How to recruit for a data center?
Irene Vikingstad was employed as Green Mountain’s new HR manager in May 2020. With her extensive experience she knows a thing or two about attracting candidates and choosing the right person to employ. We had a chat with Irene on her priorities as an HR manager and how the data center recruitment process in Green Mountain is organized.
What was your first impression of Green Mountain? What became your main priority as the new HR manager?
Firstly, I was warmly welcomed to the company and soon found my place among competent and cooperative colleagues. My first impression told me a lot, from an HR perspective. It is always a great test to hire an HR person, who naturally has an above average interest in recruitment and onboarding. Other new employees will meet the same organization as I did, and that made everything so much easier for me.
All managers show commitment and professionality in all employee matters.
I quickly realized that there were many good procedures and routines in place already. Both in terms of the recruitment process but also talent development. All managers show commitment and professionality in all employee matters. Nevertheless, I saw the need for a formal recruitment system to handle the increasing number of applicants. So, my first task was to find and implement a solid recruitment solution.
And how did that process go? How has a new data center recruitment system been beneficial?
With the new system we have improved the quality and consistency of the recruitment process. The system, ReachMee by Talentech, ensures that we have a full overview of all applications and that we give a proper feedback to all candidates. Moreover, we store documents safely with restricted access according to GDPR laws. We wanted to take responsibility for these important strategic recruitment processes internally, instead of outsourcing. This allows us to get to know the candidates better from the very beginning of the process. The new system enables us to manage this in a professional manner.
So how do you start the process of hiring a new employee?
First, before we announce a new vacant position, we do an extensive job producing a competence profile for the position as well as a thorough job description. How can we compliment the team? The profile includes both formal competence requirements as well as personal characteristics. (Which are not picked randomly). The perfect candidate should not only match competence requirements but should possess the characteristics that are especially important to that specific position. Moreover, the candidate must fit well into the team and the department right now and in the future. Sometimes, we even map personal characteristics of the existing team members and managers to increase the probability of finding the right match. Certainly, this is especially important in the growth phase the company is experiencing now.
The perfect candidate should not only match competence requirements but should possess the characteristics that are especially important to that specific position.
What tools do you use to understand a candidate’s personal characteristics?
We use personality tests as a tool to better understand the candidates’ personal characteristics. We do this to ensure that a candidate’s personal preferences align with what we can offer and vice versa. Furthermore, it also secures a fair and more structured process among the competing candidates. In other words, we make sure they are posed the same questions. We also review the results and can elaborate on individual topics in a post-test conversation. Above all, we want to avoid discrimination in these important assessments and decisions.
The system secures a fair and more structured process among the competing candidates.
The specific tool we use is an industry acknowledged system from AON. It is important to mention that a personality test is one part of a complex recruitment process. Other methods are for instance ability tests, interviews, tasks, and reference checks. You also need to be formally certified to use this tool. All the questions in the test evolves around characteristics that we know are beneficial in work life. In other words, we do not focus too much on what the candidate might lack. Instead we focus on what the person can bring “to the table” in terms of competence, experience, and attitude. Whereas the manager knows what he needs in terms of competence, I dive more into these personality aspects. Together, we try to determine if it is a good match for both employer and candidate.
And what do the candidates think about these tests and conversations?
These post-test conversations last 1 – 1,5 hours and make sure both parties have the same understanding of the questions and topics. Often, the candidate gains a better understanding and awareness of his or her personality and behavior. Some characteristics are strongly embedded in our personality and affects our behavior. While others are more situation-based and can vary. However, a personality test will never encompass your true personality completely but reveals your preferences and gives an overall overview.
Often, the candidate gains a better understanding and awareness of his or her personality and behavior.
We have received positive feedback on these tests and conversations. It is very important to give the candidate a thorough feedback after completing the test. It is totally worth every hour. Some candidates report back that they were skeptical initially. Nevertheless, they found it to be both interesting and useful in the end.
In a global perspective, we often hear about a skill shortage in the data center industry. What is your take on this?
So far, we have found our preferred qualified person to fill every vacant position. Of course, in some areas there are fewer applicants as we sometimes need very specialized competence. But in general, we receive many good applications from relevant candidates. Moreover, we evaluate and promote talent within the organization as well. Our highly skilled and enthusiastic colleagues advance into new positions quite often.
In general, we receive many good applications from relevant candidates.
I would also like to mention that we accept open applications through our web site. Whenever we have new positions, we always check our database of open applications and encourage interesting candidates to apply. Furthermore, potential candidates can also sign up to alerts of when we post new vacant positions.
It sounds like a very well defined recruitment process. But in your view, why should someone apply to work for Green Mountain?
You mean apart from exciting tasks and great employee benefits? The number one reason is our high employee satisfaction score (5.8 on a 6-point scale). There are many reasons for this result, but I think the most important ones are the following:
- a clear and common two-way understanding of expectations between employer and employee in the recruitment process
- an extensive on-boarding program for all employees
- a focus on the work environment
- a “flat” organization with a short distance to top management. (We want everyone to speak their mind and contribute, and our managers do listen.)
So, how does the future look for Green Mountain? Do you need a lot of new employees?
As mentioned earlier, the company is experiencing strong growth which means that data center recruitment becomes very important. In 2020, we hired 20 persons but still expect to hire 35 new candidates in 2021. These new positions are distributed between all departments, on all levels and even all three locations. This estimate constitutes a 60% increase in number of employees! It might sound like quite a challenge, but with our new recruitment tools and strategy in place and managers that take great care in the entire recruitment process, I am sure we will succeed.
We have already started by welcoming five new colleagues the first month of 2021! And we will welcome two more, starting soon. I feel I have the best job!
(You can read more about competence development i Green Mountain here.)