Nobody knows recruitment processes better than talent acquisition and people leaders – they write the book on hiring. 

So what does it take to recruit the recruiters? 

We caught up with several people leaders who have moved to new companies within the last six months. They shared what the hiring and interview process was like for them – and why they ultimately chose to make that company their new home. 

Though they have their perspective as people leaders in common, their individual experiences, goals and needs are unique. Some prefer mission-driven companies that enable them to contribute to impactful projects; others appreciate that their chosen company gives them space and support to grow and develop new skills.

Nonetheless, many of them share a similar motivation: They value companies that value them and clearly demonstrate how they can influence, shape and contribute to organizational goals. 

In recounting their own experiences, these talent leaders also provide a window into what successful hiring looks like. If an interview process helped them connect with a company, then it will likely be a useful, effective tool for other candidates too. 

 

Kaitlyn Borea
Director, Talent

After working in talent acquisition and people management in the fashion industry – including a three-year stint at Chanel – Kaitlyn Borea became Director of Talent at Tomo, a fintech startup that specializes in mortgages and real estate. She has been in that position since May 2022.

As a talent acquisition professional, you’ve probably seen every move in the book. What part of your new company’s interviewing and hiring processes stood out to you?

“I’ve had my fair share of interviews, that’s for sure! With Tomo, our CEO and Co-Founder, Greg Schwartz, was my second conversation. Getting his time and insight so early in the process confirmed the importance that Tomo puts on our talent function and ‘hooked’ me. Both of Tomo’s co-founders were a big part of my hiring process, which allowed me to truly understand the appetite they each had for their next talent leader.

“The other piece I loved about the Tomo process was that it focused a lot on my personal talent philosophies, what I care about and what I’d do. It didn’t feel like Tomo was trying to fit someone into a square-job description; it felt like the team was focused on what value I could add and what my feedback was on the function. Because of the conversational and philosophical focus, the experience felt invigorating.”

What do you look for in a potential employer?

“I love this question, and before I answer I will say... it depends on the season of life someone is in! In my most recent search, I was narrowly focused on pivoting into tech, and I wanted to work for an organization that believed in collaborating in person. (The horror! An office?!) Yes, I need to interact with people IRL.

“My experience, to this point, was between finance and luxury fashion – both amazing industries that brought me tons of joy (and a great closet) – but I self-assessed and realized I had an opportunity to learn a new space and to add another tool to my toolbox. 

“I always suggest that candidates create two lists: their ‘have to haves’ and their ‘wish list’ for a new job. It makes your search a lot easier to manage. Now, my ‘have to haves’? Smart leaders. Growth mindset. Feedback-oriented cultures. A place that allows its employees to be human, make mistakes, iterate and learn. Add to that a product/problem I’m passionate or curious about – win!”

What are your team’s goals over the next 12 months, and how do you differentiate yourself from competitors in the hiring space?

“Tomo’s talent goal is to find, hire and retain talent to 100x Tomo. We recently determined our talent commitments, which are: 1. We’re transparent; 2. we’re human; 3. we’re communicative; and 4. we’re inclusive. The other thing? We’re fast. Our goal is to move at a ludicrous speed without being sloppy.

“Anyone who’s worked with me knows I’m uber competitive, but I also recognize there’s a culture, role and team for everyone. How do we differentiate ourselves from competitors? We focus on the need of the role and the want of the candidate. If we are transactional with our approach, people will turn over. That’s not the point! A true talent team hires for long-term potential, growth and culture fit. That’s how we’re different: We don’t force fit and we really dig deep to ensure candidates will transition into successful, happy and fulfilled employees.”

 

Alexis Joseph Merritt
VP, People

Alexis Joseph Merritt joined Pave, a provider of compensation tools, in July 2022. She brings her talent to Pave after having worked in people management at other tech companies like Slack, Rocket Lawyer and Uber. 

As a talent acquisition professional, you’ve probably seen every move in the book. What part of your new company’s interviewing and hiring processes stood out to you?

“I’m grateful to have started my career in People, coming from a recruiting and talent background. I realized how crucial the function is – not only to an external candidate’s experience but also to how a new hire can begin to successfully build bonds and relationships within a company before they officially start onboarding on Day 1. Talent teams and those partnerships are the Day 0 of a new hire’s experience in their entire lifecycle at a company. 

“Joining Pave wasn’t even a question after meeting the team. The very thoughtful, very personalized and very engaged conversations I had with each person I crossed paths with during my interview process made it so that I had to be here. Recruitment is a cross-functional team sport, so being able to dive deep and be your authentic self from the very first moment doesn’t happen every place you go – Pave has an intentional and engaged process, and I was blown away.”

What do you look for in a potential employer?

“The opportunity to be at a company that is mission driven, actively working to practice internally what they coach their customers on and believes in integrity and dignity within each role and person. There are many different opportunities out there right now, and looking internally at how the leadership holds itself to account (or doesn’t) is a massive indicator of mutual success in my eyes. It matters a lot whether I can have the space and permission to stand in front of the company and hold myself accountable when I need to. How a company acknowledges its shortcomings and encourages growth tells a very important story for me.”

