Cloudflare TV

Demonstrating What You Know: Interviewing the Interviewer

Presented by Lindsey Monyelle, Nicolas Gayerie
Originally aired on 

Tune in for a discussion on recruiting and hiring in Support with Lindsey Monyelle, a Technical Support Engineer, and Nicolas Gayerie, a Customer Support Manager.


Transcript (Beta)

All right. How's it going today, Nick? Hi. Hi, Lindsey. I'm all right. Yes, yes. Doing pretty well.

Hi, everybody. I am here with Nicolas, and we are going to be talking about the interviewer aspect and the hiring aspect of getting a job in tech today.

So this is the part of our segment where we interview the interviewer, and we get to kind of see what's going on in their head and hear a little bit from their perspective.

So tell me, how has that process been so far?

Is this the first position that you had where you've done more in the hiring position?

Has this been sort of a theme in your career?

What's your interviewing and hiring in the previous position?

So I used to work in another SaaS company, and I was a manager there.

And I was participating in interviews, trying to find candidates myself.

But it was, we have to hire a lot of people, so we spent a lot of time on that.

As a manager, I think it's like 20 -25% of our time is dedicated to hiring, because you need to have the time to source, to review the candidate, review the application, go through the processes, interview, decide.

So it takes a lot of time, and it takes a bit of time to actually hire people.

And so that's the big difference compared to my previous roles or my previous company, is that it's a different scale of culture.

Okay. Everything is much more, more candidates, much more.

Would you say that Cloudflare seems to put a lot more energy into finding good matches, like making sure that when we give somebody an offer, it's seen as both going to be a really good fit for them and for us to make sure that this is like a long-lasting relationship?

Yeah, definitely.

I mean, that's also one of the difference that I see in Cloudflare compared to the company I work for, like the process is longer, like there's more interviews.

So it means that both the candidate and Cloudflare, so as the hiring manager, we have more time to review or more opportunities, more time, like we have more opportunities to review the candidates, there's more people that are involved.

And so I think we are in a position where we can try to make a better decision.

But it's also really good when you are a candidate, like you get to speak not only to your future boss, but you get to speak to your future colleagues, like they are part of the interview process, they are interviewing you, so it's also a discussion.

So you get to hear from them, you get to see how they work, like especially in C-SERP, in customer support, one of the interview that people have to go through is what we call the shadowing session, where the candidate is actually seeing what we are doing, like on the screen share, you see the ticketing system, you see some of the cases that we do, and we ask questions around some real cases that we have in our ticketing system.

And so you really get to see what is the job before.

And so I think it's the process, how is it set up in Carfair, it's really great for both, for the hiring manager, but also for the candidates, because they can really realize what is the job, who will actually be my colleagues, and they can get a feeling of the culture based on the interaction they have with people.

And we always make sure that people have time and opportunity to ask questions, that's something that is really important, so that they get as clear as possible of a picture before actually joining Carfair.

Yeah, for sure.

And so it's interesting, because I'm of course familiar with this process, because I work in customer support.

So I was actually just thinking before you were explaining all of that, that one of the greatest things, having hiring managers, being so involved in that process is the fact that you do work with us day in and day out, and know what the team needs, and know what it's like.

So that I think is a really good benefit, as opposed to someone who maybe has to write up a description based on a vague concept of what the team is like.

And it's interesting, because I am a little bit curious what the process is like outside of customer support, how similar it is to ours, if it's different.

But yeah, it's really good to have that sort of hands-on approach.

And it's funny having parts of the interview being with colleagues too.

I personally was, so like it's a comfortable experience, but it's also terrifying at the same time, because it is an interview.

And I had just come off a bunch of like coding interviews.

And I was a bit, you know, there's sort of like that fear blindness.

So I did not remember a single person that I had had an interview with, and I had to go back and look, be like, oh, it was Ben that interviewed me, I did not remember.

Absolutely. I had a very vivid memory of all my interviews with Kasha, like I went through the same kind of panel.

And at the time where I went through the panel, we had like the technical interview for me was someone from the engineering team.

And I had an interview with one of the success manager.

And so that's, yeah, I have really vivid memory of his interviews and of all the process.

And I found it very cool at the time, I thought, wow, that's great.

