Scaling startup culture: How to grow without losing your soul

This is a guest post by Kirsti Grant – formerly VP of talent at Vend. Kirsti’s pretty awesome (we invited her to be on the Weirdly advisory board for a reason), but more than that, she’s got first hand experience of scaling startup culture in a crazy high-growth, highly competitive market. She’s a pro.

Prior to working in a role where my responsibility was to scale the company culture at Vend all I really wanted was to find a role in a company with an organisational culture that fit me. I didn’t realise it at the time but now it’s really easy to look back at what it was that was motivating me to join the company and how closely those motivations ended up being linked to the values of the company.

  • I wanted to be the best, therefore I wanted to be surrounded by the best
  • I wanted a place where my work would have a positive impact on my life. Where work and life would complement one another
  • I wanted to be really proud of the work I was doing and the impact it was making on customers

As a company, one of the biggest challenges you’ll find is being able to articulate your culture. The number of people who have launched into pitches on how awesome their culture is because they have foosball and beer is amazing. And by amazing I mean terrifying.

That’s not your culture, that’s not why people turn up to work every day. Having cool stuff around is just cool stuff. It’s more important that you provide people with what they need to do awesome work and a purpose that will get them excited about going above and beyond for you.

That’s where you really need to get to know your people, understand their motivations and have some company values & behaviours that your people can actually buy into.

Team bonding - for when your team share values and make sure you looking tight at all times.

Joining Vend as VP of Talent I was given a perfect culture to scale. It had all of those above points I wanted plus a whole lot more which made the pressure that much greater. The message from all the people was very much “don’t fuck the culture!”.

Thinking about how we managed to grow the Vend team so rapidly over the past couple of years, without doing that is tricky. There’s no particularly easy answer. It comes down to every little thing every single person in your company says and does – and let’s not forget that every company is different. This is one of the advantages you have as a startup, it’s a blank canvas and a huge opportunity.

For me, one of the things that made my role at Vend easy is how linked to the company values I was – it was easy for me to live and breathe “delighting customers, doing the impossible, taking care of the Vend family” and all the sub values & behaviours that are linked to those core values. It all came naturally because I  (fortunately) was the right fit.

Scaling the culture starts at the beginning of the recruitment process. It begins at the careers page and lives within the application form, communications, interviews and into how you make offers and onboard new employees. Your mission as a recruiter is to give the most accurate portrayal of what life at your company is like. You can’t be surprising people when they start with behaviour that is the opposite of what you promised. It’s never words and always actions.

If you have a hardcore, boring, form-filling process how do you think candidates will take that?

Filling out recruitment forms makes us go noooooo


If you build a good process your candidates don’t even realise they’re going through a process, the communication is natural & personalised, even if you do have a template it should be so good that the candidate doesn’t even realise.

If you’re really getting to know candidates and it’s authentic, the guards come down, they open up and hey, if you slip an x onto the end of an email you’ll probably get one in return.

Remember, your job is to make sure that every single person that walks through your doors as a new employee is aligned to your values and wants to be a part of your story, for all the right reasons.

You can’t always get this right but know that you need to do something about those situations where you got it wrong as quickly & humanely as possible. If you weren’t to address these situations what would your employee’s think about your ability to be up to the task of scaling your culture?

While you’re busy hiring for culture don’t think for a second that your business isn’t evolving, that components of the culture aren’t changing and that people themselves aren’t evolving. Taking people on the journey of change is hard when it comes to culture, you’re always going to have people that refer to the good old days. Knowing what parts of the culture should and shouldn’t evolve, knowing how to communicate, what to compromise. It’s all a juggle but one you can’t avoid.

Just remember, the 2nd worst thing you can do is not change. The very worst thing you could do is fail to hire people that fit & enhance your company culture.


Want to give hiring for culture a go? Weirdly is great for that! Jump in for a free trial today.

