are you there's other unified communications platforms out there and some of them are talking about AI.
[00:28:23] So there's multiple things that you are competing against within the product grouping. What are you, what is the sell? What, how are you [00:28:30] packaging the sell to stand out from other people in that space? Let alone all the other tech companies.
[00:28:35] Leif Wennerstrom: Yeah. Nobody can do AI quite the way we do.
[00:28:38] One of the things that's amazing is that a lot of companies in this space, they have a platform for their communications. They have a platform for their meetings. And there's what we do is we integrate it into a single platform that allows them to not just communicate, but we have this technology called voice intelligence, which captures everything that's going on.
[00:29:02] I can drill in and I can go and search and say, gosh, I had a meeting with Jake, two weeks ago and we talked about this and I can go and search for it and find it right away. There's Sentiment analysis. You could be on a call [00:29:15] talking and if it's going poorly, it goes red and somebody can come in.
[00:29:17] So there's a large degree of sophistication. . In the platform that's usually, specified for contact centers. But it really what's different about us is it relates to the rest of, the legal department. We have a sales product. All these different areas of the working world, are opportunities for us. And we're, one of the best kept secrets. I had never heard of Dialpad until I reached out. I was like, this is amazing. Yeah. And then as I've learned more and more, and then
[00:29:45] Gareth Webb: what, everyone's just like, everyone's heard of zoom. They, and like that, that, that was kind of like their,
[00:29:49] Leif Wennerstrom: and everyone had heard of Autodesk before Procore.
[00:29:52] Gareth Webb: Interesting going back, I just wanna talk about candidate experience a little more in 2022, versus Procore using [00:30:00] it using their location, which looks and sounds beautiful.
[00:30:03] As a competitive advantage versus no one say no one has a HQ anymore and you are using dialpad from home or from a WeWork or whatever. So then what's your advice to talent leaders now what should you focus on?
[00:30:19] Leif Wennerstrom: So I think like anything else, right? We're in this funny world where some organizations are. Gonna try and be in an office five days a week. And some organizations may be successful in having their employees five days a week working.
[00:30:33] And there's, there's some functions that have to be right. And then you have some functions where they won't be in an office five days a week, so may be hybrid. And some organizations are like, I don't care, work where you [00:30:45] want, I don't want to pay for real estate anymore. And you see an awful lot of churn and engagement, right?
[00:30:51] Both at Procore, as well as dialpad, we use culture amp, and culture amp allows us to measure engagement, measure, sentiment, survey, and we're able to tie like, okay, the person that's never been around somebody else for a year, other than their computer and employees, they're less engaged. Not in general, but you start to see those trends in the industry.
[00:31:11] You see it. And so how do you fix that? How do you figure that out? So it can't be about. We were talking about this earlier. Just, it can't be about like well, we're all gonna meet together and do this. That's one part of it. But when you're talking about interviewing people and they're in different parts of the world and they may be on vacation in Hawaii and they can't, they're not gonna fly in for an [00:31:30] interview while they're on vacation, but you need to fill a job quickly.
[00:31:32] Do you create that experience? And you, it has to start with the design of what kind of platform are you using? We bought a company called Uber conference a couple years ago. And so when you're on, hold on Dialpad, there's this like funny song that sings about I'm on hold and I don't, you've been on Uber conference, but it's hilarious. And the number of people where, and I've gotten on a meeting with they're like, that was like, we could go back on hold. Yeah. Yeah. And so it's little things like that. It's the UI, the fact that you don't have to download anything it's all the things that make this experience like, oh, this is really cool.
[00:32:03] That's like the opening door, right? That's like when somebody knocks in the door and says, Hey, I'm interested in this job. That's their first experience. And so if that experience isn't good and that's what you do. So that's, that's one piece of it is figure out how with [00:32:15] your first impressions, whether it's LinkedIn outreach, whether it's gem, whether it is you really showcasing the experience of working there, secondarily, when they actually engage with you, showcase what you're really good at. If this is an area where like the Dialpad soars, right? We're gonna make sure that we have a really structured multiple panel interview. It's clear we have next steps. And because we're primarily virtual and because our technology is designed that way, we actually don't need to have five coordinators sitting in our headquarters trying to do this.
[00:32:46] They can sit anywhere. They want, they could do it digitally. We can lean on other resources. And most of it happens virtually when somebody gets to that point, they're like, Hey, I'm really interested. But I'd like to look somebody eye to eye. You can adjust for that. so we are [00:33:00] starting to do things where I've been through a panel and I'm really interested in learning more.
