Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire
The Speed to Hire Show - Create a People-First Process to Optimize Hiring Outcomes

The Speed to Hire Show – Create a People-First Process to Optimize Hiring Outcomes


Episode 11 – Samantha McCaul, Princess Polly

Princess Polly is an Australian-based fashion brand that offers a wide range of trendy and affordable clothing, accessories, and beauty products. Founded in 2010, the online retailer has gained a loyal following among young women for its fast-paced fashion and unique style. The company has expanded its reach both nationally and internationally, with a growing social media presence and collaborations with influencers and celebrities. 

Known for its playful and colorful designs, with a focus on bold prints, statement pieces, and edgy details, Princess Polly recognizes individuality, diversity, and expression both in its brand messaging and in its hiring process. With a people-first approach to hiring and engaging employees, the team at Princess Polly prioritizes accuracy, convenience, and speed in the hiring process.

This episode of The Speed to Hire Show features Samantha McCaul the AU Recruitment Manager at Princess Polly.

Key Takeaways

  • [5:16] Attract top talent with authentic employer branding content – consistent and clear brand messaging attracts the best-fit talent to your team and keeps them on board.
  • [13:46] Build strong connections with hiring managers to improve collaboration – creating trusting relationships with hiring managers and other team members ensures clear communication and effective collaboration.
  • [15:46] Look beyond resumes to keep high-quality candidates out of the “no” pile – resumes alone do not always provide a full picture of candidates’ potential and fit on your team. Screening processes need to allow candidates to validate their skills as well as their passions and personalities.
  • [27:44] Stay competitive to attract top talent in a candidate-driven market – candidate expectations of the hiring process and branding change so your brand and hiring process need to be adaptable to stay competitive while staying authentic.
  • [32:08] Build a people-first talent acquisition strategy for a resilient hiring process – putting people at the forefront of hiring strategies and decisions ensures the hiring experience is positive for candidates and hiring managers alike. 

Video Transcript

JOSH TOLAN – To just get things started, Sam, if you can just tell me a little bit about yourself? 

SAMANTHA MCCAUL – Yeah, so I’ve been actually with the brand going on five years now. Kind of started off in more of a — we were quite a small team here on the Gold Coast so I guess my role was more of a generalist role, looking after, I guess, we call it team experience, which is HR, and also doing recruitment. And then as the business has grown, there was a real need at the time for someone to jump in and head out that kind of talent attraction recruitment space. So I was fortunate enough to get asked to do that. 

So over the last probably five years, it’s been very much about building our org structure and building out that structure. So it’s been a really exciting time I guess to be within a business because we started — we’re a bit of a startup kind of business so there’s been a lot of opportunity to kind of delve into a number of different things. 

I mean in previous roles, it’s been very much about stepping into the role and continuing the processes as you see them fit, whereas within Princess Polly, it’s very much about looking at what other businesses are doing, being innovative, and kind of putting our own stand on things. So I really like that about this business is the fact that they’re willing to take risks and do things a little bit differently. 

Yeah. So now, kind of, obviously overseeing that recruitment function here in our AU business and dabbling a little bit more whilst our other recruitment manager is on maternity leave. Kind of dabbling in some US recruitment as well, which is really cool. So — 

JOSH TOLAN – Yeah. So doing some global recruitment – that’s definitely got to be a challenge. For those that don’t know, can you tell us a little bit more about Princess Polly and what the business does? 

SAMANTHA MCCAUL – Yeah. So we’re a forward fashion retailer servicing, I guess, the 16 to 26-year-old females with on-trend fashion. Yeah, we cover everything from dresses, tops, and pants, right through to accessories. The business is really progressive. We, kind of, started off with bricks and mortar stores. Our CEOs closed them down and decided to go fully online. And I guess all of our content is done organically here on-site. 

So we’ve got a team that is really good at getting it across socials. We started off on Facebook but realized Facebook wasn’t so cool. And now we’re certainly, I guess, trending with that kind of generation to be like, OK, now we’re going on to do TikTok and yeah, and obviously Instagram. But yeah, everything’s done organically here. We’ve got an amazing shoot team that gets the product out to our customers. Yeah. 

