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The Speed to Hire Show - Empower Recruiters and Hiring Managers to Become Strategic Talent Acquisition Partners

Empower Recruiters and Hiring Managers to Become Strategic Talent Acquisition Partners

Episode 20 – Sasha Katz Murphy, ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign stands at the forefront of customer experience and marketing automation, providing businesses with a comprehensive platform for transforming how they engage and connect with their audience. Founded with a vision to empower companies of all sizes, ActiveCampaign combines intuitive automation, powerful email marketing, and a customer relationship management (CRM) system to create a unified solution. 

From personalized email campaigns to dynamic automation workflows, ActiveCampaign enables businesses to deliver targeted messages, nurture leads, and build lasting customer relationships. They apply this same sense of empowerment in their hiring process. By cultivating trust and driving proactive partnerships, ActiveCampaign’s hiring stakeholders optimize talent acquisition for efficiency and effectiveness.

This episode of The Speed to Hire Show features Sasha Katz Murphy, Head of Global Talent Acquisition at ActiveCampaign.

Key Takeaways

  • [8:12] – Optimize talent acquisition to enhance efficiency in remote operations – By fine-tuning recruitment strategies, organizations can identify candidates with the right skills and attributes for remote work, fostering a workforce that is not only technically proficient but also adept at navigating the challenges of virtual collaboration.
  • [10:30] – Facilitate growth by constantly evolving your recruitment strategies – staying adaptable and innovative in talent acquisition enables organizations to align their workforce with evolving business needs, industry trends, and technological advancements, ensuring a dynamic and resilient foundation for sustained expansion.
  • [14:25] – Empower talent partners to drive proactive recruitment – this approach not only cultivates a more dynamic and responsive hiring strategy but also establishes a collaborative and strategic alliance where recruiters, hiring managers, and HR professionals work cohesively to anticipate talent needs, seize opportunities, and foster a recruitment environment that is forward-thinking and agile.
  • [16:22] – Reinforce recruiters to cultivate trust and drive proactive partnerships – not only does this establish a foundation of confidence between recruiters and hiring teams but also it fosters an environment where collaborative efforts are guided by transparency, effective communication, and a shared commitment to anticipating and fulfilling talent needs, ultimately ensuring a more strategic and proactive recruitment approach.
  • [24:49] – An exclusive look at ActiveCampaign’s hiring process – Learn more about how ActiveCampaign optimizes the hiring process by empowering key players every step of the way.

Video Transcript

JOSH TOLAN: Well, Sasha, let’s start off. Maybe you could tell me a little bit about yourself. Yeah. So, gosh, where do I start?

SASHA KATZ MURPHY: I was, born and raised in Boston, lived in Chicago for six years, and relocated, back home to Boston, fun fact a month before COVID. So I like to consider myself a trendsetter in that way.

But, started off in recruitment about fifteen years ago and staffing.

Prior to that, I was a mental health counselor and a substance abuse counselor in a max-security prison, and spent some time working in psychiatric care before, again, finding recruitment, the common denominator for me has always been, people. And, know, the psychology behind, what makes folks tick. And, like I said, fell into recruiting and have been, I’ve done both executive search and then have been in-house for several years, spent the last ten years in high-tech high growth, So, yeah. Now I’m at ActiveCampaign.

I oversee global talent acquisition, including early in my career, talent operations, which includes coordination sourcing, and then full cycle recruitment, as well. 

JOSH TOLAN: That’s awesome. Well, that was quite a career change for you, but I guess it all makes sense. It’s a line you know, your purpose and and what you’re trying to do, which ultimately is to help people.

So that’s awesome.

So now you’re an ActiveCampaign company that has grown quite a bit since you’ve been there. Can you tell me, I guess, a little bit about the company? What do you guys do? How many employees do you have? Just general background. 

SASHA KATZ MURPHY: Yeah. So ActiveCampaign, we are about a little under a thousand employees now worldwide.

When I started six years ago, we had about a hundred and twenty employees, purely solely in Chicago, rather.

Now we have, hubs in Dublin, Ireland, Sydney, Australia, Brazil, and Costa Rica. We just actually, opened that entity this week, which is super exciting.

ActiveCampaign, we are, the world’s most positively reviewed marketing automation platform in the world. Like I said, we have 180,000 customers globally, in 170 countries.