Yeah, for sure, for sure. Do you, so coming from like your perspective, does anything sort of jump out at you that really strikes you when you're looking at either resumes or cover letters or LinkedIn profiles, anything that really strikes a chord with you?

Yeah. I mean, I think, especially in customer support, we are quite open.

Like we are looking at a lot of different profiles, we don't want clones, we want diversity in the team.

And we are lucky that we get a lot of different applications from a lot of different people.

For us, I think that the ideal mix or the ideal profile is someone that has a technical background and at the same time, or technical experience for us, and at the same time, some customer facing experience, like someone dealing with customers, because that's what we do, we are the front line.

So if you have these both aspects, that's already a great thing.

But at the same time, we invited people that were just out of the university, we invited people that were software developer before.

So what we are looking at is, yeah, so something that makes us think that yes, this person can do the job based on their resume.

And sometimes, the resume is maybe not the best, because of that, like maybe they don't have experience in support or no experience in tech, but then in the cover letter, you get a good description of their motivation, why they applied to Cloudflare.

So it's all really like, we look at the whole picture.

And once again, we are quite open with that. And so the, yeah, we are quite open with the first step, the screening or the LinkedIn sourcing, it's, we are quite open for that.

And then it goes down the funnel to see if the person is the right fit, the right match, if they are motivated, if they can really make a good support engineer with us.

Very cool. Yeah. And do you think like this process has, okay, so when I started, we did it, I don't think we had support agents yet.

I think it was still just technical support engineers. Having the support agents position now, do you think that this has sort of shifted the way that those two roles are hiring?

Speaking like specifically for our team, that technical support engineers has gotten like more technical, like has higher requirements.

And then the support agent is to help sort of boost them up to get there.

Or would you say it's probably been about the same? No, I mean, I think, I think different kinds of role in the support agent versus the support engineer, but also we have a station engineers, we have a network specialists, maybe in the future we'll add some other kind of, of, of roles in the supporting.

It tells us yet to get different, different sort of people at different times or in their career with, you know, different background and things.

So right now, yeah, if we are not so technical, but still you are motivated and maybe you have an experience in a, in a, in a customer facing position, maybe yes, a support, a support agent kind of role is, is, is the best step for you because then after one year, maybe you can become a technical engineer if you are willing to, to, you know, to learn more about the tech.

But at the same time, we have also some, I don't know, some dealing specialists, for example, but maybe they want to stay in this, this kind of area.

So, so what's the, one of the great thing about the customer support team in Cloudflare is like, we, we have different roles and we need that.

We need this diversity in roles and we need diverse people to fit into these roles.

And so we, we try to match every time, like what are the expectations from the candidate, what are their backgrounds and, and what are their capacities and try to fit the best role for them.

Yeah. And that's actually one of the things that I've noticed too, is if there doesn't really seem to be a specific funnel, like the, the only other tech job that I had really had before working here, there was, I was doing like tier one phone support and there was a certain point where they're like, okay, now you're doing this.

And then after that, we are going to make you do this.

So you're going to like, it's, it, it wasn't, it was a promotion, but it didn't actually feel that way.

It just felt like a lot more stress and a lot more work for marginally more money.

So it didn't feel great to be forced into that next step if you didn't want to take on that burden.

And, and that's one of the things that I'm seeing here is that it, it's not like there's a forced path that you have to take.

And that people are sort of free to develop themselves and find the path that fits their personal growth, which is really cool.

Yeah, definitely. I mean, that's, that's also one thing I appreciate from the, the, the people organization that really they, they promote, but it's, it's up to the employees to decide what they want to do, to push for, for, you know, find your dream job and apply for it internally and, and, and evolve internally.

And so obviously if you're, if you're performing well, if you're doing well in your job and you have another job in mind, or whether it's in the same team, like for us in customer support, it can be like escalation engineers in your, or maybe it's on another department, like, like solution engineering, you know, product management, network, whatever.

Yeah. But the, the, the company and, you know, your, all the managers and all the, all the company really is there to, to, to help you and to, yeah, to, to help you accomplish that and to grow in, in, in your career.

Okay. And that's really something that I'm really grateful about that.

Like, I, I went through this process myself. Like I started as a, as a support engineer in London.

And then at some point there was this, this opening in Munich to, to become a support manager and be the customer support team in Germany.

And yeah, I went through the process.

So it's, it's, it's not because you are applying internally, but you will get it.

