9th June 2020
The Octopus team is (still) growing! Find out more about joining us during the Coronavirus outbreak
Sean Thurgood, Energy specialist
These are strange times, but thanks to our tech and our brilliant team, our business is operating as normal (just, from home). That includes hiring – in fact, we’re growing faster than ever before.
If you’re thinking about joining our team, here’s what you can expect from the hiring process, and what we’ve been doing differently to welcome new folks into the team, given the unusual circumstances.
Our hiring and training process
If you’re looking to join our operations team...
The application process
- We start off by working with our recruitment partners, who get to know potential applicants via phone and Skype interviews. They’ll take you through a couple of verbal and numerical reasoning tests.
- Next, we’ll have a first round video interview with two operations team leaders, which is where we really get to know whether an applicant fits the Octopus dynamic.
- After that, we’ll schedule a final video interview with an operations manager.
- Congratulations! You got the job!
Getting trained up
- Pre-training: New people joining as energy specialists all go through an initial 2-3 week pre-training period where they get up to scratch with our systems and get a feel for the office before they get assigned to a team. Generally pre-training for newbies is based in the office they’ll be working from full time, and new starters will work closely with just a few trainers based in the same office. Now that our pre-training is fully remote, all new team members get time with trainers from across the business, and there’s loads more communication between offices and variety in training sessions.
- Training: Our newbs learn all the ins and outs of the energy industry, usually via classroom-based learning split between our Soho, Leicester and Brighton offices. This means trainees get a taste of Octopus life in most of our main sites, and get to meet as many of their new teammates as possible. While that isn’t possible in quite the same way anymore, we’ve adapted to fully-remote learning with heaps more interactivity and chances to meet Octo-experts from across the business.
- Joining a team: After a few weeks of training, each new starter is assigned to a team (our operations model splits fully-trained customer experts into mini-teams which each look after all the needs of a portion of Octopus accounts, so that customers generally always get to chat to the same small group of helpers). During the pre-training and training process, we work hard to find the team that our new recruits will fit into best.
- MORE TRAINING! After 2-3 weeks, our new recruits are ready for the second part of the training. This is where we go over more complicated issues and scenarios.
After all of this, the transformation is complete; we have our new Octopuses fully-fledged and ready to lend a tentacle to our customers.
If you’re looking for a role in a different team…
- Intro phone chat. First, Matt or Olivia in our talent team reach out to candidates, getting to know them in a quick, informal phone call. This will cover your CV, interest in Octopus, and look at whether there is a good fit on both sides. This usually takes about 20-30 minutes.
- First interview. This is usually an informal meet with a hiring manager (and sometimes a take home challenge). While this would usually happen in the office, we’ve shifted these meetings, and hundreds of other onboarding processes into virtual formats.
- Second interview. The next stage is generally a more formal meet, often with two hiring managers.
- If you’re successful, Matt or Olivia will go through the offer with you verbally, send a conditional offer, and prepare your contract.
- Training… The specifics of your training will vary depending on your role, but you’ll be kept up to date by our talent team!
During uncertain times (and always!) we’re here to guide you through the process
Matt and Olivia are a couple of the friendly faces in our talent team, and they are here to make sure you’re at your best when you interview with us. They’re on hand to share tips with candidates (and with hiring managers at Octopus) before all interviews. Right now, they’re focusing on this even more than usual to make sure candidates feel at ease to help make up for some of the face to face contact we’ve lost.
Coronavirus or not, we’ll keep you fully aware of where you are in the process of applying for a role here, including explaining why we’re doing what we’re doing, and making sure you feel comfortable enough to call and ask questions if something isn’t clear.
Joining the team
It might feel a little scary starting a new job remotely, but we promise we’re super friendly and we’re doing everything possible to give you a taste of life in the Octo team from home!
James Doyle, who masterminds our operations team hiring, sends out incredibly cute welcome packs for new team members:
If you can’t bring the Octopus to the office… You bring the office to the Octopus!
During lockdown, we’ve been sending our new starters a welcome pack with everything that they’ll need, from the laptop they work on and guide to getting it set up, to a small plant for that authentic office vibe. (Once we’ve figured out how to remotely brew everyone a cuppa we’ll have truly achieved work-from-home enlightenment!)
Meet Charis and Conor, two of our newest energy experts!
Making sure Octopus’ culture isn’t lost in this new world is really important to us. We’ve also managed to film our office virtually so candidates can see a walk through of what environment they’d be working in.
Bina, a member of our training team explains “It’s been an interesting experience and a welcome challenge. I’ve definitely had to think more on my feet and I feel more connected to the new starters. Each day has been different but it’s been amazing!”
Bina’s experiences are echoed by Connor, one of the first new starters to join our operations team from home!
“I was made to feel welcome very quickly. I remember coming out of my second interview and basically started a sales pitch to sign my parents up.
Being trusted to work productively even on the first day really set the standard for working here. Octopus also sent us a reusable coffee cup and a cactus pot. (My pot broke but the cactus is alright - don’t worry!) That little touch on the side was really nice.
In training every morning, our trainer Jack would do an ice-breaker just to get to know us better. I felt really engaged by this, it was almost as if the distance wasn’t a thing.
I’m now in Team U based in Warwick and I already feel like part of the team. I feel very competitive and want to prove that my team is the best at Octopus!”
Being adaptable in a crisis is what Octopus is all about
Octopuses are a great evolutionary success story, having adapted to a vast array of challenging environments over millions of years. I’m sure you’ve seen the videos of these flexible creatures squeezing themselves into the tightest cracks and crevices, and making the most of whatever circumstances they’re in.
Thanks to our tech-based agility, and a company culture that puts a high price on responsibility and decentralisation, we reckon we’ve been able to live up to our namesakes’ reputation pretty well so far. (Have a read of our response to the Coronavirus outbreak across all facets of the business).
As a tech-led business, a strong digital community has always existed at Octopus. We have a massive (and growing) Digital Operations team, for example, which has been working flexibly and remotely for over three years. This means that not only is our team set up to work remotely and access all the same resources as the in-office staff, but there’s also existing social and community structures where newbies and oldies alike can get help and meet friendly faces for a digital ‘tea break’ chat (and memes).
Olivia in our talent team explains it best: “Our people were already working from home. We have remote teams all across the UK – so strong digital foundations were already in place. The pandemic has just further entrenched the fact that businesses need to be more adaptable and agile… working from home, works!”
James Doyle, our operations team recruitment and on-boarding wizard agrees: “the results have been amazing, and teams across our four offices are now closer than ever before. We’ve learned about flaws in the way we were doing things before, and we’ve also saved a lot of time by bringing the offices together. I’m so proud of everyone who has played a role in this process, and how quickly they’ve all adapted. It gives me confidence that whatever challenge is thrown at Octopus next, we’re well up for it!”
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