So we focus on helping, small teams power big businesses. That ranges from, you know, small business to, you know, upwards of mid-market, etc., but our bread and butter has historically been on the small business side.

We are industry agnostic. So, you know, the industries that we support kinda run the gamut, with a heavy emphasis on consulting.

Super interesting. A lot of, optionality, which has afforded us a lot of success through some turbulent, market conditions know, in the past.

We, yeah, so we’re in the SaaS space. We have been, like I said, growing kind of tremendously, over the six years that I’ve been here, which has been a really wild, exciting ride. 

JOSH TOLAN: Yeah. No kidding. A hundred and twenty to close to a thousand people is pretty crazy in a six-year span. When you were brought on at a hundred and twenty people, what did the talent acquisition team look like at that point in time? 

SASHA KATZ MURPHY: Yes. So talent acquisition, we were leveraging a lot of staffing firms.

There was one in-house recruitment partner – so I was brought in to oversee and build out the greater talent function. And, at that time, I – so when I immediately started, I brought in a couple of folks that I had worked with previously. I worked for a company before that had some unfortunate circumstances laid off quite a bit of folks, and so I took some of those folks with me.

So had a talent acquisition, and manager partner on the tech side, and then continued to grow the team out to build a sourcing coordination model, that I leveraged, as my farming system, right, to grow and groom, recruitment internally.

So, again, when I started, there was one recruiter, and, built the team out from there today. The entirety of the land function globally is around fifteen people.

JOSH TOLAN: Oh, wow. And is that all reporting up to you?

SASHA KATZ MURPHY: Yes. Yep.

JOSH TOLAN: Got it. And what’s the makeup of that team today between those seen folks?

SASHA KATZ MURPHY: So I have, two full cycle, TA, managers. One overseeing the tech and product side. The other overseas, go-to-market G and A recruitment. Right?

And I have an early in career recruiting manager as well who oversees, the internship programs, the rotational programs, you, you know, all of the different, types of programs that are under the early career umbrella you know, apprenticeships, etc. And then, I have a talent operations team, they – that includes our sorcerers, coordinators, and then, more traditional talent ops.

Their role is to really focus on maximizing the work that the recruitment team is doing.

I’ve only had an ops function for a year and a half, and it’s been a game-changer for me, honestly. I attribute that to the team that I have in place, honestly.

But it’s a really strong addition to, to full-cycle recruitment for sure. 

JOSH TOLAN: I’ve been hearing a lot more about that lately with, you know, some of the faster-growing companies as building out this talent ops function. How did you know you were at the point in which you needed to put people in that type of role and how did you know where to start? 

SASHA KATZ MURPHY: Yeah. So basically, I had done a ton of, research and had a ton of exploratory conversations with folks in the market that, or network rather that I know it had a lot of success in building ops functions from ground up. And, so, I had a lot of data points in terms of, you know, when is the time. And frankly, what I determined was there doesn’t need to be a right time per se. I think it’s all about, you know, ultimately the goal of the organization, and the desire to professionalize, a lot of systems and processes.

And, you know, what I realized and taking a big step back is I was building out kind of a sheet of, you know, what are all the components of talent operations that the full-cycle recruitment team is doing now? Owning systems, you know, reporting, talent brands, you name it. Right?

And, as we continue to grow as an organization, there are things that were becoming more and more critical such as, you know, data integrity. Right?

And so, we had aggressive hiring needs, and ultimately I felt like in order for us get to that next phase, we needed to really focus in on operationalizing, what we were doing in order to get more out of the recruitment partner. 

So, in theory, it’s great it’s a great opportunity for the recruitment partners of first to, really dip their toes in different parts of the function, getting exposure to the branding side and reporting and all that stuff. But at the end of the day, we really want them to focus on being people, people. Right?

And focusing on the candidate experience and the full, you know, candidate journey. Right? 

So you know, it was a little bit daunting finding or building the Talent ops function because there are a lot of, different ways to approach building it out, and it is a more innovative function and up-and-coming. But, I was really fortunate to find the the senior manager that I have on the team today, and she has been, like I said, a game changer for sure.

JOSH TOLAN: And I think to your point, it then allows your partners to really focus on where their skills are best utilized, which is working with people, and performing, you know, the activities that are necessary to connect with best candidates versus focusing on things like data integrity, systems, you know, backend admin types of processes.

