Luke Kyte

Our culture revolution – Part 19: We only hire adults

Category Tags: Culture

We’re just a normal agency. You may own one. You may work for one. We’re ticking along nicely, picking up new business and growing at a good pace. The team size has upped from 1 to 20 in five years, with plans of reaching 50 by 2021. Everyone seems happy.

But we want more.

Day Zero was the launch of our manifesto. Its aim? To revolutionise our culture, attract amazing talent, and be recognised nationally as a great place to work.

Over the course of the next few months we’ll be taking you to the heart of Reddico, sharing our highs, our lows, and our eureka moments. We’ll be honest and open about everything. What works. What doesn’t. Whether you’re here for inspiration, to watch us fail, or out of sheer curiosity, welcome along.

No hours. No managers. Rules set by the team. Let’s see what happens next.

We only hire adults.

That’s not being discriminatory by age. Instead, our definition of an adult is slightly different to the Oxford dictionary’s – and it helps us maintain a culture of trust, freedom and responsibility.

In fact, for us, adults need all three of those words. Trust. Freedom. Responsibility.

By working at Reddico, you’ll get all three. But not everyone can handle it. And that’s absolutely fine.

We want people who are motivated, passionate, determined, responsible for their time, able to prioritise, can deliver amazing work without being micromanaged, and relish the opportunity to do a job their way.

There are many people out there who fit that bill, tie into our values, and would thrive in the culture we’ve aspired to create.

But on the other hand, there are people who would take advantage of our relaxed and flexible policies, gaming the system for their own benefit. For us, they’re not adults.

To counter the threat of recruiting the wrong people, we’ve structured our recruitment to give us the best opportunity of finding and attracting the right kind – adults.

Our recruitment stumbling block

We’ll be honest here. We’ve always struggled with recruitment.

Not every role has been hard to fill, but being close to London (and a little off the beaten track on the outskirts of Tonbridge), it’s given us a challenge in finding highly skilled SEO consultants.

That’s not for a lack of CVs either.

We’re inundated with new people applying for the various search roles, but the challenge has been finding a consistent pool of talented SEO experts to service our clients.

By no means are we throwing an umbrella over in-house teams, but typically someone with SEO experience from a non-agency side doesn’t marry up with what we’re looking for. There’s often a significant skill gap (and salary expectations can be demanding for the actual experience they have).

So, when we already have issues with recruitment, why are we making life even more difficult when it comes to recruiting for culture?

It’s a good question to ask. However for us, one bad apple spoils the barrel (excuse the analogy – we’re based on a working farm, after all).

Finding highly competent consultants is a really high priority. But so’s maintaining the culture of trust and freedom we’ve worked so hard to build up.

Our recruitment process

Our recruitment process follows the illustration below:

There are two extra stages in our process, compared to the average recruitment cycle: a pre-screening interview, and the culture interview.

  • Pre-screening interviews

A pre-screening interview is a great way to find out if a candidate is likely to fit the criteria you’re looking for. A CV can only tell you so much, which is why this 15-minute catch-up on the phone or by Skype (for example) is an opportunity to gain a better top level understanding.

This pre-screening is most valuable when trying to fill technical positions, such as within our SEO team. How candidates come across in this session gives us a quick, valuable insight into their skills and expertise – so we can make an early call as to whether they might be right for Reddico.

As well as questioning candidates on a competency level, we also use this pre-screening interview to see if people align with our values and culture.

The pre-screening interview is one we’re currently reviewing, perhaps to tie in with our first interview. As we’re continually looking to improve our process, it may be that the fundamentals of our value-based approach can form part of the initial face-to-face meeting.

  • First and second interviews

There’s nothing particularly unique or special to our interview format when it comes to the initial face-to-face meeting.

The first interview is a time for us and the candidate to understand if Reddico’s the right fit. It consists of typical interview questions to gain an insight into the skills, expertise and ability of the candidate.

For some roles, only one interview is necessary.

For others, we’ll ask them back for a second – usually to present in one way or another. The candidate will be given a task to complete, or an account to review. They’ll then present their findings or work to various stakeholders.

As we discussed earlier, finding the high calibre of SEO candidates has been an issue and unfortunately, it’s often the second interview that makes it clear the person isn’t quite right.

  • Culture interview

The culture interview is one we’ve adapted over the last 12 months, trying to find the winning formula.
The premise is simple: to give our team a say in whether we decide to hire candidates.

How we’ve achieved this team meeting has varied:

  1. Lunch and drinks down the local pub with a few team members
  2. Casual chat in the meeting room with a few people
  3. Ordered pizza and talked over clients and work with the SEO team
  4. Hosted a Mario Kart session with pizza, that the whole team could drop in and out of

For us, number 4 seems to be the winner. It was the most recent experiment and one that allowed the candidate to meet most of the team in a really relaxed setting.

Whilst we’re aware it can be pretty daunting to meet a lot of people at once, we like to think of ourselves as a family. We’re a friendly bunch and go out of our way to make everyone feel welcome.

Getting the team’s buy-in to new people is a brilliant way to maintain the culture we’ve established over the last 18 months and ensure it’s not threatened by new hires.

Our future recruitment

We’ll always be recruiting for both competency and culture.

We want to become the best place to work in the UK (maybe the world), so for us, assessing both parts equally is the right way to go.

If you’re interested in joining Reddico or finding out how you could make an impact with us, check out our latest jobs.

What’s next?

Next week, we’re sharing information on our new appraisal process – as we shift away from annual reviews and move to quarterly appraisals with the coach.

We’ve constructed a new form set to go live at the end of March for the first batch of appraisals, which we’ll also be sharing.

This considers:

  • Aspirations
  • Successes
  • Happiness
  • Reddico’s values