An inside look at how to get accepted to Israel's top tech companies

From answering inquiries on LinkedIn to pausing mid-interview to turn off the stove, HR professionals at leading companies explain how to increase your chances of securing a job

Maayan Manela 18:3328.10.20
Let’s start with the usual tips for finding jobs: organizing your resume, sending email inquiries to human resource departments, checking on LinkedIn or Facebook whether you meet all the job criteria. While those tips were good for normal times, amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the rules have changed. Now, there are millions of people looking for a job, yet not enough positions to go around, interviews are carried out over Zoom, and many work from home.


After speaking with human resource managers from leading companies, we tried to understand exactly what those new rules are. What is more important? What is less critical? How can you stand out among thousands of applicants? How can you increase your chances of getting accepted to a position? VP of Human Resources of Strauss Israel Alona Magor-Shoham,

Microsoft's Recruitment Manager in Israel and Europe Smadar Gorodinsky, and Head of Global HR at Fiverr Gil Lev discussed all these matters and more during an online panel, shedding light on what goes on behind the scenes.


In the wake of the pandemic, many interviews today are over Zoom (Illustration). Photo: Shutterstock In the wake of the pandemic, many interviews today are over Zoom (Illustration). Photo: Shutterstock

To send or not to send?


Sending out tons of resumes isn’t relevant for today’s job search. The most important thing to increase your chances of getting accepted to a position is by checking what companies you apply to, pinpointing what positions are being offered, in which departments and even on which teams. “I really encourage applicants not to apply to Microsoft simply because they want to work here, rather I advise them to check out which positions interest them and examine what makes them stand out, and where they see themselves in the next couple of years. When they come here with a sparkle in their eyes, that’s already half the job,” Gorodinsky said.


For positions that require more experience, the applicants need to be better prepared to learn about the company, the position, and the interviewer. “One of the parameters that we examine is whether the applicant has done his or her homework. Where you are applying through and how you do so is crucial,” Magor-Shoham said.


Sending your application only to specific relevant positions makes life easier for the recruiting departments as well. As soon as both parties find what they're looking for, it makes the process much simpler and more pleasant. “It saves a lot of wasted time applying to jobs, going to interviews for unsuitable positions, and facing rejections. If you pay attention to these things, you’re better off,” Lev said.


However, this doesn't necessarily mean that you need to match a job’s specifications 100%. “We are in a period where companies are looking for talent over experience, we try to see the person and their potential. When you offer yourself up for a position, you must also demonstrate leadership, courage, and determination - those are also the things we’re looking for.”



Microsoft's Recruitment Manager in Israel and Europe Smadar Gorodinsky. Microsoft's Recruitment Manager in Israel and Europe Smadar Gorodinsky.



How do you know whether you fit the corporate culture when you’re being interviewed on video?


Every company has its own corporate culture, which one must adopt when hired. Today, when most interviews are carried out over Zoom and most of the work is done from home, this is proving to be a difficult nut to crack. However, most large companies check whether you fit into their culture only toward the end of the recruitment process. “Fitting into a company’s culture is super critical for us. The last stage usually consists of a final interview with a senior manager who checks whether you fit in with the corporate culture. We have instructed our interviewers to ask questions that highlight an applicant's qualities and abilities in this sense.”


When an interview is conducted over video without meeting in person, it’s challenging to get a feel for this. It becomes even more complicated if that person is in quarantine, or around family members. “I think it’s important to ask questions about the work itself, the spirit of the company, the rest of the team, the work hours, if working from home is possible, etc. These are all things we absorb subliminally when coming into an interview in the office, but are lacking now and we urge people to proactively ask about them. It’s important that they know about these things and it also provides a sense of security that they know what they’re getting themselves into,” Lev said.


One should feel free to pause in the middle of the interview if there are disturbances in the background. “We want applicants to feel comfortable during an interview. If for example, you forgot a pot on the stove or if there is a baby crying in the background, it’s okay to ask the interviewers to pause for a minute or even postpone the interview. At the end of the day, we want to see the real person who may be working for us, not the person who was awake half the night with a crying baby.” 


To start the hiring process, it’s important to send out your resume, but there are ways to increase your chances of getting a job. “Check first whether you know anyone at that organization. It’s great if a friend brings a friend. We love it when we receive applicants from those routes, and even encourage it,” Magor-Shoham said. When it comes to a direct approach to a company recruiter or HR manager it’s best to send a message over email or through LinkedIn, and in all cases should be an effective message that leads to an official application.


“As someone who receives tons of messages and inquiries on LinkedIn, they need to be effective. If I receive a message that says ‘I just graduated, do you have a job for me?’ most likely I will ignore that request because it isn’t relevant. There must be a clear call to action. I want to know why you approached me, why you think you fit the requirements, and what you want me to do,” Lev said.


In one example that stood out to Gorodinsky, a student applicant noted that he had volunteered with the Ethipioan-Israeli community. “That’s not something we can simply ignore. It really aligned with our values and we pay attention to those types of details,” she said.


As a golden bit of advice, Gorodinsky recommended that it is important to “remember that we’re all in the same boat. We want the interview to go as smoothly as possible, and that’s why you should strive to appear authentic. If you’re the right fit, you’ll get accepted.”


Magor-Shoham thinks that it is most important that one should be prepared. “Do your homework, learn about the organization, the position, who the interviewer is, how the company is structured. The more you know, the better your chances are of being prepared, and ultimately succeeding.”


“Paying attention to the details is the key to success,” says Lev. “You should be focused on whether you fit the organization's needs and how you can contribute. The moment you know how to answer these questions - for us and for yourself - the more likely it is you will be more efficient.”