And so, you know, I see the talent ops function very similar to a rev ops function within the business, which I’m, you know, sure you guys have as well. I know the go-to-market side of the company, And it just helps everybody across the revenue org be much more efficient and much more productive, without scaling the headcount of all the individual contributors, on that go-to-market team. And so I think similarly on the talent op side, you know, building out once you get to a certain size, building out that talent ops function allows all the people you already have and those recruitment roles to be a lot more efficient and be spending their time, where they’re adding the most value for the business.

And then that means as a company, you don’t have to hire a bunch more TA people just because you have all these things to do. You’ve got these specialists that are really optimizing the whole system, and ensuring that the people that you have, you know, are operating at you know, full capacity, which I think is really, really important.

You know, especially now and going forward as companies look to just be you know, as efficient, capital efficient as they can possibly be, lean as they can possibly be high emphasis and profitability.

Those things don’t just apply to the revenue org. They also apply to the talent function as well. 

SASHA KATZ MURPHY: For sure. Absolutely. And, you know, again, there are things even data cleanliness, right, and, consistency, like, you know, the data end is only, you know, the data coming out is only as good as the the the data going in. Right? So somebody to, like, obsess over systems the tech stack, even like owning, partnerships with the different like, you know, vendors that we work with and vendor management and all that stuff. It’s it’s been, just tremendous, honestly.

So I highly recommend it. If it’s right, you know, for the stage in which a company is at, I never knew what I was missing until, like, started the function. 

JOSH TOLAN: So you guys have obviously, you know, grown over the six years you’ve been there. I’m curious if you could break down or if you recognize, like, there were very different phases of growth, like, maybe going from you know, one twenty to two hundred to two fifty was very different from going from five hundred to seven fifty.

Did you see any differences at the different, you know, phases the company was at when it comes to recruiting? 

SASHA KATZ MURPHY: Even from a branding perspective, When I started, we, nobody knew who we were, and even in Chicago, nobody knew of us. In fact, I didn’t even know who we were until I got introduced to the CEO, And I was like, oh, this company’s got something really special. Right?

Like, this is interesting. We weren’t getting much inbound at all. Right, to fast forward to, you know, today, right, or even at five hundred employees, we were getting, you know, folks from competitors applying direct HubSpot, Salesforce, etc. Right? So from a branding perspective, for sure, and obviously that was due to, you know, the recruitment team, being very intentional with their outreach and generating demand, building that brand, etc.

And then from a process and procedure perspective, there’s just generally, it’s been an evolution, as it relates to the sophistication, and just there’s, a more obvious need for the balance of professionalization and speed. Right? So, you know, of course, as grow and scale taken more funding and all the stuff, like, you have to, again, you have to focus on that professionalization side.

I noticed also, you know, as we continue to elevate the state of the executive leadership team, we’re bringing people in that have a really, much more experience on the recruiting side and, and, coming in with stronger point of views and really helping to just generally, think about, you know, what is needed to – because the truth is a lot of our leadership team hasn’t gone from or not a lot of them, but some of them haven’t gone beyond, you know, five hundred, etcetera. 

So, like, bringing those, new executives in and and really diversifying the level of experience that the leadership team helps to gain some buy-in, for recruitment as it relates to how we go about enforcing some, processes. And then, even from an evaluation perspective, like a candidate, you know, evaluation the bar continues to raise as you grow. Right? And, frankly, the people who were to get you from zero to a hundred may not be the right candidates to get you from a hundred to five, etc.

So we’ve introduced more, like I said, more sophistication specifically on the evaluation front. We recently introduced, what we’re calling a high-grade interviewer, as in a more objective way to, to go about assessing for the behaviors that we know have have, driven a lot of success internally.

It also is a way to, like, mitigate bias. And, really intentionally focus on, or remove the the risk of assessing for qualities that frankly don’t predict on-the-job success.

So, again, just over time, you know, even how we’ve opened new regions. The first region that we went into or I should say when we opened Australia or first international presence, I mean, scrappy is an understatement for how we entered that market. And then we did it and then we did it well. Right?

But, now, it’s a completely different beast, in terms of how we enter a market with, again, more intentionality and sophistication and expertise is just, has been really cool to watch. 

JOSH TOLAN: That’s awesome. I’m curious, you know, you mentioned about how, you know, some people that maybe got you from you know, we’re right for the stage of zero to a hundred employees, but maybe not for a hundred to two hundred and so on and so forth. 

