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Twilio has democratized communications channels like voice, text, chat, video, and email by virtualizing the world’s communications infrastructure through APIs that are simple enough for any developer to use, yet robust enough to power the world’s most demanding applications.
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Founded in 2008, Twilio has over 10,000 employees in 26 offices in 17 countries and counting, with headquarters in San Francisco and other offices in Atlanta, Bangalore, Berlin, Bogotá, Denver, Dublin, Paris, Prague, Hong Kong, Irvine, London, Madrid, Munich, Malmö, Mountain View, Redwood City, New York City, São Paulo, Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, and Tallinn.
Mathias Connot, Vice President of Talent Acquisition at Twilio, is driving forward great Candidate Experience at Twilio. Mathias joined Twilio in 2018, from Amazon, and has seen the company go from 1,000 employees to 10,000 in his few years there.
Mathias is passionate about creating a great and inclusive Candidate Experience, with more than 16 years of experience building, growing and leading teams of caring, passionate, innovative and hard-working recruiters who’ve made a habit out of exceeding expectations and delivering the impossible.
Twilio is a fast-growing technology company. The rate of growth is so rapid that during Mathias’ 3.5 years at Twilio, it’s grown from 1,000 to 10,000 employees. Since they’re growing so fast, Twilio wanted to ensure that they were scaling their processes together with their recruitment efforts at the same time.
When a company hires rapidly, things break, as Mathias said during our fireside chat:
“Over the last three and a half years we’ve grown from 1,000 employees to over 10,000, which is an intense rate of growth […] everything breaks, and it breaks regularly. […] When I joined Twilio, I had a team of 10 recruiters. The team that supports R&D today is around 160.”
The Twilio Magic Values are at the core of everything that Twilio does; from recruitment right through to the overall employee experience. Mathias wanted to ensure that these were being lived throughout the interview process, and that candidates got an idea for what they are during the process.
“Candidate Experience is really important – you know the phone screen, the hiring manager screen, the interview process. That’s where the company gets to show they are living the values. […] We’ve very up-front and deliberate on telling the candidate ‘hold us accountable’”
“It’s tough to maintain Candidate Experience 100% of the time […] We struggled sometimes, creating the Candidate Experience we really wanted to”
Mathias is really passionate about good Candidate Experience, and wanted to ensure that this is filtering down to all departments, and that candidates feel like they had a good experience with Twilio – regardless of the outcome of the roles. It was also important to ensure that all of the values were being lived by the team.
Our Customer Success Manager, Sophie Kraanen, said “Twilio really stands out to me. From the start of our partnership, they were very honest. […] They said “Hey, [we] know that our current candidate experience isn’t great.” They knew that from Glassdoor reviews, and a lot of anecdotal data from their referred candidates, […] and they knew “okay, something needs to change, but we need data to understand what changes need to be made” They had a very clear end goal in mind, which was having a very human and transparent approach no matter the outcome.”
Twilio is dedicated to being an anti-racist company, and this filters through to all departments. It starts with Talent Acquisition, and they wanted to ensure that they were committing to this during their hiring process.
Mathias wanted to ensure that they not only had a diverse talent pool, but they were being inclusive during the interview process so as not to potentially upset candidates.
Twilio has been able to uncover many insights utilizing Starred, in fact Mathias described Starred at Greenhouse Open as the place where “opinions become data.”
Below are just a couple of the insights they have found in using Starred:
At Twilio, in the R&D team, they use HackerRank for Software Engineering assessments for potential candidates, and hiring managers believed that it was a biased tool that candidates wouldn’t enjoy. Many hiring managers believed that candidates preferred not to do this, but Twilio wanted concrete data to support this theory.
Using the data from Starred, Twilio found that actually candidates did prefer using HackerRank in the process. Candidates who took HackerRank at screening stage scored Twilio 13% better than candidates who took a phone screen.
“One thing we learned from Starred very quickly was [that] candidates really prefer using HackerRank, on average”.
