Listen to this Puppies, Feedback & Reverse Shadowing episode at the link above or wherever you enjoy podcasts.
The Candidate Experience Podcast is hosted by Chuck Solomon at the link above or wherever you enjoy podcasts. A transcription of this interview is available below.
Together with his guests, Chuck who is on the team at LineHire, discuss the good, bad and ugly of the candidate journey. With emphasis on helping companies by improving their employer brand.
My special guest on this episode is Christina Moore, Director of Talent Acquisition at Thrive Veterinary Care. She shares her insights into the candidate journey.
Listen carefully as she explains why communications are key to a positive candidate experience. Especially your initial outreach message. You’ll also hear about how to better assess candidate job-fit beyond simply interviewing.
Chuck Solomon 0:00
Christina, please tell us about Thrive.
Dr. Christina Moore 0:02
Sure. So Thrive is a young, rapidly growing veterinary care organization. We’re opening brand new veterinary practices across the country. And our goal is actually to kind of disrupt the industry to do things different for the client and do things different for our employees. So brand new, opening a lot of practices really fast and trying to do things different.
Chuck Solomon 0:33
Awesome. Is your official title, Director of Recruiting do I have that right? Official, unofficial or I think that’s what you do your day to day. But is that your official title?
Dr. Christina Moore 0:48
And so funny because I’ve been teasing my boss for the past two and a half years that he’s never given me an official title. And we just had that same conversation yesterday. We are we are not big on titles at Thrive and so I I basically head up the talent acquisition team but as a startup we all wear a lot of different hats and and have to be willing to take on new hats all the time and and so I guess it lends itself to not having any official title but I suppose if you had to give me one it’s probably Director of Talent Acquisition or something to that effect.
Chuck Solomon 1:27
Yeah. All right. That’s what that’s what I’ll call you then. So okay, great. So I did and I shared this with you already stuff but I wanted to share with our listeners too as I did a little bit of, I wouldn’t call it mystery shopper, secret shopper, but I you have a couple locations in the Triangle area of North Carolina that I live in, which is now known as like ‘pollen central’ because the pollen season now but that that’s it’s awful. So I walked this morning with a surgical mask on, because I didn’t want to breathe at all, but still it got got through. So anyways, North Carolina has a fifth season, in between spring and summer, there’s this pollen season and so luckily it only last a couple of weeks, but we’re in the thick of it right now!
But anyways, so I went into one of your locations just to sort of check it out and got talking to one of your staff and, and it turns out that he had just started with you. Not, you know, I think he said about like a month before I had actually walked in and and had moved to the area and stuff and it was very friendly guy and, and I said, You know why? You know, why did you choose here are using experience? I believe he’s a technician, vet technician. And I said, you know, why did you decide to come work here and he said…It seemed really relaxed, and liked the people that were involved, but he actually said that he really liked the recruiting process. So I thought, that’s something you don’t hear every day.
So, good for you, being the Director of Talent Acquisition, your current title today, and good for your team because I hear a lot of negative stories about the candidate experience and I just heard a really good one. So kudos to you guys!
Dr. Christina Moore 3:32
Well, that’s awesome. Thank you for that feedback that, you know, that’s all my team that they’re, they’re really amazing at what they do and, and they love what they do, and they love people. And this is really all about all about people and taking care of people little from the moment they they come on to our you know, onto our radar and making sure that we’re we’re really kind of taken care of all the way through the process.
And, you know, then the interesting thing about it and something we talk a lot about and making sure that what we’re saying in the recruiting process is what is actually delivered to them by our operations and medical operations teams, once they’re in the practice and so really great to hear that he is happy with his decision and and that the you know, it’s a relaxed comfortable environment and that people are enjoying being there and and that the team is a really great team because certainly putting putting the team together as a puzzle that we we also work really hard on. But certainly, you know, kudos to my team for for really taking care of people all the way through the process and making sure that it’s an enjoyable experience for them.
Chuck Solomon 4:50
Yeah, I think what you just said this is really authenticity. So not just saying, you know, not just having a great process, and saying, Hey, this is a great place to work, but actually someone who didn’t know who I was, and, you know, was, was very frank and honest about sort of his actual experience. So I’m working on the job for, you know, a month, a month and a half already.