How do you create that feedback with your managers and executive leadership to know, you know, A), when is the time to go look for new people to bring in to get us to this next phase of the business?

And then, B), know what to look for in these new people because you don’t have people like them today on the team. 

SASHA KATZ MURPHY: So to be honest with you, a lot of a lot of this relies on, one, how you build your talent function to represent are your talent partner function to represent a more proactive strategic, partnership. Right? 

So In order to even get to have those conversations, to to have those conversations that you’re talking about, there needs to be trust and credibility as it relates to the recruitment partner. Otherwise, they will not be pulled into conversations related to, for instance, succession planning, right, or talent gap analysis. 

Like, I think the more involved the talent partners can be, in some of those conversations, the more we can get ahead in terms of how we’re, how we’re proactively recruiting, especially on the passive talent side. Right?

So, to me, it’s it’s it starts with how your talent partners show up, Josh. You know? I think a lot of talent functions unfortunately have the reputation of being order takers and are super reactive. To me, that’s between a recruiter and a talent acquisition partner.

So, I don’t know if that’s answering your question, but I think, 

JOSH TOLAN: Yeah. It does. My, you know, my follow-up to that would be how do you get that talent acquisition partner to build that trust and to be involved earlier and to create that, you know, credibility for the talent function so they become part of those conversations more naturally. 

SASHA KATZ MURPHY: It starts with hiring the right people. Right?

And setting expectations upfront around, just like what the, like, for me in particular, I very much believe that recruitment, and this is, like, obvious as a recruiting leader. But, like, recruiters, recruitment should have a seat at the table, right, if you want to focus on your talent strategy.

And, you know, when I when I hire for recruiters, or when I should say when I did early on, even recruit hiring for recruitment coordinators, giving them exposure, and pulling them into conversations that they may not have ever been exposed to in the past with hiring managers and executives, right? And, and really giving them the space to fail. Right? 

I think, a lot of, unfortunately, a lot of recruiters there are a lot of hiring managers and the like, treat the recruitment function, you know, as the support function they are. Right? And that’s “hey, I have a role, can you fill it?” Right? I have been very intentional with hiring people that I know, have specific qualities.

And some of those qualities include, like, the ability to push back. Right? And, I think the more, like, the other thing I’m very intentional about is as soon as a recruiting partner starts, they don’t own a rack for at least three to four weeks, so they can really get a sense for the company, the inner workings of the company, how the different teams operate, who the hiring managers are.

And that way when they hit the ground running, they have a better sense of what’s gonna work. And then, they have more confidence to push back on on certain hiring decisions. Right? So look, at the end of the day, Josh, they can be as great as they are as they wanna be in, on the strategic side, but the proof is in the pudding.

Right? So, obviously, they have to make a few good hires – And by good hires, I mean, they are, folks that, you know, our culture carriers, they’re driving top performance internally, They have strong tenure. They’re getting promoted. Right?

And then the more that recruiter, you know, owns a Recs for the hiring manager, the more credibility they have. And they end up coming to me saying, “Hey, can I work with so and so again? I wanna work with that recruiter again. Right?

Mhmm. So, to me, it’s just like really creating the space for your recruiters, to show up as strategic business partners like, that has that’s how we set the tone right off the bat when I started. 

JOSH TOLAN: Yep. That makes a lot of sense. I actually see a lot of parallels. I think in the marketing function in how it relates to the overall, like, go-to-market function in a business. What I see a lot of times is, you know, you’ll have sales and functions like sales maybe customer success, and they think they need something for marketing. And it’s like, thrown over the fence, marketing.

We need this, this, and this. And marketing’s like, okay. We’ll work on work on this for you. Turn it around, and ship it back to you.

But I think to your point, the point you bring up about talent acquisition partners needing to be able to push back. I see a lot of parallels with, you know, really good marketing leaders need to push back and ask the right questions and seek to under And, okay, I hear you have something you want to solve. Let’s really unpack that from a strategic standpoint because marketing shouldn’t just be like an order taker for another business, they should be working together to figure out ultimately, what are you trying to solve here.

And what outcome do you desire? And how can we help you work to that? And I think it’s very similar. At least what I’m hearing from you is in a lot of companies, you know, all parts of the org will say I’ve got a job. I need to fill, toss it over to the recruiter get them to fill the job.

But it requires somebody, you know, with the right business acumen.

