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Cloudflare's head of people explains how to nail an application and interviews at the $13 billion cybersecurity giant, which is currently hiring for hundreds of roles

  • Cybersecurity company Cloudflare has more than doubled its market cap during the pandemic, while rolling out a slew of new products. 
  • The firm is currently hiring for more than 200 roles in engineering, finance, and customer service and head of people Janet Van Huysse explains what candidates can emphasize in their application and interviews in order to stand out. 
  • For example, the company looks for people who exhibit high levels of curiosity, empathy, and productivity, and wants to see those traits during every single interview, Van Huysse said. 
  • Candidates should also come to their final interview with a top executive armed with great questions, Van Huysse said. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The coronavirus crisis hasn't slowed down cybersecurity giant Cloudflare. The firm, which has more-than-doubled its market cap to $12.5 billion from $5.77 billion in March, has expanded its data centers in China, launched a serverless platform to rival AWS, and rolled out a new data analytics product, all in about six months. In its Q2 earnings reports, the revenue grew 48% year-over-year.

"Turns out we're kind of thriving through it," said Cloudflare's head of people Janet Van Huysse.

The company has been growing its team, too. In Q2, the company hired 257 people of more than 47,000 applicants, and still has several hundred open roles in engineering, finance, and legal, among others.

"We want to continue to make investments in our employees," Van Huysse said. "We want to continue to make investments in hiring."

Van Huysse got her first taste of the tech world when she began working at  her husband's internet radio startup Spinner.com, which AOL bought for $320 million in 1999, and went on to work HR stints at AOL, Sony, and Twitter, before joining Cloudflare in 2016.  She now oversees the firm's employee growth and explained for Business Insider how candidates can stand out in its hiring process, which includes several interviews, including one with either Van Huysse or another C-suite executive:

Janet Van Huysse, Cloudflare SVPCloudflareA good cover letter can make you stand out.  

To nab an interview, candidates need to send Cloudflare a cover letter and resume. And while Van Huysse believes in the importance of the resume, she believes that the best way to get a sense of a candidate is to read their cover letter.

"Resumes are kind of consistent no matter what company you're applying for, right? Because they're basically just an accurate reflection of the experience that you've had to date," she said. "I love a good cover letter that tells me why CloudFlare? Why is CloudFlare a good fit for you? Why are you passionate about this job at this company?" 

A good cover letter should reflect that the candidate did their homework by reading the firm's blog and understanding its mission. A candidate should also pluck out specifics parts of the job description that resonated with them in particular. 

There's one particular cover letter that has stayed with Van Huysse.

"I'm not going to phrase it exactly how she did, but she said, 'It's midnight and I'm preparing for a job interview at whatever company. But I cannot shake the job description I just read about Cloudflare. It just so resonated with me for these very specific reasons. And I realize I don't want this job I'm interviewing at tomorrow. I want this job I just read about that's at Cloudflare,'" Van Huysse recalls. "The way she said it, I felt like I was there with her at midnight."

A vivid, personal reflection on a candidate wants the job will help them stand out in a pile of applicants. 

Cloudflare puts a premium on qualities like curiosity, empathy, and productivity.

To maintain the company's culture and find people who are a good fit, Cloudflare looks for three things in a candidate: curiosity, high levels of empathy, and the ability to get stuff done.

"I have this very practical definition of culture that I've come to 20 years in, which is, 'Culture is the behaviors that you reward,'" Van Huysse said. "And so those are the behaviors that get rewarded that Cloudflare."

Van Huysse and other interviewers will be looking for indications — through cover letters and interviews, including answers about past experiences — that candidates can stay curious, kind, and productive. 

"I'm looking for that in spades," she said.

The Final Call can change a candidate's course 

After a candidate goes through multiple interviews and is ready to be hired, they have to have a final meeting with Van Huysse, a company cofounder, or a C-suite executive before they officially get the role. 

While candidates might consider the meeting to be a formality, Van Huysse said the interview is critical to see if a candidate should be hired. She'll often ask the candidate if they have any questions for her about the company, the role, or her thoughts on a particular subject. 

"I'd probably push back on a candidate that was like, 'No, I'm good. I knew I was scheduled to meet with you, but I have nothing to ask,'" Van Huysse said. "That's a flag for me."

If a candidate who succeeded at every interview didn't nail the final call, Van Huysse often looks back at interview feedback to see if there were any red flags that other interviewers documented, and asks the hiring manager to do another reference check or have another conversation with the candidate before hiring them. 

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