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Borsalinos to snapbacks: What organizational culture can learn from New York City

If you’ve been following our twitter, you’ll have seen that Weirdly’s visiting the Big Apple. Riding subways and eating hot sandwiches – we’re learning about what makes business tick in this town. In between bites of bagel, a realisation hit me like a yellow cab: there’s a lot we could learn from the people in New York City about organizational culture.

It doesn’t take much time here to see that this isn’t a city at all. Rather than a big ol’ humanity stew, this is actually a collection of villages, filled with fiercely loyal residents, who both define and are defined by the places they live and work.

These neighbourhoods might have been split along racial and socio-economic lines traditionally, but that’s changing. The city is arranging itself by cultural value. Now you see well-heeled people choosing to live out in Brooklyn, even when they could afford swankier inner-city neighbourhoods, because it feels more like them. There are students cramming into shoe boxes or loitering around diners in the upper east side, because the vibe reflects who they are. Taylor Swift even shunned the traditional park-views for a loft in creative TriBeCa – she’s so edgy.

Taylor Swift being Weirdly edgy

It’s part of what makes NYC such a remarkable place – walk a couple of blocks in either direction and you’ll meet another set of local loyalists, eager and proud to show off the features of their local patch. This is the sweet side of tribalism. You see it in the way people dress – it’s not just tourists who wear NYC tee-shirts or Brooklyn caps.

Fundamentally, this magical arrangement is because each neighbourhood stands for something, and that something attracts people who stand for that too. People find places where they belong – and those places in turn, belong to them. These people care about the neighbourhoods they choose to join. They mourn the removal (or addition) of graffiti, they create community-led initiatives – there’s a clear sense of pride that comes along with that feeling of belonging and ownership.

There’s a lot we, as business owners, can learn from the way that humanity has arranged itself here. Think of employees choosing to wear corporate clothes, proud of the company they represent and eager to contribute to a place where they feel they belong. This isn’t some kind of Office-Space “pieces of flair” cheese fest. This is something that actually happens when companies are filled with people with shared values.

Org culture isn't just about wearing sweet sweet flair

That sense of shared values, of belonging is what makes NYC hum.

Cut off a piece of that sweet apple and feed it to your own business – we could all learn a few lessons about creating culture from this city.

Your job application process is boring: Here’s why you need to care, and fast.

You want interesting, cool people for your business? People who will challenge the status quo, ones who get excited by fresh, new approaches to challenges, or who will inject new energy into your team? Is “creating a culture of innovation” high on your to-do list?

Same. So why are we all using recruitment process that reflect the total opposite?

Boring, tired, process-heavy — let’s face it. Traditional recruiting experiences just don’t make you attractive to the exciting talent.

We have a lot of conversations with CEOs and managers who want to know how to attract great people to their businesses and teams. Some of them don’t have the cool, quirky brands or the budgets that other businesses do.

There are tonnes of things you can do find to snag top-talent attention, with just a little bit of time and money: Increase social activity in the places that these interesting people live, write and circulate great content, ask your work force to refer like minded and skilled individuals, always be recruiting etc.

All this is very well and good BUT is anyone actually changing the job application process itself once someone is introduced to your business? Or is it still “please send me your CV and cover letter”.

Businesses seem to be going to great lengths to showcase their appeal and relevance yet the application process has not changed in a gazillion years.

Potential applicants see great careers sites, advertising, videos etc and then get the same message they always have about emailing their cv.

Surely this is the biggest and easiest opportunity any of us have ever had to stand out and create a better job application process. What if we said something like:

  • We want you to engage with us a bit more before you invest all that time in your CV and cover letter.
  • Do you have any questions for us before you apply?
  • Is there something that you’d rather send us (than an CV) as proof of why you should work for us?
  • Send us a 30 second video outlining why you’re a great fit for our company

This frustration is one of the things that originally drove us to create Weirdly. Removing the CV road-block and instead, building a recruitment process on something simple (like a quiz), seemed like a good idea. But the real clincher was flipping the process and looking at it from the job applicant’s side.

See, the big, boring recruitment model we’ve all been operating for forever is based on the idea that I (the company) hold all the power and you (my adoring public and job-applying minions) are desperate for my affections, my attention and the paychecks I can bestow.

