Jo Stoner

Jo Stoner

Interview tough love? It’s all in the experience.

“Just because it is a tough interview, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad interview.”

Such was the quote from Scott Dobroski, a Glassdoor spokesman as they published their list of the top 25 toughest companies for job seekers to interview at.

Seeing Informatica’s name in the top 25 gave me pause for thought. Is this something we want as a reputation or is this one of those times where you do not want to see your company name up in lights?

Glassdoor is becoming an increasingly relevant and influential site every time I look at it. I ask our new hires at our quarterly orientation program how many of them checked us out before accepting an offer. With each passing orientation, more and more hands go up when I ask that question.

And it is not just U.S.-based employees, but  people from many parts of the world. In the same way we all turn to TripAdvisor or Yelp before deciding on a hotel or a new spot for dinner, Glassdoor gives the unvarnished truth about what it is like to work at a company. Posted by employees, both current and former, it is intended to help prospective employees get a better insight into what it is really like behind the recruitment pitch and the hiring manager’s description of the career opportunities, rock climbing walls and free lunches. Informatica is fortunate to have many great reviews on Glassdoor and with a high CEO approval rating as well, we have found ourselves listed in a number of articles showcasing the best enterprise software companies and CEOs to work for, including this piece in Forbes.com.

Perhaps it has been out there for a while, or perhaps Informatica hasn’t had many postings to draw my attention there, but it seems to me that the “interview” area of Glassdoor is suddenly growing fast as more and more candidates share their experiences of the hiring process and even outline questions posed in the interviews. http://www.glassdoor.com/Interview/index.htm

I have RSS feeds set up to stay abreast of what people are posting about Informatica. It’s a great way to get a real time, honest assessment of what we do well and what we need to work on and keeps our leaders focused on continuous improvements. I have certainly perused the descriptions of other companies’ interview processes to see how we can learn and improve and I’ll admit it, had a little chuckle while reading stories of how candidates have been asked ridiculous questions or how recruiters have mismanaged the challenge of keeping one candidate warm while presenting the offer and trying to close the first choice of candidate.

I also visit Facebook and LinkedIn fairly regularly, but must confess to not having a Twitter account (and still smile a little to myself at the verb that is fast becoming the norm in our language). However, I am certainly not naïve to the influence these sites have on consumer and candidate thinking.

Talent is in high demand in the Silicon Valley and many high tech parts of the world. Building a reputation as a “tough place for jobseekers” is not at first thought, what a company might strive for. However, looking more closely at the report on money.cnn.com , the second factor listed in the report addresses how positive the candidate’s experience was.

With an 83% positive experience rating, I start to think differently about being listed!

At Informatica we are very selective about the talent we hire.  And there is no reason we shouldn’t be proud of that even while hiring managers are hammering on the doors of my recruitment team to move faster in filling their openings. We do not sacrifice quality for speed and we do put our candidates through their paces when it comes to our hiring process. A number of managers within the company who saw this article said they had shared it with their recent hires, to help them feel proud of having successfully passed the high standard. A few others started reminiscing about the time they were “grilled” ten plus years ago when they went through the interview process!

The war for talent is definitely on, but that is no reason to lower the bar in order to meet hiring plans more quickly. Our goal is for people to have long, successful careers with Informatica. We have seen time and time again that skills, experience and especially cultural fit are all critical dimensions in that goal.

Asking tough questions up front is always easier than having tough conversations later on and, with our intense focus on making the experience a pleasurable and positive one means that candidates not only walk away feeling slightly hot under the collar from their “grilling” but also inclined to tell their friends on Glassdoor and other social media sites how excited they would be to secure a job with us.

It helps our reputation, our employment brand and lets our people know they are part of a close knit, dare I say “elite” team that protects our culture and quality with a passion. Being on the list is not a bad thing at all, but something to be proud of. Maybe I should tweet about it?

If you’d like to find out more about careers at Informatica and feel ready to take on the challenge of our interviews – check us out at: http://careers.informatica.com/

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Take Your Sons and Daughters to Work Day

As the head of HR for Informatica, I often get asked about what makes our company unique, and without hesitation I would have to say our people.  Our people are our secret sauce.  In a recent discovery session for our employment brand, it came up over and over again, that Informatica employees are collaborative and believe in the power of the team approach.  I thought about this often when we hosted 40 of their children during this year’s Take your daughters and sons to work day.

Take Our Daughters To Work Day was created by Gloria Steinem and Marie Wilson and the Ms. Foundation as a response to research that showed that, by the 8th grade, many girls were dropping out of school, had low self-esteem, and lacked confidence. In 2003, after criticism, the name of the program was changed to ‘‘Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day’’ and the program began to include boys. The main goal of the program is to provide ‘‘innovative strategies that empower girls and boys to overcome societal barriers to reach their full potential’.’