Like you went, I went through the same kind of process as for an interval, an external interview.

Like I had six or seven interviews to, to get me sent to my job, but yeah, it's possible.

And so if you, if you show your value, if you show your motivation, that there's, there's a lot of time that are open and that's also the great thing about working for Carrefour is that we are going really mad and there's a lot of opportunities around.

So that's where it goes.

Yeah, absolutely. It's it seems like there's constantly updates of new niche roles, but also like you said, when Munich opened and Lisbon hasn't been open that long, you know, we have new offices that open and we have new positions figuring out that we need new kinds of roles.

So that's also exciting too, because, you know, there are some really great opportunities to kind of, as they say, get your foot in the door with Cloudflare.

And then there's always the possibility that, you know, the thing that you are wanting to do down the road doesn't exist yet, but it may.

And, you know, you could be one of the people that helps make us realize that, oh yeah, this should be a role that exists.

So there's definitely some examples of that, like where people came up with ideas and the role was created for them.

That's one of my favorite things is that it, it feels like the communication flow goes both ways, that it's not just sort of top down, but, you know, there is a lot of room for communicating from all levels and to have that collaborative experience.

Oh yeah, definitely.

I mean, all this process, like if you want to grow internally and especially if you want to move to another department or move from customer support to product management, it's really, it has to be employee driven.

It has to be, you decide, yes, I want to go to this department.

I'm going to learn this and that because I need that to work in this department.

And yeah, I'm going to seek some assistance from other people at Cloudflare maybe to help me reach the level.

I'm going to seek some assistance from my manager, from my future manager, but yeah, it's possible and it's, it's, it's even promoted.

Yeah. So that's a great thing.

Very cool. So when, when people are applying for Cloudflare, like when they're first, you know, making those steps to apply with us, I seem the way that I kind of remember it going, because it's a very exciting time, that whole nervous blindness thing.

But it's, I think one of the first things that I, that I got was like a take-home test.

Now, is there anything to me, so to me, the, one of the, the things that that seemed to be highlighting, one is if you're able to sort of find the answers to common questions that people might write in, you know, your ability to sort of have that troubleshooting mind, and that sort of, I guess, eager to learn, trying to, you know, demonstrate that you are excited to learn new things.

One of, one of the things that I kind of felt that was helpful when I did mine, and I am wondering if this is one of the reasons also that I got to move forward, is I sort of, I role-played all of the questions.

So, I gave them all names, like, it's like, yes, Mr.

Rodriguez, like, I, I wrote it like, like I was actually responding to them.

You know, what's, what's clearly stated in the instruction of the take-home test, like, reply as if you were working.

Yes, what's exactly what to expect, like, hi, Mr.

whatever. So, some people would say, you know, hi, Mr.

or just hi, Mr. or whatever. It's really important that you put yourself in the, in the shoes of a support engineer, and that's, that's what we expect, like, greeting, opening line, thank you for conducting Cloudflare regarding your issue with SSL or something like that, and then provides, you know, show that you have been investigating, or you have been looking in the, in the knowledge base, in the public documentation, on Google, on the community, what, whatever you, you've done, like, put it there, like, say that, yeah, you've investigated that, like, we actually ask the people to provide their thought process.

So, that's, we expect the answer to the customer, but we also expect, like, tell us how you did it, like, tell us where you, where you found the answer, tell us what, what, what were your, your, your mindset at the time, and, and what are the steps that you did.

And you'd be surprised to see the number of people like, just provide one-line answers, and even if the answer is correct, I'm like, no, you know, there's instruction.

So, for the instruction, that's what we expect.

So, we expect you to be nice to the customer, say hi, explain the problem, you know, give steps, provide some external supporting content, like, maybe a link to the knowledge base, maybe a link to Wikipedia, whatever, really, but, yeah, explain yourself.

Well, yeah, and because when you're, when you're interacting with, with people, because these aren't just random problems on a screen, but there are, there are people behind that with problems, and their own feelings, and their own processing, and dealing with their own stress, and all of that, they need all of those things, they need to know, they need to feel taken care of, they need to know, they need to understand what we're telling them, we can't just be right, like, you have to have it presented in a way that makes sense to them, or that they're able to understand how you came to that conclusion.

