Retail recruitment case study: Countdown gets Weirdly

Retail recruitment case study of the month: Countdown recently used Weirdly to recruit the right staff for their fancy new Ponsonby store. Resourcing Advisor, Stacey Scammell shared the results and talked about how they did it and why they chose Weirdly.

If you were anywhere near social media last week, you would have seen the hip&beautiful people raving about the new Countdown that opened in Ponsonby. It’s the first of a new breed for Countdown – a kind of concept store carrying high-end brands and product lines. And man, were people getting excited!

Retail recruitment case study - Ponsonby Countdown twitter fans

And while we were also excited about the covered parking (in PONSONBY!?) and sugar pretzels, for the Weirdly team, this was no ordinary supermarket opening.

Weirdly was a key step in Countdown’s new store recruitment process. It was an awesome opportunity to see how Weirdly can be used to help craft a culture from the ground up and how we fit within a really established recruitment process.

As you can imagine, it’s still all hands to the pump over there on Williamson Ave, but we managed to snag ten minutes with Stacey Scammell – the resourcing advisor for the new store launch.


Retail recruitment challenge: Staffing a supermarket from the ground up

This store was always going to need a slightly different team to many of Countdown’s other locations. Ponsonby’s food scene is best known for overpriced cocktails, super-hip restaurants and raw-vegan cafes. On any given Saturday, you’ll find people in active wear sipping bullet proof coffee while feeding their kids macrobiotic, gluten-free, diary-free, sugar-free coconut flour pancakes.

Dropping a supermarket into the heart of a suburb like that means recruiting a retail team fluent in “inner city hipster”.

Their customers are foodies so the candidates also needed to be foodies. Their customers are also used to going to specialists for their shopping – buying meat from a butcher, bread from a baker, pies from a bearded game hunter. Countdown was keen to hire the right people and show how seriously they take those skills in their own store.

Given the popular location, they knew the job openings would attract high volumes of applicants. The challenge for the recruitment team was going to be screening in a way that uncovered the candidates who could help create that special store culture. To top it off, they also needed to streamline a mammoth recruitment campaign.

Enter, Weirdly.


Why Weirdly?

Stacey and the team chose to use Weirdly to screen candidates quickly, and help create a shortlist of the best candidates to interview.They were looking for people with the right attitude, vibrant personality and most importantly, a passion for great food. While checking for experience was also important, it wasn’t the only (or most important) screening consideration.

“For us, experience and skills were important, but if you’ve got the right attitude and can help us create the right culture, that’s the most important thing”


Using Weirdly as the first stage in the retail recruitment process

Weirdly slotted easily into the Countdown process. Because culture was such a priority, the recruitment team set Weirdly as the first step in the application process.

The link to the Weirdly quiz was included in the job ads and on their own careers site and candidates were told that to apply, they needed to click on the link and complete the quiz.

This meant two things:

  1. The candidates got a really fun, branded candidate experience from the first step in their application.
  2. The instructions also served as a kind of a filter of their own. Simply put, if you couldn’t follow the instruction to click the link and apply, you weren’t the right person for this particular team.

Retail recruitment Countdown's Weirdly quiz

The other thing the Countdown team really liked about using Weirdly? It gave them a way for candidates to easily apply via mobile. That’s a feature that’s vital in retail recruitment, but that their current site and system didn’t make easy.

Implementing Weirdly created a little more work in the beginning – setting up the quiz and slotting the step into their current process. But Stacey reckons it was more than worth it in the time it saved down the track.

“Adding the link to our TradeMe and Seek ads was no big deal and having different quizzes for different roles meant we could customize the questions to make sure we were assessing the right things”


Results: The data speaks for itself

Initially, Stacey and her team were mainly focused on candidates who scored above 70% fit with the culture they were trying to create. This would streamline their shortlisting process enormously, saving heaps of time.

However, the actual results were even better. After interviewing the candidates, they found the best ones had all scored above 80% in their Weirdly quizzes. This was confirmed in the post-hiring analysis where they found that the ultimately successful candidates were also the highest scorers in their Weirdly quizzes.

“After going back through the data, we found that over 90% of our successful candidates had scored in the high 80’s on their Weirdly results – that was a great validation for us. It really worked”

So not only was Weirdly successful in predicting the most suitable candidates, the next time Countdown uses Weirdly for their retail recruitment, they can streamline even further.

Stacey says feedback has been awesome.

“Without a doubt, this is one of the best new store teams we’ve ever hired. And being able to go back and look at a candidate’s Weirdly results made it heaps easier when it came to calibrating and matching people to different roles and departments”

We reckon that’s almost as exciting as warm pretzels and undercover parking.

If you agree and want to check out Weirdly for yourself, we’d love to talk to you about how we could slot seamlessly into your process.