So take me, take me through like what, you know, what does the typical candidate journey look like at thrive? Sort of like a to z?
Dr. Christina Moore 5:31
Yeah. So it depends a little bit on the role. And so our our technician recruiters have a little bit different process and our doctor recruiters do, but in general, the biggest key is that the recruiting team is very working very closely with our hiring managers at every stage in the process to make sure that no one falls through the cracks and make sure that everyone is communicated with in a timely manner and so from the moment they either apply or we time them, you know, somewhere via social media or via conference or something like that, and we might be the ones to put in their application for them. And that case was from that very first point of contact, just making sure that that everything that they’re experiencing from us is is positive and as meeting their expectations, and so going, you know, going from the time that that we get their contact information, making sure that we are super responsive and getting back to them, you know, within 24 hours and, and then from there setting up a time to chat as soon as possible at their earliest convenience. And we really try to make that first conversation, very conversational. So while it is an interview, technically and we do need to get certain information We want to get to know the person and and we are so much more focused on personality than they are on skill set. And of course, it’s important to have certain skills to do these jobs. You know, these are trained professionals, both the veterinarians and the technicians. And they do need a certain skill set. And we do need to make sure that that their skill set fits into our model because there are a lot of different models of veterinary medicine as well. But for us, it’s all about culture and all about people and the personalities and we want to know that we’re hiring people who are optimistic, who are positive, who are looking for growth, and that growth doesn’t necessarily mean on on some sort of ladder but just in in the ability to learn and the ability to grow with a team the ability to grow a brand new practice from the ground up, and you know, that stuff has to be exciting to someone for those who come on board with us. And, and it’s okay that that’s not necessarily excited. For some people, a lot of people want to go into an established practice and and know exactly what it’s going to look like and feel like from day one and, and in this case, you have the opportunity really to, to build it to build your team to build your Intel to build the practice and, and so looking for people who that kind of situation is is going to be exciting for us who are going to maintain a certain level of positivity and optimism despite the challenges that sometimes come along with with opening something new and was working with a company that’s young and growing and changing. We change kind of constantly and rapidly depending on the needs. So that’s what we’re looking for in in that first conversation. And once our recruiting team has determined that they are a good fit personality wise and that they do have the the core skills that we need them to have, then they will connect them with the hiring manager and hiring manager is typically the one who’s local on the ground, who’s going to be doing that in-person interview.
And so they’ll schedule a time for that candidate comes to the practice, to meet with the team at the practice, to meet with the hiring managers, a lot of times there’s more than one, there’s a team of people that are working together and each of those local areas, and make sure that it’s a good fit for them as well. You know, this is not just a good fit for the culture of the organization, but that, you know, you can work with that manager and that manager can work with you and that you guys understand one another and, and feel like it’s going to be a good fit. And so a lot of times that’s, that’s the next step before an offer is made. Sometimes there’s an additional step where a person will come and shadow people who are actually in the world that they’re going to be taking on. And so a lot of heads up decided by the manager and the candidate, you know whether they need a little more time to kind of figure out if it’s going to be a good fit, and so we may do that stuff as well. And then the recruiters typically take on the offer process. So you’ll go back to the person that you originally spoke with. And they will go through the whole offer process with you make sure you get all of that paperwork. And then the recruiters once an offer is signed, actually hand the candidate off to our onboarding partners who are in HR, who will get them set up for payroll and all of their benefits, etc. as well as their hiring manager as an official, this person is hired and welcome to the team. And so we make sure that there’s no one, no one dropped in and not stage of the process as well. And then our recruiters do check in, sometimes on a monthly basis. And it just kind of depends on like I said on the role. But sometimes it monthly three months, six months, and a year up to that that many times. And sometimes it’s fewer than that just depending on depending on the role and depending on the the recruiter, but we do make sure that we follow up with the candidates after they’ve joined to find out, you know, is what I told me, you while you’re actually experiencing, and we need that feedback in order to be able to make sure that that what we’re communicating to candidates is, is truly the experience that they’re going going to get once they’re in practice.
