Experiential Recruiters

Meet industry leaders who engaged students in experiential hiring programs to find some of their best hires!

Amanda Ebokosia

Founder & CEO
The Gem Project

Why is experiential hiring a priority for you?

It's in the nature of our work. At the Gem Project, we are very much student and youth-centered. And it's important for us to be able to create a culture where everyone feels valued. The experience of being an employee or an intern should be a dual relationship. So, when we're thinking about recruitment, the idea is for both of us to have a good experience. With experiential recruitment, it involves you going through an experience together. So you get a sense of candidates and their ability, before they even have the chance to fully formally embrace the role. We have an opportunity to engage someone’s full skillset, as well as see what their personal drivers and interests are.

How has experiential hiring led to a tangible benefit for The Gem Project?

When you are able to truly see someone's ability, as well as what drives them, the work that they engage in will be better quality. Having the opportunity to engage with people on projects, to see how they perform in business circumstances, can allow you to find out where they’re best suited -- if at all -- at your company or your organization.

For example, with the work that occurred with our partnership with CapSource, we engaged three interns. Prior to their official start date, we participated in a lot of different types of activities that allowed us to assess how everyone interacted with each other and what was important for them: what values are important for them as a person, as well as as a contributor in the work space. Being able to experience that allowed us to figure out the best ways to pair one intern with another on particular initiatives to drive better work.

What advice do you have for other companies considering experiential hiring?

My advice is to think strategically and critically about the situation. When you create work, you create an experience: to create busy work without thought does both the employee and the company a disservice. There's a degree of meaning that has to be brought about through it. To be able to fully understand someone's ability off the bat is very difficult: you don't know if someone is best suited for the work you need until much further down the line. Through experiential hiring, you’re able to ensure that someone is best suited for the role that you want to bring them on to do. So if you’re going to do experiential hiring, first think critically about what your needs are as a company. Then ask, how do we create a situation where someone can showcase how their abilities are best suited for that role? And if they’re not suited for that role, perhaps there's a great skill they already have that is aligned with something that you currently need.

Elatia Abate

Entrepreneur, Futurist, and Global Keynote Speaker

Why is experiential hiring a priority for you?

It actually accelerates the interview process along as well as speed someone’s effectiveness when they start working. Because the experiential hiring component gives candidates the opportunity to sort of test their mettle in activities related to what the job is, and would be, it makes things clearer for both sides. They'll know if they're going to enjoy working, and then for me, I'll know if they'll be able to do the job.

How has experiential hiring led to a tangible benefit for your work?

During the recent internship experience that I did with CapSource, I hired a phenomenal research assistant for a research project that I've been doing since September of last year. In the first week of April, I'll be launching a white paper that was largely supported by research that was done by my intern.

What advice do you have for other companies considering experiential hiring?

There really is no downside. I really don't know why anybody would do anything else!

Theresa Watts

VP of Human Services
True Religion

Why is experiential hiring a priority for you?

I think it gives employees a leg up. They're able to share with us their experience not only during the interview process, but also once they come on board. We can see what they've done in the past, what type of projects they’ve done that will be helpful for us, and how they can hit the ground running. So it helps the employee as a candidate.

How has experiential hiring led to a tangible benefit for True Religion?

Right now we feel as if our culture is more of a startup culture because we’re doing a lot of rebuilding, so we don’t have time to put new hires through an extensive training process. We need people to come in with great ideas and great examples and be able to show that they are a benefit to the team right away. With experiential hiring, we get a lot of go-getters and a lot of experienced people who know the culture that they're coming into. They're so excited to come on board and make a difference and an impact right away.

What advice do you have for other companies considering experiential hiring?

I would say do it, it’s definitely beneficial. I think a lot of times, employees, especially new hires, are afraid to speak up in the beginning. They don't want to come in and seem like a know-it-all. But experiential hiring says to them: Hey, we want you to come in and share with us what you know. We're not arrogant. We want all the knowledge you want to share with us. We hired you for your expertise and your experience. And we definitely appreciate it and value it.

Chris Way

Senior Development Manager
American Cancer Society

Why is experiential hiring a priority for you?

It is beneficial in allowing students to engage more with the work that will be associated with their position. This allows the people doing the hiring to observe these prospective candidates as they apply their skills and knowledge to real challenges. Overall, experiential hiring allows for a more immersive experience into the subject at hand.

How has experiential hiring led to a tangible benefit for American Cancer Society?

The opportunity to gain familiarity with the company, build key relationships, and understand topics in the industry leads to informed entry level talent that is ready to take on challenges on day one, rather than starting at a blank slate.

What advice do you have for other companies considering experiential hiring?

I am a firm believer in relationship building! All of it matters - attitude, past experience, how someone talks about others, how someone engages with multiple people within the organization to allow them to have the initial contact. When students are given professional opportunities, presenting a deliverable is the ideal situation because they can claim it as their own and experience a sense of accomplishment. It needs to be a tangible, meaningful experience.