Learn from Facebook: How to create irresistible candidate experiences


As arrogant as it might sound – I had never been in a job-hunting position in Indonesia. I interviewed people, I made the hiring decisions, I was almost never on the other side. Then I left everything and moved to the UK to pursue my master’s degree. When I was about to graduate, I had to compete with thousands of brilliant people, most of them had better English and, more importantly, working permit. My struggle began.

I applied to more than 100 companies and I experienced what I had never experience before: rejection, frustration, and defeat. I learned tremendously during my job-hunting journey about how to treat candidates decently — sometimes I learned from what the company did, but sometimes I also learned from what the company didn’t do. The best experience I had was with Facebook, and that’s where I ended up at the moment.

Indonesian startups can learn a thing or two from Facebook on creating an irresistible candidate experience:

Spot-on interviews

In Indonesia, it’s common to make candidates wait for the interviewer. Fifteen minutes late is fairly expected. We tend to think that we are the important one, and the candidates must have less important things to do.

One of my many interviewers at Facebook was two minutes late, and he apologized profusely.

Moreover, all of the interviewers have clearly perused my CV before the interview. No one asked me the question of “tell me about yourself” anymore. And, of course, no one asked me if I was married and how many children I had, since it’s illegal here to ask those kind of questions. The interviewers probed on what really mattered: my competence. The questions were tailored towards the position I was applying to, such as, “If you have to create an automation to do xxxxx, what criteria will you use?”

Clear, guided steps

I used to neglect my candidates. A month could easily go by without any update from me. I didn’t realize that they were waiting anxiously on the other side, as some part of their lives were depending on my call.

At Facebook, I went through 1 test + 5 interviews. After my first interview with the recruiter, she explained to me what the next steps were and what to expect in each step. She emailed me materials to help me prepare for the interviews. The result of each stage was informed to me in 2-3 days. It felt like upgrading from dating a wishy-washy boy to dating a reliable man: no more sleepless night looking at my ringless phone!

A warm welcome

Two days after I signed my offer letter, I got a Facebook t-shirt and a handwritten card sent to my door: “Welcome to the family!” My manager added me on Facebook (obviously) and he wrote about how he couldn’t wait to have me in his team. He introduced me to a guy who would be my buddy and encouraged me to have a coffee with him before my first day. The whole team greeted me on the entrance door when I came to the office. Seriously — I couldn’t ask for a warmer welcome.

Why creating irresistible candidate experiences is important?

Because when a company put a lot of thought and effort to create an awesome candidate experience, you can know for sure that they already have awesome customer and employee experience. Customers and employees are clearly more essential to a company than mere candidates.

Thoughtfully improving your company’s candidate experience will send this message loud and clear to the best talents out there: “We take care of our customers and our employees — and we will take care of you, too.”


How To Let Him Go Gracefully

Firing employees is not a simple matter. Every discharge can make your other team members angry, worried, or even show their solidarities by resigning from your company too (Yes, Indonesian people put high value in solidarities. They call it tepa selira or tenggang rasa.)

To ensure that the firing will not disturb your company’s equilibrium, you need to consider these:

  1. Make sure you fire him for valid reasons.

Don’t ever fire based on feelings, moods, or personal dislike. Do you know that one’s performance is determined 40% by the company’s system, 40% by the leadership, and only 20% by his own competencies? If s/he’s not performing well, it’s 80% your fault. Think about the effort you’ve made to develop this person. Has he got the support he needs to perform at his job?

  1. Give heads up to other team members

Direct communication is not Indonesian’s virtue. You have to show in subtle ways how bad he’s performing. For instance, you can make a weekly meeting, where everyone has to present his achievement in the last week. That way, everyone knows who is performing and who is not. And when the underperforming guy is being fired, nobody will doubt your decision.

  1. Explain honestly about why he’s being fired

The discharge should be a learning experience for other team members. By explaining honestly the reason behind it, you will help them to understand more clearly what behaviours are not tolerable in your startup. Just make sure you don’t attack him personally.

Corporate Sustainability and How It Will Help You Winning The War for Talent

“The best professionals in the world want to work for companies that exhibit good corporate sustainability.” – Jim Copeland, former CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu

Corporate sustainability is defined literally as how you make your company sustainable.

A simple example: suppose you own a paper mill factory. The scarcity of forest in Indonesia will bring you problems. You cannot think only about short-term profit; you must consider the sustainability of your factory years from now. Hence, instead of cutting all the woods ignorantly, you will do a trees replanting plan so you can ensure your company’s sustainability.

Naturally, companies who have to think about corporate sustainability strategies are the companies who also consume the limited resources. But nowadays, many companies are proudly campaigning their corporate sustainability initiatives, such as:

  1. 99% of McDonald’s fish (fillet o’ fish, etc) are sourced from Marine Stewardship Council Certified Fisheries. (Mindblowing, right? We always thought that McD is using exotic Nemo-ish fish.)
  2. McGraw-Hill reduces their paper consumption by 2 million pounds.
  3. 7% of Crocs material comes from reused scrap material.