Chuck Solomon 11:14
Sure. Let me go back to something you mentioned before about the candidates come in to interview with a few people at one of the practices. Do you do you have like a set sort of you know, these are Interview Questions? This is what we do? Is that a sort of a set formula? Or, you know, I talked to a lot of startup companies, and they’re still sort of working through this whole hiring process and stuff, sort of, you know, they’re they’re trying to build the bicycle while the bicycle is moving. And is there a sort of prescribed, you know, interview process for each or your locations? Or is it loose?
Dr. Christina Moore 12:03
Yeah. So I would say there is some things that we have found that if we don’t discuss these specific things in the interview process, it becomes a problem later. And so there, there are definitely certain questions that we need to make sure that they either get asked and discuss by the recruiter in that first phone screen, or by the hiring manager and there in person interview or by the recruiter in a follow up call afterwards. And so we definitely do have a list of questions that are typically asked in the phone screen stage is kind of a preliminary and then a list of questions that are also typically asked in the in person interview stage. Just to make sure that the that there are no questions left unasked for both for the candidate and for the hiring manager in terms of things that we know, later will be will affect their their job satisfaction. And so we just want to make sure that we’re all on the same page about all those things early on.
Chuck Solomon 13:13
Sure. And I like what you said about shadow, is the shadow. Is that like an all day thing half a day an hour? Like, you know, typically, how long does someone get to shadow?
Dr. Christina Moore 13:27
Yeah, I think it can totally depend on the candidate and what their availability is, I think most of the time, it’s more like a day, it’s really nice. If they can get there, when everybody would start in the morning, then we’re all day kind of walking through the day with that team and understand what what their whole day looks like. You know, our schedule is a little bit different than a lot of other veterinary practices, we block off for lunch, but a lot of people want to make sure that that truly happens.
Because they’ve seen that not happen in veterinary practices and, and what time do we truly get done at the end of the day, because it’s not like an office building that can you know, but as soon as six o’clock hits, we close the doors and everybody walks out, you know, there’s always a little bit of stuff to take care of once the last client and patient walk out the door. And so a lot of times it is really great if they can spend an entire day kind of seeing exactly what that’s going to look like for them when they get started.
Chuck Solomon 14:30
Yeah, I am a big advocate foryou use the word shadow on your process. But you know, also anything that actually gets people into sort of see what the actual job is beyond the interview.
Frankly, I think there’s a lot of companies and this is just know the way things have been done. We interview people as a way of getting to know people and but I think there’s other ways of getting to know people too. And I think shadowing is is a good a good example of that. I helped. Real quick aside, I helped this this small business, it was a construction company, they, you know, they did the traditional interviewing process and did a phone interview in person interview multiple people, then they decided to hire and what I worked out with the owner there is, is really you can’t tell the skills someone has as a carpenter, by them just talking about it, you kind of need to see it.
Dr. Christina Moore 15:34
Chuck Solomon 15:36
So we actually designed a process by which they had a quick like five minute conversation with a carpenter, for instance. And then they’d say, Hey, what are you doing tomorrow, come show up on this work site. And it’s not shadowing, it’s actually they want people to work and they’re going to pay him for they’re going to there. It’s paid work. It’s not a volunteerism thing. And but they got a chance to go ahead and see their their carpentry skills, they got a chance to see how well they did with actual customers. Because this is a remodeling company you have, you know, you have the homeowners and their kids and their pets and everything. So how you know how they interacted with those people then also how well they interacted with their fellow teammates. And sometimes that didn’t go well. So they sent the supervisor sent them home.
Dr. Christina Moore 16:34
Chuck Solomon 16:34
Sometimes it went really well. And they said, Hey, come back tomorrow, but we’re going to put you on a different crew tomorrow. And so they did the same experience again. And that’s that then became the hiring process. Much harder, easy to do. And construction site. Yes, much harder. In an office.
