The Recruiting Corner
Join Cloudflare recruiters while they discuss trends and differences in the recruiting process during Covid-19.
Welcome to another session of Recruiting Corner today on Cloudflare TV. My name is Roshni Hundel and I'm based out of the New York office on the recruiting team.
I'm here today with Todd, Jason and Toan and love for all of you to introduce yourselves as well once we get there.
But I just want to cover what we'll be discussing today.
So we're here to discuss remote work trend tips and things we're hearing as recruiters on the ground.
We've been doing this remote work for a year now and we'll talk about what's working, what's not.
So, you know, to get started, Todd, why don't you tell us a little bit about, you know, your home office setup?
How's your working style changed?
How do you get ready for the day? Is there something different you're doing during that travel time that you normally have?
Just kick us off with an intro.
I will certainly try to remember all those questions and remind me if I miss any of the answers to those.
But my name is Todd Champa.
I joined the recruiting team right at the start of the pandemic. So I think I was the last on-site interview in Austin, Texas, and then part of the second class of Cloudflareans that was onboarded in a remote fashion.
You know, so this has definitely been an experience.
And, you know, I think there's been a lot of good that's come out of it and some challenging things.
I think on the challenging side, you know, I think like a lot of recruiters, I'm a very social being.
And so I miss seeing all my friends and colleagues in the office and going out to lunch and doing all those things.
But on the positive side, I've really tried to, you know, take advantage and kind of look at the silver lining in all of this, knowing that this is most likely a short -term thing and probably might be able to create some great balance.
And so fortunate enough to live in a two-story home where my wife can work on one floor and I can work on the second floor.
So I have a traditional office setup with my laptop and a second screen and some speakers for music and my printer if I ever need to print anything.
But I think the biggest advantages that I've been really looking to do is related to wellness, right?
So taking more time to work out in the morning, kind of building that routine, not having to worry about commute, has been really awesome for my weight and cholesterol and all that good stuff.
And then also being able to spend more time with my dogs.
I have two French Bulldogs and built a great routine where I get to spend more time with them every morning and take them out for walks during lunchtime and things of that nature.
So, you know, all in all, it hasn't been so bad, but looking forward to the time when we get back to the office.
For sure. It sounds like you're making the best of it, which is great to hear.
You know, you're actually being active, which is awesome.
Twan, what about you? Yeah, well, thanks for asking.
And hello to all our viewers today. You know, I've been with Cloud Flare for about three years now.
So, you know, worked in our San Francisco office and then eventually, you know, the whole remote thing that we're all still adjusting to, hopefully for the better.
You know, I don't miss the commute since I live in the South Bay and our office was in San Francisco.
So I don't miss waking up early and getting on the train with everybody else.
And there are times when I actually miss the train.
And so I don't miss that at all. But, you know, but it's nice, you know, working at home, you know, I had to do some a lot of different things, well, do things differently and juggle a lot of different things simply because I have two kids here.
Right. And so, you know, the virtual school has been challenging for them as well.
And I have a little one. And so, you know, fortunately, I have an office here in my home.
And I, you know, the one of the first things I had to do is put a lock on the door.
Right. And so, you know, you've seen those CNN or the CNN or, you know, those consultants or folks on TV and you see the little kids kind of walking in and hugging their whoever it is, their dad or mom.
So, you know, my kid will kick the door, but so it's been great.
But I like Todd, I, you know, I really miss seeing the folks in the office and hopefully one day we'll get back to that.
Yeah, I miss seeing all of you in the office and I want to come travel to Austin and see all the new people and hang out.
Being social is definitely my biggest thing that I miss.
Jason, what are you doing these days? Yeah.
So I think a very similar thread as Tuan. I started with Tuan a little bit over three years ago.
We were in the San Francisco office, so we'd see each other, you know, almost every day, every other day.
I've also got two kids at home. They're doing their Zoom and virtual learning.
So at one point, you know, with three or four Zoom calls going, the bandwidth was definitely tested to the fullest.
If I was on a really important call, I'd tell my family, please don't use streaming services right now.
We've gotten above that. I've upgraded the Internet tier.
So, but yeah, there's challenges, right? And here we are, our personal lives and our work lives are completely the same.
You know, we step out of a room after being on calls for four hours and we're just in our house as opposed to walking home or taking the train home or driving home.
So there's not a separation, I think, which is tough for a lot of people.
I'm definitely looking forward to going back to a sense of normalcy, whatever that new normalcy looks like.