Yes, these companies use corporate sustainability actions as marketing campaign, because apparently customers choose to buy products that are perceived as “eco-friendly”.

Corporate sustainability is not always about environment, but also social acts. One of the most famous case studies is TOMS shoes with its “one for one” motto. This social mission makes the customers excited to share it with their friends. It’s every CMO’s dream: your customer becomes your marketer.

(Regardless of the wrong motives, any social and eco-friendly acts are better than criticize them and do nothing.)

So what’s the correlation between corporate sustainability and HR?

Like customers who prefer eco-friendly products, employees also prefer to work for companies who put high value in environmental and social responsibility. That’s why tobacco and alcohol drink companies in Indonesia find difficulties in recruiting—they have to offer more privilege to attract potential employees. On the contrary, many NGOs employ highly qualified individuals, although their compensation packages are not as attractive.

In fact, researches find that there’s a high correlation between corporate sustainability and employee engagement.

The message is clear: Think about how your startup can bring positive contributions to environment and society. Inspire your employees to do it together. See how impactful it is to your team cohesiveness. Do it consistently and you can even use it to win the war for talent.

3 Signs You Need to Get Him Fired

One of the hardest thing as a leader is when you have to fire your subordinates.

It gets even harder when you consider the humanity factor, e.g. he is the breadwinner of his family, he has three kids, etc. But if your subordinate meets these criteria, you need to determine yourself to fire him:

1. He becomes your energy vampire

Every time you ask him to do tasks, he always messing up so you have to check a thousand times, or even redo it. This thing happens even after he’s in the job for 2-3 months, which means he’s supposed to master it already.

2. He becomes cancer in your company

He incites his coworkers, speaks ill about the company or the boss in front of many people, until other team members start to feel demotivated too. An average person has 3-4 close friends in the office. Even when he only agitates his inner circles, those people are significant percentage of your startup company.

3. He cannot be trusted

Every company has assets, tangible or intangible. You doubt his integrity, and later you find proves that he steals the company’s asset.

This list is made in order—means that number 1 is the most minor and number 3 is the most severe. Your ship will not move as fast as you expect when you are busy patching the leaks caused by this man. As soon as possible, you have to get him off your team. Just make sure you do it in the right way.

Why Invest in Human Resources?

“Hiring and managing the best people,” is the answer almost every entrepreneur gives when being prompted about the hardest challenge they face in building a company.

Human resources factor is indeed a crucial key, since no matter how brilliant your ideas are, or no matter how many funding you’ve secured, you will not achieve anything when you do not have the right human resources in your team.

Human resources factor becomes even more important in a startup company. Steve Jobs said,

“When you’re in a start-up, the first ten people will determine whether the company succeeds or not. Each is 10 percent of the company. So why wouldn’t you take as much time as necessary to find all the A players? If three were not so great, why would you want a company where 30 percent of your people are not so great? A small company depends on great people much more than a big company does.”

Okay, you might say, I also want to have a great team, but

  1. I don’t have time to do the hiring, and our small startup do not have a dedicated HR person
  2. A class people demand high salary, and we do not have the budget.

Those problems are very common in startups with less than 10 people, and are still in bootstrapping mode. Unfortunately, the excuses are not acceptable. If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur. You pay peanut, you get monkey. Count the costs: the cost from their mistakes, and, most importantly, the opportunity cost when your startup is not growing as massive as it should be.

Make the right investment. Before you rent that fancy office or buy that high-end software, make sure you have invested completely in your team.

First Thing First: HR Essentials

How important HRD is? At what scale a startup need a one dedicated HR person?

One thing you need to understand: HR is not a division or a role. Every director, every founder, every manager, is a HR manager. You do not manage machines or technologies. You manage human.

That means you have to understand the ins and outs of managing human. But when you paraphrase this art into human resources management or HRM, it sounds like a not-mandatory specialist function.

So what are the elements of HR that you, as the founder, director, and manager, have to master?

1. Hiring

Like how you make your product/service appealing for your clients, you have to make your startup company appealing to your future employees. A class people are not desperate jobless man that will accept any job offer right away—they are chased, looked for, and persuaded by many companies. You need to catch their attention, and later, dedication.

2. Managing Performance

There are so many candidates who have been lured in enchanting ways in the recruitment phase, but been let down by the time they really join the company. To ensure s/he delivers wow performance like you expect, you need to be sure that these two things have been communicated clearly:

  • The SMART goal(s) they have to achieve
  • The support system you provide (budget, team member, mentor, etc)
3. Rewarding

We assume that you are already familiar with Maslow triangle of needs. Make sure that you give them the exact reward they need. Bonus, extra leave, appreciation, autonomy—combine all of them to give the right rewards.