Dr. Christina Moore 16:53
Not as hard as you think. veterinarians typically do what we call relief work, where they’ll go in and fill in a relief shift. For anyone as needed. There’s always need for that. And especially when you have you know, eight practices in a market, there’s going to be someone on vacation or someone on maternity leave, or whatever it is. And so we’ve we’ve almost always got opportunities for that. Or we could use the second doctor on you know, on a day, and be able to fill that schedule with some additional appointments. And so I would say that we’ve had really, really good luck with hiring veterinarians who have done relief shifts for us, for that exact reason that you mentioned, we get to see their skill set, we get to see them interact with the team, we get to see them interact with the clients. And we we know already going in was what their strengths and maybe some of their opportunities for development might be. And so that’s been really helpful. And we’ve even had recently hiring for a leadership position. We’ve had one of our managers go in to a veterinarian practice where they were working in kind of a crazy, crazy ways to do it. But they were open to having us shadow them on a day that that they were working as the veterinarian and so we’ve even done kind of reverse shadowing a little bit was kind of cool, because that’s that’s not something that I think happens very often. Somebody is interviewing with you and they’re like, Sure, come on into my current place of work. You see how it goes.
But that’s been been really cool, and certainly a good way for us to get more insight into how those the candidates work. So, right, definitely,
Chuck Solomon 18:45
Yeah, so I talked to a lot of HR directors and recruiting directors in my day to day work. But you are the very first talent acquisition director that I’ve spoken to that is actually a veterinarian. Can you share a bit about how that came about?
Dr. Christina Moore 19:06
Yeah, I you know, I think I got off on this path when I was 16 and I was like a horse with blinders on like I’m I was working in a veterinary practice back home and I was going to be a veterinarian. And so Okay, I’m going to Texas A&M for undergrad, I’ve got a better chance getting accepted into Texa A&M’s veterinary school that way. And so this is the next eight years of my life. Done, done, done. And then I turned 21 in my third year of undergrad and realize, oh my gosh, there might be a lot more to life than what I just you know, planned and and have been following this plan. So, you know, devotedly for for however many years. And so once I got into veterinary school, I got really interested in the veterinary Business Management Association, which was a student run, organization, all about kind of teaching veterinarians, the business aspect of Veterinary Medicine, that’s not something that we really learned in school. Typically, a lot of the schools are doing a lot more now to teach that in school, but at the time, it was something that we had to really seek out on our own. And so I joined that organizations have really, really involved with it, and then decided that the program at Texas A&M, where you could do your your dual, DVM and MBA degree sounded really awesome. So I took a year off from veterinary medicine, went over to the business school and got my MBA, and then dropped back into veterinary medicine to finish up the last two years. And that just really sparked the whole new world for me, I was so so in love with my communications courses, and HR courses and marketing courses. And those were just very, very exciting for me. But I also have this past for veterinary medicine and for the people involved with veterinary medicine. And so I wanted to figure out how I could bring the knowledge that I gained in the MBA program to the veterinary industry. And so I did a lot of externship in my my fourth year of veterinary school that were more business focused in the veterinary industry. And that, that just created a really great network where I then, you know, reach back out to those people at different times in my career, when I was looking for something different. And I practiced for a few years and, and then ended up in a recruiting role, learned a ton.
And it was really, it was really hard. It’s a it’s a tough market. very competitive. And right now the the candidates have the the competitive advantage here. And there’s, you know, a lot of opportunities for them. And, and so I saw that and felt like, there wasn’t a whole lot that I could do about it in that organization to be more competitive as an organization. And so when, when thrive, came up as an opportunity, it seemed like a really cool way to again, kind of on the ground floor of a very young at that time, we had four practices at that time, and we were growing rapidly. So two and a half years later, we’re at 50 practices. And it was the opportunity for me to be a voice for our profession, to say, these are the benefits that we need and deserve. This is the lifestyle that veterinarians need to be able to live, they need to be able to have a work life balance, they, they need to be able to have time off with their families, they need to have paid parental leave to bond with new babies, you know, and, and all of that was really heard at thrive. And I said it and and everybody jumped on bored. And I just felt like, wow, this is a place where I can can truly make a difference for the profession, which is what I always wanted to do. And, and I feel like we were doing it. And so I guess that’s a really long way to tell you how I ended up from veterinary medicine into recruiting for us, right, but here we are.
Chuck Solomon 23:23
Yeah, no, all good. It’s all good. Um, what advice would you offer a another high growth? talent team, you have a small team? But what advice would you give to them on how they can improve candidate experience, especially ones that don’t have much of a budget? Because that’s what I hear all the time? Oh, we don’t have any budget to do anything. So but how can how can you improve candidate experience? If you’re a small budget lean team?