JOSH TOLAN – That’s great. And I know I was looking at your LinkedIn before this, and I saw that prior to Princess Polly, I think it was a couple of jobs ago you actually worked in a government HR and recruitment role. So I’d be curious to learn from you what the differences are going from that type of organization to the one you’re at now that like you said, is trying to be very innovative and is willing to take risks. So, yeah, if you could just expand on what some of those differences are. 

SAMANTHA MCCAUL – Yeah. It’s interesting actually because I, yes, formally studied at university and came out of uni with a degree in event management and wasn’t really sure about what I was going to do. And I had a friend at the time working in government, so she said, oh look, there’s an opportunity in a recruitment team. And I was like, oh, recruitment, HR, I’m not really sure about that. And she’s like, no, I think you’ll be really good, you as a person align quite well with it. So I started off in government. 

And to be honest, government, I think, is really good, especially if you’re wanting to grow and learn, there are a lot of opportunities for growth there. But I guess the change from there to here is very much about — and we say it all the time in our team meetings — it’s about taking that corporate HR hat off and being more of a people kind of person within our business. And also, we obviously follow legislation under the HR brand. But yeah, very much about taking that hat off and being like a real people person around how are we delivering things to our customers, and being that business partner, which is really lovely. 

So yeah, it’s a very different environment in the HR space, you know, government, quite legislative and everything has to go a certain way. Whereas, here, it’s very agile and innovative, which, yeah, it’s been a bit of a shift but now really interesting. I don’t know how I would shift back into like an environment like that because I really love the fact that we can deliver really innovative things here at Princess Polly. 

JOSH TOLAN – Yeah, that’s great. So you mentioned being a people person and what you guys are really focused on at Princess Polly. And I’d be curious to learn like you said, you’ve got content creators internally that are putting a ton of stuff out on social, on TikTok, a little bit of Facebook, Instagram, and other channels as well. And I imagine there’s a certain voice or brand message that they’re trying to put out with that type of content. How much do you guys try and align your recruitment messaging with this stuff that the company is putting out to its broader audience? 

SAMANTHA MCCAUL – Yeah, that’s a really good question, I think, and certainly something that we’re kind of looking to work on this year as a brand. We’ve got a brand manager that was internally appointed early last year. And she’s focusing on that consistency of our brand messaging out to our customers. And first of all, that was probably more around the customer service side of things but now we’re looking at internally, how do we do that? And I think we are really trying hard this year to really push our inside business out to our externals. We’re really showing our candidate pools and our customers what we do inside here because I think that’s what really counts. 

We’ve got an amazing office environment that we work in. We’ve got resources that are called community managers that make healthy treats and do these awesome events across our business, which I think we need to celebrate. And I think moving forward, our LinkedIn company page and website and also our recruitment tools are going to really reflect that moving forward. We really want to push that brand out to, kind of, increase, I guess, our candidate pipelines and also increase that customer return. 

Yeah, I think the business does really well. We do some awesome events like we’ve recently celebrated Mardi Gras, where we had a drag queen come in and do drag queen trivia with us, and we just had an awesome afternoon. We have a dog day where all of our staff bring in their dogs and we celebrate our furry friends. So I think the business does really well in those programs across the business. So obviously, everyone works super hard but we also like to have a bit of fun on the side, which I think we should celebrate more of. 

JOSH TOLAN – Yeah — yeah, for sure. And as I hear you talk about taking the corporate HR hat off, and the emphasis with your content creators and the type of content that’s going on social, and what you guys are trying to do on the recruitment side, and showing people what it’s like to work there and the fun things that you guys do and the culture that makes up the organization, the word for me that comes to mind as I hear you talk about this is authentic. 

And I think that brands are starting to realize that when they’re trying to attract customers is you can advertise your products and services as much as you want and you can push, push, push that content at people. But really what people are engaging with today is more of the type of content that’s authentic and that is real people. And so I think you guys leaning into focusing on that type of content that shows what it’s like to work there and just showing behind-the-scenes, a day-in-the-life type of stuff will really resonate with your audience. 

