In one of the Slack communities I spend some time with, someone recently asked the questions below about how companies hire. I thought the answers would make a nice post, so here we are. I’ll be focusing on hiring for our UX Designer role, but the process for Front End Engineers or User Researchers is essentially the same.
What is your process like when looking for a new hire?
1. Review resume, cover letter, and portfolio
2. Phone screen with Director of Hiring
3. Design review discussion with Manager of UX and other designers
4. Career history interview with Manager of UX
5. Meet & Greet with various Product & Engineering team members
6. Reference checks
7. Final sign off call with CEO
Let me dig in to a few of those.
First, design review is where the candidate brings a couple of projects they have worked on in the past and talks about them. The best candidates can show and talk about how they got from nothing to fully worked designs, and it is clear what they did and didn’t do. This is also a great time for them to ask us about our process. Interviews are two-way streets, and we expect the candidate to grill us as much as we grill them.
The Meet & Greet with the Product & Engineering team is an opportunity for them to get to meet some of the people they will be working with. See how we interact with each other, see how they interact. There are a few technical questions, but most of them are “fun” questions like “top three movies” or “spirit animal.” The answers don’t really matter as much as the interactions do.
Finally, our CEO has spoken to every single hire we have ever made. And he has vetoed a few at this process. His job is to make sure we are not hiring someone who runs against our core values (No Assholes, Own the Result, Create Wow Moment, Pathological Optimism, Eager to Improve).
What kind of resources (ex: websites, apps, people, technology, etc.) do you use when looking for a new hire?
As we are a hiring platform, we use our own platform to manage the process. We try to include as many team members as possible when it makes sense. I believe we use Zenefits to extend offer and onboard. For all UX roles, I have found Authentic Jobs to be the only source we need to get great applicant flow.
What pain points do you encounter when trying to find a new hire?
May not seem like a pain point, but we get a ton of applicants from Authentic Jobs, so culling through them can be difficult, especially once we have started moving forward with a few. As our Product and Engineering teams are remote, conducting “face-to-face” interviews remotely can be difficult to arrange.
Another issue we have run in to recently when hiring for a Front End Engineer position is people straight out of dev boot camps applying even though the job descriptions says “3+ years of experience.” While we will be hiring entry level positions — probably starting in 2017 — we aren’t quite ready yet, and these applicants make our applicant stream more noisy than it should be.
What are the 3 most important things for you to see on the resume/application?
If I may, cover letter is one of the most important things. Resumes are professional summaries, but cover letters is where you can let your personality shine, highlight attributes, and explain away questions about the resume before they can be asked. So don’t just regurgitate your resume, talk to me!
For a designer position, I am also looking for a link to a “portfolio,” though I put that word in quotes because that term is a bit loaded. I don’t want to see pictures, I want to hear about process. I don’t want to look at what you did, I want to know why you did it.
Third…not sure honestly. Though we are remote, we can only hire people based in the US, so checking that is always important.
What are the 3 most important things for you to know about the person you are hiring?
First and foremost, do they fit with our core values, and in particular “No Assholes.” I believe very strongly that attitude is more important than ability. We can work with you to design better, but I can’t do much with someone who is hard to work with.
Second, they have to be comfortable working remotely. We do our best to create as many communication opportunities as possible, but working remote can be isolating, and that is not always for everyone. Designing remotely in particular can be quite a challenge.
Finally, they should have some sort of talent. Again, I would rather hire inexperience with good attitude than rock star with bad attitude, but it isn’t as hard as you might think to find someone who has both the right abilities and the right attitude.
What specific skills (ex: adobe cc experience, etc.) do you normally look for? (if you normally hire a specific field, please specify what field that is)
For designers, again I am looking for process. Sketch, Photoshop, whatever…I really don’t care. What I want to know is how the candidate approaches a problem. Do they question assumptions? Do they spend time sketching? Do they test their mock ups? How do they deal with feedback? Much like attitude trumping ability, soft skills trump hard skills.