I think people are going to come out stronger from this.
And I think that people have learned a lot more about themselves and their coworkers in a personal way, which I think is good.
I agree with that. I love seeing the kids and the dogs popping into meetings.
And I think, you know, knowing that our lives are more than just work has been one of my favorite things that we're gaining and learning about each other.
So let's talk a little bit more about, you know, the recruiting team's perspective, and we'll cover a few topics to kind of give our viewers an understanding of how we're seeing things for candidates and interviewers and just internally for the company.
So, Twan, how would you say remote work has changed the candidate pool for your roles?
Yeah, I think, you know, remote work has really allowed, you know, us as employers, you know, because candidates are, you know, when I did a mapping study, you know, in my previous company, we will see, you know, especially when you're focusing on perhaps even diversity, you'll see concentration of talent in certain areas.
And then by being virtually remote, you know, we're able to, you know, source talent, you know, and without having that geographic limitation, right?
And so hopefully we're able to identify, you know, the right talent and move much quicker for Cloudflare.
And I think we have, and, you know, even our numbers statistically show that even from comparing from 2020 to 2019, and to just even the last month, we've seen that uptick in applicants and hires across the board, even at Cloudflare.
Yeah, we're definitely really busy.
Todd, are you seeing similar things with your candidate pool?
Yeah, no, I think that, you know, one of the observations that we talked a lot about, especially in the first six months of COVID, was the increase in candidates applying for opportunities.
And obviously, some of that was due to in the beginning stages of layoffs and internships getting canceled.
But I think the other thing that we also saw more and more of was just people applying from different areas, and really seeing like, hey, this could possibly be an opportunity to work for a company like Cloudflare.
And even though I live in Michigan or Ohio, and they don't have an office, and that was a limitation, I think a lot of people were making bets that, you know, companies would be more open to remote work, even post-pandemic, and throwing their hat in the ring for opportunities.
And so I'm a big plus one to Twan in terms of how it's really expanded our pools of candidates to choose from.
And so, you know, I think a lot of us have kind of made the joke, too, that, you know, I think a lot of us thought we'd be at this stage a long time ago with the advent of the Internet.
And so it's definitely, you know, become kind of a cliche thing, right?
But there's this really paradigm shift in terms of how people are going to work and operate.
And I think, you know, companies are still exploring it.
But, you know, the candidates are really kind of driving, like, hey, these opportunities are in front of us right now.
So they want to be a part of it.
Yep. What do you think about, you know, employer branding and marketing as we've moved to remote work?
And, you know, we're obviously attracting a lot of candidates, and a lot of people are applying, and our applications have gone up.
What else do you think companies can be doing to kind of make, you know, make their companies attractive to candidates?
Yeah, no, I think that's a great interesting question.
And I want to preface this based on my opinion. And what I would say is that, you know, especially in technology, right, there was a really big emphasis on the branding about facilities, right, and free food and drink and transportation, you know, and things of that nature.
And I think that companies are going to have to look at that a little bit differently as we go into this hybrid world, and some companies making that bet to go 100% remote.
And so what are the things that are going to appeal to potential employees when you have that kind of a shift?
And so I think that companies are going to have to think more about what it's like to support a remote workforce, being more empathetic, and kind of kind of hitting on different other things that are important for people when they join companies outside of those kind of bright and shiny type object kind of things.
Yeah. You know, let's talk more about kind of once people apply, and they get attracted to the company, and they're on our job boards, how would you say, Jason, skills are being evaluated in this new world?
Yeah, it's one of those things where I think Todd mentioned it, and he did a good job of saying, we've all been working from home a little bit over the last maybe decade.
Like, hey, I work from home one day a week.
And it was kind of something, you know, special, right? Like, hey, I can work from home and not, you know, spend an hour and a half commuting each way.
So I think to that vein, what people are starting to learn about working from home every day for almost a year now is it's tougher to manage than they think it was.
And I think what they're noticing is they have to be a little bit more proactive.
So if you don't have, you know, maybe more than one or two meetings a day on your calendar, you have to proactively do your job without anybody prodding you to do it.
You're not in an office where you're looking around, and all of your fellow co-workers are in meetings, and they're working, and, you know, you're expected to be working.
So I think, you know, just being more proactive, you know, taking on maybe a little bit more responsibilities in maybe new areas.
I think soft skills like communication, both written and verbal, is now even more, you know, needed.