Here’s a bit of napalm to go with your morning coffee: That’s not how the top talent view employment.

They’re looking for work they can believe in. They want to be part of a movement, or at least, part of an organisation that doesn’t treat them like a number. They’re driven by exciting challenge and higher purpose. And they expect transparency and curiosity from you, the same way you’ll expect it from them.

Picture your recruitment process like a gate this talent has to walk through. Does your gate look like something these people are excited to knock on?

Does it show them how different you are, or does it show them that actually, despite all those dollars you spend on marketing campaigns and ping-pong tables, you’re actually just like everyone else in your market.

Injecting a bit of fun and interesting isn’t rocket science. We’ve tried to make it super accessible as a simple start towards making your process engaging, candidate-focussed and on brand. But there are other ways. Even if we DO have snazzy and informative analytics to back it all up.

So, whatever you do, why not try out something a bit different. Spice up that application process. I dare you.

Want a quick, easy way to make your own recruitment process feel more fun and attract better talent? Give Weirdly a go with this free trial – it’ll take 30secs to set up and slots easily into your existing workflow.

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Fletcher Building: When graduate recruitment campaigns meet unconscious bias

Remember back when you were a grad? Finding a job was intimidating. Confused by graduate recruitment campaigns, sitting through scary interviews with suited strangers. All those evenings spent desperately trying to flesh your CV into something that make you stand out from the crowd. Painfully aware that after all that, you could be passed over for reasons that don’t even seem to make sense.

We wrote an article recently about unconscious bias and the unfortunate role it plays in recruitment. Usually, graduate recruitment campaigns are no exception to this, but now one of NZ’s biggest companies has dedicated itself to addressing the issue, head-on.

Fletcher Building is one of NZ’s largest listed companies and are known for their creative, innovative grad recruitment campaigns so we were obviously chuffed when they decided Weirdly would be a good fit for their 2015 recruitment drive.

What’s even cooler though, is the mission they’re trying to achieve. As well as attracting the best and brightest our universities have to offer, these guys are determined to start addressing the unconscious bias that so often slips into our day-to-day lives as managers, HR people and recruiters.

How are they doing this? Well, they’ve decided to build their shortlists completely blind.

That’s right. They’re literally removing the identifying features from each application so they can filter through and create shortlists based on merit and fit, not being swayed by any unconscious cultural, gender or appearance bias.

So why is this a big deal? Well, unconscious bias is a very real thing. We all have it, and at some level, it can be useful when dealing with the world around us. But when it comes to recruitment, we need to find ways to make the unconscious, conscious so we can assess potential employees on a fair and even playing field.

So how do blind Graduate Recruitment Campaigns work, exactly?

Graduate recruitment campaigns are better blind (especially if you're looking for hugs)

The 2015 Fletcher Building graduate campaign is based around a series of activities designed to assess how well candidates will fit the company culture and the roles themselves. Nothing revolutionary about that so far.

What IS special though is that the culture fit activities are being done first.

Candidates apply through a Weirdly quiz that asks creative and interesting questions that reveal an applicant’s key personality traits and automatically ranks them according to fit with the Fletcher brand values and organisational culture.

Names, photos, contact details – anything that could possibly be used to uncover a candidate’s identity have been obscured and hidden so even the recruiters don’t know who they’re looking at.

Candidate #24601 is just as likely to be Jean Valjean, as Jimmy from Wellington.

The top100 then get sent off, personal details still hidden, to psychometric testing. They’re assessed, their candidate profile fleshed out with more detailed insights and a 50-person shortlist selected. That 50 are then asked to film a short video which is doctored to hide the applicant’s identity as well.

Only at that point are identities revealed as the top 40 are put through face-to-face interviews and skills assessments.

