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How to leverage your best interviewers

Nasser Oudjidane
January 31, 2023

Lessons from an Attentive visionary 

In our Scaling Stories podcast, it was a great pleasure to catch up with Cierra Tavarez, the Chief of Staff to the SVP of Recruiting at Attentive, an SMS software platform and leader in conversational commerce.

Chicago-based Cierra has worked in sourcing roles for the likes of Capital One, Facebook and Uber Freight, and as our discussion demonstrates, she’s a big thinker with profound insights on everything from big tech recruitment formulas to the way we conduct interviews.

At Attentive, Cierra has developed an “interviewer training and calibration program”, and one recurring theme in our chat was Cierra’s laser-focused approach to making sure interviewers live up to their responsibilities. For Cierra, that means gathering intel – “part data and part anecdote” – on key questions, such as:

  • Which interviewers are showing up?
  • Do they cancel at the last minute?
  • Are they making their calendars available?
  • How do they conduct themselves in the interview?
  • What are the debriefs like?

“A poor candidate experience really spreads like wildfire and becomes a company’s reputation,” Cierra warns.

Specifically, here’s how Cierra helped to transform the candidate experience at Uber Freight:

  • Cierra found that many of the interviewers were “overworked and stressed and not well trained or calibrated in the interview process”. Sounds familiar? To remedy this, Cierra “pitched a program wherein we would incentivise interviewers to perform better in their interview responsibilities by making it part of their performance reviews”.
  • Additionally, Cierra “kept a docket of people who [were] not performing up to par”, but also, made a note of those dependable interviewers “who I could always rely on to fill in for a no-show interviewer”.
  • Finally, Cierra would collect feedback from candidates on whether they liked the interviewer, and then pass on this feedback to the interviewers’ managers. This meant she was able to “lift those interviewers to a more visible position” and “develop a layer of trust between myself and my stakeholders that hadn't been there before”.

In a wide-ranging discussion, Cierra also touched on the differences between ‘sourcing’ and ‘recruiting’.

“I’ve found that number one – the most important key component of a strong sourcing function is specialised sourcing leadership,” she says.

Cierra also expresses skepticism towards culture efforts that “ring a little bit hollow” – for example: “spending money to decorate an employee’s desk for their birthday… and yet that person’s executives don’t know their name”.

According to Cierra, a good approach to culture is to “source organic ideas from people who want to be involved in architecting a culture from the start”.

We also covered some big ideas on the nature of ‘loyalty’ among employees, and how this is often misunderstood.

“A company cannot be loyal to you because a company isn’t a person,” Cierra says. “The loyalty, the obligation, the altruism that people are prone to feeling towards their company should be reserved exclusively for their human relationships.

As you can tell from these extracts, Cierra is a fountain of knowledge and committed to better hiring practices. And beyond the trappings of work life, she’s a fan of the This Is Love podcast and learning how to crochet!

We hope you enjoy our chat as much as we did. For more insights on some of these themes, check out our blogs on the candidate experience and creating a great work culture.

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