So a lot of hiring managers that we have, Varashini, I know you're on the sales side recruiting, they like to still do a phone interview and then do the video interviews, because they want to make sure that candidates are able to speak effectively and clearly over the phone, and they can be engaging.
And then also writing is really big, right?
The emails and chat, making sure people could communicate, you know, pretty effectively.
Yeah, yeah, soft skills are definitely becoming more and more important as we can't see each other in person.
I always tell candidates, you know, being in the workplace, like in the office, I used to feed off of the energy of the people around me, and you'd see everyone heads down doing so much great work at Cloudflare, and it would just make you want to work harder.
So finding that self -motivation and like self-managing is definitely something I've noticed.
Twan, what do you think? Yeah, I think to, you know, Todd's and Jason's point, I think, you know, one is adaptability, right?
And part of it is being able to, you know, stay, you got to stay focused, but you got to be able to be proactive and adapt in this new environment and adjust to kind of the surroundings of what's going on, whether it's in-house or, you know, or even at the office, even though you're, it's all virtual.
So I think one of the things that I always tell candidates, you know, that part of our culture here is a very collaborative culture, right?
And you can approach almost anybody here cross -functionally and ask folks for help.
And, you know, we're always going to roll up our sleeves and help you and, you know, Cloudflare's approach is that we're going to help you be successful here.
So I think, you know, that, you know, which is, you know, being able to be adaptable and accessible in a virtual environment, I think that's something that you need to adjust.
And, and I think, I think we're all doing a really good job at that.
But it takes a slight mind shift, right? Because you're not in the office, you can't just walk up to somebody.
And, you know, I think that's always been an advantage of being on-premise is that kind of a water cooler kind of, you know, exchange.
This is just a new dynamic and you have to adapt to it.
And on that, right, I think the self-serve aspect of things, right, like, especially when you work at bigger companies, right, it just becomes more difficult to, for lack of a better term, like really kind of hold people's hands and help them a lot.
And I think during this entire time, you know, I think the things that people's just ability to, to, you know, find information with, whether it be on wiki pages, or within, you know, chat rooms and things of that nature, you just hit it on the head with that proactiveness, you just have to be much more aggressive in a sense in going out and finding that information.
It's not as easy just to tap the person sitting next to you on the shoulder and kind of ask them for things.
You have to, you have to hustle a little bit more to do those things. And so I think that people should be kind of demonstrating during the interview process that they have those kind of capabilities and skill sets.
Yeah, you definitely have to be way more resourceful and creative in your resourcefulness.
Much better word, resourceful.
Thank you. What do you think about, you know, how has our recruiting process changed, Todd, compared to how we were previously interviewing?
Well, this is one of the silver linings from my, from my perspective.
And as somebody who, you know, has had a really great career and worked for a lot of really great companies, you know, one of the most challenging parts about recruiting is the coordination that goes into it, right?
When you start talking about travel to and from the office, whether it's through airplane or train or car and candidates getting lost and all those kinds of things that happen.
And some of the kind of conversations that were a regular part of your day have kind of disappeared.
And so I think a lot of companies have been dabbling with video interviewing and doing things in an automated fashion, even pre -COVID.
And this forced experiment, as our CEO is fond of saying, has really made you like, hey, how are we going to do this?
And how are we going to do it effectively?
And how are we going to continue to iterate and get better?
And so I do think that a lot of the friction points have been removed.
And when you start thinking about, like, conference room getting booked with all the meetings that happen just outside of interviews, a lot of those friction points get taken away.
And it's interesting, you have to reshift in terms of setting and managing expectations, right?
Like, as our hiring managers and interviewers have recognized those friction points being removed, right, their expectations on how fast you can move things through the process has really accelerated, right?
And so you still have to balance a good candidate experience and realism in terms of delivery.
But I think those are some things that are going to be some big pluses that come out of this.
I think that you're probably going to see, you know, more situations where people will get hired and they've never seen the physical office.
I think especially for positions that you hire at high volume, especially with like early talent, I think that there's going to be more and more of just virtual interviewing.
But on the flip side of that, I think at senior leadership and executive levels that you're still going to have that kind of hybrid between maybe the initial part of the process or maybe even like 80% of the process being managed in a virtual fashion, and then just kind of the closing part of it being done in a face-to-face fashion.
So I think for a lot of companies, they're going to recognize the efficiencies and cost savings as a silver lining in all this.
Yeah, I remember even having to book people, you know, rides to and from the airport.