And then hopefully be able to get to that conclusion on their own in the future, if it is something that we can teach, teach Amanda Fish, as opposed to having them rely on us, that's, that's the, the best part is helping that independence when possible.

No, for sure. And one thing is, I mean, we don't really expect that to show in the take-home test, but that's really something that we expect after during the training period, or when you start really working with customers, but it's a, it's a, it's a good capacity for support engineers to adapt your, you know, your answers to the level of technicality of the, of the, of the customer, like you don't reply the same way to like a marketing manager that's taking care of his website, and that has maybe no idea of what you're called, or how the business works, and then to the, the answer you're going to send to a DevOps from a large company that is very familiar with DNS or how a website works.

So you have to really adapt to the audience, basically, and that's really a quality of course, that we are looking for.

Yeah, absolutely. And having that, having the ability to adjust, because sometimes it's not clear where somebody's technical levels are.

And just because somebody is maybe running like a mom-and -pop shop on a free account, that does not necessarily mean they're less technically capable than somebody who is representing one of our larger clients, like it's, it's all over the place.

We are really looking for empathetic people, so if you have empathy, you will put yourself in the shoes of your, of the people that you are supporting, whether it's a moment, how do you say that moment that shops or, or if it's a big bank or something like that, or, you know, someone really technical, like you have to be able to put yourself in their position and, and give the best to, to what they are there to help them the best.

Especially if it's something scary, like when, whenever, whenever things, I mean, there, there's a lot of things that cause downtime and are urgent and are problems, but I think especially when it comes to under attack issues or any sort of security issue, anything that can leave them feeling vulnerable, that's always an extra good opportunity for like, really good soft skills and to make sure that people feel safe as best as we can.

That's also something that you get to learn, like that's not something that we expect from the beginning.

Like, of course, if you have been 10 years in customer support, you should be really aware of these kind of things, but if you're just a few invested, maybe you haven't been in this kind of situation.

So that's also something that we can, we can teach, we can train people on that.

And then one thing that you, that you mentioned, and that I like to follow up on that is the willingness to learn.

That's definitely maybe the main thing that, that we are looking, that we are looking at, you know, during the VSOL process, during the sorting process, that's something that is really important.

Like you have to be curious, you have to be willing to learn because, and that's something that is really amazing at Carfair, like technical companies, there's a lot of products, a lot of features in really different aspects, like network, edge computing, DNS certificates, load balancing.

And so you get a diversity of tickets. And so for sure, you will never know everything about everything.

Like you have to feel, you know, comfortable with the fact that yes, you need to go ahead and learn every day.

And, you know, for a lot of the new tickets that you, that you will be exposed to, you will need to go searching the internal resources, external resources.

And so, yeah, you need to be willing to learn.

You need to, you need to be curious about these kind of things.

Like if you are, yeah, that's really something for me, at least as an hiring manager, that's really something that I'm looking after and that, and people need to have that.

Like if, if I don't feel the curiosity, if I don't feel the willingness to learn, that's going to be complicated for them.

Yeah, absolutely.

And it's, it can definitely be a lot. And that's when I think it also is really important for us as a team to always try to be as available and, and like open to helping at all levels when people come in.

Because if you get, if you go through the interview process and you get hired and you start with the team, you're not alone.

Like we're, we're resources to be able to learn.

And that's also, that's also ties also to the empathy, like there's the empathy towards the customer, but there's, you have to be empathetic towards your, your, your colleagues.

Like, you know, when you start a trial fair for the first, maybe three months, six months, yes, you are asking a lot of questions to your colleagues and they are always there to help you.

That's something that is really great at PowerFire.

Like we help each other and we make sure that, you know, we proactively reached out to people.

We have chat rooms where people can, can ask questions.

And so that's really something important. But then very fast, people realize that, you know, after six months, when they start to help some of the people, because we are hiring and we are always growing the team.

And I guess you've been there Lindsay, so you, you start replying to questions yourself, you start to reach out to new people, newer people.

And that's, that's really something critical.

And that's really something like what in the DNA of the customer support team is this, this capacity to, to help each other, to rely on each other, to always be open to question.

So, and that's something that's, you know, when people start in my team, that's something that I really insist on is like, ask questions.

Like, there's no way you know everything. And we've all been there.

Like, you know, even before joining PowerFire, I've been in IT for 15 years before PowerFire.