Dr. Christina Moore 23:59
Yeah, I’m we I mean it, we don’t have really any budget specifically for the candidate experience, and I don’t think you need it, you know, you don’t need to send gifts. Or, you know, I just don’t think you have to spend a lot of money. You The important thing is the focus on the people. And to make sure that that you’re kind of like the golden rule, right? Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. If you were a candidate, how quickly would you want to be communicated with? And if you were waiting for feedback? What How would that make you feel? And and what kind of feedback would you want to receive throughout the process? And when would you want to be checked in with and you know, I understand that sometimes it takes a long time for us to find the right person for a position. But if you’ve interviewed someone, and you know that they’re not the right person, it’s important that you communicate that with them. And if you’ve interviewed someone in think they might be the right person, but you’re not positive yet, it’s important that you communicate that with them to that, you know, we’re still in the process, we still feel very strongly that you’re a great candidate, we still, you know, want to, you know, wants you to stay engaged with us, etc. And so just making sure that you’re communicating, you really cannot over communicate with a candidate. And so the more time you can spend just just being engaged with them, that that’s what’s going to make the difference for them. They sure it’s cool to receive a mug or a T shirt or something. But, you know, I don’t think that’s what most candidates are looking for, in their experience there, you know, the bare minimum that they’re looking for is communication. And that’s an easy free thing for you to do. So. I would just say you you can’t over communicate.
Chuck Solomon 25:50
Yeah, I totally agree there. The the bad stories that I hear about, and I hear, unfortunately, all too often, and sort of work help precipitate me wanting to sort of start this podcast is the fact that you know, and these are actually company with means. Big Fortune 500 companies that are still they’re not communicating, they’re not. You know, they’re not letting people now, there’s I don’t know why. Because people asked me, Why is that I’m like, I have no idea. So perhaps they haven’t gotten the memo that you know, unemployment is at 3.8%. And we’re basically at full employment and people the tide has shifted in terms of, of candidates. But I still, I mean, irregardless of that. It’s you said it the golden rule. Do unto others. And it’s pretty, it’s pretty simple. Yeah, for sure. Christina, are there any specific recruiting tips that you can offer to their hiring managers or recruiters?
Dr. Christina Moore 26:57
You can’t just do passive recruiting, you know, in this, in this job market, you can’t just post your ad and hope that they come to you, you really have to go out and find them, and then convince them to talk to you. So you have to make sure that whatever that initial communication is with them, it’s compelling, that there’s a reason that they want to come talk to you, we have a regional medical director on board with us now who I mean, everybody just absolutely loves and adores her. She’s amazing. And she wasn’t looking for work. But her her resume was posted somewhere and, and she said, you know, recruiters contacted me all the time. And and I was I wasn’t looking to go anywhere, until your recruiter reached out to me and her message about Thrive just spoke to me and I had to respond. And she responded, and then it just snowballed from there. With every conversation, she got more interested in us, we got more interested her. And so crafting a compelling message is super, super important. So you know, you can reach out all day long on all of these platforms. But if you don’t have a, if you don’t have something that’s going to hook them to give you the chance to reel them in it kind of worthless to spend your time just messaging, you know, messaging with people with a message that they’re they’re not interested in. So really making sure that you’ve got that that message crafted is important.
Chuck Solomon 28:34
Yeah, and I would add, speaking of like the LinkedIn Recruiter, and pretty much any of these platforms all have like these built in templates that say the same thing.
So my advice to everyone, usually, it’s just whatever the template is just delete it from the, from the very beginning and start you said you know, craft your message, you’re going to do much better if it’s an authentic message than if you try to do whatever one, you know, the easy way out is to use the template. So don’t take the easy way out.
Dr. Christina Moore 29:15
Chuck Solomon 29:17
Great. Well, Christina, I appreciate your time today. If people want to find you or find Thrive, how would they do so?
Dr. Christina Moore 29:27
Yeah, so Thrivevet.com is if you’re looking for a great veterinarian in your area, certainly check out Thrivevet.com. If you’re looking for a new opportunities, Thrivevet.com/careers, is where all of those career opportunities are listed.
Chuck Solomon 29:44
Thanks for your time today, Christina.
Dr. Christina Moore
Thank you so much. I enjoyed it Chuck.
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