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Creating Delightful Interview Experiences at Scale at Yelp

In a survey conducted in 2015, a whopping 93% of Yelp employees said that it was a great place to work, while the average number at a US-based company was 59%. 

The company has always put a strong focus on its values “be unboring, be tenacious, play well with others, be authentic, and protect your source.” which has allowed it to be a workplace for creative and motivated individuals to thrive. 

Now that the world of work has pivoted online, how has Yelp ensured they continue to give the same importance to their values? How have they adapted to remote hiring, while ensuring they provide a delightful experience to their candidates?

To answer these questions and more, Grace Jiras Yuan, Technical Recruiting Manager, and Sharadha Ramakrishnan, Director of Engineering for Data and Analytics Platform at Yelp joined Hackerrank’s Raghav Gopalakrishan, Senior Product Manager and Aadil Bandukwala, Senior Director of Marketing for an enlightening conversation about adapting to virtual hiring processes, and tips for job seekers on HackerrankTV. 

Click below to watch the livestream, or read on for takeaways from the discussion. 

1. You don’t need to have a technical background to work in the tech industry.

The appeal of working at tech-first companies is at an all-time high, partly fueled by their synonymity with companies that offer extraordinary employee benefits and the opportunity to work on products and services impacting a digital native user base that grows by the second. 

“You don’t need to have a technical background to break into the tech industry”, Grace says. A study published in 2018 by Glassdoor, showing that nearly half of the open roles at tech companies were non-technical, corroborates her statement.

Grace has been helping Yelp recruit stellar talent for over 8 years now. “When I first joined the company, I felt intimidated being around so many smart engineers, but I quickly learned that we’re all learning and growing together. We’re a team and every department at a company is as important as the other.” Grace reinforces an important piece of advice that’s often lost on candidates in a hypercompetitive job market - If you’re passionate about what you do, you can find a place anywhere. 

2. Mock interviews are a great tool for preparation.

Sharadha says, “My no. 1 recommendation for candidates who are preparing for an interview is to take up multiple mock interviews. Find a friend, a relation, or an acquaintance who is willing to do one with you.”

Today, individual and community initiatives offering mock interviews are growing in popularity, a testament to the age-old adage, “Practice makes perfect.” 

Grace adds, “Approach questions in a mock interview like you’re a teacher. Articulate the problem in your own words, and think the solution process out loud. Even if you don’t arrive at a conclusive answer, the interviewer becomes aware of your problem-solving process.”

3. Look beyond the challenges of remote hiring.

Recruitment teams have a lot on their plate, as the demand for talent surges. 

In our Guide to Practical Tips for Remote Hiring, we highlight the importance of having a well-defined workflow for hiring. Along with this, Grace recommends, “Have your hiring managers meet with the talent acquisition team regularly to exchange feedback. It can be a simple conversation about what's working well and what can be improved. Challenges are best solved collaboratively”

Sharadha adds, “It’s also important to look beyond the challenges and discuss the opportunities that remote hiring and scaling brings, and capitalize on it. For one, the talent pool has now widened so you have the chance to bring in candidates from all corners of the world to build a diverse workplace.” 

4. There is an increased responsibility on interviewers’ shoulders now.

Grace says, “In the pre-pandemic era when a candidate walked through a company’s doors, there were cues that they would pick up on to evaluate the workplace.” 

The cues Grace mentions could be subtle - like witnessing an ongoing meeting or obvious and unignorable like Facebook’s electronics vending machines, Google’s massage rooms, and a funhouse in Lego’s Denmark office. The massive growth that tech companies experienced in the last decade brought about creative, and playful additions to offices and office campuses that have earned many excited whispers from job seekers.

“Nowadays, candidates pay more attention to how collaborative interviewers are and listen to their stories about their time at the company to arrive at conclusions about the work-life balance and general satisfaction of the employees. So, as an interviewer, there’s a huge responsibility on your shoulders of conveying the best parts of your company”, says Grace.

Sharadha adds, “You should be well-versed with the candidate’s background, why they're making the career move, and tailor your interview accordingly. Another tip would be to make sure you have a good number of open-ended questions that you can rotate through interviews so the practice of interviewing doesn’t become mundane for you.”  

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