SAMANTHA MCCAUL – Yeah. And I think because, obviously, our brand focuses on that Gen Z, kind of, age bracket, a lot of them are finishing school or heading into University and, kind of, really unsure about their path. And a lot of them, I guess, connect with the brand because of the people that work here. So, for example, our creative director, Kim, and our social stylist, Shar, really often set goals of our staff. 

So it’s about putting the staff out there because I think people are not only attracted to a brand but they’re also attracted to the people that work within that brand. And I think for us, it’s about getting out there and having employee testimonials on our website, and having that throughout our recruitment process, and being a bit more innovative in the way that we attract people to our brand. Because, yeah, those are the people that in time, once they finish their degrees and stuff like that, they’re going to be wanting to work for our brands. 

JOSH TOLAN – Yeah. So for you guys, it’s interesting because I can see a lot of your customers wanting to become employees because they’re fans of the brand and they’re passionate about what you guys offer. And so that’s where to me, it seems like there’s got to be strong alignment between the recruitment team and the content marketing team because there’s this give and take where potential employees or customers now and they’re seeing the content you put on now, and if they’re going to be employees later, the messaging and the content that you guys put out has to be consistent. It has to feel like the same brand. 


JOSH TOLAN – So I think that sounds like it’s something that’s going to be important for you guys moving forward. How many employees do you guys have now? 

SAMANTHA MCCAUL – Good question. We’ve probably got about — overall, we’ve probably got about 75 permanent staff here in our HQ. It’s kind of a bit of a flex depending on seasonal growth in our distribution center. We have a DC that’s based here in Nerang. The majority of them are casual workforce but they obviously deal with the product and get it out to our customers. But usually, there’s about 100 staff. And there’s a few permanent staff there. And we’re obviously increasing numbers in our US operation. But we’ll probably be sitting at around probably 200, 250 staff overall. 

JOSH TOLAN – OK. Cool. And can you walk me through what are some of the main positions that you guys are recruiting for typically? 

SAMANTHA MCCAUL – Yes. So we, particularly here in our HQ, we’re kind of like our corporate servicing departments and along with our merchandising and marketing departments are our biggest departments here. So at the moment, we’re looking to backfill like a senior buyer. We recruit per customer service roles. Marketing, we’ve got a huge performance marketing team, which has grown massively over the last couple of years. So we recruit for them. We also have IT, finance, and HR, which we call the team experience based here. 

So it’s a number of different roles. We’ve also got kind of like specialist roles that sit within probably more of our merchandising departments. So that being like our fashion designers, material planners. We also have a social responsibilities team, which is a new team that we’ve created here. So yeah, that’s the majority of the roles that I recruit for. 

JOSH TOLAN – That’s a wide variety. How many people are on your team? 

SAMANTHA MCCAUL – Just me at the moment. 

JOSH TOLAN – Just you? What? 

SAMANTHA MCCAUL – Just me at the moment. I obviously report to the HR director that sits here in our Au business. The team’s probably about seven of us overall and we’ve also got some staff in the US. But at the moment, it’s pretty much me just looking after the recruitment. And then with Breanna away on maternity leave at the moment, the US team is, kind of, taking the brunt of roles over there and I’m having a bit of involvement in them. 

JOSH TOLAN – Got it. And so with it being just you and you’ve got all those different positions, how many hiring managers would you say that you’re interacting with on a daily or weekly basis? 

SAMANTHA MCCAUL – Yeah. Probably like up to 10 managers that I’m dealing with on a weekly basis. I think also given the fact that I’m really fortunate enough that I’ve been here for five years, I’ve built some really great relationships with those hiring managers. And I think once you place one candidate in their department, you kind of get an understanding of, I guess, what they’re looking for, and the team makeup, and stuff like that. So I think as I’ve been in the business for longer, I find that I’m probably a bit more successful on my time to hire because yeah, I understand their needs and I understand their business, and then I’m able to find the right people at the right time for them, which is great. 

JOSH TOLAN – That’s awesome. And now, certainly, some of that comes from, like you said, experience and just working there for five years and working alongside these colleagues when you’re recruiting for their open positions. But what are some other things that you do to better learn about the roles that you need to help them hire for and collaborate with them when you’re recruiting for those roles, and just generally, how are you building better relationships with your hiring managers? 