In the 20 years since its inception Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, has grown into one of the largest public awareness campaigns. The program boasts more than 37,000,000 participants annually in more than 3,000,000 organizations and workplaces in every State.

But, back to the 40 children who participated in our event.  We invited employees to bring their first to sixth graders to the office for a half day of activities/games and presentations.

The day started with an ice breaker over breakfast, and I had the opportunity to talk to them about what “HR” people do for a living, They all had their own perspectives which ranged from “transferring data around” to “writing job descriptions and hiring people”. Its always a great opportunity for reflection when you know you have to describe what you do every day to a ten year old and I recommend every leader practice that speech in their head to bring back a little perspective into your world! We settled on teamwork and leadership being very important “to avoid total chaos” and discussed how they might focus on being strong teams without having any appointed leader, especially as there were prizes to be won.

Then the children participated in a series of technical and creative challenges which included building a special tool out of paper plates, straws, paper clips, cups, and then designing a commercial to sell the tool.  It was clear that we had some budding engineering talent in the group!

Marge Breya, our CMO, then led a session on personal brand.  Finally, our IT team, led by Kristin Kokie walked the students through building their own sharepoint site.    Again, we identified some real budding talent on the marketing side as well as the IT side.  A 5th grader singlehandedly scripted, directed and delivered a commercial that could rival any superbowl ad.  One 2nd grader did not want to deliver the sharepoint site because he didn’t feel that it was ready for release due to quality issues which was just the kind of leadership and attention to detail that we reward here at Informatica.

What really struck me about the day was how life imitated art.  How the children of our employees exemplified the qualities we so value in their parents.

The students were put into teams of 5-6.  All of them were strangers to each other at the start of the day, but by the end of the day, many were exchanging contact information and promises to stay in touch.

I witnessed the children lending support and encouragement to one another, sharing in each other’s victories and propping each other up when things didn’t work i.e their tower fell down.

I witnessed conflicts being addressed, not by singling out or mocking those with differing viewpoints, but by lending support and encouragement.

I witnessed the natural leadership skills of some of the students.  At each table, one student emerged as the leader.  Interestingly all of them were nurturing and collaborative ensuring that the younger students got to participate.  I have to thank Lalitta Ghandikota and Marlo Banks for pulling together such an amazing day; their own passion for children, education and the Informatica Involved program is inspiring and I can’t wait until my own children are old enough to come to work and learn more about what I do that takes me away from them all day long.

Henry Ford once said:

Coming together is a beginning.
Keeping together is progress.
Working together is success.

If the 40 children learned nothing more about the day then the importance of teamwork, I would say we had a successful day.   The fact that we were able to identify a few interns for the Informatica intern class of 2022 was an added bonus!

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Who Wants to Clean Out the Fridge on Friday Night?

A while ago I wrote a piece about our company’s ‘green’ initiatives. Amongst the many programs we are adopting to be more environmentally conscious, one was to achieve the Energy Star Rating certification for our headquarters building in Redwood City, California.

Our facilities team worked hard to achieve the certification: we announced it, we shared the news with our community, issued a press release, patted ourselves on the back and then everyone went back to work. But clearly, it is a gift that keeps on giving … (more…)

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Fishing in the Valley – How to Brand Your (Fishing) Rod

The Great Recession of the past few years may have slowed hiring down, but in the hi-tech world – did it ever really go away? No matter what the state of the economy, every company is looking for top talent in order to fuel innovation and business growth and the race is back on in full force.

According to a recent study by Bersin & Associates, talent shortages are cited as a key business challenge by more than 50 percent of business leaders. Not really a surprise – yet we are all fishing in the same pond to find that talent and while LinkedIn is a pretty big pond, how does one fishing rod stand out from another? (more…)

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You Can Eat Your Cake … and Your Fork Too!

Informatica has just met a major milestone in achieving Energy Star Rating certification for our headquarters building in Redwood City, California. If you didn’t know – the national energy performance rating is an external benchmark that helps you assess how efficiently your buildings use energy, relative to similar buildings nationwide. Hitting this milestone generates savings of 400,000 kWh which is about 330,000 lbs in CO2 reduction per year. That seems like a lot of gas when you really think about it. (more…)

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So You’ve Got the Paycheck, Good Benefits and a Seat on the Equity Train. So What?

If you’re an outstanding software professional, everyone knows what’s in the package these days: you’re going to get a competitive salary, great benefits and challenging work assignments. You can pat yourself on the back and say out loud: “Look Mom, I made it!”.

Really? (more…)

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