How to get a job at Zoom, according to its head of talent acquisition

Zoom's office

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In December 2019, Zoom had 10 million average daily meeting participants. Fast forward to the start of the pandemic, and by April 2020 that number reached 300 million.

With user growth sustaining through 2021, the video-chat tech company has experienced a hiring boom. 

At the start of 2020, Zoom had just over 2,400 employees globally. In its recent Q3 earnings call, it revealed that it now has more than 3,800 employees in six (now largely virtual) offices in the United States, 11 offices in Asia and Europe, and three new R&D hubs and tech centers in Pittsburgh, Phoenix, and Bangalore.

Insider jumped on a Zoom with Phil Haynes, the company’s head of global talent acquisition, to find out everything you need to know about how to nab one of the hundreds of roles currently on offer, which are largely in tech and business development.

Phil Haynes

Haynes said that his talent acquisition team has grown five-fold to around 70 recruiters since the pandemic began, and they also conduct some direct recruitment through online channels. 

“We try to blend those three talent pools: applicants, referrals, and our directly recruited candidates,” he said.

Zoom’s hiring boom means that about one-third of its employees have yet to set foot in a Zoom office or meet another colleague in person.

“We’re doing a lot of surveys of our employees to find out whether they want to go back to the office,” Haynes said. “Most employees are mixed and want flexibility in the post-pandemic workplace.”

Zoom’s welcome package currently includes helping employees with their home office setups, as well as company swag, a wellness and fitness allowance, and access to subscription wellbeing apps.

Get a referral

Haynes has been in his role at Zoom since August 2019 — before that, he had around 28 years of recruiting experience in Silicon Valley. 

Like many tech firms in the region, Haynes said that Zoom’s always been a fan of hiring recommendations coming from current employees.

“Internal referrals are huge — we hire at a very high rate of internal referrals at Zoom, particularly from new employees,” he said.

He suggested that people interested in joining Zoom look through their connections to see if they know anyone working at the company.

However, Haynes said that he only wants people reaching out to a Zoom employee if they’ve been coworkers in the past — he doesn’t encourage or reward blind outreach to employees from people they can’t vouch for.

“Referrals are most influential when the referring employee is a known entity to the hiring manager and is a top performer themselves,” he said. “The old adage that ‘A players refer A players’ is probably most true in a hiring manager’s mind.”  

Touch on your ability to operate in a fast-moving environment

“We very much have an external persona of being this large company — and certainly we have grown tremendously,” Haynes said. “But we are very much a startup. We operate very fast, very furiously. Working here means taking charge, and not waiting to be told what to do.”

Successful candidates and employees recognize the opportunity that resides in a high-growth environment. Haynes said that indicators he looks for in an interview are firm examples of contributing to a new role quickly, such as delivering a project in your first few months of employment.

“Matching that pace is really important,” he said. “The false starts we’ve seen are people coming from very large, slower growth, more measured environments. Grabbing the bull by the horns is our DNA, and I would encourage people to possess that before they even apply.”

In key roles such as sales or engineering, this means coming up with bold ideas and anticipating trends before they happen, as opposed to being reactive.

Showcase a track record of quantifiable results

“The thing that I always key in on when I look at resumes is quantifiable results,” Haynes said. “A lot of people will pad a resume, but they need to understand that we will look right through that.”

By this, he means avoiding what he calls “aspirational words” such as “I participated in.” It’s how you made a difference in your job that’s critical, he said. 

“If you had quantifiable results for your previous companies, get those up front,” he said. “The more data that you have in terms of facts and figures on your resume, the better.”

Because Zoom is growing so fast, the recruitment team needs to know that their staff “can hit the ground running,” not take 90 days to get up to speed, Haynes added. He likened it to getting on the highway and going from 10 miles an hour to 80 in order to be able to merge with other traffic.

“That’s the on ramp at Zoom — get in, hang on, and get going,” he said. “We look for people who have been able to make an impact quickly.”

When it comes to “fast ramp time,” he gives the example of successful interviewees for recruitment roles who tell him how they’ve, in the past, began employing others within 30 days of starting their job. 

Show you ‘care’ in line with Zoom’s values

It depends on the role you’re going for, but you don’t have to have graduated top of your class at an Ivy League college to get a job at Zoom, Haynes said. When it comes to entry-level and individual contributor roles in particular, the company hires based on values and competencies. 

“We look at a wide range of educational backgrounds, and we’re very focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion,” he said. “So we don’t necessarily lean toward people from one company or lean toward people from one university.”

Zoom screens to its values of “We Care” — “We care for our community, our customers, our company, our teammates, and ourselves.” Interviewers are looking for candidates to speak to these throughout.

“We provide a list of behavioral-based interview questions to our interviewers and ask them to take notes,” he said. “We don’t define ‘good’ or ‘bad’ answers, but the extent to which the person is able to demonstrate the value through the answer.”

The company is seeking to elicit a response based on past experience. Haynes gives the examples of, “Tell me about a time you disagreed with a decision your boss made. How did you handle it?” The answer should be in a format that addresses the context (what was the situation), the action (what did the candidate do), and the result (what was the outcome of the action taken).

Prepare for 3 recruitment steps

Haynes said there are usually three layers to the interview process, depending on the department and role. 

“We always start with a recruiter screen,” he said. “You’re always going to talk to one of my team members, to make sure that we’ve got at least a preliminary right fit and some alignment on compensation expectations, so that we’re not surprised down the road.”

After this, you might go through a hiring manager screen (you definitely will if it’s a sales role) or move into a competency test.

“If it’s a tech role, we may do a coding assessment, and then a more technical interview,” he said. “If it’s a sales role, we may do what we call a ‘stand and deliver,’ which is a sales presentation.”

Zoom then goes to a three-person panel interview, where competencies and values are vetted.

For example, they regularly use “curiosity” and ask questions such as, “Tell me about a time when you were curious about something at work, or a solution, or a challenge,” he said.

As for the future direction of hiring at Zoom, Haynes said that it’s keen to emphasize that it’s more than a video-meeting platform.

“When I’m speaking to a group of job seekers, I encourage them not to just think of us as that meeting company verb, but that we have a lot of different things that we provide to the business world of communications and collaboration,” he said. “If you’ve got expertise in the chat world, or you’ve got expertise in voice, telephony, internet, think of us like that, not just meetings.”

Like most employers, he said that they value candidate questions about the business, where it’s headed, and cultural fit such as commitments to diversity and social outreach. 

“We’re looking for people who are interested in not only the business of Zoom, but the heart and soul of Zoom as a company,” he said.

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