Published by Calendly - December 18, 2014

Recruiters: use this admissions strategy to retain top talent & grow your program

What if you discovered that your admissions strategy was potentially letting top talent slip through the cracks? By switching to Calendly, Hackbright has created the fair, well-rounded interview process they needed.

What if you discovered that your admissions strategy was potentially letting top talent slip through the cracks?

What if the best applicants–who would go on to secure high-demand jobs and help strengthen your program as graduates–weren’t even landing interviews?

That might be happening.

It was certainly happening to Hackbright Academy, the world’s leading engineering school for women.

Leaking qualified applicants

Hackbright boasts an extremely efficient teaching model–preparing students for full-time programming positions in 10 weeks–but their admissions process and tools were archaic and intrusive, turning off the very applicants with whom they wished to nurture a relationship.

“The user experience of our old scheduling service was off-putting and frustrating,” said Kristen Yarbrough, who heads Hackbright’s admissions department. “It required people to register and include all of their personal contact information before booking a time.

“These were people I was trying to build a relationship with, so when I had to send them to an outside service that didn’t feel trustworthy, that made my job all the more difficult.”

Rather than ensuring that top talent was recruited to Hackbright, Kristen and the admissions team were forced to focus on low-value tasks, like explaining how to use a scheduling program. As a result, many applicants were being evaluated solely on their written application, rather than on qualities that require live interaction to shine through: work ethic, willingness to accept instruction and aptitude in the field.

“It was frustrating turning people down for an interview based on essay questions that might not really convey what they can do as a programmer,” said Kristen. “It’s entirely possible for someone to be a great developer, even if they’re not a great writer. The more people we can interview, the fairer our admissions process can be.”

By switching to Calendly, Hackbright has created the fair, well-rounded interview process they needed.

The result?

More applicants interviewed.

A larger pool of students from which to shape the next class.

And a greater likelihood of graduates succeeding–which would allow Hackbright to further develop its program, preparing even more women for successful programming careers.

How Hackbright recruits talent that grows the program

The admissions workflow begins when Hackbright receives an application and decides to meet the prospective student for an interview. Kristen sends the applicant a template email titled “Interview One,” which instructs the recipient to select her 30-minute “First Interview” event type and to book an appointment.

Once the applicant schedules an interview, she receives an automatic confirmation email from Calendly, which the admissions team has customized to outline next steps and details. These include:

  • The interview platform to be used (Google Hangouts) and her username
  • When and where to expect the invite to the call
  • How long the questions portion of the interview will last
  • What topics will be covered
  • How long the applicant will have to respond with her own questions
  • What to do if technical difficulties occur

Automating these emails saves time twice: both when the booking occurs (since the admissions team no longer needs to stop what they’re doing to send the information) and on the day of the interview, as applicants already know where to be and how to solve technical problems themselves.

“Not having to copy and paste all of that information and manually send it to each person is extremely helpful,” Kristen said.

“This process has cut down a ton on technical difficulties. People know what to do ahead of time, and because Calendly gives me their contact info, I can contact them easily and walk them through the interview from the beginning without them getting confused.”

The day before the interview, Calendly sends the applicant an automatic meeting reminder, which has “really helped decrease the number of no-shows,” said Kristen. When the interview begins, she activates Screencastify to record the conversation for later review. If the applicant is a good fit, the admissions team then invites her to book the next event type on the next interviewer’s scheduling page, “Second Interview,” and the process is repeated. This streamlined workflow empowers Hackbright to develop an informed, well-rounded view of applicants.

No longer stuck playing email tag or putting out technical fires, the team can devote their attention to evaluating people based on conversation, rather than simply on their written application responses.

After an applicant is accepted into Hackbright, she completes a 10 week course, followed by a two-week period of interview preparation for a speedy transition into the workforce. Ninety percent of Hackbright grads go on to secure jobs in tech, with an average starting salary of $89k for full-time roles. This translates to success for everyone: the student, her new company and the Hackbright team.

“Conducting more interviews doesn’t allow us to recruit a bigger class,” Kristen said, “it allows us to recruit a better class. Our students get placed in jobs more frequently, and this in turn helps strengthen the program.”

With an efficient admissions strategy in place, Kristen can recruit rockstars, shape the brightest classes possible and achieve Hackbright’s goal of placing more women in technology jobs throughout the industry.

Your Turn

Recruiters, how could you benefit from an admissions process like Hackbright’s?

What do you do to gain a well-rounded view of applicants while maintaining productivity?

Share your story in the comments below. I’m excited to hear your thoughts.