Most job seekers have been through the glacial-pace of the hiring and onboarding processes—submitting a resume, an initial interview, follow-up interviews, and then, perhaps, even a trial period of employment.
Hiring supervisors experience a similarly painful process, an inverse of that. They comb through mounds of candidates and meet (again and again) with hopeful prospects. A final hire may be made — sometimes without fully knowing how a new addition will affect a team’s chemistry.
JPMorgan Chase’s Merchant Services division—the firm’s payment processing arm—has broken through that model with something the organization calls its “Super Day of Hiring.” Last spring, 24 job candidates were invited to immerse themselves in the people and culture they’d be working with, in their professional lives.
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They met with fellow job candidates, potential teammates, and hiring managers, who all worked together on tasks to test their cohesiveness and initiative. Personnel working for Merchant Services, which processes more than $1 trillion in transactions annually, mostly work in sales, product, controls, operations, and the technology sector (including software and platform development, project management, scrum masters, agile coaches, product managers, quality assurance, and more).
“We aim to go beyond the traditional interview process—the bio and CVs—to see the person, the cultural fit, and the skills that come with them,” says Val Strappa, managing director/chief administrative officer of the Merchant Services division. “We want to make sure there’s a collective acceptance of the candidate—and a cultural fit for the candidate—where she or he can join us to build their career with Chase.”
Chase describes its company values and culture this way: “We’re devoted to building the best and most respected financial services company in the world, serving our clients and growing our communities globally. We do this through exceptional client service, operational excellence, a commitment to integrity, fairness, and responsibility, and a great team and winning culture.”
Breaking it down
“Super Day” doesn’t eliminate all the work of hiring. JPMorgan Chase Merchant Services still combs its networks—including the Dallas Regional Chamber—as well as LinkedIn and other job sites. And it reaches out to local universities and plows through stacks of resumes. The company reduces the potential pool by asking candidates questions in advance, sometimes through video interactions.
During the process, after narrowing the pool of applicants, Chase Merchant Services called its remaining candidates to Chase’s new Dallas Corporate Center in Plano to host the company’s first Super Day of Hiring, allowing them to meet Chase Merchant Services team members, leaders, and potential direct managers in person. That way candidates can get a better idea of what to expect on the job.
“We talk about our company, the values, and our culture,” Strappa said. “We talk about our business, some general strategy, my function, and the roles we’re looking for.”
In the course of the day, candidates are tossed brainteaser questions, such as, “How much ice cream is consumed in the United States in a year?” They’re questions the candidates must answer without outside help.
By the end of the day, both the prospects and JPMorgan Chase team members had a good feel for who the finalists would be. Candidates knew who they would be working with and what they would be working on.
Both sides loved the experience, Strappa said.
“It’s a two-way avenue,” she said. “For the hiring organization, it’s an opportunity to give a thumbs up, holistically, to the new person, from a hard skills, soft skills, and cultural skills perspective. Candidates, in turn … have a better view of the career decision they’re making. We’re giving the candidate the opportunity to meet and interact with the team they’ll be working with.”
Because many of the crucial interactions are compressed into a single day, the hiring time for the Chase Merchant Services team has been reduced by one third, Strappa estimates.
Several of the candidates were hired following the first Super Day, she says.
Is ‘Super Day’ super-scalable?
So, will JPMorgan Chase, which employs 9,000 workers in the Dallas region—hiring 1,600 professionals here in 2018—adopt the Super Day method, organization-wide?
Strappa says, “I think it works really well, and it’s a very relevant practice to be adopted, particularly in the tech sphere. Even more relevant, when considering that this is a regular practice Silicon Valley. I think these processes can be applied across different functions. I wouldn’t say this is just for technology (jobs). This is something that JPMorgan Chase is testing with very positive results.”