An AMA with HRTechxpert, William Tincup

Last week the Peoplepeople slack community hosted our first ever AMA (AskMeAnything) session with William Tincup.

We snagged William fresh from his appearance at the Lever Talent Innovation Summit and just after releasing his list of “HRTech tools to watch in 2016” (featuring yours truly, of course). He’s a renowned expert in the Human Capital Management sector, podcaster, has been described as a marketing and HR ninja and is a global authority when it comes to HRTech. He also loves a good ellipsis and really knows his early ‘90s HipHop.

So, as you can expect, a pretty wide range of topics were covered in the course of this 30minute AMA.

We’ve complied a few of the questions asked and answered here. The conversation is still there in the PeoplePeople channel if you’d like to thumb through the whole transcript. If you’re a member, jump in and visit the #AMA channel. If you’re not a member, join by clicking the button at the end of this post!


A few questions with HRTech expert, William Tincup:

William Tincup HRTech

Hi @tincup, and all you other folk. I thought I’d kick off the questioning. I’m all about data and how useful data can help us make better informed decisions. Where in the recruitment process do you think big data is going to have the most impact?

WT: data needs to be both reflective… what just happened… and predictive… what will happen… recruiters need both…

The most important metric for me in HR and it starts in recruiting… is regrettable turnover… folks that we wanted to keep but couldn’t…


We know giving candidates useful feedback is really important now. But it’s hard if you’re talking about dealing with a hundred people in a day. What are some tools/tactics you’ve seen to help make this more manageable? ?

WT: Why 100 candidates?  put more filters on the pipeline, have fewer legit candidates and then you’ll have more time to go deep with folks… give them actionable feedback… you can’t do that with 100+ candidates… the feedback is light and not helpful… or worse… they think less of you…


What are the key things you look for in a cloud-based HCM/HRMS. Do you have any recommendations for a mid-sized company?

WT: Focus on the ones have two things… (1) a strong ecosystem of partners and (2) customers that look a lot like you… same size, same industry, same geography… oh, and, look at the breadth and depth of their user community…


Given that great innovation comes hand-in-hand with lots and lots of failed experimentation, how can we be better at recognizing, rewarding and incentivizing innovation in our people?

WT: You know the answer to this… but… I’ll put it here… celebrate failure…


 Would you say celebrate equally with success? We have a “celebrate everything” mentality in our business. But are there any other ideas that you’ve seen work really well in organisations to make time for innovation?

WT: Diversity creates friction, friction creates innovation, innovation creates market share… so, celebrate diversity…


What do think the future holds for job boards?

WT: People have predicted the death of job boards for 20 years… yet, CareerBuilder, is a $1B firm… they morph… they add value in other ways within talent acquisition… like Glassdoor, one of the largest job boards in the world… they add value elsewhere… the job board business is but one aspect of what they do….


William covered topics ranging from his biggest professional failure to talent community software and which HR Tech he predicts will fail.

To find out his answers, click the button to join the PeoplePeople slack community. As well as reading through more of the William Tincup discussion, you can join other AMAs, participate in other community chat and connect with people-professionals all over the world.

Request an invite button

Employee engagement in Simply Irresistible organisations:

Watching the world change is exciting. And with employee engagement becoming a CEO-level issue, the world of work is already shifting. One of the coolest changes is getting these HR, recruitment and people-conversations happening in the highest levels of the business.

And that’s largely down to the recognition of this fact: Employee-centric organisations aren’t just about making people happier and more fulfilled (although arguably, that would be enough motivation). Prioritising employee engagement is better for business.

There’s the major retailer who can forecast sales results based on the previous week’s employee pulse survey results. Or the electric company who, after investigating a major outage discovered the issue could have been predicted (and prevented) by looking at employee feedback data.

Money talks and the C-suite recognise the value of engaged employees. Deloitte’s latest HR Trend Report showed 9 out of 10 executives – that’s 85% – in this year’s survey ranked engagement as one of the top priorities for their business. And these leaders are prepared to make dramatic changes to business structures to improve that employee engagement.

Employee-centricity (try saying that four times fast) is about creating engaging workplaces where your people feel fulfilled, valued and are given the opportunity to perform at their highest potential. The Deloitte study calls these “Simply Irresistible Organisations”.

The study highlights successful businesses as ones who “put a greater emphasis on empowered teams and team leadership.”

People (your people) are placing a higher premium on flexibility, creativity, and purpose at work. That makes them notoriously tricky to hold on to. They’re choosing you now, but they can just as easily un-choose you later. One approach some companies are taking is to start considering employees less like employees, and more like volunteers. This means constantly exploring how we can make work more meaningful and rewarding for our people. It’s a shift that requires us to collect feedback on employee engagement far more regularly than in the old trusty annual survey approach.


