What I learned from going undercover as a recruiting coordinator

Early in my career, I was a corporate financial analyst in Austin, TX. On a typical day, I spent hours scanning endless numbers in Excel sheets. I wanted to spend time on the interesting parts of my job — thinking strategically and providing financial advice to my team. So I taught myself how to code, and within a few months, had built software that reduced two months of numbing manual work into two hours of computer work. That program was widely adopted where I worked and my finance colleagues loved it. It was a Eureka moment for me. I packed up and left Austin for the tech world of San Francisco

In San Francisco, we met a tech recruiter who lamented the fact that she spent over half her day scheduling interviews. It reminded me of my days as a financial analyst, when I did numbing tasks that should have been automated. I knew my team – Jasper, Peter and I – could help, and thus, GoodTime was born.

We created a beta version, and some amazing companies were willing to give it a test run. Yelp was one of our early adopters, and they gave us fantastic feedback. Still, we knew we wanted to dig deeper into the world of recruiting to find solutions to problems we didn’t even know existed. We needed to fully understand the talent acquisition experience for ourselves.

Going undercover. (It’s a legit strategy.)

That’s when the team agreed I’d hack a career path, make a bold move, and go undercover as a recruiting coordinator. And yes, being undercover feels as good as it sounds, even when it’s in corporate offices.

GoodTime had established a Customer Advisory Board. They’re talent leaders from excellent companies that provide advice about our product and make requests or recommendations based on their experience with the software. I went to the talent operations manager at one of the board’s mid-sized companies, which was on a high-growth trajectory. I told her I’d volunteer as a part-time recruiting coordinator to learn all the problems in the field. She was short staffed so happily made the arrangements. The staff didn’t know me and I didn’t want them to know I had any connections to the management team. I wanted a real and unfettered view into the issues recruiting coordinators faced, even the ones their managers didn’t necessarily hear about.

It was an incredible opportunity to step into our users’ shoes.

For those who don’t know, recruiting coordinators are the people who schedule your interviews, greet you at the lobby on site, reimburse you for hotels and flights, and send you updates about your application. You’ve probably thought of them as recruiters, but they were actually recruiting coordinators.

Despite knowing the general outline of their jobs, on my first day, I had no idea what to expect. I had a brief meeting with the talent operations manager and a lead recruiting coordinator to learn more. I spent my first week in training sessions with several other new hires, then spent another week shadowing every member of the recruiting coordination team.

I was an enthusiastic recruit, as I wanted to understand everyone’s tips and tricks, and approaches to scheduling. The product manager in me was also thinking of the features we could add to GoodTime to help them. Along the way, I learned what they love about their jobs, which tasks are the most grueling, the career tracks they hoped to pursue, and everything in between.

After two and a half weeks, I was assigned to support a specific recruiter’s scheduling needs. That was a huge step for me. It was like getting the keys to the car for the first time. My recruiter supported one particular organization, so he taught me how it was structured and which hiring managers I’d interact with. He gave me pro tips about how to manage their personalities, scheduling priorities, and preferences, and outlined his own expectations.

Scheduling is wildly complex. Wildly.

Whenever I’d pitch GoodTime to someone oblivious to the complexity of scheduling, I’d tell them it’s an NP-complete problem — that’s a decision problem that has no or known fast solution. It’s quite challenging to create an engineering solution that scales for those types of problems. What’s more, I never understood the human side of this problem and the stress that goes along with getting hundreds of things right so an interview can go off without a hitch.

Two months in, I was neck deep scheduling interviews for my recruiter. Sometimes I made minor mistakes, like accidentally booking a room with one chair for an on-site interview, providing the wrong feedback form to an interviewer, and scheduling an interview on a company holiday (Does your company take President’s Day off?).

Then one day I made a huge mistake!

My recruiter asked me to schedule the first round of phone interviews for an executive candidate. To be clear, he was a very important candidate. I felt confident I’d already made every mistake in the book and wouldn’t repeat any of them.

I followed the company’s process and found a few people who were eligible to conduct the interview. After a bit of calendar finagling, I came up with a schedule that worked.

