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Hiring at Springtest: An active recruitment model

Springest is an independent comparison website for training programmes and courses, where L&D providers place their offers allowing you to view, compare, and find your ideal course. They have won multiple awards for being a great workplace, so we were very curious to explore some of their hiring strategies.

Turns out the Rokin in Amsterdam is a hotspot for beautiful offices. Just across the street from Usabilla, who we spoke to last time, Springest is based in another amazing location.

We weren’t sure if we were at the right address as we arrived at the location. There were two possible options: either we were hopelessly lost in our own city, or Springest had to be somewhere on top of a cool cafe called the Bierfabriek (Beerfactory). Luckily for them, it turned out to be the latter. Arriving at the office, we were welcomed by Ruben with a backdrop of team members calling on the phone.

We had some coffee on the balcony and spoke about how Ruben managed to create such a flexible but effective atmosphere. The team at Springest has some very progressive ideas on recruiting, which he was eager to share with us.

We see that you’re acquiring employees very proactively. What is your vision on recruiting?

“The most important reason for this active recruiting is a practical reason; we have high standards. Generally, we prefer to find our own candidates that we need to convince to work with us. We work with Holacracy, which brings much more autonomy to every employee. For that reason, we need people that are a little more extreme, independent and critical. As the first company in Europe, we’ve been doing it for three years. Last year we were the best place to work in Holland partly because of this self-management system.

Another reason is that for me, hiring is very similar to a sales process. Nowadays, just promoting is not enough for sales either. You have to reach out and put more effort into finding the right candidate. That is definitely one of the reasons I appreciate Recruitee so much. I scout through LinkedIn and other channels building a talent pool. Afterward, we really focus on influencing those people over a longer time period.

One of the examples is our way of handling candidates. We come in contact with those who are not directly suited for us. The regular approach would be to move on and discard the info or spend time on more likely candidates. However, we try to keep these people in our network as ‘connectors’, as they might refer someone that is perfect for a job at Springest.

Like I said, it’s like handling potential employees as sales leads. It’s interesting to see how we could facilitate nurturing through online tools as well.

Aside from that, we see a lot of benefit from word-of-mouth. We put a lot of effort into building a great company culture, so the team will also recommend working at Springest. All of this taps into our internal vision, as well as our vision on sales and marketing.”

Are the most of your employees from around here?

“No, we’ve had quite a few international employees, especially developers. Our international employees have all moved to live here in Amsterdam, which can be quite a challenge in terms of finding living space. Luckily we have a very good experience with the expat center in Amsterdam, and the whole team uses their connections to find housing. Somehow, we always manage to find something within 3 months.”

What are your growth plans for now, do you have a goal in mind in terms of size?

“We’re planning to move up to about 26 employees. We don’t really have a set in stone plan, as those often change over time. It’s possible we end the year with about 30 people, we’ll have to see how it goes. The good news is that we keep growing.”

Is there anyone specifically in charge of recruiting?

“We actually work with certain roles instead of positions. So there’re about five or six employees involved in the hiring process, approving a candidate on different aspects. For example, someone who is in a marketing role will want to see whether the candidate fits the vision for our marketing. I’m covering the job negotiations and something we call the “Springest-fit.” It’s the indicator for how close a potential candidate is to us in terms of culture.

If we are interested, we always do a trial with candidates. The trial will consist of working with us for two days, giving the potential employees the opportunity to prove themselves in the role. It gives us the right indication about the fit and performance. The employee will also know exactly what to expect, which we feel is really important before making a commitment.”

Do you have any hiring tips for startups in particular?

“Do trials! You can talk with someone all you want, but that skews the perspective towards how well someone can sell themselves. If you let them work in their actual job, with the transparency and pressure that brings, you have a much better prediction of how they’ll do. And also, use more tools! There are so many great SaaS tools out there for any problem you have… We have a tool to manage our tools actually (Meldium), and of course, Recruitee is in there too :)”

We’d like to thank Ruben and the team for an inspiring afternoon. It’s really great to see how creative recruiting can become with the right mindset. Best of luck!

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