So how exactly does an employee-centric organisation measure employee engagement?

In a word? Constantly.

Here’s a scary stat: 1 in 5 executives surveyed in Deloitte’s Trend Report admitted their companies do not measure engagement at all.

For many more of us (64% to be exact), measurement is limited to that once-a-year survey. Hugely comprehensive, expensive and time-consuming for just about everyone involved, these are great for telling you what happened in the past. But if you’re interested in how your teams are doing today, or if you want to predict engagement tomorrow? Let’s just say they won’t be earning the <Bomb>-diggity emoji anytime soon.

If you really want to measure engagement day-today, implementing a light, realtime (or realtime-ish) continuous pulse survey is the way to go. Here are a few of our favourites:



Employee engagement tools - 15five

15Five automates weekly check-in between managers and teams. Light and beautiful to use, it give managers a steer on how each person is tracking against goals, how they’re feeling, where they’re struggling and more. Questions are simple and there aren’t an endless stream of them – it’s usually limited to the same 3 or 4 question each week. The idea is it takes just 15mins for the employee to complete the short, simple report each week, and 5 mins for the manager to read, analyse and respond. Reports can be shared with the whole team or limited to just the manager and, best of all, the employee has control over that visibility so they can feel safe speaking freely.





More of a true survey tool, TinyPulse’s big appeal is that responses are 100% anonymous. Managers can then engage further with a respondent if they want to dig deeper into one of their answers, but anonymity is still protected. In some situations, this can allow for more honest feedback – particularly great if you’re trying to get a real understanding of your front line culture.






employee-engagement-culture-ampCulture Amp

These guys are the full-noise engagement tracking solution. They can do a whole range of different surveys – from larger, more comprehensive ones that are great for establishing benchmarks, through to tiny “one question per day” pulse checks sent out for employees to answer on their mobiles. Surveys can be sent out to segmented audiences within your organisation and data is collected and displayed on a super-friendly dashboard. It’s an awesome solution if you’re getting serious about engagement. Oh, and it’s pretty lovely to use too (for employees AND managers).



Creating a culture and workplace environment that’s dedicated to employee engagement isn’t a luxury for the handful of hipster Silicon Valley startups anymore. The changing world of work demands we create employee-centric organisations and frankly, when a movement like this has a theme song like Simply Irresistible, you can’t ignore the call.

Weirdly #wellnesschallenge: Automatically generate your own daily wellness activity for super-fun team times.

Join the Weirdly #wellnesschallenge. Our automatic wellness challenge generator makes it easy. Get ideas for you and your team, every day.

Throw your deuces up if one of your team culture goals has something to do with wellness or mindfullness. ???

At Weirdly, embedding wellness into our everyday company culture is really important. Every morning in the Weirdly office starts with a team standup. Standing around the whiteboard, each member in our band of misfits write up three priorities for their day: Two outcomes or tasks we need to tick off our to-do lists, and one wellness challenge.

Everyone chooses a different wellness challenge each day – it could be getting creative with coloured pens one day, doing 5 press-ups the next, or eating lunch with a new person (away from your desk!).

Then, the next morning we report back to each other on our success before erasing yesterday’s challenges and starting fresh.

Building wellness into an every-day ritual helps build a culture of mutual respect, encouragement, awareness and (most importantly) fun. Having it shared with the team means we’re accountable to each other – just like we are with the tasks that are more traditionally “job-related”.

To be totally honest, it felt a little contrived at first. Like we were trying to force fun. But very quickly (like, within the first day) we realised it was working. We were more mindful and aware of each other and making these activities an Important Ritual actually made them feel more valuable and allowed us to make space for them in our day.

It’s not all warm fuzzies: The benefits of the weirdly #wellnesschallenge

We’ve been doing this wellness routine for two months now and we’ve noticed some clear outcomes:

We’re a tighter team: Inevitably, every morning now starts with everyone together, spending 2mins laughing, joking and encouraging. It’s a quick connection (we’re all busy), but it happens without fail. Compared to two months ago, when people could wander in, throw headphones on and start the day with the barest of hellos, it’s like night and day. We’re more of a team now. Every week there’s a new in-joke, we’re habitually looking for ways to encourage each other. It all leads to getting to know each other better and building a stronger, more mutual respect.

Feedback has increased (and improved): One of our most popular challenges has to do with compliments. At Weirdly, we call them #chuffys (things that make you feel chuffed – I know, just roll with it). Every week at least one of our challenge options is about noticing something awesome someone has done and giving them mad props. Creating a culture where we’re constantly on the hunt for opportunities to give positive feedback, means it’s easier when the time comes to give harder feedback. We’re more comfortable talking to each other honestly, and we’re more receptive.