With over 600 applicants so far (that’s a 138% increase on the number of 2014 applicants), this grad campaign is shaping up to be unlike any other campaign we’ve seen here in NZ. Will this blind approach perfectly eliminate all unconscious bias? Possibly not – candidates are still going to have their identities revealed eventually and that gives opportunity for bias to creep in. The REAL glory in this approach is it takes the unconscious and makes it conscious.

The very act of acknowledging this is a challenge, and looking for a solution to it, means they can be aware and watching for those biases creeping in further down the track when identities are revealed.

It’s a bold, brave, revolutionary move – one that’s got graduates all around the country excited about too.

Think this sounds interesting? Keen to try out something creative like this too? Sign up for a free trial of Weirdly today – you can make it do pretty much anything recruitment-related.

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6 of the best: Our favourite Weirdly recruitment questions for 2015 (so far)

Here at Weirdly HQ we love a good question.

Just yesterday, Keren asked the crew to name their favourite 90’s cult classic movie and Dan fired back like, 30 of his own questions in response.

“What genre? My favourite then, or my favourite now? What do you mean by ‘cult classic’ exactly?”.

It was, frankly, pushing the question-love a bit far.

The following are questions of a slightly less infuriating variety. They’re a selection we’ve picked from some of our favourite Weirdly quizzes – some slider and some free text. Have a read, be inspired and start imagining how fun you could make YOUR candidate process:


Slider Questions:

Weirdly recruitment question example Q 1

Weirdly recruitment question example question2

Weirdly recruitment question example q 3


Free Text:


Awesome Interview question - Weirdly

Best ever interview questions - Weirdly

Best interview questions - Weirdly


For more cool recruitment question ideas, try out our auto-magical 30’sec Quiz Builder, click the button for a free trial.

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Always be recruiting: Why panic-hiring isn’t necessary (or great for business)

Great people are hard to find. Betting on the fact that the perfect person is going to be available when you finally decide you need someone is more than a little bit risky.

There’s a school of thought in recruiting (and marketing. And sales. And you know, business) that the ones who wear the smarty pants, are the ones employing an “Always be recruiting” strategy.  They’re always keeping an eye out for people that might fit your business.

This means looking for opportunities to engage cool people in conversations about working with and for you, and also being open to those pro-active types who love your business enough to approach YOU.

If you reckon that sounds like a bit of you, here are a few easy ways you can integrate an “always be recruiting” mentality into YOUR business:


1. When you’re out at a bar having drinks after work, keep your eyes and ears open for people who you think would be great in your team or company. You might have the odd person come up to you and ask what you do? Don’t feel cringy about chatting about your company and what you do – people want to know! Tell them why you love working there and that you’re always on the look out for great people who fit. Hand over your business card.


2. If you’re out shopping on a Saturday morning and the shop assistant gives you incredible service, take note of their name. When you meet people like this – ones with a bit of a spark who would make a great addition to your team, tell them. Give them your card and say you’re always on the hunt for new people who fit. Ask them to take a look at your website (or your Weirdly quiz) and see what they think.


3. Do you already have heaps of traffic coming to your website? Why not have an expressions-of-interest job open all year round? We reckon it demonstrates confidence in what you’re doing, shows that you’re looking to grow. Also, if you have a careers site with no jobs on it, it can look kind of lame.


4. Next time Aunty Phyllis mentions that “brilliant young neighbour” she thinks you should meet, or your friends and family ask if you’ve got anything going, don’t fob them off. You answer could be “not at the moment, but take a look at our site and check out our job quiz so that you’re on file when we next have a role”. This goes for those people who send you messages through LinkedIn or via email.


5. You’ve gone to a meeting with one of your suppliers who you’ve built an really quality relationship with. The rep has really impressed you with their service over the years – they’re really great at their job and also just a super-cool person. Wouldn’t it be great to have someone like this representing your brand/business? Get them to take a look at your website, or contact you if they’re after something new.


6. Next time you’re settling into an airplane, don’t grab your headphones and disappear into a House of Cards marathon straight away. First, spend a few minutes chatting to the person next to you. Who knows, it could turn out that they’ve just finished up with their last company and are treading water while they decide what to do next. It’s the perfect opportunity to hand them your card.


