Cut & Polish

Zapier’s recruiting team sees a 95% average offer-accept rate

Who’s Beating the Benchmarks? is a Gem series in which we spotlight our customers who are outperforming their peers in a given recruiting metric. 

This month we’re celebrating Zapier for their remarkable offer-accept rates. In Q1, Offer -> Hire passthrough rates in Gem were 82% in aggregate and 71% for tech roles across 400+ customers. Zapier, on the other hand, saw a 95% average offer-accept rate in aggregate, and a 92% offer-accept rate for tech roles

Clearly, the team at Zapier is doing a lot of things right. We sat down with Jaime Onofre, Recruiting Manager, and Kim Wilkes, Senior Manager of Talent Attraction, to hear more about their processes, strategies, and best practices. Kim was new to Zapier when we spoke, so we also got to hear about her candidate experience at the company, and why she’s among the talent who’ve contributed to Zapier’s outstanding accept rates.  

First thing’s first: Has your offer-accept rate always been this high?

Jaime: It’s been quite high for as long as I’ve been here. The candidate experience has always been a focal point at Zapier. Wade Foster, our CEO, set an expectation early on—before Zapier even had a recruiting team—that the organization would respond to all candidates within seven days. So we have a seven-day commitment, published in our job descriptions, that you’ll hear back from us. That’s also the case throughout the process. You’ll never go a week without hearing from our team—even if it’s to let candidates know that we’re still in the decision-making process. This is just one example, but the candidate experience has always been baked into Zapier’s DNA. 

Of course, it helps that we have great perks. Zapier has been remote for over a decade, so every candidate who’s accepted an offer with us in recent years has been confident they’re stepping into a company that figured out remote work a long time ago, that isn’t still experimenting. We have a 401k that’s immediately vesting in the U.S., we pay 90% of premiums for healthcare in the U.S., and we give employees $2k a year for Learning and Development (L&D) and free access to MasterClass and Udemy. Last year we made some significant shifts in terms of compensation, moving to the 90th percentile of the market, as well as offering equity for all. These were moves that positively impacted not only our candidates, but all Zapiens.

More recently, we implemented our Next Play Program for all teammates who are considering a new role or career change at Zapier or at another organization entirely. When an employee communicates a desire to follow a different career path, we do our best to support them with growth plans and career pathways. At some point, everyone will have a “next job”; supporting our employees on this journey—even to the point of becoming an alum—is very important to us. We hope this can become the norm at other companies. 

All of this has helped bolster a great offer-accept rate—even prior to this year. Over the whole of 2021, for example, we had 92 offers created with a 93% acceptance rate. The majority of that was before we implemented any comp changes, which is suggestive of the fact that talent is looking for so much more than compensation.

Kim: I’d emphasize what Jaime said about transparency and communication. I’ve been operating at the senior management level for the past several years but applied for a management role at Zapier because of how interesting the work sounded, and because of how open-minded I perceived the company to be after reading the job description and having an introductory call with the recruiter. During the interview process I discussed where I would want to land (level/scope-wise) and the team was very receptive. Within 10 minutes of my final interview I had an offer in hand, and after a short conversation about level and scope, the leadership team presented an offer that met all of my expectations (and then some!). It meant a lot that the leadership team believed in me and moved as quickly as they did, considering I had a competing offer in hand. The interview and offer process at Zapier tops all experiences I have had throughout my career.

At what point do you align on salary expectations? 

Jaime: From day one. That's always been a best practice for me, and it's something I share with the team: start closing on the first call and be transparent with your salary ranges. If we’re unsure what level someone's going to be at, we give them the range for both levels they might be considered for. We're sending compensation information in our candidate outreach messages as well. We started doing this in Q2 of 2022 and have seen response rates almost double. Later this year, we plan to either provide a tool for prospective candidates to calculate compensation or provide it directly in our job descriptions. How to best execute pay transparency is something we're constantly working on, but we've always been transparent around the range we can consider. 