Happiness is on the rise: It’s been a pretty pressured time at Weirdly HQ over the past few months. Crucial team-members away visiting companies in the USA, our first integrations being built and launched and hard decisions being made about raising (or not raising) more investment. Stress levels were primed to rise but all-in-all, it’s gone by fairly smoothly. Our morning wellness ritual helped us connect and re-align every day. Having challenges to complete everyday meant we were all forced to look up from our screens and refresh our perspective regularly. These two things have made for a happier team full of happier people (even on the days we’re all running on caffeine and adrenaline).

Team murals:

Weirdly #wellnesschallenge mural montage

Need I say more?


Embedding wellness into our culture has been brilliant for us Weirdos, and as part of our 2nd birthday celebration we wanted to help other businesses do the same in their own teams.

So we’re issuing a #wellnesschallenge. Spend a month with your team (or on your own) completing one wellness challenge every day and watch your culture grow. We’ve even built an automatic wellness challenge generator for you to make it really easy. This takes the pain out of coming up with a new thing to do everyday. Just jump onto this site each morning (with your team or by yourself), and press the button. Our auto-generator will magically pull up a challenge for you to complete that day.

Share your #wellnesschallenge on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn – we might even send out some sweet Weirdly swag for awesome photos of teams getting into the Weirdly #wellnesschallenge spirit!

Weirdly #wellnesschallenge hats

Shiny! New! SmartRecruiters integration

Well, the product team are looking a bit dazed but it’s all in the name of success! We’ve launched the first in a series of recruitment tool integrations: Number one on our list? SmartRecruiters.

Making sure the different HR technologies you use play nicely with each other is vital. For Weirdly, that means making sure you can use us within (and alongside) your current ATS or candidate management system.

A SmartRecruiters integration was a natural choice for our first biggie. They’re on a mission to make hiring easy. We liked the sound of that. The fact that they’re one of the world’s fastest growing Talent Acquisition Platforms doesn’t hurt either. They grew over 500% between 2014 and 2015, and this year looks like it’s shaping up well too.

We’re super chuffed to be connected with these cool guys and featured in their assessment marketplace.

This particular integration has also allowed us to add a new offering to the Weirdly stable.

New Culture Screening Surveys

Our team (led by our new psychology head-honcho, Jeff Godbout) has used years of collected data to pull together a few off-the-shelf screening assessments. While these aren’t matched to an individual company culture, they can screen candidates for the common attributes needed to be awesome in certain types of company or team. These new off-the-shelf screening assessments are:

SmartRecruiters integration: For assessing startup culture

StartupCulture: There are common attributes needed to really succeed in the high-pressure world of startup. This screening assessment will help check whether your candidates have what it takes.


Better off Tedteam

Innovation Culture: Creating a culture of innovation is still ranking high on most larger company priority lists. Creating a team that captures a bit of the startup innovation culture, while still being able to operate in a larger corporate environment requires a special kind of screening survey.

SmartRecruiters integration: Assessing graduate culture

(Coming Soon) Graduate Culture: Screening graduates on their resume is, well, often sort of redundant. This survey will help you understand if your candidates have the qualities you look for in grads, even if they don’t have a lot of experience in a particular role.

So how does this SmartRecruiters integration actually work?

As part of our new integration, these screening surveys are available in the SmartRecruiters marketplace.

SmartRecruiters users can then send them out to candidates without ever leaving their dashboard. Once the candidate completes the screening survey, their score is displayed on their candidate profile, and a pdf copy of their answers is automatically attached.

There’s a handy link on each candidate report incase you want to know more about what the screening assessment is measuring. We’ve even kept it really clear and concise – no-one’s got time to wade through loads of confusing babble!

Finally, for people who are keen for something more customized to their specific company culture, Weirdly’s full custom option is just a click away.

We can help you design your dream screening assessment. Customised so it looks and feels like your brand, with an awesome candidate experience, video integration and a tailored question bank written by our in-house data/psych team. Once you’re happy, we can load it up into your SmartRecruiters account so it’s only accessible to you and your team.

You can check out more about how this SmartRecruiters integration works and put your hand up for first access when we go live later this week.

What’s next for Weirdly integrations?

This is just the first of many integrations we’ve got planned over the coming weeks and months.

Those of you who use Lever, Greenhouse as your ATS, and who use video or Slack somewhere in your process – keep your eyes peeled here.

And if you’re using another HR technology or software in your recruiting and want us to add it to our integration hit-list, flick us a tweet or join our People-people slack channel .

2016 HR Trend report: Deloitte’s global predictions

Deloitte released their annual HR Trend report this week and it’s a doozy.

