Hiring 101

We recently opened up a position in the Technology department for a Ruby on Rails web application developer. So I thought it might be a good time to write a post about how we go about trying to hire the very best people here at Foraker Labs.

First, I’ll mention a couple of things about our process.

We take our time, and we say no to a lot of great people. In our experience, hiring the wrong person is much more expensive than taking the time to find and hire the right person. So we usually ask folks to sit through multiple interviews that can span the course of several weeks. Successful candidates see this as a good thing, since they gain a sharpened sense of what their daily life at Foraker Labs would be like. And if we see any red – or even yellow – flags during the interview process, we try to encourage ourselves to say no, even when we’re overwhelmed with work that the role would fulfill.

Our interviews are team interviews. It’s very unusual for us to have one-on-one interviews. It’s far more likely you’ll walk into a room with four or five (or more) of us. Candidates who are successful don’t panic when this happens because they realize that a good portion of their job will involve working as a member of a team, and that being able to participate in and present effectively to a group of folks is a core skill.

We ask folks to demonstrate their skills in real-time. Can you actually do your job? If you’re a programmer, we’ll ask you to stand up at a whiteboard and write some code. If you’re a QA engineer, we’ll ask you to do a lightning round of QA on a website and write a sample bug report. And if you’re a graphic designer, we’ll ask you to quickly improvise a new design for a sample client site. If you don’t enjoy getting peppered with questions about algorithms, color theory, and Agile processes, then you probably won’t enjoy working here.

We’re picky about the little things. The details matter in our business, so we pay attention to how much attention to detail there is in your application. Spelling, grammar and capitalization count, even for programmers. Please do us the courtesy of writing a cover letter in which you talk about why you want this job and why you think you’d be a good fit for Foraker Labs. And please don’t expect us to read your resume if you didn’t submit the requested code samples or project overviews.

Now let’s talk a bit about what we look for. It boils down to three things.

  1. Passion. We’re looking for folks with a real passion for their chosen craft. If you never think about your job after 5:01pm or if you haven’t read a book about your field since you left school, then please do not apply. By contrast, if you can demonstrate a capacity and a curiosity for constantly learning new skills, if you love giving and getting feedback from your peers, if your off-hours hobby involves writing more code or working on your freelance art projects, or if your 5 year plan is to become a recognized name in your field within the next 3 years, then let’s talk!
  2. Team fit. We’re looking for people who enjoy working side-by-side in a close-knit team environment. We’re huge fans of pair programming, creative brainstorming sessions, and talking openly and honestly with each other about how to make our work product just a little bit better each and every day. Exceptional communication skills, an eagerness to learn from others in an ego-free environment, and the ability to tolerate incessant movie quotes and really bad jokes are all essential.
  3. Core skills + general intelligence. Yes, we’re going to make sure you can demonstrate specific skills in your chosen area of expertise—successful candidates are the kind of folks who happen to teach us something about their craft in their first interview. But since the challenges we undertake frequently go beyond standard-issue skill-sets, we’re also looking for folks who have a high degree of adaptability and quick-witted problem-solving intelligence that will allow them to succeed in our fast-paced, creative environment.

At Foraker Labs, we recognize that our best chance at success involves getting the right people on our bus. So we’re almost always looking for people who live and breathe the web, who are passionate about getting just a little bit better every single day, who enjoy the challenge of working closely with a team of like-minded individuals, and who are eager to produce exceptional websites and web applications for our clients.

Clearly, a job at Foraker Labs is not for just anyone. But you’re not just anyone, are you? Should we talk?

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