Kim: The Talent Sourcing team started including compensation in their emails to prospective candidates a few months ago, and since then we’ve seen a significant increase in response and interested rates. We’ve heard positive feedback from many candidates, and even those who aren’t interested in making a career change right now respond to thank us for being so transparent with compensation and ask us to stay in touch for future roles. I’ve also noticed our leaders (including Brandon Sammut, our Chief People Officer) sharing open roles on LinkedIn and including compensation ranges in the post. This isn’t something I’ve seen other companies do, and it speaks to our values and culture. 

“Default to transparency” is one of Zapier’s core values. How else does that play out in your hiring practices?

Jaime: This is something we hear all the time from new hires: they’re blown away by the level of transparency here. Leadership is willing to stand in front of the company and discuss not only what they’ve done well in certain projects and initiatives, but also where they’ve failed. Internally, we all know what MMR, ARR, and churn look like at a given moment. We know what our runway is and how much cash we have on hand. That gets shared on a bimonthly basis at our All Hands meetings, and we have monthly reports that go out with those numbers as well. Employees aren’t always regularly updated on the financial health of their organizations. But this internal transparency makes it natural for us to say to candidates: Whatever information you need, we’re happy to share it.  

In process, we’re transparent about so much more than salary information. Candidates know exactly what each step in the hiring process is going to be. They’re given the exact framework we consider. They know how we make decisions. That level of transparency helps candidates connect the dots, and understand for themselves whether or not they’re ultimately the right fit.

I’d add transparency around the stories we tell, what a day-in-the-life looks like in a given department, for a given role. We always want to present an accurate reflection of what it's really like to work here. And that includes the challenging stuff. I’ve had ten people join my team over the last nine months. Every candidate for those roles was told the same thing: We’re going through a lot of growth. We want to deliver on our mission to make automation work for everyone; we have a lot of rapid evolution to undergo to get there. There’s going to be a lot of ambiguity and change. There are going to be mistakes as we figure this out in real-time. And if you’re not comfortable with those things, this may not be the role for you. I encourage my team to do the same. Figure out what people love, what they don’t love, and the conditions under which they really thrive. We can only be wholly transparent if we’re asking the right questions and know, truly, whether we’re aligned. 

Kim: From a candidate perspective, I plus-one all of that. When I interviewed with Tracy St.Dic [Global Head of Talent], she was transparent about everything. She shared where the team was, what was working well, and where we had the opportunity to improve as a TA/Brand organization. She shared where she would need my help from day one and was forthright with the obstacles I would likely contend with. Tracy was also transparent about the fact that the current Talent Sourcing Lead would be stepping out of her role to pursue another passion at the company.

Beyond the scope of the team I’d be leading, Tracy and Brandon shared Zapier’s diversity metrics and highlighted where they could use my support. While there was a lot of information I could read about Zapier online (I did a lot of research on Glassdoor, read employee reviews on Comparably, and watched videos on YouTube), the hiring team was remarkable about filling me in on the things I couldn’t have found otherwise. I felt I had a clear understanding of the role and what the leadership team needed, which further helped me in making my decision to join Zapier. 

Jaime: I’d add that the entire team is available any time a candidate needs more information about anything. If we’re in conversations with a candidate and something seems stalled, it’s on us to figure out what information is missing and connect them with the person in the business who has that information. It’s not an interview. It’s just: Let’s ensure you have all the data you need to move forward. Let’s set you up with a team member; let’s set you up with a cross-functional person. We leverage everyone we can to ensure the candidate knows this role will be the best decision for their career growth. 

Can you say more about the role collaboration plays? 

Jaime: We’re incredibly fortunate to have business partners who are willing to collaborate with us in almost any way we ask them to. Wade in particular reaches out regularly and offers to speak with anyone on the leadership team to offer support if we need it. We have the same level of support from Mike Knoop [Co-Founder and President] and Kristina Kemmer [VP of Engineering], as well as so many others. We have a motto at Zapier that says ‘Recruiting is a Team Sport’. It’s easy to go to Zach Walsh [Director of Product Design] and say: We really like this candidate, and they want to know more about our strategic direction for design. Or to go to Brandon Sammut [Chief People Officer] and say: We have some candidates who are interested in learning more about our equity and the long-term outlook for Zapier. Can you hop on a quick call? The answer is always: Yes, put me in. 

