"I’m definitely Visier-blooded." — How (and why) to get a job at Visier
Director of talent acquisition Michelle Prebble on the company’s unicorn status, how it drinks its own software Kool-Aid, and hybrid work.
Michelle Prebble taught me a new term: COVID-joiner. That’s what she christened herself as a November 2020 hire for HR software company Visier. Our OG subscribers will also note that date as a timely one. A few months later, Visier was part of Vancouver’s unicorn onslaught when it raised a $154 million Series E round led by Goldman Sachs in June 2021. Since then, the company has continued to grow and done so sustainably. This, combined with HR being in Visier’s DNA, leaves me with one question: what took us so long to feature them in our How to get a job story series? So, without further ado, here’s our conversation with Prebble.
This interview was condensed and lightly edited for clarity.
James Matthews: How did you end up at Viser?
Michelle Prebble: Good, old-fashioned networking. A [future] colleague and I were talking. I reached out to her for some industry expertise on some work that I was doing at the time. And she just said in passing, “Hey, we're hiring for somebody like you.” It was serendipitous because I had studied people analytics a year prior. I had done some additional coursework. I was really interested in it but somehow had not realized that the global leader in people analytics was in Vancouver.
JM: What goes on behind the scenes when hiring?
MP: One of the beautiful things about being a HR software company is we get to drink our own Kool-Aid. We use our software in all facets of our business. I'm very lucky that I get to use it in my recruiting world. We really keep the candidate experience at the forefront of the interviewing process, because we have all this great data that tells us how successful or maybe how not successful some of our interview processes have been.
Internally, we are very deliberate with the process and make sure that we're always asking hires, “Hey, have you met the people that you need to meet to make sure that we're a good fit for you?” It's a reciprocal process, right? It's not about one side evaluating the other, it should be a team effort. Because ultimately, at the end of the day, it's about making sure that we're offering them a position they can be successful in; one they think that they could enjoy.
JM: What’s the process like for applicants?
MP: Candidates join the recruiting process at Visier not too differently than they would at any other company, right? Do your research. If you think we're cool, apply to a job or reach out to a hiring manager. When candidates are successful at Visier, it's usually because they are connecting three things: mission, vision, and pay. Successful candidates are usually the ones that go, “Hey, I'm applying for this reason” or “I really get people analytics.” They take the time to actually dive into the plethora of information that we have about the company, about the discipline of it, about the Visier culture.
The interview process is usually no longer than four interviews. Every now and again, it's five interviews. That's a combination of meeting key team members then, sometimes, there's a panel or project at the end as the final interview. But, it varies by department. Technical disciplines, for example, will have an exercise attached. We don't have a 10-stage interview process. We keep them as purposeful and condensed as possible. Again, all this is under the guise of getting the candidate what they need and getting Visier what we need to make a really good decision.
JM: Macs or PCs?
MP: We're a Mac shop. If you're anything like me, when I heard that I was saying, “Uh oh” because all I could do on a MacBook before was, like, surf the internet or write emails. So one of the things that we do is have, built into our onboarding — for people doing what feels like the journey to the dark side — different articles: “When you used to do this on a PC, this is what it looks like on a Mac.” We have a transition phase to try to help people learn the Mac environment because we're also G Suite. It's a double whammy for some people when they go from PC to Mac and G Suite.
JM: You mentioned G Suite, but what other software is used internally?
MP: Like every tech company, we love our software. So our tech stack is relatively vast, especially depending on the department that you work in. If we're talking about employee communications, everybody's on Slack. We like it a lot. Another one is ServiceNow, for managing tickets. But, true to form, we have a multitude of tech solutions, depending on which part of the company you're in. We don't get criticized for lack of enablement on our tech stack.
JM: Does the team work in person, remote, or hybrid?
MP: We do hybrid. Nearly two-thirds of our employee base is still in Vancouver. We basically said, “Why doesn't everybody come in between Tuesday and Thursday.” Because if you're going to come in, there's no point in coming when nobody's here. Monday and Friday, though, work from home. We have a very flexible culture. If you can't come in on one Tuesday, who cares? It's supposed to be one of those things that’s on balance. We do appreciate the benefits of community innovation. We try to be in the office together when we can while being respectful of people's personal needs.
With that said, we're never going to be a fully remote company. That's not part of our ethos. Again, back to drinking our own Kool-Aid, we have this incredible tool that tells you about people. Usually that centers around human connection and collaboration. Nothing beats being in person. We're not going to lose that.
JM: Are there set times everybody's online during the day?
MP: That's not the point, right? We’re not here to tell adults what to do. It's ultimately a deliverable-based environment where we all work together. People manage their own schedules with their individual managers based on the nature of the work that they do. Some of our developers have to be up really late at night. So, why would they be online early? That would be crazy. We shouldn't be involved in when people can be productive because nobody's a better judge of when they’re going to be the most productive than that person. We just encourage people to communicate what they need and support them.
JM: Anything else you’d like to add about working at Visier?
MP: I would say that our company tenure and attrition rate speak for themselves. People like working here — they stay. I also think we've done exceptionally well in holding our own in a really challenging market. We offer meaningful work for people. It’s tech with purpose, right? People analytics is solving a workplace's most challenging problems, one around equality and diversity. That's something that I think we're super proud of. I’m definitely Visier-blooded.
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