Photo: LivingSocial in-house photos
LivingSocial is growing like gangbusters.That means they need to hire plenty of sales people.
As a result, the company developed a unique way to rapidly increase their headcount.
Almost every week, LivingSocial flies between 20 and 30 prescreened candidates to its headquarters in Washington D.C. for a day-long series of interviews.
The “super sessions” cover everything from sales aptitude to cultural fit.
Current and former employees likened the process to “American Idol” or “The X Factor.”
Intrigued, we contacted the company for more details.
Mandy Cole, head of sales, and Jennifer Trzepacz, vice president human resources, were kind enough to talk with us about what goes down during the super sessions. Their words follow.
At this point, you've already passed through a few different screening processes, including either a phone or Skype interview.
Jennifer Trzepacz, VP of HR says, 'They created the super session where they prescreened a bunch of candidates and then flew them out here and said let's make decisions on this. Typically we have a conversion rate of 30%-50% of those who actually come to Living Social Super Session, are extended an offer to work for the company.'
Head of sales Mandy Cole says, 'We really want them to relax. We want to see their true side. We used to do it in a hotel, which I think was a little bit more intense. Now we bring them into our sales centre, Boomtown. There are lots of people around. We have breakfast laid out for them. They get to sit with their other candidates because they are talking to each other. They are getting to know each other. We try to be the way we are, which is very positive and upbeat.'
Cole: 'In the sales session, we get an opportunity to see if they ask questions. We are very much about partnering with our merchants and creating and developing longer term relationships. We want to learn if it's somebody that I would buy from. Is it someone who wants to help me understand my business rather than just sell me something?'
Trzepacz: 'One of the things, we obviously have a very high pace of change so we could ask, if you were told to move your desk tomorrow, what would your reaction to be? We have five values that are painted on the walls, are on our mousepads, we will share those values with the candidate and ask them to select one of those values and tell us why it resonates with them, why it stuck out, and why?'
Trzepacz: 'There is also a question about, if your manager tells you to build a tree house or decides you need a ball pit in the office, what are your first three steps to making that happen.'
Trzepacz: 'The individual who does the culture interview has veto rights so if there's a thumbs up on the candidate and the culture interview says it's not a fit then they have veto rights and if they're given a lot of power and authority over making sure we're hiring brighter folks that are coming into the organisation.'
Trzepacz: 'We have about 75 certified cultural interview employees that have gone through a rigorous training around assessing culture, and those guys are the ones who will conduct those interviews throughout the whole week.'
Trzepacz: 'Experience coordinators are people who have to bring the crowd together, entertaining, be engaging, and their questions and some of their stories are entertaining about candidates getting up and singing in the middle of the interviews, doing the worm in the interview room, to someone doing a sales pitch of an air freshener to a hamster.'
The hiring can get competitive because you feel like you're trying to beat out other people in your group.
Cole: 'We try not to make it be like 'American Idol.' We want them to relax and to get the culture. But sales people are competitive and every now and then we have people who think, 'They might not want to hire all of us and I came here to win.' Because they are all doing it together it does feel like some people get eliminated instead of if they came separately to our office.'
Trzepacz: 'Overall the candidates understand what they're going to be going through. They do know that there will be a decisive decision made that day. Either go, or no go. During our process, the first half of the day, a selection regroup that we have, that says go or no go for the next round so there is definitely, they're told to book a flight back or let's have you stay a little bit longer and work through the rest of the afternoon.'