What are your team’s goals over the next 12 months, and how do you differentiate yourself from competitors in the hiring space?

“For our People team, we are very much in build, shape and accelerate mode. Pave is uniquely positioned to make compensation fair, and our People team is focused on clearing the decks so that all of our team members can innovate and do just that. It is everything from making sure meals aren't a distraction to worry about, to implementing a human resources information system that puts our employees and data at the center, to being thoughtful about new benefits that meet our employees where they are. Being at a company that believes in equity and fairness from the first conversation to the last is an opportunity that is difficult to pass up.”

 

Danny Arango
Head of Talent

Danny Arango recently became Head of Talent for Gauntlet, which has been developing risk management software for DeFi since 2018. Before joining Gauntlet, he leant his expertise to Gemini, Digital Ocean, Equinox and Audible. 

As a talent acquisition professional, you’ve probably seen every move in the book. What part of your new company’s interviewing and hiring processes stood out to you?

“The assessment phase – we use practicals (either presentations, case studies or group discussions) to allow candidates to show us through real-world examples what their capabilities are under simulated conditions and different scenarios. Funny, since our company runs agent-based simulations for crypto protocols; so why wouldn’t we also simulate scenarios with candidates?!

“When I went through the assessment phase during my interview, it gave me a really good sense of the day-to-day and what to expect being in the role – and it also was purposefully extendable to allow me to tailor it to my approaches and how I think about talent as a function at a company of this size.”

What do you look for in a potential employer?

“Radical transparency, from a company, people and product perspective. I need to know the good, the bad and the ugly of a place to be able to make the most informed decision possible and, more importantly, uncover what I can do to help impact People, Operations & Talent in a positive way. 

“Gauntlet's leaders and my interviewers answered every question I had with candor and were honest about the company's successes, desired areas of improvement and goals. Also, I was able to lay out a plan for where I fit into the mix and how I could contribute to and impact the company in the near and long term.” 

What are your team’s goals over the next 12 months, and how do you differentiate yourself from competitors in the hiring space?

“Continue to shape culture and hire great people to help us scale our products and services. The desire to help crypto and DeFi grow as an ecosystem binds all of us together at Gauntlet, and we have an amazing interdisciplinary group of folks with a variety of perspectives to offer on the journey to that goal.”

 

Leah Macdonald
Head of Talent Acquisition, Technology

In July 2022, Leah Macdonald joined Valo, which uses data and AI to streamline and improve the drug development process. Prior to her appointment as Valo’s Head of Talent, she worked in recruitment for tech companies like Foursquare, Amazon and PathAI.

As a talent acquisition professional, you’ve probably seen every move in the book. What part of your new company’s interviewing and hiring processes stood out to you?

“I am a big believer that honesty is a critical step in the interview process. Everyone I met at Valo during my candidacy was very transparent about both the opportunities and the challenges facing the Talent Acquisition team. This really helped me evaluate the role to see if it would be a good match for me based on the areas I feel strongly about as a talent leader. I try to instill this trait in all our interviewers; many times there are areas that need to be addressed through a hire, and I want all my candidates to be able to ensure that all these factors make them passionate about joining our organization.”

What do you look for in a potential employer?

“I have worked at organizations as small as 140 employees and as large as Amazon; all of them provided an opportunity for me to learn, grow and expand my skill set to be a better recruiter or leader. I start out by looking at the culture of an organization and what I think makes them unique, and from there I look at where I can learn, hone my talent and provide strategic opportunities. I like to think of the role today and the road map of where we are and where we can be as a team and organization.”

What are your team’s goals over the next 12 months, and how do you differentiate yourself from competitors in the hiring space?

“Valo is still very much in startup mode, but we are taking this time to start expanding our branding efforts, especially with the exciting work our engineering team is doing! Additionally, we are focused on hiring-manager and candidate experiences. That means working on everything from optimizing our systems to thinking about how we can maximize a quick, clear and comprehensive interview process for our candidates. I love to get involved in areas like interview training and really establish what we want our process to be to highlight who we are as an organization.”

 

Savanna Thompson joined Helion Energy in July 2022 as the company’s VP People. Her role helps manage Helion’s talent as it builds a fusion generator. She brings her skills to Helion after working with tech-focused companies like 98point6 and Code Fellows.

As a talent acquisition professional, you’ve probably seen every move in the book. What part of your new company’s interviewing and hiring processes stood out to you? 

“During my interview process at Helion, I had the opportunity to meet with employees with a broad range of skill sets: fusion scientists, mechanical engineers, recruiters, accountants and more. This experience provided me insight into the broad company perspective and gave me a full understanding of not only my role but also the unique experiences of a diverse set of humans and the real impact I would be able to have on the organization.”

What do you look for in a potential employer? 

“I am drawn to mission-driven companies working to revolutionize the space they are focused in. It is important to me that an organization understands the importance of their workforce and the impact each employee has on the company attaining their goals. Helion is an incredible match from that perspective; we are working to enable a world with unlimited clean electricity by building the world’s first fusion generators. I cannot think of a stronger mission for our current moment in history. Our leadership team also values and understands how each person can help impact whether we are successful in delivering on our objectives.”