SAMANTHA MCCAUL – Yeah. So usually when we’ve got a position like our positions become, kind of, active within the business, generally, the hiring manager will provide the JD. But generally, it’s about jumping on a call with them and doing like a manager kind of intake session with them, where we talk about the role, who it reports to, all those kinds of basic things. And then we kind of deep dive a little bit further and talk about the soft skills that they would be wanting to fill this role with, what’s their preferred — what does their ideal candidate look like? Experience, skills, et cetera, some businesses that are doing it really well. 

And a lot of the time, I think the brand, Princess Polly, we put out — add out here in Australia usually through Seek and obviously LinkedIn. And then depending on the role, sometimes our social teams will activate it on our socials, which can really ramp up our candidate pool. We’ve seen that particularly in the past with graphic designers, video editors, and photographers, applying directly through those social posts. And then just working really collaboratively with the managers. And I’m pretty easygoing and I like them to feel like they can be, I guess, honest with me when it comes to candidates. And I say to them the more feedback that they provide to me throughout the process, the quicker I’m going to hit the mark when it comes to a suitable candidate. 

And, I guess, since obviously interacting with Spark has also been fantastic in the sense that I find the recruitment process sometimes is like judging a book by its cover. And resumes, there should be like information put out there about resumes because some resumes are just awful, and you look at them and just, kind of, skim past them and don’t really, kind of, deep dive into them. Whereas I found with Spark, it’s allowed us to really open up our candidate pools. And I think for us as a business, we’re really trying to stand by diversity, inclusion, and belonging, and looking at candidates from a wide variety of backgrounds and a wide variety of genders, rights, et cetera. 

And I think Spark has been really instrumental in opening up our candidate pools and allowing us to view the candidate at face value and getting them to really sell themselves alongside their resume, which I think has been great. And all of our hiring managers have just absolutely loved the platform because if you show them their resume, they were like, oh, we probably wouldn’t have even looked at that candidate. But now there’s Spark, we’re just like blown away by them. And it’s like, yeah, it comes back to that, don’t judge a book by its cover. 

JOSH TOLAN – Yeah. That’s great to hear, and we’ll definitely come back to that. But I think that one of the underlying benefits that people often don’t realize when we’re initially talking to them about Spark Hire is that it allows you to open up the talent pool because right now, based on time constraints, you can only talk to so many individuals. So if you’re going to prioritize, you’re going to talk to, you might do that just based on a resume and only move forward 10 people. But with this type of interview, you have the ability to open up the talent pool, hear from more people, allow them to expand on their resume, and give more context. And then ultimately, what we find is many organizations will uncover candidates that they may not have advanced if they were using traditional screening methods just based on time constraints that now they give that opportunity to. And they uncover, this is a great candidate and we want to move quickly with them through the process. 

So it’s great to hear you say that. Just jumping back a bit, can you take me through like — and I know you just mentioned some of the things like you’re posting the job on Seek and other job boards on social, and you’re doing the Spark Hire interview, but can you just walk me through what the general stages are of your hiring process. 

SAMANTHA MCCAUL – Yeah. So obviously, approval to move forward with a role would come through. Hiring managers would, I guess, work on that JD in collaboration with our TX team. And then we would obviously put the roll out to advertise. We’d do, kind of, like an initial screening, and then now we’re pushing candidates through to Spark Hire for them to complete their initial screening. Once that’s completed, we would send that across to the hiring managers along with their resumes to move forward to the next stage. 

At this stage, we’re still, kind of, doing some initial screening by myself and the candidate, where I’ll deep dive more into their spark and question them along some of our values and talk through what’s motivating them to apply, et cetera. And then the next stage would be having an interview directly with the hiring manager. And once that is completed, usually then it’s going through to reference checks. And we use a system called cross-check. Once that’s completed, then we go to the final approval on the offer and then go to offer with a candidate. 

JOSH TOLAN – That seems like a pretty quick process. Typically, what would you say, end to end, it takes for you guys to fill a role? I know it can vary but, generally, how long does it take to run a process like that? 

