Canva is Australia’s newest Unicorn, with its astronomical success in recent years and it’s awesome culture (it was voted coolest tech company to work at in 2016), it’s pretty safe to assume that there is a long queue of keen candidates looking to jump on board the Canva spaceship. When you get to this level, it can be hard to decide who to hire and who not to.
Canva has their in-house HR team that vets all incoming candidates and also goes hunting for the best people. But it is still a time-consuming and challenging task to filter out and select the best candidate.
The Canva challenge
Once in-house HR have vetted as much as they can and they think they’ve found someone who might be a good fit for Canva, the candidates are then sent a challenge. These challenges are designed to replicate the kind of work the individual would be doing at the company. As such, designers would be given a designer-focused challenge, coders a code-focused challenge etc. These prospects are then given one week to complete the challenge. The point of these tests are to see how the applicant’s brains tick and to see how passionate they are about the Canva vision. If a candidate is successful, they are then invited for a face-to-face chat, and then the normal reference checks are undertaken.
These unorthodox methods have always been a part of Canva’s hiring process. Although nowadays Canva might have a steady supply of suitable talent lining up at the door, this wasn’t always the case…
Selling the dream
Co-founder Cameron Adam’s makes mention of the early days when they were looking to make their first technical hire. After vetting a couple of candidates, the team struggled to find anyone that clicked. They wanted someone that was not only technically brilliant but also great to work with.
Their advisor Lars Rasmussen, a former Google engineer, recommended to them a current Google engineer by the name of Dave Hearnden. After meeting with Dave a number of times, Adams says he clicked with the team straight away, however, Dave turned down their offer, reluctant to leave Google.
After deciding that Dave was a necessity and they weren’t going to go on without him, they started their crazy recruitment process and put together a presentation to convince him to leave Google and join the Canva adventure, it worked. The presentation managed to “cement in his mind that the team was passionate about Canva, and that’s set the benchmark for how our employees have to have passion and drive. We make sure everyone we hire is meeting that bar.”
You can see the pitch deck they made for Dave here.
Thinking and acting outside the box like this is how companies are able to set themselves apart from the pack and lure in those saught after candidates. It also stories like these that help build your brand for future employees, it shows that your company sets the bar high for the quality it wants by showing the quality it gives.