We also recently shifted our hiring approach—especially on the software engineering side where we have volume—to say: We’re broadly interviewing for software engineers, and we’ll decide which team they’re the best fit for based on either prioritization or particular fit. This decision has reinforced a culture of evaluation for Zapier on the whole. It means no one is fighting over which team a candidate will land on, and every candidate senses that the organization has their best interest at heart. 

I recently stepped in on an offer call for a teammate who was out on vacation. Over the course of that conversation, I realized that the candidate was excited about Zapier, but didn’t fully resonate with the team the offer was out for. He asked me if I could help him with his decision based on the information he had, keeping his long-term career in mind. I explained that we have a lot of teams hiring, and I offered to schedule some time for him to speak with three other managers who could give him information about their teams. As a result of these conversations we were able to uncover which specific role was best for both parties, and he’s now a part of our engineering team, doing work that he enjoys!

Kim, what encouraged you to apply to Zapier?

Kim: The job description was the first thing that caught my eye. I ran a search on LinkedIn and wasn’t familiar with Zapier, but the title sounded interesting so I clicked into it. I thought it was so neat (and different from many other companies) that at the top of the description were links to topics that are important to the company—such as culture and values, a guide to remote work, and DIBE (diversity, inclusion, belonging, and equity). This gave me direct insight into how Zapier operates without having to visit multiple sites to learn about these topics. 

I was also really impressed by the language in the job description: ​​”We encourage you to apply even if your skills and experiences don’t exactly match the job description. All we ask is that you answer a few in-depth questions in our application that would typically be asked at the start of an interview process.” I love that Zapier keeps an open mind and is willing to consider candidates from non-traditional backgrounds who will bring new perspectives to the company. I’ve seen many candidates receive offers for various positions at Zapier who haven’t met the years of experience “required” but they have all the necessary skills to help us continue to evolve and reach new heights as a company.

Zapier’s Glassdoor ratings were also a big tipping point for me. There are over 130 reviews at this point, with 4.6/5 stars, which is a high rating—especially in tech. I read through nearly all of the reviews and was inspired by the trends I saw: great leadership, an amazing culture that truly lives its values by taking action and operating transparently, positive experiences with managers and peers, opportunities for learning and growth, and appreciation for our founders. Many employees highlighted things that were important to me as I made my next career move, including kindness and empathy. 

I was honestly most impressed by the fact that our founders and CPO took the time to respond to the constructive feedback on Glassdoor—this isn’t something all companies do. Now that I’m an employee at Zapier, I can say that our leaders truly care. They seek feedback regularly, document opportunities, and make changes to improve—it’s not just something that gets discussed and forgotten about. Our leadership team shares progress against the feedback we receive (and not just from Glassdoor, but through employee surveys, meetings, and more) via Async where anyone in the company can see the improvements we’ve made and what we’re still working towards. 

In regards to your hiring process for tech roles, what do you think sets Zapier apart?

Jaime: Honestly, we just take a fundamentally human approach. We don't ask anyone to take any type of third-party online coding assessments; there are no algorithm-based questions or anything like that. We ask candidates to solve real problems. The process is also fairly quick: three interviews and the technical assessment. We set expectations around exactly what the process will entail; and at every stage, we let candidates know what to expect in the next stage. We explain who they’ll be talking to next, what the interviewer will focus on, and how long the process will take. In the technical assessment, we clearly outline what we’re looking for: communication, clarity, and the cleanliness of your code. We want to know how you solved the problem. We do ask for the pull request in all our software engineering assessments and let candidates know what we want to see in them.

We’re not trying to surprise anyone because that’s not ultimately how we operate on a daily basis. At Zapier, you know what needs to be executed on and you’re given full transparency around everything you need to be successful. We hope that by conducting our interviews this way, candidates get a genuine sense of what it’s like to work here and they can decide if it’s the right fit for them.  