Above everything else, make sure that the experience they have is a great one. Even when there isn’t a role. Even if these people aren’t prospective team members, they’re all potential customers. They’ll tell their friends and family about you and who knows, that perfect person might be just 2-degrees of separation away.


Keen to know how you can set up an always-be-recruiting quiz on your own website? Kick off collecting those warm approaches and the you-look-kind-of-interesting people with a free Weirdly trial.

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Retail Interview tips: 9 things to look for in great sales assistants

This sounds like it should be pretty straight forward right? But we know working out what to look for when choosing new retail staff members can be tricky. How do you know if they’ve got what it takes?

Here’s our quick-list of 9 things you should look for – things that’ll separate a really great retail assistant from a good one.

  1. Smiles. They have to be the type of person who smiles the moment they meet you. (I’m totally one of those btw) Sounds simple but in reality there are people out there who’s first reaction when they greet someone new is NOT to smile. They are shy, or shocked, or have a “I don’t want to talk to people” vibe. These are definitely NOT what you’re looking for. Luckily this is a pretty easy one to assess once you meet someone face to face.


  1. Are they warm, authentic, likeable? – How do you feel when you first meet them, during the interview, after the interview? Did they make you smile? Was the conversation easy? Did they brighten up your day? If you felt like this, then so will your customers. Think about how you react when you leave a place feeling better for having visited. You want to go back there, right? Don’t you want your customers to feel that way about your store? Obviously take into consideration the fact that they’re projecting their very best self given the interview situation, but this is a great start.


  1. Do they like people? It’s so obvious, it’s often overlooked but this one is pretty crucial. Does exceptional customer service come as easily as breathing? Let’s face it, working in retail can be relentless. You are confronted with people from all walks of life, all day. And some of those days will feel loooooong. There are people who are happy, sad, angry, rushed. They might be struggling to juggle kids (or parents!), be short on cash, sale crazy, hungry. It’s actually pretty crazy when you think about it. If you don’t like people this kinda job ain’t for you.


  1. Do they love your products or services? If they aren’t really into what your store’s all about, they’ll never be able to sell it. When they turn up for interview they should have researched you and your business and they should be able to tell you why they like you.


  1. Pride in their appearance. They don’t need to be dressed up all flash. But they do need to be clean and tidy. Of course, it helps if they are totally owning their personal style – as long as it’s not at total odds with your store’s brand. At the end of the day, it’s the little things that can make a difference – like chipped nail polish or unironed and unclean clothes. It may sound nit-picky but these things matter. If they don’t take pride in themselves then they won’t take pride in your store.

Weirdly retail tips look for personal style


  1. A great memory. Attention to detail. This is a really great skill for a retail assistant to have for customer relationships and for your product range. There’s nothing like walking into a store and the retail assistant remembering you, your likes/dislikes, your last purchase etc. It’s a hard one to test for but a good way is to have a bit of small talk at the beginning of the interview – tell them some personal details about yourself, and learn something about them. Then, when you finish up the interview you casually ask them a question that relates to something you spoke about in the beginning. It’s interesting to see what they remember. Memory is absolutely necessary when it comes to learning too. You want someone who retains information about your products and services. And you want someone who can add.


  1. Can they sell? At the end of the day retail is sales. It’s where the rubber hits the road. Closing a sale is a skill in itself. If you have a customer who is umming and ahhhing you want to know that your Sales Assistant can close the deal. You could ask questions in the interview like – “How did you compare to other Retail Assistants in your last job when it came to monthly sales targets?”.


  1. Are they reliable and do they have common sense. As all our grandmas used to say, there’s nothing common about common sense. You need someone who will turn up when they say they will, who will come back from breaks on time, who will NOT be on their mobile phone during quiet times but instead will be finding useful tasks to do around the store to keep things moving. There is stock to replenish, shelves to tidy, product updates to keep up with, etc. If the paper runs out on the eftpos machine they need to be able to sort this themselves, and not have to get a manager every time. A hard, but useful question to ask here is “If I call your reference, what will they say about your reliability?”