You know, and the right discipline to be able to push back and say, hey, let’s take a step back. Let’s, you know, talk through this because maybe the hiring managers are gonna realize they need something completely different than what they’re telling they’re gonna go do. 

SASHA KATZ MURPHY: Absolutely. Absolutely. 

JOSH TOLAN: And a strategic partner can help them figure that out. 

SASHA KATZ MURPHY: Absolutely. It’s also curiosity.

I think the big thing you just hit on was business acumen and a general understanding of, like I said, the inner workings of an organization having that enterprise mindset. Right? Mhmm. I always say, like, that one of the things I love about internal TA is that we are incentivized to make the right hires.

Right? The right hires, that ultimately, you know, stay again, drive the business forward, all the stuff. We are not, you know, we’re not incentivized to put a butt in a seat. You know, and that’s that’s a really powerful thing.

JOSH TOLAN: Yep. And you’ve been on both sides there. Right? Cause you were on the staffing side where it’s, you know, all about placing candidates, placing them quickly, and that directly ties into revenue, you know, but internally, you know, it also ties to revenue when you do hire somebody, but it’s more about you know, the lifetime value of that employee for the business and getting the person that’s gonna be there for a while is gonna be productive while they’re there.

And so it’s a little bit of a different mentality because there’s no handoff and you wipe your hands clean and you move on to the next rack. It’s like you’re living in the business every single day. And part of building credibility with the hiring managers is finding those people. 

SASHA KATZ MURPHY: Absolutely. Absolutely. The other thing that I’m really proud of on this team is like, the success around, like proactively sourcing and hiring, directly versus partnering with agencies and with all due respect. Like, there’s a time and a place, but you know, like, when I started, we were spending, you know, a lot of money on staffing firms. Right?

So being able to bring that in-house and and making it really repeatable, is a reflection on, you know, the recruiter effectiveness, and that I’m really proud of as well. 

JOSH TOLAN: Yeah. And it’s a good point. You know, I think a lot of companies, you know, might always still need staffing partners to help supplement what they’re doing internally, but there does become a point in time as a business where you have to build that sourcing discipline, that proactive outreach, pipeline generation.

And it kinda goes back to earlier in the conversation, you were mentioning the early stages of ActiveCampaign when you joined at 120 people versus right now is when you came in, people maybe didn’t necessarily know who you were when you had an open job. And so – you know, I’m wondering, do you feel like that was one of the biggest things you built in early in the talent acquisition function? Is that a sense of proactive recruitment?

And then, you know, then as you scale, you make that repeatable. And then when you start getting the compounding effects of now people do know who you are it all starts to work. And that really is what allows you to hire as many people as you need to hire in such a short period of time. And if you never really built that upfront, you’d probably still be relying on those staffing partners and be paying a boatload of money to scale at the way you guys have been able to scale.

SASHA KATZ MURHPY: For sure. For sure. The other thing I would say that I set the tone for early on is just an emphasis on the qualitative side of TA. Right?

I think a lot of TA leaders, really put a heavier emphasis on the quantitative side, which you need a balance, of course. Right? Like, if no one’s making hires, then, frankly, you’re not doing your job, and that’s you’re highly exposed. Right?

But the qualitative side for me is where we’ve really been able to focus, which, again, I think, has yielded, you know, stronger relationships and partnerships with the hiring managers.

And that is, you know because at the end of the day, you can hire a hundred people. But if eighty of them leave, Like, does it really matter? Right? So, I’ve really been able to, and again, with the help of the ops team, I’ve really been able to lean into the stuff that for me is, really, really meaningful.

JOSH TOLAN: Yep. That’s great. And, you know, one of the things I was looking at is on the ActiveCampaign careers page yesterday, and I was reading about the AC Way.

So maybe you could tell me a little bit more about you know, generally, what is the AC Way? And it seemed like based on the description of your website, you’ve really built the hiring process around that concept to bring people that align with that end of the business. So maybe you could share some details on that as well. 

SASHA KATZ MURPHY: The AC Way is inclusive of our company values and the behaviors that inform those values. So, essentially, the behaviors that really actualize the values, because every company has value, not every company, but a lot of companies have values and sometimes those values can be misinterpreted.

Right? And so we’ve been very intentional and transparent with – Well, we know we have these values that we live and breathe by, but, like, what does that what does that actually mean here? Right? So, what we’ve done is we’ve built, a framework that it’s essentially a hiring development and and performance framework that bleeds through the entirety of the, employee journey. So it starts with, okay, let’s let’s be intentional with how we assess people right off the bat against these behaviors.