What else stands out to me is that our technical assessment isn’t time-bound. We’re not asking anyone to complete an assessment in a two-hour window or respond back immediately. Each of us has different things going on in our lives, and we want to be sensitive to that. Candidates can begin the assessment when it’s best for them, and they can pause and resume at a later time if they need to. Candidates are empowered to let us know what works best for them. If someone needs extra time to complete the assessment, we just ask that they communicate with us so that we’re on the same page.

We were intentional about putting this into practice for many reasons, but one that resonates with me has to do with creating a fair and equitable practice for women and underrepresented groups. This is especially important within Engineering, where we have a lot of opportunities to diversify this organization. We know that different people have different levels of flexibility; and we do our best to operate inclusively and provide the same opportunities regardless of gender, race, or ethnicity. 

Does Zapier have interview training? 

Jaime: Yes, and it’s mandatory for anyone who conducts interviews. All new hires and new interviewers attend a “Hiring at Zapier” training, which includes topics such as avoiding bias. We offer additional basic training for almost anyone, which covers general best practices for interviewing. In Engineering, we pair new employees with more tenured employees to shadow the review of the technical assessment. It’s like paired programming, except you’re reviewing the quality of someone else’s work. New interviewers/Zapiens also shadow interviews and learn how to write effective scorecards, which is meant to help them understand how we evaluate talent at Zapier and how to communicate feedback in a thoughtful manner based on facts and evidence (rather than opinion or bias). Interviewers also shadow debriefs, where we really dig in to ensure everyone understands the reasons—including our own judgments—behind every hiring decision. 

Last year we rolled out more robust, standardized question sets for software engineering. Here are the attributes we’re looking for. Here are the questions associated with those attributes. Here’s what good and not-so-good responses look like. Interviewers learn a lot from these alone. 

Right now we’re working on mechanisms to automate how employees are trained, tracking completion rates, and graduating employees once they’ve completed the necessary training sessions. We’ve set a two-per-week limit for every interviewer, and we’re diving into Gem’s time-in-stage data to figure out if we’re the bottlenecks for certain roles because we don’t have interviewer bandwidth. It’s important to spread those interviews evenly across the team because that ultimately impacts candidate experience as well.

Do you send out candidate surveys? 

Jaime: Surveys go out to all candidates who interview with us beyond the initial Recruiter Screen stage all the way through offer. I’m regularly checking in on those for trends—if we see a “disagree” or a “strongly disagree” this indicates a negative candidate experience, which is something we don't take lightly. These tend to be few and far between; however, any feedback is important for us to improve our process. That informs how we optimize. As you can probably imagine from our accept rates, these generally tend to be positive responses; but I’ve read some feedback from candidates that have helped us make improvements within our process.  

Kim: In addition to candidate surveys, we actively review feedback from candidates on Glassdoor within the interview section. There are over 250 reviews on our interview process, and at least half of all candidates who took the time to provide feedback have indicated having a positive experience. This is great, but it also means that we still have room to improve. Gathering this feedback and reviewing trends regularly is essential to ensure we can make the changes needed to offer a positive experience for all candidates.

Is there anything you do at the offer stage that helps candidates make their decision? 

Jaime: Transparency will be my ongoing theme here, but there’s one thing we do at Zapier that I’ve never seen done anywhere else, and it’s called an offer proposal. The offer proposal is exactly what it sounds like: it’s the proposed offer rather than an official offer. It’s our intent to move to an offer with all the details a candidate needs to know, and we email it after we talk to them about it. It includes compensation information (salary, bonus, equity), an estimated start date, and a link to documentation that outlines how we calculate the bonus and when it’s paid out. We also include a calculator so that candidates can do their own math on the potential valuation for Zapier. We include information on healthcare costs, 401k details, company retreats, a home office budget, and more. We do our best to provide everything upfront so that candidates have everything they need to make their decision.  

Ultimately I’d stress the human element that exists within everything we do here at Zapier. I’m a person; you’re a person; this is who we are and this is what we want—both for ourselves and for each other. There’s no smoke-and-mirrors. We just want candidates to be excited about what we’re up to—this includes the things that are rewarding and fun, as well as the challenges they will likely face. We do our best to be honest and realistic. I think this is a big reason why we’ve seen such a high percentage of offer acceptances.

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Content Strategist
September 19, 2022
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