To download the whole thing, click the link at the bottom of this page. For a TL;DR version, here’s a summary of some of the top trends that stood out to us:

The Network of Teams:

One of the big shifts predicted isn’t solely an HR Trend at all, it’s a growing movement in organisational structure. Going from the familiar old triangle hierarchy (with tidy departments locked away in silos), to a more fluid team-based structure assembled around projects. For recruiters and HR people, this means big changes. From basics like job titles, to more complex operational ecosystems, the very concept of a team member is changing. The gig economy is here.

“Businesses are becoming more like Hollywood movie production teams and less like traditional corporations, with people coming together to tackle projects, then disbanding and moving on to new assignments once the project is complete.”

Splitting out “engagement” and “culture”:

The hot trend for 2015, we usually saw these two words locked together, spoken as if they were actually one word with too many consonants. Cultureandengagement. Now we’re seeing them considered (and measured) separately. This allows companies to come up with really targeted strategies and solutions to build culture and improve employee engagement. And those are increasingly complex (and vital) goals for any teams that balance generational differences and remote workers.

“Culture describes “the way things work around here,” while engagement describes “how people feel about the way things work around here.”


Workplace learning is the new ping-pong:

We used to attract talent with snazzy office furniture, pingpong tables and a fully stoked kitchen, but now we’re shifting to a more valuable (but less rock’n’roll) carrot: On-demand learning programmes. Some are doing this really well, and some (63% according to Deloitte) could be doing it better. Either way, there’s a clear focus on creating opportunities to upskill, re-train and generally explore passions in the form of easily accessible, online courses. This is not your traditional Learning and Development process. Say goodbye to heavy, expensive proprietary L&D programmes, and hello to integrated, participant-initiated web courses. YouTube, MOOC’s and design thinking approaches are gaining in popularity.

So bored of pingpong

Using design thinking to redefine the HR role:

Simplifying the crazy web of processes and tech used in a typical recruiting or HR role is high on the agenda for 2016. More people-people (HR, recruitment and culture heads) are using design thinking to redefine the way they do their jobs. This means the flexibility to redesign complicated processes. Finding ways to simplify, streamline and put candidates and employees at the centre, rather than conform with ye olde traditional approaches. Technology is becoming more intuitive and fun to use. And richer data means awesome new tools that integrate seamlessly and make your job easier (seriously, you should see some of the amazing stuff our product team has planned).

“Design thinking casts HR in a new role. It transforms HR from a “process developer” to an “experience architect.”


You can download the full 2016 HR Trend report here and read about these (and loads more) trends in detail.

And if you like the sound of streamlining your process with clever new HR Tech, give a free Weirdly trial a try.

Weirdly quiz sign up now

Customer loyalty: The goose that lays those golden eggs

You know what’s good for business? Loyalty. That’s where the big bucks are people, or at least, the predictable bucks (which are the best kind). And nothing creates customer loyalty like awesome frontline staff – people who bring your brand to life and go the extra mile for your customers everyday.

There aren’t any shortcuts to building loyalty – you have to earn it, just like trust. But it IS possible to boost it by stepping up for customers in their moments of panic. If you can make things better for a customer, when everything’s going wrong, they’re more likely to stick by you when competitors come knocking.

Your customer-facing staff ARE your business: A tale of new teeth

A couple of months ago, my wife Helen got some new front teeth. When you get crowns, there’s a wait period while your molds are sent off to the New-Teethery. In the meantime you have temporaries fitted – they look the same as your old teeth, but they’re a lot more… porous. She knew this, but kind of forgot, until she was on her way to meet with new, quite-important clients.

It was a busy day. She’d wolfed down some lunch while scrambling to get her things together, then ran out the door without looking in a mirror. Stopped at the lights, she glanced in the rear view mirror and did a double take. It looked like someone had swapped her front teeth for the nibs from some yellow highlighters.

Guys, the photo doesn’t do it justice.

They were Yellow, with a capital Y; very noticeably, distinctly fluorescent. The culprit? Her lunch: home-made curry with lots (and I mean lots) of turmeric.


Helens teeth are yellow

Tumeric, meet new teeth.

Her first panicked call was to the dentist’s office and Sharla, the practice manager answered, like she always does. She stopped Helen hyperventilating by sharing her similar experience with American mustard. She recommended lemonade (or champagne) to take some of the colour out, then waited around until after Helen had finished her meeting and could pop by the clinic to remove the rest of the colour.

Practice manager isn’t the role that gets all the glory, but it’s Sharla who checks in the day after an appointment, and helps you judge whether those niggles are just in your head. She tells you how long you can leave things between appointments, or what to watch for when you’re expecting a sensitive tooth to get ugly.

Dr Matt, our dentist, is technically excellent, has a calming bedside manner and his nurses and assistants are also brilliant, but if I had to name one thing that kept me loyal, it’d be her. Outside of the chair, she drives the patient experience, which, let’s be honest, is the part that makes me rebook.