So we know, you know, we’re with more of that standardization and structure upfront, we’re driving a higher correlation between an interview and on-the-job success when they get in, let’s help them to capitalize and tap into some of those behaviors by furthering, the, you know, developing them, in those areas. And then on the performance side, it’s, you know, heavily, the performance reviews, annual reviews, etc, are centered around those behaviors. And again, how those behaviors play out will vary, you know, from from team to team. For instance, the talent acquisition team our customers are candidates and hiring managers or stakeholders.

Right? We don’t touch the end user. So how we’re we’re thinking about some of this from a customer perspective is a little bit unique, but in theory, if you peel back the onion, it’s all the same. So the framework was built from, you know, a number of conversations with folks that have been really, really successful in the business.

They’ve been there for many years. They’ve seen nontraditional, nonlinear career paths internally, and their product experts, they exemplify the AC Way. And so through having those conversations and working hand in hand with the CEO, that’s how this kind of evolved, over time. 

JOSH TOLAN: Yeah. That’s awesome. Because I hear a lot about companies saying, you know, interview for your core values, interview for your core values, but nobody really talks about how do you do that? Right? It’s like and so I think people probably ask questions to deceive.

Does the candidate believe in this type of value or they are aligned with this type of value? But that doesn’t really give you, of course, know, what’s a candidate gonna say? Yes.

And so, you know, is it really like a behavioral interview structure that you’ve implemented to ask questions to assess for those behaviors that then align with the values? 

SASHA KATZ MURPHY: Yep. So what we did was we identified, department nominated, you know, high performing individuals at all different levels and regions throughout the company.

And train them on these behaviors and how to assess against these behaviors, through, you know, specific question sets and optimal responses.

That group of folks, they’re called High Graders and they’re introduced, at a certain level, for roles, and, they’re an objective interviewer. So in the so they’re not they’re department agnostic. Right? So they shouldn’t be in the same chain of command as the role.

And they’re going in you know, with with less bias in terms of, you know, this person’s not gonna be working directly for them. Right? So they’re purely going in with the mindset of I wanna make sure this person is gonna be successful here. Right? And again, a lot of this is, centered around transparency and just “Hey, candidate, like, this is how we roll. You know, this is these are our expectations. For one, like, does this make sense for you? Do you fit into this or not fit in? But can you get down with some of this, right, does does some of this fit into how you operate, but more so, does this excite you? And do you feel like the way we operate is gonna help to elevate you in your career?”

So it’s mutually beneficial. Right? At the end of the day, we all want the same goal. We want people to join and stay and do good work.

JOSH TOLAN: I like the concept of bringing somebody in who’s not a hiring manager and also isn’t another individual contributor on the team that they’ll be working with because you get this completely different perspective you know, you could take this really objective approach with somebody like that versus a hiring manager or an individual contributor who might have their own personal incentives or biases, you know, because this person’s gonna be working side by side with them. 

SASHA KATZ MURPHY: And honestly, you know, this type of interview framework, because only as good as you train the interviewers.

I mean, it’s a stressful interview for candidates, because the the heavy behavioral component, So I think, you know, it takes, like, a deep understanding of what these behaviors actually mean and to assess for them and then, like, extracting information, reading between the lines, connecting the dots, and then, you know, really, kind of being able to to craft a really meaningful assessment. It’s hard. And, you know, frankly, we’re only less than a year in. So, you know, we’re still iterating, and identifying areas in which we can strengthen the program and make it more meaningful, but we don’t we don’t have enough data to look back yet and say, you know, this has been successful and here’s how or why.

So, you know, a lot of companies have tried to implement something similar and have failed.

I think a lot of companies that have this type of interviewer will provide or the the interviewer will have veto power. If you look at a company like Amazon, they have the bar raiser program, the bar raisers do hold veto power. So there’s a lot of different, iterations of it out there, but for us, is this is what we found, you know, might work best. 

JOSH TOLAN: How are you going about training the interviewers?

SASHA KATZ MURPHY: In-house, homegrown, training, module in partnership with, the L and D team. So, myself and our CEO, lead the training for that group, and, again, in partnership with with L and D to ensure that, you know, the the, the way in which, folks are, obtaining the information you know, is is how it should be and is inclusive of different learning styles.