And it's really humbling because every day, every single day, you have to ask questions, you have to look for the answers.

And yeah, that's just the way it is.

And people will help you. That's, that's the great thing. Yeah, absolutely.

Absolutely. And I make a point myself, especially when we have newer hires that are a similar background to mine that don't have a very long or in -depth tech background.

Mine is mostly customer service. So, I try to make a point to be, to reach out and to say, you know, hey, if you, if you have something that you just feel like is too simple that you should know this, and you get, you're nervous to ask in like a room, ask me, it's okay.

Feel free to reach out and I'm here for you.

Absolutely. It ties to that, like you said, we are really looking for people that are willing to learn, that are curious and that have this capacity to, yeah, ask on the wiki, ask on the question.

It's something that is really important.

And I think that's, that's definitely the main thing. And it also like, it ties to something else, like during the interview process, like as an hiring manager, that's something that we are really looking into, into people, like they need to be engaged, like they need to be curious also during the interviews.

Like they need to, to ask questions, to, you know, I was talking about this shadowing session, like a candidate, a good candidate in the shadowing session, you would react to the ticket, like ask question, like why are you using this tool?

And why does the customer have this issue? And why do you, are you actually applying that?

And so that's really something that we are looking for, like you need to be engaged in the whole thing.

And it starts to, I think it starts with one simple thing, like why did you apply to this position?

Like you need to be able to voice, like, what is your motivation to join Carrefour?

Like, what's your goal? What's your, that's the kind of thing that we are looking at, and that people will ask you during the process, like, so why, why do you want to join Carrefour?

Like, how did you hear about this?

That's my first question to all candidates. Yeah, well, and I mean, that's one thing that I've always been sort of pushed is for people that I've known that have been interested in applying is to, is to learn about the company too, like learn about what you do, play around with the products, like get your hands on, that's a really good, it's a really good way to kind of stand out a little bit too.

I, we are, we just have a few minutes left, but I wanted to, one thing I just kind of thought of, let's say you have somebody who isn't, wasn't very engaged in an interview, and it's not because they're not interested, or they don't want the job.

What if it's just like a, something really, something really tragic happened in their life, or they've been having like, like, like a circumstantial thing?

Would you, would you suggest that people either A, like, level with the team and be like, hey, listen, there's this, this incident that happened, I really want to interview, but I'm not going to be at my best today.

Can we reschedule it? Or if they go through with it, and then maybe don't perform their best follow up, and then explain why, like, what do you think about that kind of situation?

Yeah, I mean, obviously, you know, we are humans, so a lot of things can happen.

And so I think one thing that you, that we expect, and one thing that is one of the, you know, one thing that is really about Lafayette is the transparency.

And so if you have any issue, let us know, let the, there's always someone from the recruiting team that is filling up with candidates and thinking of the schedule.

And so let them know, like, yeah, I'm not in the right place today, or something happened, something came up.

And we are not, we are not in a hurry, like we can always delay the interviews, we can either delay the whole process for a candidate.

And we always, that's something that I really appreciate also about Lafayette is like, we always try to accommodate with the candidates, like some candidates, the process needs to be maybe a bit faster for whatever reason.

And for some candidates, yes, as you said, like something show up, they are in a bad place, or they have something to deal with, then that's fine.

Like, they can, either we can delay for them, or even if it's really too much, then they can apply at another time.

Like, we have an example of someone, yeah, I remember, between the first interview with him and the time that he accepted his offer, it was like two years and a half or something, because there was some, some, yeah, some unforeseeable events in between.

And it doesn't mean that he's going to be crossed forever.

Like, it's perfectly fine. And it's also, you know, we have to be, we have to be open to that.

Like, it's the same, like people change also.

Like, yeah, maybe you applied to Cloudflare, maybe you were maybe not motivated enough, or maybe we didn't pass the technical interview or this kind of thing.

But yeah, if you, if you show that you're able to learn, if you, if you go back to learning and to, to try yourself and apply again.

Yeah, for sure. We have like 30 seconds left.

So we should probably end it here. I just wanted to highlight that, that our, our openness and our transparency, I had a feeling doesn't just, it's not just insular, right?

Like people don't have to be like, oh no, I did terrible.

I guess I can check them off ever working there. Talk to us. But thank you so much for joining today, Nick, and this has been really great talking to you.

Thank you.