Just like your front-line teams, Sharla is the face of the business.  It’s through those customer-facing staff, your buyers are building a relationship with your products and loyalty to your brand.

This makes it even more important that you’re recruiting people who align with your core brand values – that have the soft skills and traits you need to perform highly and build loyalty with your customers.

How do you find the staff that make customers desperately, fanatically loyal?

The truth is, great employees make businesses great, but it works the other way too – great businesses make employees great. We’ve talked about this before – how shared purpose or values is far more important that personality or competence.

Most customer-facing organisations out there would claim to hold customers at the very centre of what they do. Very few actually deliver on that. Not because they’re liars or because they don’t want it enough.

It’s because truly putting customers first is complicated and expensive. And it starts with prioritising your internal culture.

The equation is simple. Take care of your people and they’ll take care of your customers.

So much of taking care of your people is about building a healthy culture in which people are pulling together. They’re bonded by a shared mission and shared core values. A culture that provides enough structure to be practical, but allows opportunities for freedom. Empowering your teams to go the extra mile for customers and feel responsibility for that relationship.

Take our dentist example: The management has consciously set a tone – they’re genuinely driven by giving people a good experience. More importantly, they’ve managed to create an environment where Sharla can live that culture too. Her boss can trust her to be wonderful, and then gives her the resources (and freedom) to do it.

But plop Sharla down into another environment, where she’s not supported and trusted the same way and where her values don’t align so strongly with the company and things might be different. She’s likely to be just as efficient and personable, but she may not get the chance to display the extra layer of wonderful that creates that magical customer loyalty.

So, it’s not Sharla herself laying the golden loyalty eggs; it’s the synergy between company culture and an employee that perfectly fits that’s the real goose.

Culture fit, ya’ll, it’s crucial to a company’s success – and I recommend never going to the dentist without it.


If you want to build teams that’ll drive loyal customer relationships, talk to us about how Weirdly screening assessments could fit in your recruitment process. 

Why Google reckons ‘Fit’ beats personality assessment

Ever heard the phrase “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure?” Now, for the record it’s not a good idea to talk about people like that. But even though the words aren’t quite right, in the world of hiring the essence is true; a person who doesn’t work well in one team, can absolutely soar in another. That’s why Google (and more of the world’s leading companies) are assessing “fit” to find the people who’ll be treasures in their businesses, rather than relying only on the traditional personality assessment.

We’re (finally) moving away from the idea that some people are good and some people are bad, and instead recognizing that anyone can be good, given the right environment.

Is that a personality assessment I spy - says winky Mad Men

Back in advertising days, I worked with a creative – an art director – who was really struggling. We were both really young, just starting out and in those days, the agency we worked in was a pretty intense place. We were a big shop, with major global brands and a Big Agency reputation – that meant huge egos, high expectations and, if I’m honest, a culture that valued success so hard it verged on bullying. I remember sitting in the boardroom, surrounded by dark wood and intimidatingly expensive chairs, watching this young art director visibly shrink as his work was (literally) screwed up and thrown back at him. I remember thinking at the time, ‘this guy just isn’t cut out for advertising’.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I saw him again a few months ago, he’s working in another agency now. Smaller, more niche, but still with its share of global brands and just as highly awarded. He’d just been internationally recognized for his art direction and illustration skills, and was about to accept a huge promotion – leading the agency’s creative department in one of their largest offices.

The problem wasn’t that his personality or skills weren’t ‘right for the role’, it was just that he didn’t fit the company culture and the team (and vice versa).

That same agency that was terrible for him, was brilliant for others. I have friends who thrived there – for whom the ultra-competitive environment was exactly what they needed to push and develop.

But for this guy, he found success when he found a team and company that shared his own values and had a culture that gave him what he needed.

In the crazy busy world of recruitment, we often get trapped in our own process. Source the candidates. Screen for basic skills. Conduct a personality assessment. It’s a flow designed for efficiency, but that means we’re spending the bulk of our time looking only at a person’s innate qualities – trying to discover who this person is in isolation, when we should be focussed on who they are in relation to our teams. When it comes to getting the most out of your people and building super-productive, happy teams, the fit is more important than anything else.


But what does Google think? They’re all over personality assessment, right?

In this recent interview with Google’s People Operations Analyst, Julia Rozovsky, she talks about a specialist HR task force that’s been working within the global talent magnet for the past two years. Its job? Identify the exact mix of skills and personality traits required to build “the perfect team”.

In the end, Rozovsky admitted, they discovered the traits of the individual were not a good predictor of high performance. The real success factor was fit within the team.

“Who is on a team matters less than how the team members interact, structure their work, and view their contributions,” said Rozovsky. “Essentially, the best teams are made up of people who respect one another’s emotions, can depend on each other and actually care about what they’re doing.”