“It was the kind of thing that allowed us to turn around and talk to those hiring managers who had concerns and say “actually, let’s show you what what candidates are saying […] there’s a whole host of insights like that that we’ve picked up”
From left to right: Lars van Wieren (Starred), Sophie Kraanen (Starred), and Mathias Connot (Twilio)
Twilio was also able to uncover insights based on a regional level, where they discovered that India was outperforming other countries by a noticeable amount.
“It turned out that we had one region, in fact, one country that was really remarkably higher than the rest of the world.”
Mathias sat down with the Talent Acquisition Lead in India to understand why their candidates were giving much higher scores on the assessment stage.
In the department in India, they had been doing quick 10-minute calls prior to the assessment to explain HackerRank, demystifying how to use it and explaining the process. This increased their scores massively.
“Not only is the candidate more likely to use the assessment, but the experience they had at that stage was just remarkably better […] I mean, worlds better than a phone screen”
Doing nothing, HackerRank was already the preferable solution for candidates. But adding in the extra step really helped candidates feel comfortable. They then implemented this worldwide for all candidates.
Twilio is able to see how they compare with other companies in the same industry with our benchmark function.
“One of the great things about [Starred] is the ability to say ‘how we are doing against our industry?’. […] It’s a helpful benchmark, and it helps us understand where we need to improve, for sure.”
As a company that is always striving to do better, Twilio has found this feature hugely beneficial.
Twilio was one of the first adopters of our Diversity and Inclusion module. The module goes beyond just telling the company how diverse your talent pool is, and delves into just how inclusive your hiring practices are, uncovering any hidden or unknown biases that may be within your process.
Twilio can segment their Starred Candidate Experience data based on demographics such as gender, race, disability, veteran status, or even sexual orientation (if voluntarily specified), so they can understand how inclusive their candidates from certain demographics and underrepresented groups felt that your hiring process was. Twilio can see if they can openly express who they are, how included they feel and unearth unconscious biases.
“I’ve had mixed experiences with companies who talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk. Twilio has made a deep commitment to be anti-racist and sothe partnership with [Starred] has been very impactful”
Twilio believes that if you’re hiring, for example in a particular region, then your talent pool should be representative of society. Mathias says “If 51% of the population in any location are female, then 51% of the employees should be female too. We want to be representative.”
In one recent quarter of hiring for their R&D team, Twilio had 250 core hires. 46% were women, 14% were Black, and 12% were Latinx.
“The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion module is one of the most valuable elements of our partnership with Starred”
Twilio found that rejection template emails were not working for candidates who were not successful with their application at Twilio; as a result they have ensured their recruiters add a personal note to their rejection emails rather than use the same response for every candidate.
Twilio now takes the time to follow-up with candidates who have deemed the process to be negative, to see if there is an opportunity to turn their experience into a positive and try to remediate how they feel about Twilio.
Mathias uncovered that rejections should not be done via email if the candidate has taken the time to speak with someone.
“We don’t ever do a rejection that isn’t a Zoom or a phone call. We want to give candidates that respect. We want [recruiters] to personalize it for candidates.”
Internal hiring is hugely important for Twilio; in fact, it’s their number one source of hire. Utilizing Starred, they’ve been able to measure their internal hiring experience to ensure they are not losing out on internal candidates, as well as improving internal mobility opportunities.
“Feedback is a gift. You are more likely to get feedback from your own company than anywhere else. Treat those internal candidates’ feedback as your most valuable source of feedback.”
Twilio are still very much feeling the impact of the War for Talent, and don’t feel that it will be cooling off anytime soon, and believe that Candidate Experience plays a huge part for B2B companies.
“It’s not cooling off. Engineers are still hard to find, SaaS salespeople are hard to find. […] It’s not going to get any easier. Leading with your values, expressing if you are anti-racist, or if you do believe in DEI, lead with these things.
“I think more than ever, Candidate Experience is the one thing that is not going to change. You know, compensation pressures might change, [but] scarcity is not going to change, and so Candidate Experience is going to stay front and center.”
We were very happy to be joined by Twilio on stage at Greenhouse Open 2022. Many thanks to Mathias and the TA team for their continued trust in Starred and our partnership. If you want to watch the entire fireside chat, the video is linked below.