SAMANTHA MCCAUL – Yeah, it’s, kind of, split by  — I guess we have defined time-to-hires depending on annualized salary. So anything under 60 grand plus super would be generally within that 30-day turnaround. Anything from around 60 to, kind of, 85 would be around that 45-day turnaround. And then that obviously goes up. 

But generally, depending on the hiring managers, I guess, motivation to fill the role in a sense, like for those entry-level roles like our customer experience representatives or image editors where it’s a trainable skill, or yeah, some of our accounts payable roles. Generally, we’re really fortunate that our distribution center has casual staff members that are working towards degree qualifications in a number of different areas. 

So for some of those roles, I’m a big advocate for internal promotions and succession planning. So if the hiring manager is open to it, we will generally open the role up internally and attract candidates from our distribution center for those entry-level roles. But for the harder-to-fulfill roles, obviously, we go back out to market. But we’re really trying hard as a brand to look internally and give those opportunities for succession planning and career advancement within the business. 

JOSH TOLAN – That’s huge, yeah. I mean, first of all, for you guys as a business, it’s great because if you can promote somebody internally, it’s one less person you have to go out externally and hire and spend the time and money to do so. But it’s great for the employee because they get to grow. 

And then it’s also great for your broader recruitment process because you can use those stories and like you mentioned, the employee testimonials and that type of content you’re trying to put out, that type of stuff is so powerful when you can get that in front of potential employees. And they can actually — a lot of companies talk about, we promote from within and you grow, you grow in your career here, and all those types of things. But you guys can actually show a demonstrated track record of that. 

SAMANTHA MCCAUL – Yeah, and I think it just provides such an opportunity for those individuals as well because our team at the DCO — HR team at the DTC does such a fantastic job on attracting candidates who align with our kind of company values. So they’re already ticking that mark. So yeah, for them to be then attracted over to our HQ is just such a big win for them all. 

And it’s like we recently had a uni graduate finish her accounting degree. She was kind the verge of looking externally and yeah, we had an accounts payable role come available. And it was only the fact that I’m a big advocate for it and so with some of the TX team over at RDT, where they were like, oh my gosh, I’ve got the perfect candidate. So it was such a quick turnaround and she was just over the moon to be able to still stay with the brand and start to really put her degree qualifications into action. So yeah, it’s really a win-win for everyone and certainly for her as she’s so excited for her journey within HQ. 

JOSH TOLAN – Yeah. And for you guys, you already know that it’s somebody that aligns with the values and is a good team member and steward of the business. 


JOSH TOLAN – And similarly, they already know generally, even though it’s at a different facility and a different role, they know what it’s like to work with you guys and they’re aligned with the values. So to your point, it’s a win-win. And once they get those skills and if you’ve got an open position, it’s kind of a no-brainer at that point. 

So just jumping back to the hiring process, can you give me some insight on — I know you mentioned there’s the initial Spark Hire screen, then you have a call with candidates, then hiring managers have a final round interview, how early on though do hiring managers get involved with the decision making? When you’re getting resumes coming through, I’m assuming you’re screening those and advancing them to a Spark Hire interview, then what happens from there? What’s the collaboration process look like? Are they evaluating every interview or a shortlist? Or maybe you can share some details. 

SAMANTHA MCCAUL – Yeah. So I’ll obviously shortlist through Spark Hire and send, I guess, the top options through to hiring managers. I’ll also provide, I guess, in that submittal email my professional opinion on who I think is most suitable for the role. But I guess at the end of the day, it certainly comes down to hiring managers’ opinion to move forward to that initial screening stage. So yeah, they would be involved fairly early on in the process to align with those candidates. 

JOSH TOLAN – That’s great. And then obviously, things have been going well for you guys as a business. You’re growing, you’ve got a US operation now spinning up and you’re hiring over there. So that’s all good. But what are some of the challenges that you guys have been facing in the hiring process? 

SAMANTHA MCCAUL – Yeah, interesting. I think one of the probably biggest challenges that we’ve found recently is — and this is probably prior to COVID, our office is based here on the Gold Coast, which is an hour away from Brisbane, but I think we were faced with challenges around that relocation piece. Particularly when we look at some of those merchandising roles like fashion designers, buyers, et cetera, a lot of them work for other brands based in Sydney and Melbourne, and I think the relocation part was quite a challenge because it’s such an emotional thought process. It’s not just about applying for a job and accepting it, it’s about you applying for the job and it’s actually looking at your family situation or your life situation and upheaving that to move to the Gold Coast. 