It’s a great sign when Google’s smartest People-people apply some of the best data capture and analysis skills in the world in a dedicated, two-year-long project, and arrive at the same conclusion: fit is the most valuable indicator of performance.

And, hopefully, that’s awesomely encouraging for any struggling art-directors out there.

If you want to be like Google and put alignment first, give Weirdly a go. Our customised screening assessments will help you quickly find the candidate who complements your team – and we do all the set-up work for you!

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Diversity, meet happiness (finally): How to build diverse teams who also like coming to work

Ever since people started researching this stuff, the message has been clear: diversity and happiness go together about as well as oil and water.

Diversity makes for populations – or workplaces – that are less settled and happy. They’re useful, productive populations, sure, but not as, you know, jolly. And that makes sense, right? It’s so comfy in your little bubble, where everyone looks like you and likes the same craft-beer and goes to the same music festivals every year. It removes the challenge from your relationships.

But hang on a minute. Is challenge bad? We need challenges to refine our ideas. It makes us better people. It improves our businesses and products (and ultimately, balance sheets). And, even though it might make us less comfortable, it actually makes our team relationships stronger.

When we think about diversity in the workplace, we need to think beyond just race, socioeconomic status or culture and also consider things like gender, worldview, and thinking styles.

I think we’ve all read enough articles and reports to say that diversity in the workplace is a really good thing – diverse boards oversee richer companies, and diverse teams are more innovative and better at problem solving. Chucking a creative thinker in the middle of a process-driven team (or vice versa) breaks open people’s horizons and opens up more possibilities. The results are nearly always more awesome than if you’d left those people to be comfortable and unchallenged in their bubble.

But the downside of that? Diversity is challenging.

That’s sort of the point really. Improving on ways of doing things, or challenging established ways of thinking means boundaries get pushed and hackles are raised. In the past it’s been a trade off – shake things up and get better output, but be prepared for the fall out of frayed tempers and simmering conflict. For companies who are also investing heavily in the wellbeing of their staff, that can be a really big call.

But, oh boy, have we got a revelation for you. A new study came out this month, and it blows the lid off things just a bit. Rather than simply comparing happiness levels in diverse groups with those in a comfy bubble, they added another metric: whether people chose the diversity or not.

The upshot (and we’re like, ‘duh, of course.’) is that if people choose to live in a diverse neighbourhood – if they move out of their bubble or proactively seek to make their bubble more welcoming to other kinds of people, they’re actually just as happy as those living in a same-same bubble.

So whether you’re talking about a neighbourhood or a workplace, it’s not really the diversity itself that makes people less happy – it’s the lack of control. It’s the feeling of being forced into something. And it means the difference between people developing empathy for each other and just putting up with things.

Say for example, you’re a middle-class family living in a quiet, city fringe suburb. You’ve been there 10 years, when a population shift means suddenly houses are being snapped up by professional hipsters. They play loud music in their cars, have people over at all times of the night and plant their berm out in corn. Eventually, the constant challenge to what you consider “the right way to do things” is going to have you throwing a full blown, three-year-old-style tantrum.

Diversity and happiness challenges make for tantrums

But if you and your family are the new ones to diverse and colourful neighbourhood, the exact same behaviour won’t bother you at all – it’s part of the charm of the place and probably part of why you moved there in the first place.

Give people more control over diversity, and happiness will follow. It’s that simple.

So what does that mean for business? It means you can have your diversity cake and eat it too. Hooray! All you have to do is bring your teams on the journey – involve them in the decision to bring in new kinds of people and ways of thinking. Practically that’s doing stuff like getting people onboard with diversity as a concept in the first place. Then allowing them to participate in decisions about what that diversity could (and should) look like.

Have conversations about the value in it – why should they welcome that challenge? Once you have people’s buy-in on the concept, get them talking about ‘gaps’ in their team – are they lacking in female or male team mates? Could they do with some people who bring a different ethnic, cultural or socioeconomic perspective, or from a different generation? Are they all zany extroverted creative types who’d benefit from a bit of hard-nose process thinking?

Have your teams create the brief for new members – and even better conduct peer interviews – and watch the (diversity and happiness) magic happen.

diversity and happiness managed right makes for more group hugs

When that analytical whipper-snapper starts calling your creative thinking Gen-Z’s on their inefficiencies, instead of crossed arms and muttering, they’ll instead feel just a bit satisfied in their own wise choice. When an outgoing, creative women blazes a trail through an introverted mostly-male team, instead of raising their hackles, they’ll think “Isn’t she perfect for this role? She’s just what we needed!”

Have some faith in your people. If they’re given the opportunity to understand how diversity is valuable, and they’re contributing to the building of that diverse team, they’re more likely to welcome the challenge. They’re happier and more inclusive, the new additions to the team are happier, productivity goes up and your wellness programme gets a real boost.

