Mel Rowsell, 'Camp Mother' at Vend, the online retail point-of-sale (POS) software specialist, talks to Gill South about recruitment and HR initiatives. It recently won the 2012 Kenexa award for NZ's Best Small Workplace.

At Vend we like to think of ourselves as one big family, however there is one big difference - we can choose who to invite into Team Vend. This is something we take very seriously because if our team members share the same vision, the same values and are engaged and enthusiastic about what they do, then our road to success is made so much easier.

Like all young companies, our recruitment processes are changing and being constantly refined, however one thing hasn't changed, and that is our absolute focus on employing for "cultural fit". Given the choice between choosing a technical expert who doesn't really 'get' us and someone who fits right in but needs some upskilling, there is no debate - cultural fit always wins.

As time goes by, we are getting more sophisticated about how to gauge this. For example, currently we are asking people to bring something to the interview for show and tell, to tell us about what is rocking their world in the technology sphere and describe their favourite book.


The interview process is a two-way street and we want to give people an inside look at what it would be like to work for Vend. So, we invite applicants out for coffee with the team or at least let other team members meet them in the process, plus show them around the office and encourage them to ask lots of questions. We tell them about our story of disrupting an industry and invite them to be part of this with us.

All of this takes a bit longer than the standard approach however we have learnt that choosing the right team members has to be a top priority regardless of what other demands you have on your time.

We have recently brought recruitment in house with the appointment of our Camp Mother and Cultural Ambassador role however we have used recruitment agencies in the past and will continue to do so selectively in future for certain roles.

Social media

While we still use more traditional tools such as and, we also try to engage candidates through social media channels like Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. Like marketing our product, we think about who this job would appeal to, where they are likely to be hanging out, and what is likely to appeal to them.

Then we craft a job ad specifically with them in mind.

Word of mouth is also a biggie for us, especially as our efforts to communicate our culture and our employer brand pay off. For example, we were delighted when a candidate turned up for interview dressed as Spiderman in response to a quirky recruitment video we posted to YouTube.

When people join us, we aim to use their entire skill set - not just that in their job description, and we encourage people to develop themselves within Vend. For example, we have recently had people on our helpdesk move into QA and training roles.

We also encourage cross-communication so there is nothing stopping our developers suggesting a marketing idea, or our sales team suggesting a way to support our customers better.

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