How to improve Candidate Experience despite COVID-19

The team at GuideSmiths are experts in Digital Transformation, migrating enterprises quickly and safely away from their legacy platforms. They are uniquely experienced in boosting enterprise strength through microservices and have developed tooling and repeatable ‘post-agile’ processes that maximize continuous delivery speeds.

GuideSmiths is an international company with offices in London and Spain. Even though they are a British consultancy, in Spain they are considered as a software boutique company. “We are very focused on our team members happiness and as part of this, on our turnover rate – the employee experience at GuideSmiths is very important for us,” says Iria, HR Director at GuideSmiths. “We make sure each employee is assigned to a specific project, avoiding them to being involved in many different ones at the same time. By this, they will be able to enjoy a full project cycle, gain expertise in the technological stack used, meet clients’ needs and have a great experience.” The core of our projects is based in JavaScript, using React for the frontend and Node.js for the backend and for IOS and Android Apps, we use React-Native. We use microservices and continuous integration. Every project is based on Scrum or Kanban agile methodologies, and as a result, we generate quality and trust with our clients from the very start. Our clients are involved in each project and that helps us to deliver exactly what they need to be delivered.” 

Interviewer: How many job vacancies for developers have you opened during the past year? 

In 2020, we have hired 35 developers so far. Even though we were already a remote first company, with COVID-19 we’ve learned a lot about other remote tasks such as onboardings. This procedure, before the global pandemic, was normally managed face to face. 

Our strengths have been reaffirmed and we have learned how to boost candidate confidence in the company and earn their trust along the hiring process. For sure, the experience has been quite challenging and how we overcame it, represents the spirit of GuideSmiths very well. We were able to change our routines, strengthen our brand, and adapt to the needs of our people and the market. 

Despite the uncertainty of the situation, we knew we had to work more together than ever and the management decisions have been very exciting. On top of that, we’ve had the chance to meet very interesting people that were affected by other companies’ layoffs and offer them jobs that were up to their expectations. 

I: What profiles and skills are you looking for at GuideSmiths? 

A mix between technical, personal skills and proactiveness to grow and keep GuideSmiths growing. The culture fit is the key. At GuideSmiths, we have a place for different roles from juniors who just finished their bootcamp to seniors with several years of experience who are looking for challenging new projects. Another important aspect at GuideSmiths is diversity. As we are an international company, we enhance the possibility of having team members from all around the globe. Being able to learn from our team mates is definitely a must for us. As commented before, we look for candidates who may have experience with React, React Native or Node.js. Although, we are also very opened to add new team members with a different technological stack who are willing to change, evolve and help our company to grow. We look for people who want to forge a career with us and feel like GuideSmiths is the place where they can be throughout their professional career development. Every day is different, continual growth is key, having a great work environment with an outstanding team collaboration, is what differentiates us from other companies

I: Could you tell us about the perks and benefits of working for your company? 

We offer private health insurance with Sanitas, Sodexo restaurant vouchers, and continuous training. Every employee has access to Vaughan English classes in order to improve their language skills. On another hand, we offer a new Macbook Pro for everyone.

We have a bonus scheme, that is awarded based on a combination of strong personal and company performance. On another hand, on a year basis, we assess each employees Performance and at that moment, promotions and/or salary reviews occur. 

GuideSmiths handles feedback constantly to all team members and this is really valued as it helps everyone to achieve their annual goals in a much communicative path. 

I: How do you improve Candidate Experience through your job descriptions? 

There is a brief introduction of GuideSmiths and of the ideal profile we are looking for. We let the candidates know about our benefits, remote first mindset, as well as our flexible working hours. We offer a competitive salary, higher than the market average, but we don’t set a definitive salary in our job descriptions. We explain what the developer’s day-to-day would be like. And of course, we list the functions and skills required.

We like to have a friendly but still formal hiring process. As we boost constructive feedback about our processes, when we’ve asked for candidate opinions regarding our job descriptions, the feedback has always been very positive. 

I: How do you apply good CX practices to your hiring processes? 

Our human capital management tool is BambooHR and we also use this tool for all our hiring procedures. By this, every hiring manager has access to the profiles that apply and this avoids bottlenecks within HR. 

The candidate knows if they’ve applied correctly as they receive a confirmation email once application has been handled successfully and then, the recruitment procedure begins. By this tool, we are able to track how long it takes us to hire a candidate, those roles that maybe are a bit more tricky and what stages seem to take more time. By all this information, we can get metrics that definitely help us to improve our hiring timelines and work on providing a better CX

Our recruitment procedure begins with an initial phone call where we explain the process timelines, who are GuideSmiths, how we work and who takes part of each stage of the recruitment procedure. They always receive feedback, sometimes during the interview and others the day after. We have feedback templates we use for this and if the candidate requests additional feedback, we send a specific feedback to the candidate in an email. It is very important for us to also provide technical feedback after code challenge review or the technical interview as this will help the candidate improve his/her current skills. 

I: And how about the onboardings, is there a defined career path for the software engineering team? 

BambooHR helps us keep track of all employees Performance Reviews. We ask for feedback from different parties; colleagues, managers, clients as well as the employees’ self-assessment. By this, we manage a 360º feedback. Once template is covered with the 360º feedback and soft and hard skills assigned to each role are assessed, each manager will proceed with the one on one in order to have a look together to strengths, improvement areas as well as new goals for the upcoming year. 

One on one Performance Review feedback, is handled every 3 months since we are able to obtain Peer Feedback every quarter. This helps us keep better track of each members goals and boost our transparency and fluid communication with the team. To set each one’s goals, the company and employee will review all goals together and agree on the ones that make sense from both perspectives. We understand that each employee has different needs and therefore, professional development at GuideSmiths is personalized for each member. 

I: And one last question to wrap things up, how do you integrate Circular into your hiring process? 

My team colleague Deicola Moreno and I, have been using Circular for a while now and it works well. We are able to invest some time into it, and we are very satisfied with the candidate profiles we receive. I like that Circular understands the culture and essence of GuideSmiths. Ultimately, I also like the option of recommending candidates, so I can help them find a job and improve our Candidate Experience and Employer Brand in the tech world. On top of that, we often ask for references when hiring senior profiles and the fact that Circular provides this automatically, is something that saves us time and makes the process more efficient.