  1. Cultural Fit – Obviously, we believe that cultural fit is an absolute deal breaker. These guys have to be able to work productively with your team, and they have to believe in and buy in to your over-arching company mission. Sharing the same foundational values and ethics as you and your team, gives everyone a common ground to stand on. This doesn’t mean they have to be exactly like you, quite the opposite! You want a team filled with diverse perspectives and experiences. But you need to have some common ground to connect on or your diversity can become disaster. Quite aside from that, any newbies have got to enjoy hanging with you guys all day, and visa-versa. It just makes for a more fun work environment. Afterall, why turn up to work every day if you don’t love what you do and who you do it with.


These are just a few basic retail interview tips. It’s by no means exhaustive, but they should help when you’re next thinking about hiring your next Retail Assistant team member.

For more recruitment tips, check out our handy sourcing guide. If you’d rather dive straight in to Weirdly and set up your own customised recruitment quiz, click the button for a free trial.

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Retail recruitment: Waging war on over the counter resume drops

Last week I was talking to a new Weirdly customer (who also awesomely happens to be one of the best burger joints in town). After waxing lyrical on this, their latest culinary homage to our mates over in Greece, we got onto the topic of retail and hospo recruitment trends – more specifically, over-the-counter resume drops.

Restaurant joints and retailers like our friends at Glengarry or Saben still get a lot of resumes over the counter in their bricks-and-mortar stores. There are a few different issues with this practice, but they all boil down to one essential fact:

It sucks.

Not just for the store, restaurant or bar manager but for the candidate as well.

Here’s why we need to change this practice:

  1. Your managers are the busiest people in your stores. They don’t have time to fully review each resume that gets dropped in or set up a filing system to deal with the paper. And let’s face it; retail space is expensive. This means your manager’s “office” is often a little less fancy than Harry Potter’s bedroom. The perfect environment for loose pieces of paper to get hopelessly lost!
  2. Some of the retailers we talk to get up to four of these “walk ins” every day. It’s deeply unlikely you’ll remember much about the person you met at 10am Tuesday, by the time you get to reviewing resumes on Sunday. That means you’re relying almost entirely on the (very sparse) info you can glean the CV gives you. For a customer-facing role, this gives you very little of the actual stuff you need to know. Things like, do they represent your brand well? do they project friendliness and approachability? or in the case of our Burger friends, are they deeply, madly obsessed with the quest for the perfect meat-and-cheese combo?
  3. With walk in resume-drops, there’s no possible way the candidate experience can be consistent. There’s no designated application time, so candidates just come in when they’ve managed to pluck up enough courage or their parents have made them. Maybe it’s busy and they get told, “just leave your resume and I’ll call you” or maybe its not busy but it’s the first break you’ve had all day and you just don’t have it in you to think about candidate experience. Sure, sometimes it’ll be a good time and everything will be rosy but you can’t guarantee that your candidates are getting an awesome experience every single time.
  4. Not important? It seems that way, until you consider the fact that these candidates are, in most cases, also customers. With a positive experience, these guys are statistically more likely to actually INCREASE how much they buy in your stores, even if they don’t end up getting the job. After a negative experience, well, you can imagine the rest. Be good to candidates. They walk away happy, you feel great, they tell their friends, they all come to your place and spend money, your business does better. It’s a beautiful thing.
  5. The last issue is a biggie: Candidates hate it as much as you do. They know their resumes don’t tell you much about their real personality. They also know you’re busy and you’re getting a million other resumes that look basically the same as their own one. They’re looking for an opportunity to differentiate themselves and are painfully conscious of the fact that dropping a couple of sheets of paper into the hands of a busy store manager doesn’t guarantee them memorability.

So what to do?
Tools like Weirdly offer the perfect answer to these challenges. Asking your next walk-in to keep the paper and instead, do a 5min quiz on their own mobile phone is a much smoother, more enjoyable experience for them AND you.