And I think the Gold Coast life is fairly appealing in the sense that it’s a beautiful work-life balance, you’ve got the beach and you’ve also got a city. And it’s a really beautiful spot but a lot of times it’s not for everyone. So I think that was a big challenge. But I think moving into COVID, and the opening up of this remote working opportunity, and us being more of a hybrid business, we’ve started to attract candidates. 

And we’ve got some candidates that work completely remotely. We’ve got a senior buyer that sits in Melbourne. We’ve got one of our performance marketing managers who sits in Sydney. So we’re very open to that. And I think technology has allowed us to continue to build, I guess, that culture with those employees having them fully remote. 

I guess in the last probably 12 months, there’s been a very — candidates are able to deter what they want and what they don’t want. So I think that’s probably been an interesting one that we’ve faced over the last probably 12 months. Just with inflation and everything happening, certainly salaries have really started to go outside of range. And I guess candidates are looking for top salary. So it’s been about being agile around how we attract candidates and still stay within budget has been probably something where we’ve faced probably over the last 12 months. 

JOSH TOLAN – And what are some of the things you guys are doing about that now to try and stay competitive? Because the budget’s the budget, right? So like you said, you might have to get a little bit creative. 

SAMANTHA MCCAUL – Yeah. Well, I think that creative pace comes down to allowing candidates to work fully remotely, allowing candidates to be open to location as well. So we attracted — of an example was we attracted a merchandising director who was based at the time in the UK. We obviously looked at engaging her, and to bring her over in Australia at the time was quite challenging. So we’ve actually moved her to the US. And yeah, she’s working there with the hopes that she’ll be able to come here in Aus in time. 

So yeah, I think we’ve been a bit more flexible in looking at how we attract candidates and what a candidate is really wanting. Yes, some people are motivated by salary but not all candidates are motivated by salary. So what are we doing as an employer to really attract that? We’ve introduced a parental leave policy, which is something that we haven’t done in the past, which obviously attracts that female candidate as well. And being a female brand, we’ve got a large amount of our staff are females. So I think that’s a big win that we’ve had happen over the last 12 months, which obviously attracts people as well. 

JOSH TOLAN – Yeah, definitely. So it’s about thinking about if the dollars are fixed, how can we be creative with other policies, perks, and work-life balance to really make it a more compelling offer. And then I think a lot of it also comes down to where does that person want to work? Which company’s values do they align with? What are they passionate about? And sometimes that can help overcome some compensation challenges. 

But to your point, every candidate is different. Some things are more important to some people than others. So for you guys, it’s about being creative and flexible and doing what it takes to stay competitive in a market like it is today. Looking ahead for you guys, what are some of the things you’re focused on for the rest of 2023 and beyond, are there any big initiatives on you guys’ plate? 

SAMANTHA MCCAUL – Yeah. Well, I think for us as a business, I think given obviously what’s happening outside like the climate, inflation, and stuff like that, I think for us it’s about making sure that our business continues to grow in challenging times. You know, I think across the business, that sustainability piece is a really big one for us moving forward, looking at making sure that 60% of our products are more sustainable, which I think is a big win. We’re going to be looking at doing a lot more organic stuff in-house, looking at changing our brand a little bit and making it a bit cleaner and a bit more on edge to our customers. So we’ve recently looked at doing that with the opening of our new studio, which is such a beautiful space. It’s very clean and bright. And yeah, I think that’ll change the outlook of our brand. 

From an HR perspective, certainly, we are moving towards more, kind of, learning. We’ve got, kind of, an LED specialist that focuses on continual learning for our staff. So we’ve got like the LinkedIn Learning platform where staff are able to do self-directed learning, whether that be in line with their position or in line with developing other social skills to better themselves within the business. 

We’ve got a leadership program that staff are, I guess, tapped on the head to say, would you like to be involved in the leadership program which runs over a year? And I think the other thing is that, yeah, we’ve put a lot of time and energy into that diversity, inclusion, and belonging. So I think we’ll see a lot of change happen in that space. So that’ll be around different initiatives across the business. So L&D, HR, the events that we align to, and then also our branding. 