Everyone wins.


Weirdly’s diversity module gives you visibility over who you’re attracting and screening for (or against) in your application process. If you’re keen to improve your visibility and reporting in this area, choose a time to talk to one of our team.

Checking each other out ?: How to integrate video into your recruitment process

It feels like people have been talking about video as “the next big thing” in recruitment for ages. Everyday there seems to be a new zoomy ad about how many hours of YouTube video we’re creating and video-based social media channels are being picked up by recruiters like, well, booze at a conference.

We’re all getting the message; Video is important. But it can be kind of hard to know exactly how (and where) to start. We’ve broken down some of the best ways we’ve seen video incorporated into a recruitment process in the past couple of years.

For the purposes of keeping to a word count, we’ve restricted these examples to “traditional video formats” – where you record a thing, put it on YouTube or Vimeo or your own site and share it with a group of people. We’ll do a follow-up post about new video formats (snapchat, periscope, VR) later on. 

Why is video so awesome?

In short, people are looking for more efficient ways to check each other out. You want to get a deeper understanding of your candidate, faster. And the people applying for your jobs want to understand what working for your company feels like before they invest too heavily in a long recruitment process.

Video is also awesome as a way to get more of your team involved. Videos can be shared and reviewed when everyone is available – that means you’re not herding cats, trying to get everyone into a room at once, or asking people to come in over and over to meet with different members of the team.

And it can be used as a way to get the hiring manager (and their people) excited and involved in finding this new teammate.

In short, ladies and gentlemen, video; If you’re not using it already, you should.

So how are the cool-kids doing it?

On-Demand Interviews: There are a couple of reasons this works well. The most obvious is your own time saving. Let’s face it, we’re never going to find more than 24hours in a day – no matter how hard we look. You’re busy and being able to cut down time-to-hire and pre-screening time using video interviews is a godsend. It’s also great for the wider recruiting team though – letting them get to know candidates better during the early screening stage. And if you’ve ever applied for a job yourself, you’ll remember how hard it is finding time to fit interviews into your day. Being able to just record your interview yourself in your own time is pretty rad.

Showing off your culture/employer brand: This is a way you can use video before you’ve even got a specific role you’re trying to fill. Deloitte did this most famously with their “Deloitte Film Festival” way back in 2008. Rather than the glossy, over-produced hype videos you often see from these big corporations, Deloitte asked employees to make videos showing people what it’s REALLY like to work for the brand.

More recently, our mates at Lever made a similar “get a real look inside our culture” style video by recording one second every day for a whole quarter. For a person considering a role in company, it’s an awesome way to get a glimpse of what life could look like if they join the team.

Introducing the role or campaign: This is a brilliant way to elaborate on (and bring some life to) that job description you just wrote for the listing on your careers page. This is a especially effective if your role is unusual, or if your company is just a really awesome place to work and you want people to get a sense of what makes this opportunity special.

Derek Handley’s “Shoulder Tap” campaign used video really effectively in this way. The role was unusual – people were going to be asked to not only determine their own remuneration package, but also help define their own job description – and Derek himself is a really inspiring character. Using a custom skin, we hosted a handful of videos (produced by the clever guys at Augusto) on a campaign landing page. Then, before candidates completed the Weirdly screening assessment, they watched a video from Derek, inviting them to come on a journey toward making the world a better place.

DEREK HANDLEY – ‘I’M HIRING’ from #theshouldertap on Vimeo.

Letting applicants shine: But what about the candidates, you ask? Video gives them an awesome opportunity to flip it around and show you what makes them tick. Alongside Derek’s The Shoulder Tap campaign, Fletcher Building has used video in exactly this way.

In Fletcher’s case, their top 50 graduate programme candidates created and uploaded a video answering the question. By doing this through Weirdly, videos sent in by candidates were automatically added to that person’s assessment response.

For Derek’s Shoulder Tap campaign, we asked the top 100 to send us videos with their solution to a major social issue they feel passionate about.

The results were, predictably, awesome.

Comfort Zone from #theshouldertap on Vimeo.

Our new video integration will make this all automatic. People apply for the role through a simple Weirdly screening quiz, on completion they’re automatically sent an email asking them to record a video and copy their link into a dedicated field. This video is then automatically added to that candidate’s assessment results – so you can see everything related to that person in one place.

If you reckon that’s pretty cool and want to try out our video integration in your own recruitment process, give us a yell here.

A truly great recruitment process should be efficient, and should also give candidates a feel for your culture and let them really showcase the things that could make them a rockstar in your team. Video is an awesome way to achieve all those objectives – like, if you were into killing birds, you’d be doing it with one stone.

If you’re keen to give Weirdly a go (with, or without our snazzy new video integration), jump in for a free trial here

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