They can show off their own personality and style, they can attach a photo if they like, a digital version of their resume or a link to a social profile. You provide them an awesome experience every time and collect all the data in one easy dashboard where the best applicants are automatically ranked at the top of the list.

You can even funnel applicants who come through job boards and social media to the same place. Meaning you’re eliminating the pile of resumes from your email inbox, as well as the ones on your desk.

Its fun, easy to use, reduces your workload and the research shows that improving your candidate experience this way is going to help increase your sales.

Why wouldn’t you do it?


Interested to see if Weirdly could help streamline your recruitment? Click the button below for a free trial today.

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Recruitment tricks: Increasing sales through the art of saying no.

You know what sucks?

Getting told no.

You know what sucks even harder than that?

Not getting told anything.

And yet somehow, in this enlightened age of human-centred recruitment it’s still one of the most common frustrations we hear from job applicants.

We get asked a lot about how we can improve the candidate experience. While Weirdly quizzes help with the beginning of the recruitment process, we’ve got tonnes of ideas about how companies can create a better experience through the rest of the candidate’s journey. We’re going to break down the most important things, one at a time – a simple series of steps to create a less sucky candidate experience.

First on our hit list, saying no. Not just doing it; doing it the right way.


Why is it important? I mean, should we really be spending energy on unsuccessful candidates?

Consider this: The world is a small place. Most people want to work for a brand or company they like. That means a hell of a lot of your job applicants are also likely to be existing or potential customers.

What does that mean?

Well, simply put. Your applicant’s crappy recruitment experience doubles as a crappy customer service experience.

We know 88% of people who have a positive candidate experience are more likely to buy your products, even if they don’t get the job they were applying for. We also know 97% of those same applicants would refer a friend to apply for roles in your company based on their positive experience.

If those were statistics were tied to a marketing activity, you can bet your last dollar every company in town would be pulling out all stops to make sure they were doing it bigger and better than the shop down the road.


So we know candidate experience is important.

One of the most obvious ways to improve the recruitment experience for your own candidates is to make sure their final interaction feels like a positive one.

In that respect, how you say no to an applicant is just as important as how you say yes.

Answer this: How much of your time and budget do you allocate to saying yes to your final applicant? How many brainstorming sessions have you had with your team, dreaming up cool and creative ways to award jobs or announce short-short lists?

Now, how many brainstorming sessions and budget lines have you allocated to dreaming up great ways to say no?

Why is that?

It feels like somewhere along the way, we all forgot that each “no”, was a person that could either be a great employee in some other role in our business, or a valuable customer, or both. We’ve started treating those no’s like they’re disposable.


So how do you say no, and keep the love alive?

Just like with any relationship, exactly how you and your business responds to unsuccessful applicants depends on your own brand and circumstances. But here are some basic tips:


  • Contact them FAST and give them the reasons why they didn’t make it. Be honest. Back these reasons up with examples and provide useful and sensitive feedback. Remember, the world is a small place. You’re helping to improve it everytime you help someone see where they might fit better and what things they can work on.
  • Thank them/Respect/Acknowledge the time they have invested. Never under-estimate how much time, energy and sometimes even money people put into applying for your jobs. Think about the last time you made yourself vulnerable, allowed yourself to hope in a situation with no guarantees. It might have been bidding on your dream house, asking for a promotion or even applying for a job yourself. It’s hard to put yourself out there. Show you appreciate and respect the vulnerability and time they’ve invested and you’ll win loyalty – especially if you’re doing it while delivering bad news.
  • Take the opportunity to do something different. Putting a bit of thought into making hearing “no” valuable and rewarding goes a long way. We’ve had clients who send out retail vouchers with their ‘thanks for applying’ messages. A couple who offer their entire shortlist valuable face-time with industry experts, and others who invite ALL unsuccessful candidates to join a community to work on missions that align with the company brand. However you choose to do it, this is an opportunity to live your company’s brand values and build a deeper connection with an already-engaged audience. In the purest terms it’s a marketing opportunity, as well as a chance to genuinely acknowledge the the investment these guys have put into their application.
  • Highlight other opportunities in your organisation that might fit better. Especially for the applicants who get through to those final stages, you’ve got a list of really engaged people who have invested heavily in your brand. They want to work for you, they’ve got skills. So they’re not right for THIS job, are there other projects you could get them in on? Are there roles in other departments or locations where they would fit better?