What are your team’s goals over the next 12 months, and how do you differentiate yourself from competitors in the hiring space? 

“Over the next 12 months, we are focused on building our next fusion generator prototype. In 2020, we built our sixth prototype, which demonstrated the largest and most energetic high-beta or field-reversed configuration fusion plasmas ever created. Our seventh prototype is currently underway, with the goal being to demonstrate net electricity from fusion, and helium-3 production through deuterium-deuterium fusion. This will allow us to scale up on the technical achievements we made on prototypes one through six. The next 12 months and beyond will be a momentous time for us – and an exciting, challenging time to be a part of this chapter in Helion, and fusion’s, history.”

 

Luis Tinajero
Associate Director, Recruitment

As an experienced talent acquisition professional, Luis Tinajero brought his expertise to VaynerMedia in June 2022 when he was hired as the company’s Associate Director, Recruitment. His work draws in creative talent who contribute to VaynerMedia’s efforts to help its clients strategically connect with their customers. 

As a talent acquisition professional, you’ve probably seen every move in the book. What part of your new company’s interviewing and hiring processes stood out to you?

“It's all about candidate experience and how you make the candidate feel about the role and the company. I really felt that the interview experience at VaynerMedia was seamless and I was able to meet with everyone on the team in a timely manner. Also, I loved that the interviews were conversational and didn't ever feel like I was being interviewed.”

What do you look for in a potential employer?

“At the end of the day, you really want to be part of a company that values you as a HUMAN. I immediately got a sense of their culture, which trickles down from Gary Vaynerchuk, VaynerMedia’s CEO, which definitely plays a big part in the success of the company. You can feel the vibe flow out of every person that you interview with at VaynerMedia.”

What are your team’s goals over the next 12 months, and how do you differentiate yourself from competitors in the hiring space?

“The team at VaynerMedia Los Angeles is growing rapidly, and we're likely to hit 200+ employees by 2023. We hope to maintain our amazing culture as we continue in this growth trajectory but we plan on thinking outside the box and adding a creative touch to our hiring that would ultimately make us stand out from our competitors, especially with specific talent in the creative and digital media industries.”

 

Amanda Hendricks
Recruiting Manager

Amanda Hendricks became NAX Group’s Recruiting Manager in June 2022. Before joining the California-based fintech company, she worked as a talent acquisition professional at OppFi, GoHealth and Objective Paradigm. 

As a talent acquisition professional, you’ve probably seen every move in the book. What part of your new company’s interviewing and hiring processes stood out to you?

“I was impressed with everyone I met with throughout the interview process, especially their transparency and candor. Each interviewer took time to introduce themselves and talk about their career background, interests and what their experience with NAX Group has been. It always felt like a conversation versus a one-sided interview, which aligns holistically with how I like to connect with people.”

What do you look for in a potential employer?

“Big picture: I look at how a company values employee development, its philosophy on what talent looks like and how HR positions itself within the organization. For a younger organization, NAX Group has already heavily invested in creating job leveling and career pathing and is beginning to build internal mobility. Being in the digital venture space, I was impressed with their commitment to DEI and the conversation I had with our Head of People, Renee Perez, during our initial discussion.” 

What are your team’s goals over the next 12 months, and how do you differentiate yourself from competitors in the hiring space?

“We are continuing to build the necessary infrastructure to support a global workforce. We actively add to our benefits, culture events and employer branding. I admire our focus on listening to our employees and using their feedback to build our total rewards, offering what they find valuable and equitable, regardless of where our employees are located.”

 

Krystal Cooper
Director of People Operations

Since June 2022, Krystal Cooper has served as Director of People Operations for Vizion, a tech-forward logistics and supply chain company. She previously supported talent and growth at Cooper Human Capital, Reserve Trust and Tellus Core.

As a talent acquisition professional, you’ve probably seen every move in the book. What part of your new company’s interviewing and hiring processes stood out to you? 

“As Vizion is a startup, I was hired to build the talent acquisition process and people operations from the ground up; so the process was not yet defined. In addition to having the opportunity to come in and build the framework, what attracted me the most during my meetings with each of the leaders was the focus not only on being data-driven, but also on doing the right thing for the organization and the people, as well as demonstrating empathy in all the ways we do that.”

What do you look for in a potential employer? 

“At this point in my career, I am hyper focused on employers who genuinely care about their most expensive asset: the employees. I look for organizations that, from the top down, focus on appreciation and recognition, career development and advancement and providing intellectually challenging work in an entrepreneurial environment. It can sound like a big ask, but they do exist!”

What are your team’s goals over the next 12 months, and how do you differentiate yourself from competitors in the hiring space? 

“The People Operations team at Vizion is focused on building out our talent acquisition process, improving our employer branding across diverse platforms, running talent assessments and supporting the developmental needs through training and mentorship opportunities, as well as improving our overall employee engagement in a fully remote environment.”

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