And, you know, beyond that, it’s a really look, at the end of the day, Josh, and I’m sure you’ll agree with us. Recruiting is so much of an art, you know.

So, I think a lot of times, you know, we can train and train and train on behavioral-based interviewing, but the reality is there’s there’s not enough predictability, right, in in the in the interview process. So a lot of it comes through time and interviewing and role-playing. Right? 

JOSH TOLAN: Yep.

SASHA KATZ MURPHY: Because, you know, again, that the nature of our product people and people aren’t predictable. So I think it’s, you know, repetition. 

JOSH TOLAN: I mean, I’m a baseball background. You need a bat. Right? You need a you need swings at the plate. And you know, I’ve talked with some other folks about that. I think that’s one of the biggest challenges in training hiring managers or hiring managers or the, you know, High Graders that you guys in trying to get them up to speed on being a great interviewer is in practice, like, they might only do this once a year.

Right. And so, like, the real-life at-bats might not be there versus, you know, let’s say a talent acquisition partner that’s talking to candidates. Multiple candidates every single day. A hiring manager, a High Grader isn’t gonna have necessarily that real-world exposure.

And so that’s where the training and consistent reinforcement and the role-playing, like you said, really comes into play, to get them to where they need to be. So when they get into the, you know, real-life scenario with a candidate, they’re well equipped.

Just because they’re not getting all those shots throughout the year. 

SASHA KATZ MURPHY: Right. And how do we create multipliers? Right? Like, the people that we know are really, really skilled interviewers, and have seen a lot of success in in hiring here.

How do we repeat some of that and and leverage their expertise and training other, you know, so I think you know, there’s no magic bullet.

But I think it’s just like identifying the people that you really, that are the culture carriers per se, at the end of the day, we’re not trying to maintain our culture. We wanna diversify and expand upon it. But, you know, the people that really directionally understand what works here, can test some of that. And look, I’m a realist.

I mean, the truth is, I said this earlier, I’m gonna say it again, the correlation between an interview and on-the-job success is low. Right? And that’s because we’re spending a couple of hours with one person. That’s a couple of hours.

Right? And for each interview, we’re spending thirty minutes to forty-five minutes with them only. So that’s just, like, the nature of it and then the subjectivity, the inherent biases, etc.

So by, again, introducing more structure and standardization, we’re we’re increasing the correlation just a little bit, you know, which is great. That’s a huge win. You know? 

JOSH TOLAN: Yeah. And to your point, look, a good hire is not somebody that also, like, of want them to come in and be able to do the job they’re asked to do right now. Yeah. But as a scaling organization, you also have to be able to look for the qualities and behaviors that help you somewhat predict how they will perform as the company grows and whether will they be able to grow you know, and adapt with that.

And that creates even more unpredictability because most interview processes are really built around the point at this point in time. Right now. But that gives you such a small window into what the candidate is actually capable of. And so that becomes a really big challenge.

SASHA KATZ MURPHY: Yeah. And something, a skill or behavior or competency, whatever, that’s super, super, valuable adaptive campaign is, being a utility player and, being able to kind of switch lanes if you will.

And some of the people that have been the most successful here started in, let’s say, customer support, you know, eight years ago and now are at the C-Level. Right?

And so, you know, I think, a good hire may be defined differently in every company. But, you know, the the reality is, like, to your point, like, we ultimately, you know, all have the same goal but, you know, how that plays out will vary.

But yeah, that utility player mindset, I think, is, like, just invaluable. And I wanna be clear too. Like, the high-grade portion of the interview is, you know, carries a lot of weight, but at the end of the day, like, we need the person to actually do the job. 

So, of course, there’s a heavy emphasis on testing for the functional depth as well. And, and those people are, you know, that those assessments are coming from people that are like practitioners per se or subject matter experts, they’re testing for, the core competencies of the roller comp uh-uh role competencies.

JOSH TOLAN: Yeah. A hundred percent. Look, like you said, you only have, let’s say, a few hours of a candidate’s time at most, right, especially when you’re competing with other organizations.

At the end of the day, like, time to hire matters for the candidate experience and whether or not you’ll be able to, you know, get the best candidate on board. So you have to figure out ways that you can as efficiently as possible, gather as many data points, about that candidate. To give you a higher chance of success at predicting whether or not, you know, there’ll be a great hire for the organization. And that’s all that it comes down to. 