The sad and awesome thing is, it’s so easy to stand out in this area.

The market has trained applicants to expect silence – if they don’t get any response, they assume they haven’t got the job or made it to the next stage. At the very best, all they can expect is a (usually templated) email.

The bar is low guys.

Imagine the impact you could have on your employer brand, loyalty and sales if you start spending more time and energy on saying no in a positive, brand-building way.

We’d love to hear how you say no – tweet us your ideas to @weirdlyhub and we’ll share them with our followers.


Interested to see if Weirdly could help streamline your recruitment? Click the button below for a free trial today.

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Building a talent pool: Like fishing in a bucket

What if you had a pool of talented people that you KNEW wanted to work for you? They were sitting there just waiting for the right opportunity to crop up in your business?

Imagine if you could tell which ones complement your current team and share your brand values so you could send opportunities directly to them.

It’s a recruitment dream, right?

Making recruitment dreams come true

Weirdly can make it happen. Setting up a general “work for us!” role for your company allows you to collect those proactive types who are contacting you through LinkedIn, sending you emails, liking your Facebook page and visiting the contact page on your website.

Here’s how you do it: set up a quiz that assesses candidates according to how well they fit with your company brand values, working environment and your internal culture. Then, encourage people to find out if your place is the right place for them.


Case study Superette – recruiting from scratch was a bit MAAAH

Take one of our clients as an example. Superette is a high-end fashion retailer with three stores around Auckland.

Like lots of retailers, hiring the right store staff is crucial for Superette. These people are the embodiment of the brand for customers who come in to browse or buy. They have to achieve a fine balance between professional salesmanship and aspirational-but-friendly fashionista. It’s a golden combo – and the right people aren’t exactly a dime a dozen. So, when eager people approach the brand, the team at Superette don’t want to lose them – even if there isn’t a role available right at that moment.

Before Weirdly, the Superette guys were filling available roles from scratch. It was slow and really painful: writing new job ads, sorting through CVs and building shortlists based on sparse information. It was time-consuming and didn’t necessarily uncover the best people. To top it off, the reality of a rapidly growing businesses meant when they needed new staff, they needed them fast. Understandably, recruitment made everyone feel a bit MAAAH!


The right talent, always waiting

With Weirdly, they’ve been able to employ the “fishing in a bucket” method.

They’ve set up a general job that captures people interested in working for Superette, in any role. The quiz on this job is designed to measure how well these people will fit with the over-arching Superette brand values – do they share a love of fashion? Do they love meeting and working with people? Do Crocs make them feel a bit sad in their deepest soul?

This job is permanently open and funnels people through from their social channels and website. Then, when a job becomes available, it’s a simple matter of talking to this list of pre-qualified candidates, their own talent pool, who already love Superette.

Doing this is a smart way to create another valuable sourcing avenue, one that’s perfectly tailored to your own business.


So you’ve set up your general quiz. What next?

  1. Once you’ve set up your general quiz, you can customise the “thanks” message applicants see at the end. This lets people know you’ve got them on file and will notify them when a job comes up.Put that quiz on your contact page (you can even embed it using an iFrame so people can apply without ever leaving your website).

    Set it as a Facebook tab on your company page (use this tool for crazy-easy set up).

    Tweet out a link periodically.
  2. Flick it back in your response to anyone approaching you on LinkedIn or via email about internships or roles in your organisation.
  3. If you have a company LinkedIn page, post it there too.

Basically, spread it far and wide. Use the quiz as the way to capture interested people who you’d like to have on hand for future job opportunities.

And voila, you’ve created a bucket full of great, pre-vetted candidates ready for next time you need to go fishing for a new superstar.