Like how are they going to travel from there? And then all the reimbursements that come with that.
And yeah, it's a lot of work that, you know.
Where's the office? I can't, I mean, I'm pointing in the right direction.
I mean, there's so many different things that come out of that. Yeah, and we, you know, we can spend all that time now on basically just interviewing and going through more candidates and picking the right resumes and picking up the right people for the right jobs.
So shifting our activities and where our time spent has been a positive, I think.
Yeah, for sure. Jason, what do you think about technical assessments for candidates?
How has that changed? You know, people used to come on site and then do whiteboarding and sit next to each other and kind of hack away at the computer together.
So what are your thoughts on that?
Yeah, I think the theme there, Roshni, is creativity. So, you know, here we had engineering candidates, technical candidates that would be coming in and part of their interview process would be whiteboarding with the team right there in person.
Thankfully, you know, over the past 10 years, the technology has gotten pretty good in the sense that there's virtual whiteboards.
There's so many different companies now that offer that.
We even have some candidates that they ask, can I write down the coding on my notepad and then show it to you?
And hire managers say, of course.
It's just the interactiveness is still there, the collaboration is still there, and the assessments are still there.
They've just changed a little bit.
So like a lot of tech companies, you know, Cloudflare does use different programs, CoderPad, HackerRank.
Those are some of the ones we use to assess technical skill sets.
But then we're also getting creative with candidates that have whiteboards right behind them in their room or on their notepads.
So it's a collaboration effort. Obviously, there's a lot of empathy on both sides.
Hire managers have empathy for candidates who are in a totally different interview environment than it used to be.
And interviewers are definitely, you know, rolling up their sleeves and kind of making the best of it.
So we've adapted, and I think we've done a pretty good job, and we learn as we go.
Yeah. Yeah, I definitely see people being way more patient and exploring alternatives, and I think empathy is a big part of that.
You know, I think Catherine, who's on your team, was mentioning that we even, you know, are more flexible about the types of languages that people will code in, and just kind of being more accommodating all around, which I think, you know, I think flexibility and accommodation is really good when it comes to evaluating candidates.
So that's awesome. Yeah. Tuan, you kind of touched on this a little bit before, but can you tell us what the impacts you think will be on diversity and related to diversity?
Yeah, of course. Yeah, this is a topic that's, you know, close to my heart.
And even today, you know, at Cloudflare, we kicked off our Black History Month, right?
So, you know, but in general, diversity, I think it's, you know, it's always been top of mind for a lot of companies out there.
And I think, you know, virtual, working at home, means a lot of candidates and allow companies to look at how we hire differently.
And as I mentioned earlier, right, it's, you know, it's, from a company's perspective, it's going to give us time to kind of, you know, because we're, we have a little bit of time to focus our processes, or even to sharpen our processes and look at how we do things differently, right?
It's going to allow us and hiring managers to, you know, keep the diversity, equality and inclusion, DEI, top of mind.
And so that's something that we need to stay on top of and be very mindful of.
And so with that, I think companies are going to start to, you know, pay a little more attention to that across the board, I think they're going to be able to even, you know, track numbers and track, you know, goals and see how we can elevate diversity across the board.
But also, because as I mentioned earlier, right, I mean, because folks are remote, you know, it allows folks to apply to roles across the board and allow us to, you know, take a look at certain pockets of areas of the country that, you know, normally we don't have an office.
So we don't have to have that on premise employment anymore, we can hire folks virtually.
And that opens the door for a lot of different folks altogether.
But when we talk about diversity in general, that really, really opens that pipeline quite a bit.
And we're going to see a lot of that.
And I think that, you know, I've always said, you know, if you're not optimizing for diversity, you're essentially optimizing for failure.
And so companies really need to, you know, take a step back, and really pay attention to their diversity efforts.
And then really be mindful and thoughtful and plug that into their process today.
Yeah, yeah, it's a very conscious effort. And, you know, with all the time that we have saved on scheduling travel, and all of that, I think we as a team have done a few different things that kind of help evaluate candidates, right, for to be more equal when we're evaluating them.
So we've implemented these interview kits.
So we're, we were consistent with our questions throughout the entire process.
And we've even got like a more robust cross functional interviewer coming in, focusing more on like the softer skills and like Cloudflare capabilities and like what makes people successful at Cloudflare.
So I think all of that definitely, you know, relates to the diversity aspect.