[00:33:04] Who else do I want to talk to in the organization and how do we make those connections so that people are more likely to explore us? So I think if anything it's going back to right. The three pillars at the very end. It's when it comes as you're a talent leader, when it comes to
[00:33:21] making it your decision, and whether that person you wanna hire that person, or they're gonna join, cuz they're so excited about working for you. When you think about that, you have to design your process in a way that starts at the very top end of how you engage and are you open and transparent through that process.
[00:33:40] And does your culture allow for it? If it doesn't allow for it, then you have to adjust your process [00:33:45] to what your cultural norms are. But at the end of the day, right? It is really hard in today's world when you're trying to get like a view into what's this company and you're getting it through Dialpad meetings or like these interactive, like you're not meeting in person, you're doing a lot of it remotely.
[00:34:02] It is really hard to get a really good feel for the company. If you're not open and people can't go to where they wanna go. Having said that, there's especially for senior level roles, there really is no replacement too. Look, you really somebody there's a really good fit, right?
[00:34:16] Have 'em come down Austin and spend, a happy hour with your leaders and figure out if there's chemistry and again, it's a data point, right? You shouldn't make a decision on if they're qualified, but you should get a sense of, is there generally chemistry at the leadership team?
[00:34:29] And [00:34:30] could this person be successful, especially for senior level roles?
[00:34:33] Gareth Webb: Yeah, I think when you are having, when the there's arguably like. More tough conversations to be had amongst leadership. So if you can't have those tough conversations in real life or you don't wanna do it on a zoom because you don't wanna have the tough conversation or a dial pad or a dial pad or any other unified communications platform.
[00:34:51] Or yes, there are people like, put on the brave face end the meeting, and then they go and vent. And then, you wanna know that you can have those conversations and get to the answer and be okay about it. I think doing it face to face is fairly unbeatable. What I was gonna ask you is having done the physical, the hybrid the remote, and maybe with hubs, which I think is what you're doing with dialpad.
[00:35:14] And [00:35:15] this is probably on you. How do you make sure that people are consistent and don't give into like interview fatigue through digital means?
[00:35:23] Like how do you make sure that people are fair and consistent with their interview performance?
[00:35:28] Leif Wennerstrom: It, so a couple things. Number one, we did this at Procore and we'll get there with dialpad. You have to have panel interviewers. They have to be trained. First of all. So we went through and we made sure that, if you put somebody on an interview that they were trained, there are certain interviews that we did at Procore values interviews.
[00:35:51] Anybody could be trained to do. You didn't have to like any employee could be trained on it and go sit in it. To avoid the interview fatigue. You have to have a consistent set of [00:36:00] questions. You have to have a consistent process, and then it's fair to have other people do the interviews, right?
[00:36:05] If you get to three panel, three candidates that you go through panel, nobody says that all four people have to meet all three of those people. You can switch it out. And when you do in a perfect world where you're doing a debrief, especially with somebody who's new to interviewing, they're gonna learn a lot by sitting in that debrief and hearing what people are saying about the candidate and getting an overall experience.
[00:36:26] So again, really important to debrief, right? Because everybody learns about that candidate. Yeah. But everybody learns about interviewing in the debrief and then secondarily it's thinking about those panels. Now, third thing I also am pretty adamant about and again, less so on really high volume repetition roles.
[00:36:44] But if you have a new [00:36:45] search. We kick off a new search. The first thing we do is we go in and we pull LinkedIn insight and we look at, okay, you wanna hire somebody in the bay area with these five skills, we'll do a market map and literally, okay, these are the five skills that you have. If you need all five of these skills, there's five people available that can do this, right?
[00:37:04] So let's have a conversation about prioritization so that we align. And again, if you think about the buckets of your values fit for the company, you have a lot of trajectory or you're a technical fit, very few people, right? Even in technical roles lose their job. And there's a stat 10 years ago in Silicon valley, something like 12% of people were fired because they're technical skills.
[00:37:28] And there was some crazy number you're like, [00:37:30] but this is a tech company. It's the human interaction, right? So you can train if you hire the right people for a lot of the things that you need technically, but it's really hard to train people to be. More open or more this or more that right.
[00:37:45] That oftentimes they're just, that's the way that they operate. , they're a really good fit because of that or they're not.
[00:37:51] Gareth Webb: Yeah. Completely agree. Most people, I think who get fired or leave an organization is cuz of like just disengage, make mistakes or just improv
[00:38:01] Leif Wennerstrom: growth mindset.