JOSH TOLAN – That’s awesome. It sounds like you guys are investing a lot internally to help people upskill and grow within the business, and are investing in a lot of the right areas. And like you mentioned, in a market that’s tougher today, maybe hiring is a little bit slower. But if you invest in these foundational areas when hiring does pick back up, these are things that you could take to market when you’re speaking to candidates and things that you can talk to that are going to help you attract people like learning and development, the leadership training, D&I initiatives, like all these things make your recruitment message more powerful when volume picks back up, when the market turns around eventually. 

SAMANTHA MCCAUL – Yeah, I think as a business, as I said before, we’re pretty agile with what’s kind of happening at the time and we’re obviously looking, we’re very on point with what’s happening at the time. Particularly in our US market, we’re obviously partnered with Paxson, and we’ve got some of our product in store, which is something that’s very new for us. And we’re obviously looking to continue that growth for this year as well. And then looking from a customer’s perspective, we’ve obviously got of AU, the Australian market, we’ve got the US market now. We’re starting to look at that UK, Asian market, and how do we attract those customers to our brands? 

So yeah, I think for me, and I think partly why I’ve been within the business for five years — and that’s not a very long time, there have been people who have been in the business from the get-go — but certainly I think for me, partly why I’ve been so connected to the brand is I’ve gone on maternity leave twice and the brand’s being super flexible with allowing me to return to work at my own time, in my own way kind of thing, which I think has been beautiful. They’re very family orientated, they’re very much about what comes first — your family comes first and we’ll commit to that, which I think is beautiful. The innovation piece, I think it’s exciting internally to be able to do things that are innovative and I think the brand does that really, really well. 

And then I think overall, it’s just about the people that work here. We’ve got a really beautiful workforce. Everyone gets along really well. When we are able to take our hats off, our HR hats out, marketing hats and have a good time, everyone generally has a really awesome time. Yeah, we kind of get along really well, which is awesome. 

JOSH TOLAN – It’s a great message. And it, kind of, comes back to what we were talking about in the beginning of this conversation when we’re talking about being authentic, and from what I just heard from you and your experience at Princess Polly, I’m sure that resonates when you’re talking to candidates on phone calls as your story and your experience there, I can feel that energy from you of like, it’s authentic, like you’ve truly had a wonderful experience here, the people are great and you’ve been there for five years so obviously things are pretty good. 


JOSH TOLAN – So I think that really shows you just being able to be authentic and tell your story and your experience, and be able to relay that to candidates is probably something that’s pretty powerful when you’re speaking to folks throughout the hiring process. So one thing I’m wondering about, you mentioned you’re running the recruitment process pretty much solo, but it sounds like you have your hands in a lot of areas of the business, like you know a lot of things that are going on from a strategic level. So how as an individual running the recruitment process for a growing company are you building — we talked about building relationships with hiring managers but also with leadership to make sure that you know what the strategic direction is and how you as an individual focused on recruitment can help contribute to that? 

SAMANTHA MCCAUL – Yeah, I think I’m really fortunate within my position that my role generally sits within that leadership team. So we get together at the beginning of the year to do like a kickoff meeting where we all discuss what were some of the things that we as a business, we achieved last year and what is it that we want to achieve in this year. So, yeah, I’ve been involved in that, which has been really good because it, kind of, allows you to have the fundamental understanding of each of those departments and be able to really sell it. Because, I guess, my role in the recruitment space has really been an advocate for those departments and really attract the candidates to apply for those departments. 

And I think also to just being on site and being available to those hiring managers and listening to where they’re going and what their teams are involved in I think has been really crucial in my success in my role because I think if you got your ear to the ground, you know what’s happening and you’re really able to push that out to the candidates and also the customers. But yeah, I think we do really well as a business to communicate down. So we have — every Monday, we have a midday meeting where our senior leaders jump on a call and give us an update. 