So thanks for sharing those thoughts. Tan, one of my favorite topics is, what are your tips on remote interviewing and in this virtual world of being on zoom all day long, you know, there's definitely some things we've seen candidates do, or we've seen hiring managers do or heard about, can you kind of tell us a little bit more about that?
Yeah, yeah, no. So I guess I'll kind of lead there, right?
I think, as we've become more comfortable, and to Jason's point, there's that, that mix of personal and professional, we have to remember that when we are interviewing, that we want to maintain that professionalism, and maybe leave some of the personal habits that we might be accustomed to doing, you know, away from the interview process.
And, and as as people are just more comfortable talking to each other in different places, you still want to make sure that, you know, you're, you're not, you know, vaping or, or taking interviews while you're out on a hike or doing anything like that, right, you still want to maintain all of that.
And then I'll come, I'll roll back to your resourcefulness, right? Like, when you're when you're on site, I think companies do a really, really great job of, you know, offering bathroom breaks and, and water and things of that nature.
And you have to remember, like, hey, I got to kind of be self prepared for that stuff.
Right. So I always tell people, you know, have two or three different bottles of water next to you, because you're gonna be doing a lot of talking, you know, you're going to be nervous, and you might not have those opportunities to run down to the kitchen.
So kind of be prepared. I should take my own advice and make sure I have better lighting so that I don't keep turning blue, people to ensure that they do have that.
But mine doesn't seem to be working today. And also, I guess, like, like, let them know that, you know, in the event that your interviewer forgets to to offer some of those accommodations that they would if they were to enter the room in a different fashion, you have to use the restroom or take care of your kid who's getting set up on his next zoom class, you know, be open and kind of let the people know the situation.
And they're gonna help you through that. So also maintain that that kind of professional dress, make sure that the background behind you looks as good as Tuan or Roshni's.
And but if you don't, you know, close those closets, clean up the room and make sure everything looks tidy, because, you know, first impressions are very important.
Yeah, yeah, all great tips. So definitely agree with all of that.
We've heard some funny stories. And so, you know, touching on the highlights are great.
Jason, tell us a little bit about what the recruiting team has done to make things more personalized.
You know, now that we can't greet candidates in a lobby or meet them face to face, how are we keeping the humanness aspect to the process?
Yeah, so I think Todd hit on it. Just just pretending like is in the office.
I think that's the best thing in terms of your mindset.
So, you know, we do have interview rooms we set up internally. So all of the members of the interview team, say there's six people interviewing a candidate over the course of three hours, there's a chat room that we have set up.
And if someone's running late, or if there's a technical difficulty, or, you know, like Todd mentioned, the candidate after three hours of interviews needs to take a quick five minute break, we can communicate that.
So there's no confusion. We've done a good job of also, you know, just just doing a really good job of advertising our positions, you know, and trying to let you know, the general public know, you know, hey, this is how Cloudflare interview process is.
So we on our careers page, we have a pretty good overview of what to expect in the interview process with that, which I think is great, because a lot of candidates, that's their biggest fear, is what to expect, and how can they prepare.
And, you know, Cloudflare is definitely one of the, I think, best companies that offers very conversational interviews, we're not trying to poke holes in your in your background and resume.
And we're not trying to trip you up with, you know, some really tough questions or tricky questions.
So just I think our culture is all about being transparent in general.
And we definitely have that in the interview process as well.
Yeah, yeah. And I know recently, we all you know, made a good luck video that we're going to start adding to confirmations.
We send out welcome packages to new hires.
And I know Twan's made some really awesome interview guides that he sends over to candidates as well.
It kind of details out each step and what kind of questions to expect.
I think we're hoping to create more videos with our hiring managers and have them on Cloudflare TV more often to kind of showcase their team and the roles that they have open and explain all of that too.
So a lot more work to be done. But you know, we're making strides too. And we're trying to keep that human aspect.
Twan, what do you think about communicating our culture now that we don't physically sit at a desk?
How would you explain it best?
Yeah, you know, and again, that that, you know, versus just kind of your traditional keeping time at the top of mind here, just real quick, right.
So, you know, I think I think we just need to be real thoughtful about how we communicate, you know, in written format.
Okay, we're done. Great job. Always good to see you and everybody else.
Yeah, thank you for hosting Roshni. You did a great job and hope everyone learned something or or if you want to get in touch with us, you can always reach us at, you know, various aliases that we have posted.
Yeah. All right. Bye, everybody. Bye.