[00:38:02] Right? There's a, a, she wrote a book. Her name is Carolyn Dweck. She wrote a book called growth mindset. And the basic approach is are you hiring people that have an approach that like here's a problem. [00:38:15] And I see the opportunity, right? And I'm willing to fail. I'm willing to fail quickly and learn from it and pivot rather than I have to be successful, nobody can get my shelf.
[00:38:27] And so when you hire people with a growth mindset you really enable something you set up your company culture in a way that. Some people even call it celebrate failure. Like you went and you tried something and you failed and that's okay. You learn from it when you have a culture that does that really well, and it's safe to fail.
[00:38:44] You're gonna have people innovating and taking a lot more risk. And if you, if at your CEO level and across the organization, that's the expectation. Really you, the only way you don't succeed is if you don't try.
[00:38:58] Gareth Webb: Yeah. Just status quo [00:39:00] hide.
[00:39:01] Leif Wennerstrom: Yeah. And I don't know a lot of people who, build companies that want people that do that, they want people who are willing to innovate. And especially as how quickly is the tech industry's innovating. And changing any people in your organization that in every part of your business, are quickly innovating. They're thinking about this. They're like, we can do it better, faster, cheaper.
[00:39:19] We should be doing this. What have we thought about this? And some of the best companies will throw something a wall and they'll try it for six months or oh, Didn't work, but we learned this let's move forward. . And it's really easy to get stuck in. Well,
[00:39:31] I need this to be right. Pat Wadors used to call it perfectly imperfect. She is, the CHRO would say, I don't like, I'm not gonna get this totally. But I'm gonna try. Yeah. And I'm okay. Like she's the, CHRO of the company and she's [00:39:45] okay. Not to do it perfectly, then I have to be okay. Not to do it perfectly,
[00:39:50] Gareth Webb: but yeah. You want like honest mistakes where good intention was there at the beginning. And you're trying to do something that could have eventually had a payoff, whether it's small or big, but like, it doesn't always work out that way. So I think, yeah. That's part of culture.
[00:40:03] It's part of leadership. It's part of allowing people to. There's a whole conversation at the moment, right? Especially after the last two years about people feeling safe at work psychologically taken care of and wellbeing, not just like a perk, but an actual, like cultural embedded notion that you are gonna be looked after at work.
[00:40:24] Even if you make a mistake, like you're not gonna get fired for it. The industries that that we work in, I guess, are exactly that [00:40:30] you need people who feel restless to not be making those bets essentially. Like it they would rather just go and work for a blue chip where they can be very comfortable doing project work and getting on with stuff.
[00:40:42] And there's a place for that.
[00:40:44] Leif Wennerstrom: I've had, I won't say where had jobs in my career where I've literally, I was, like, oh gosh, you guys have never done this and I'm gonna teach you how to do this. And it was something like basic this is how you set up a LinkedIn profile. Right you know, and you're like, this is pretty basic stuff, but nobody has ever taught them that.
[00:41:02] And there's places where you could just, I could have done that forever and ever, and been a hero. Yeah. But I didn't get better. I wasn't stretched. I didn't become the best version of myself by doing that.
[00:41:13] Gareth Webb: On that note, I guess [00:41:15] I would ask you now on a personal note what are you, what are your kind of like personal challenges around growth mindset or around becoming the best talent leader, you can be like you've got this opportunity now where you're coming into an organization, you've gone through the Procore experience.
[00:41:32] Like in your mind now what are the goals and what are the things that you are expecting from yourself?
[00:41:37] Leif Wennerstrom: So I, hopefully my team. In 30 days realizes and from talking to other people and talking to people in my career, like I'm a pretty real, honest person, right? I'm pretty open about all of my personal warts and all my personal journey.
[00:41:53] And so people in my team and people I work with know me and I'm pretty straight shooter. big [00:42:00] team for me is, I don't know the answer. I will do everything I can to try and help get the answer, but I know what it's like to be responsible. I know what it's like to be a recruiter.
[00:42:14] I know what it's like to do operations. I know it's to do all these different things, so I've walked in the shoes. I know it's a real pain to do these things. My challenge is to continually be real and create that psychological safety where people can really be not just their best selves, but their real selves at work.
[00:42:30] Can they show up, can they have a horrible day? I've had people on my team that, you know, tears and tears on zoom. So people I've never met before. Right? Right. Other parts of the world where it's so it, it happens, this is especially like [00:42:45] I had somebody on my team in previous life that we were in a meeting and they had to close their laptop because somebody came to the door, the police came to the door because too many people were in their house during COVID.
[00:42:57] And. You're like I may have to go, like they may arrest me because I had people in my house movers came and like, how do you, how do you explain that? Yeah. Like we're just living in a totally different world. And it's just, for me it's, just being there.