SASHA KATZ MURPHY: And you just nailed it. I mean, that’s huge that was a huge impetus for the framework like this was how can we drive more predictability?

Right? And I think, like, once we have enough data, we’re gonna look back, to identify any patterns, throughout, you know, the some of these interviews in order to see, like, you know, some of that does that some of the predictability actually come, you know, come to life? Like, has it worked? You know?

Like, we just don’t know yet. But we are a culture of iteration. And so, you know, again, we push this framework out perfectly and we are continuing to chip away and adjust as we need to.

But, it’s been a really, interesting like I said evolution of, like, just how we go about assessing talent here. 

JOSH TOLAN: And what was the mantra? You mentioned earlier in the call with your customers there’s a statement about helping small businesses, something big businesses, something like big businesses. No.

SASHA KATZ MURPHY: We help small teams power big businesses. Sorry. Yes.

JOSH TOLAN: Yes. No. That yeah. And I think, you know, at least from in talking to you, I feel like, you know, that’s obviously what you’re trying to help with your customers I feel like you really embrace that philosophy internally as a business as well as you guys have grown from you know, a smaller company to a much, much bigger company.

But I think you embrace a lot of the things, that a small company needs to do really well if it needs to scale. Right? Creating repeatability.

That’s super important. You know, iterating on things and doing it quickly. Ensuring that you’re bringing people in who are adaptable.

And so, you know, really as I’m talking to you, you know, you mentioned how talent acquisition has to be a strategic part of the business. It really feels like you are working in lockstep with the rest of the organization and are aligned with the message that you’re delivering to your customers as well. And so to me, that’s really cool. And I think a sign of a business that has really good alignment.

Which is one hundred percent critical if you want to grow from a hundred people to a thousand people in six years. 

SASHA KATZ MURPHY: Oh, yeah. No. And you summed it up perfectly. I’ll say the other thing I’m really fortunate is, I have a lot of, strong tenure on the TA team as well. So, you know, they’ve continued to build upon that credibility, and it’s only getting, you know, stronger.

But look, at the end of the day, we are hyper-obsessed with customer experience.

And that is how we’ve built our form. It’s intuitive. It’s easy to use, you know, and I think, like, as we think about how we can translate some of that on the recruitment side, it’s, you know, how do we go about differentiating ourselves from a talent branding perspective. Right? 

And how do we create a memorable experience for folks that best case, you know, let’s say they don’t get a job here, they’re gonna they’re gonna run and tell their friends, “Hey, you should you should look at ActiveCampaign.” 

JOSH TOLAN: Yeah. And I look, you said it right in writing the introduction when you — when I asked you about ActiveCampaign. I can’t remember exactly the phrasing you use, but one of the first things you said when describing it was something along the lines of, like, where the most highly rated or top rated.

And so, clearly customer experience and how your customers view and are satisfied with the platform is something that, is very important across the entire business and part of, you know, the DNA of the company.

And I think that carries over into the talent function and the way that you know, your candidates become your customers in some kind of way. Right? And you want them to view your talent function equally as highly, as your customers view the business, because whether they’re a candidate or a customer of you today or tomorrow, you know, your brand, your reputation is everything. 

SASHA KATZ MURPHY: Not to mention. A lot of the the folks that we hire, our candidates that we bring in become our hiring managers. And even more of a stakeholder, you know? Yep. So, yes.

And to reiterate, like, I said earlier, we are the most positively reviewed marketing automation platform in the world. And, you know, what we look at, even in recruitment is candidate satisfaction is CSAT. Right?

Because, again, it’s it’s, it all kind of goes together. And I think in an effort to really, keep that, theme going as part of who we are at our core.

We have to think about how that correlates to what we do. Right? And that’s why we have a talent recruitment or, coordination team. Right? And their job is to really, again, obsess over, the experience that the candidate’s having.

So it’s all kind of, you know, pieced up. But at the end of the day, everyone works together to create that seamless experience that favors speed and quality. You know? 

JOSH TOLAN: Yep. Love it. Well, Sasha, this was awesome. I learned so much Thank you for taking the time to speak with me, and I’m sure all of our viewers are gonna get a lot of value from this episode.

SASHA KATZ MURPHY: Josh, thank you for having me. So fun. Appreciate it. Thanks.

Josh Tolan

Josh Tolan is the Founder and CEO of Spark Hire, a video interviewing platform used by 6,000+ customers in over 100 countries.