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The Workplace Afterpod | Chris Byers, CEO, Formstack

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How do you make a great hire?

“We do a couple of things to enhance the hiring process. The one most important thing I think we do is about two years ago we began to document our culture. This was writing down what has turned into nine culture code statements that really we believe encompass our culture. When I say ‘document,’ I think it’s important to remember that culture, well, you can write down whatever you want … whatever you think you want your culture to be. But oftentimes, our day-to-day actions turn into culture. That is, in fact, how culture gets built around the world, even local country culture. It’s a sum of the series of actions and behaviors that a group of people take.

“We want to document that to see what are the things that we seem to value and what are the things we seem to not value and, in fact, that we devalue or cause us problems? As we did that, it became this really good framework for interviewing potential team members. About half of our interviewing process is skill sets, so do they have the right skills for the job? That’s a relatively easy thing to get through. I mean, the resume helps and then, you know, a series of interview questions just to understand whether they are technical enough. We actually run people through a project of some sort, so if you’re a developer, we actually want to see you code. That’s extremely illuminating to kind of get a sense of how you operate and how you work.

“Then the other half is culture and so it’s often people that are not on the team that you’re going to join so that you’re getting a good sense of people, a cross-section around the organization. People just asking around cultures. So, are you going to solve problems in the way that we do? Will you communicate in the way that we like to communicate? Because we communicate different than other companies and, in fact, being a remote company is really interesting, because you can build a remote company where literally no one ever talks. They type via, say, chat tools or email but they never actually talk and they don’t get together. Maybe never even meet everybody. We’re a highly relational remote organization. And so we do a lot of video chat, a lot of video conversations, a lot of, yes, still written communication.

“We want to make sure our team members are seeing other … like their whole team or the whole company twice a year. We want to make sure that relationship is built along the way. If you find people who our culture fits, that’s going to make it a lot easier to have good conversations and be productive and grow together. Then, where you have culture misses, you’re going to find your biggest challenges in getting people successful. So, I think that combination of culture first, skills second is one of the most valuable things that we do to make a great hire.” Chris Byers, CEO, Formstack

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