[00:43:09] And just being able to sit with like, oh my gosh, I can't imagine going through what they're going through right now. And how do I show up as a leader and just listen and be the best leader I can be. And more importantly, care deeply for what they're going for through. Yeah. More so than cuz at the end of the day, your family, right?
[00:43:28] Your close friends, your loved ones [00:43:30] when the world of recruiting, it's an up and down world, talent acquisition has its ups and downs. You hire people, you don't, you win, you lose. Yeah. But your immediate family, your immediate loved ones. Your professional life should never take the place of that.
[00:43:45] And as a leader, how do I make space for people to deal with their personal lives and deal with all the stuff they're going through and find ways to move work around, like stuff comes up and people can get COVID and have to be out for two weeks and not this as no one's fault. Yeah.
[00:44:01] And they didn't go find COVID so how do you create that space for them to be, deal with what they're dealing with? And that to me is, is leadership, right? That's the pouring back into people so that either on their teams or with their candidates or their [00:44:15] stakeholders or with their clients, they're treating them incredibly well, regardless of the circumstance. And my experience is if I can do that every day you know, I'm creating value and I'm useful if I'm, barking orders at you need to fill more jobs. I could do
[00:44:28] that. It's not particularly helpful, is it? Yeah no.
[00:44:31] Gareth Webb: No, very interesting. I think it's clear to me. You've probably been through some very different cultural experiences with the firms you've been at during the times that you've been at them. And I'm sure even Procore, I'm guessing like, technology into construction, I'm sure there's like an old school mentality to part of that.
[00:44:49] And then you've probably seen how that must have changed through the last few years. You have no doubt. You'll take all the best and leave all the worst through your dial pad experiences that builds out. Got [00:45:00] two final questions for you. If you could solve one hiring problem forever, like one, the one part of the talent acquisition problem, what would that.
[00:45:09] Leif Wennerstrom: Yeah. The offer process,
[00:45:11] Gareth Webb: The offer process.
[00:45:11] Leif Wennerstrom: Like you bought a car before, right? Not to beat up on car dealerships, but buying a car is different than 25 years ago. It's just a hard thing. It's so personal. You're like comp and what's it worth and that whole thing it's hard and you again, we, we train for that. We prepare our people to give great offers. Do it fair enough? Well, As much as we can do, it's still just really difficult to do well. I don't have an easy answer as to this is the solution well, what do you think?
[00:45:38] Gareth Webb: What do you think of the, the don't dos for a start?
[00:45:40] What are the things that you see happening time? Again?
[00:45:43] Leif Wennerstrom: I think that probably the biggest don't do [00:45:45] is don't be dishonest. Don't you don't have to share everything, but don't try and obviously hide stuff when people can figure it out on their own. If some, if you have a range, people know it.
[00:45:56] P people unfortunately, or fortunately will talk about compensation. Yeah. That is it. And so your real best bet is just to be as honest as humanly possible and create that trust that look, I did the best I could. Yeah. This is what we think is really fair. And I know you're looking for X and we think the market is Y.
[00:46:16] And so we're coming in at Z and we think that seems pretty fair. And what do you think, right? Gone are the days of hard negotiation and it's just it's again, the challenges is that people have been [00:46:30] burned, right? People based on their socioeconomic status based on their gender, based on their ethnicity been underpaid.
[00:46:37] There's all sorts of crazy stuff that happens in the offer process. Mm-hmm .. It's about creating that transparency to the best of your ability. You can't always be transparent about everything, but everything you can be transparent and to create a good experience is really important.
[00:46:50] Gareth Webb: We only see the industry going one way.
[00:46:52] It's not going backwards in terms of transparency. It's like people want hyper transparency. They wanna know upfront what the compensation range is. They wanna know, or what, or one of the things we've seen lately, which I, we can talk about another time. Cause I dunno how much time we've got. But the idea of an offer being slightly blended or more like a menu where, look, I'm more risk averse, so I don't want the stock.
[00:47:13] I'd rather go bigger [00:47:15] on the base and the bonus because like I need to cover certain costs for whatever reason. It's a very personal thing. Some people are like, yeah, I'm all in on this IPO in five years.
[00:47:25] Leif Wennerstrom: Give me nothing. And let me gimme stock.
[00:47:26] Gareth Webb: Yeah. Basically. Lemme pay the rent and then give me as much as you can on the stock.
[00:47:29] And I think. Everyone has different motivations and drive. Some people wanna be in the office three, four days a week. Some people wanna work from wherever. And I think money has the same value, like in the sense that it has different value to everybody else. Like it shouldn't be a binary offer. It should be, Hey look like we want you, what do you want?
