To apply for a job? This company wants you to meet the board, even for entry-level positions

By Emilie Bary

Payments juggernaut Adyen, one of the most valuable public companies in the Netherlands, says interviews with board members, even for entry-level candidates, have contributed to success

As Ethan Tandowsky reached the final round of the interview process with Adyen NV, his meeting took a unique turn.

CFO Ingo Uytdehaage, who was interviewing Tandowsky in 2016, interrupted the discussion to check if the payments company’s chief executive, Pieter van der Does, also wanted to join in the conversation, which he did.

Just four or five years out of college, Tandowsky wasn’t applying for an entry-level position in finance, but he wasn’t aiming for a particularly senior role either. And Adyen, with maybe 450 employees at the time, wasn’t exactly a small startup.

While Adyen’s interview marked the first and only time Tandowsky met with a CEO as part of the hiring process, high-level attention is standard at Adyen, which required all applicants, even newbies meet with a board member like the CEO or CFO before getting a job offer. It’s a practice that executives say helps Adyen ensure it recruits high-quality workers who fit the company’s corporate culture.

Adyen has come a long way since interviewing Tandowsky in 2016. With more than 2,500 full-time equivalent employees, the nearly €50 billion fintech company is the fourth-largest public company in the Netherlands in market value, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

Even as the company grew, executives sought to keep their stamp on the hiring process, although board members tweaked the inner circle a bit so they weren’t too busy. through job interviews. While most Adyen employees still meet with one of Adyen’s six board members before formal hire, Adyen now allows several senior executives to also qualify as endgame interviewers. .

“It’s about curiosity to find really good candidates,” van der Does told MarketWatch. “We are looking for a combination of bright people who want to thrive in an environment with some uncertainty.”

When van der Does meets the candidates, he does not seek to assess their technical skills, but rather to determine what kind of workers and people they are. While some people like to be given tasks to be competitive, van der Does says Adyen is looking for future employees who can assess what is needed and work with it.

Instead of asking candidates to solve a difficult technical problem or describe their proudest moment, he could ask them how they plan to handle a move to the Netherlands or how they would define a good day.

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Board members do not unilaterally reject candidates at Adyen, but they will flag issues that need to be discussed further within the team involved in the recruitment. Van der Does said he would speak with officials about whether a candidate had just had the day off or whether issues during the board interview reflected concerns the recruiting team already had, but might have been willing to look beyond to get someone to fill a needed role.

“Sometimes if you’re running a department and you end up getting busy, the short-term strategy is to fill the team with fewer people, but in the long term that doesn’t work,” he said, in part because it impacts future hires.

“If you have too many 6s and 7s, it becomes very difficult to hire those 8s and 9s,” he added, because candidates are more likely to play a role if they look around and can say: “it’s a smart team”.

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Tandowsky, who has become the head of the company’s finance group, now sees the interview process in a new light as board members will ask questions about candidates he’s looking to add to the roster. ‘crew.

“They’re really good at verifying people’s intentions to join,” he said. “People might speak a little differently when talking to a board member, so it’s really helpful to get their perspective.” Van der Does said about 8% of candidates he meets won’t end up being hired. Adyen board members typically conduct six to eight interviews per week. Uytdehaage, the chief financial officer, said the company’s recent earnings date in early August was an “exceptional” day in which he did not speak to any potential new hires.

Executives say they spend this time not only vetting candidates, but also emphasizing Adyen’s flat organizational structure, where senior leaders sit in an open floor plan just off the corner. cafe so they can have spontaneous conversations with workers. The hope is that employees, having met a board member during the interview process, will be more likely to approach that executive when they pass each other in the hallways or cafeteria, which could lead to discussions on company projects.

Tandowsky said the strategy worked on him when he started at the company and had the same effect on his team as well. “If I saw Ingo or Pieter at the lunch table, it wasn’t an introduction, it was, ‘What are you thinking? What are you focusing on?'”

He also said the high profile interview made him feel he was important and would be part of a successful company.

“After these last conversations with the board, I was really convinced that Adyen was going to be very successful and that I was going to play a big role in it,” he said. “In what has been a fairly hot market, [candidates] usually have other options. Hearing that vision and opportunity for the business going forward really helped confirm that this was the right place to go from an opportunity perspective, alongside the cultural aspect, which was very important. ”

The interview process is so important to Adyen that it was mentioned in the company’s last letter to shareholders. Van der Does told MarketWatch that he has received questions from investors about whether the maintenance strategy is sustainable alongside Adyen’s rapid growth.

“The board continues to spend significant time on the recruitment process and meets with the majority of new colleagues before they join the team,” the company said in the shareholder letter. “To maintain a hiring pace that allows us to best seize upcoming opportunities while operating at an ever-increasing scale, we have added several members of our leadership team to the group conducting final interviews during the first half of the year. of the year.”

-Emily Bary

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswire

08-29-22 0820ET

Copyright (c) 2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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