So our marketing director will give a marketing update. Our merchandising director will give an update. Ian, who’s our general manager, will basically give an update on the week and how we’re tracking. And then we have a TX update as well. So I think everyone from those Monday meetings, you feel really connected to the brand and what’s happening across a number of different departments. And I think collaboration across those departments is key for the success of our business and we’re really encouraging people to be more collaborative. 

JOSH TOLAN – That’s awesome. And one of the things that stood out to me, and I love that you said this because a lot of times when I think about recruitment and talking to recruiters, we talk about, oh, you’ve got to sell the vision, sell the job, sell the candidate on coming to work here, sell — sell — sell. But I love that you use the word advocate and that you’re an advocate for those departments, you’re an advocate for those hiring managers. 

It’s not about selling and again, going back to push and pull with the type of content that you deliver. It’s not about pushing the candidate to come work for us, it’s about being an advocate for what you guys are doing internally and being authentic and how you share that message with your candidates. Then the candidates either choose to opt into that or opt out of that. But either way they’re getting like an authentic view of why they should work here. And so I love that you use the term advocate versus selling. 

SAMANTHA MCCAUL – Yeah. And I think recruiters can be put on a bit of — sometimes I think recruiters have a bad name because they definitely are about selling. But I think that’s — I had an opportunity in my career to go and do external recruitment. And although I loved it, the hype of it was amazing and certainly there was lots of energy and a lot of buzz around kind of external recruitment but I think for me, it’s like I struggled with the alignment to the brands that I was working for.

Whereas I think as an internal recruiter, you can really, kind of, I guess, yeah, as I said, advocate for that brand and really stand there and say, well, this is why I love being a part of this business, whereas when I was doing external recruitment, it was kind of like, yeah, it was a real selling kind of role trying to get people into roles where you really didn’t know. 

It was your words, not really how you felt about it. And I think that’s why I really loved this internal kind of recruitment space because you actually are the advocate for the business and you are the advocate for the brand. And it’s not hard to then talk to a candidate about it because you live and you breathe it every single day. 

JOSH TOLAN – 100%. And that’s the thing with being authentic is if you can share that message with candidates and share your personal experience and just present information, candidates can make that decision themselves. If they align with the business, and the products you guys offer, and the culture you have, and the values that you guys live by, they can figure that out if you just present the information and share personal experiences, whether it be yours or whether it be other employees through other pieces of content like you mentioned, employee testimonial videos, day-in-the-life type of videos, stuff you guys post on social. Just putting that in front of candidates can help them make that decision for themselves. 

So it’s not always so much that you have to work so hard to sell them on why they should come here, you just need to present them with information and help them make that decision for themselves. And then ultimately, hopefully, you get people that are going to be there for the long term because they’ve opted in to come work for you based on the experiences that you’ve shared with them. 

SAMANTHA MCCAUL – Yeah. And I think that essentially, yeah, as you said it, probably helps with our retention as well. We’re certainly seeing that in the way that the brand has grown. We’ve got some staff who obviously started with them as a start-up business and they’re still here today. 

So getting those individuals to talk about their journey I think is really important to get that across to candidates applying. And I would love something that is on my wish list for the businesses. I’d love to do like a video where we just get someone to come in and video just a day in the life here at Princess Polly because honestly, it’s such it’s the most beautiful office I’ve ever worked in before.

They’ve put a lot of money into it. Some of the spreads that they put on for breakfast and stuff like that, I think it’s just so amazing. And I’ve never worked for a brand that’s ever given me breakfast so I think that is just like — 

JOSH TOLAN – You’ve got to show it off. 

SAMANTHA MCCAUL – But yeah, it’s a really big draw factor I think. And that’s just, yeah, that’s just the norm for our business. So hopefully, in quarter four of this year, we’re going to do a bit of work around our branding and hopefully, we can get some budget to do an employee EVP kind of video. 

JOSH TOLAN – That’s great. Well, Sam, this has been awesome. I really appreciate your time. It was great to learn more about the hiring process at Princess Polly and everything that you guys are up to. And I’m sure everybody that watches this is going to take a lot of insight away and take some ideas away as well that they can start to implement at their organization. 

SAMANTHA MCCAUL – Amazing. Well, thank you so much for your time. It was lovely to chat with you. And I hope you have a lovely evening. 

JOSH TOLAN – Thank you. 

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.