[00:47:47] Here's the options. And I, we have some companies that we work with that take that approach. I think it's not super innovative, but it's
[00:47:53] Leif Wennerstrom: Getting, and we do that too. We have ranges and we think about, look, if total compensation is [00:48:00] X you get to X through. And we train our recruiters.
[00:48:03] We have a built in sheet that has, as a privately held company has external competitors and what their market cap is and multiples revenues. They're all trained to talk through that. And articulate like one of the best CFOs I've ever worked with. He said, okay, there's two slides. One slide was Oracle.
[00:48:21] Right? this is what your stock could be worth. The other slide was pets.com. Which like, we're have business. Yeah. You're like, it's gonna be worth somewhere between here. It's how we talk about that level of risk that you're willing to take to get to that. And it could be a home run or it could be, but what level, how much risk take and understanding that in the front end.
[00:48:38] Yeah. As well. So when we do that.
[00:48:40] Gareth Webb: Okay. Yeah, no, it's interesting. I think it's, it's a competitive advantage. If you wanna close the [00:48:45] candidate that you wanna hire to your point if you're intentional about interviewing to get to a hire, then one of the things you can do at the end is not just come in at.
[00:48:53] This level and try meet, like meeting in the middle is so old fashioned, isn't it like well, we're coming in here, you want this and me in the middle. It's just present an option, like a menu options and allow the person to pick.
[00:49:03] Leif Wennerstrom: We do all sorts of creative stuff to try and meet that need of what they, again, right. I've been part of hundreds of offers and thousands by now recently. And yeah, it's like, what is it that drives a candidate it's X, you know, at an executive level of written a number of offer justifications, they like, they really care about these three things and we're designed this way and how do we flip it to be weighted towards what they care most about that we [00:49:30] don't care about?
[00:49:31] We like, and then it's understanding like, based on your phase of growth and, are you really trying to be more cash equity and all that stuff, right? There's obviously buckets that you're pulling from, but designing the best way you can to make it competitive for them and meaningful, right.
[00:49:44] And personal.
[00:49:46] Gareth Webb: Yeah, it's, it makes life more complicated, from a finance and a people or perspective, but it probably is better off, like for the business in the longer run. The final question is if you to think about somebody in the people or a talent acquisition space that you class as like highly influential, highly impactful in the world of work, talent acquisition people ops, like who's that person
[00:50:11] Leif Wennerstrom: Pat Wadors.
[00:50:12] Chief people, officer of some of the most innovative [00:50:15] tech companies, ServiceNow, LinkedIn truly in, the 18 months I worked with her, just it's almost like the light went on. I'm like, wow, transformational thought leader cares deeply.
[00:50:28] For her team for the company for people, does that while holding leaders accountable, she called it building a high performing healthy company that scales. Yeah. All three of those are important. And in given part of the day, you may feel not healthy at all. Cuz you've been working all night and you're trying to get something done.
[00:50:48] You may feel like nothing's scaling cuz you're at a roadblock or you may feel like, you're just not performing at all. And it's figuring out how to do all those things and how to do it. Really well. So she's, she's a [00:51:00] huge fan of that.
[00:51:01] She did there in Australia at the time she did the LinkedIn event. I can't remember what it's called, but she spoke, she talked about like talent acquisition, where the canaries, the coal mine, right? We're the ones that like, you can have your people organization, you can have what's going on but TA is typically really close to the market.
[00:51:21] And so you have to use your TA function to calibrate against comp, to calibrate against employee sentiment. You have to take all stakeholders in and around an organization to hear what external markets are saying about you and integrate that in. And so again just an executive of people, executive that truly values.
[00:51:44] And it's [00:51:45] figured out, I think in a lot of ways how to leverage right. The magic of talent acquisition. And of course I said it cause I'm in the da world, but like, how do you go tell the story in a meaningful way? And then how do you collect feedback on the story of, is this resonating, how is this working, right?
[00:52:01] What are we seeing in the market what's happening? What's going on right now with X, Y, and Z. And if you really leverage, you have a team of people that are talking to people every
[00:52:08] day. Yeah. You're paying them good money to do more than just yeah.
[00:52:11] And you could pay them to sell the heck outta your company.
[00:52:14] You could pay them to provide insights on what's really happening and get that feedback. And she's phenomenal at it.
[00:52:19] Gareth Webb: Perfect. Well, Let, we'll leave it there. Thank you very much for coming down. Appreciate the insights and wish you all the best with the new position at dialpad cheer.[00:52:30]----
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