The interview was booked! A confirmation email with the interview details and itinerary was sent to the candidate. And then rescheduling happened. Several times. After multiple reschedules, I made the fatal mistake of forgetting to send the candidate the final details of the rescheduled interview.

When the interviewers called the candidate, he wasn’t expecting their call. It was a major fail on my part.

Product idea! Track reschedules and provide safeguarding features to prevent unfortunate mistakes from happening.

Come on! How difficult can scheduling be?!

Disappointed and stressed out, I met up with my good friend, J, who is the CTO at a successful startup in Silicon Valley. I told him about my stint as an undercover recruitment coordinator, then ranted about my painful mistake and how the job was incredibly stressful and thankless.

The fact is, scheduling-heavy professions are often stressful and underappreciated jobs that depend heavily on small details. Typically, only the scheduler fully understands the complexity involved in coordinating just one interview. There are so many things that must be done right, which conversely means there are so many things that can go wrong. And if anything does go wrong, everyone notices it.

A few minutes into my rant, J said, “Oh s**t. I yelled at my RCs last week.” He continued (I’m now paraphrasing with his approval), “I was stressed out from a long, grueling day and found myself sitting in an interview room alone for 30 minutes. There was miscommunication and the candidate didn’t show. I thought ‘Come on! How difficult can scheduling be?!’ I realize I never appreciated interviews when they happened flawlessly. I feel soooo bad now.”

I told him (with a little exasperation in my voice, I’ll admit) that his recruitment coordinators deserved to hear that he appreciated their work. That they’re juggling amazingly convoluted schedules. That their job is so complex.
Being the grounded person he is, J emailed this to me the very next day:
J's Email to Recruiting Coordinator

Present for you...

If you’re a hiring manager or interviewer and want to show your recruitment coordinator team some love, here you go … a pre-composed thank-you note on us:

Dear [name(s)]

This is a thank-you note to say that your amazing work is recognized, and I appreciate the detail-oriented focus it takes to do it well. Thank you for keeping our pipeline filled with high-quality candidates, making on-site interviews run smoothly, diligently solving endless scheduling puzzles, being open to feedback to improve our processes, creating an atmosphere of partnership with [name other companies or departments here], and generally being amazing. You give me great confidence in the ability of [your company name here] to execute and deliver outstanding recruitment processes and candidates.

[Your signature block here]

Instructions: Fill in the blanks. Send it out. Wait for smiles to roll in. Enjoy being a legendary boss.

Turn recruiting coordinators into strategists

Scheduling is one of a myriad of tasks recruiting coordinators manage. It appears at every touch point of your interview process, as you can see in the graphic. Every red-to-purple box in that picture requires scheduling. It’s often the first interactive activity your recruiting team does with candidates, so it has to go well.

Your recruitment coordinators also carry out and execute important initiatives around candidate experience, diversity and inclusion, interviewer training, and everything in between. They make the process run smoothly. Those are incredibly demanding and time-consuming tasks, which is why most of your recruitment coordinators can hardly find time to do strategic work. And that’s a problem.

Let’s make every part of scheduling a non-problem in this field. GoodTime enables your teams to do so many things brilliantly:

  1. Function more efficiently (schedule interviews 4 to 10 times faster)
  2. Make fewer mistakes
  3. Spend more time on strategic work
  4. Offer a company-branded and customized candidate experience
  5. Diversify interviewer panels to remove unconscious biases

GoodTime lets your team achieve maximum efficiency without removing the essential human connection from the recruiting process. And when that happens, your recruitment coordinators will have more time to dive into engaging work and create real growth and innovation at your company. That's a win-win.

Ready to level up your Candidate Experience?  


Time’s up for interviews full of scheduling headaches. It’s time for candidate-centered, connection-driven interviews instead. To read more about how to make that happen for your team, download 5 Steps to Hiring Top Talent at Scale now.


GoodTime Hire is the first and only hiring experience solution that streamlines the candidate experience, enables smart scheduling, and scales inclusive hiring experiences that reflect your company's DE&I goals while cutting hiring expenditure by up to 50%.