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Hiring for Mission Fit

When I think about our culture and our future—it all starts with the people. 

Over the past three years, we’ve interviewed thousands of people and through successful hires and miss hires, we’ve learned a lot along the way. 

What are the biggest things we’ve learned? 

Hiring The First 10 People 

When I think back to hiring during our first year, we faced the typical startup challenge of being an unknown company with a lot of risks. We wanted to hire exceptional talent, but we forgot to ask one question. 

What is exceptional talent? 

Truthfully, we fell victim to the same biased process that everyone else did—we chased talent from the known tech giants and the top schools. Ultimately, we were super focused on hiring for brand and culture vs mission and skills.

Yes, we had exceptional talent. But it felt harder to build a culture that both Adam and myself were excited by and truly exemplified what we envisioned. 

The culture we wanted to create was all about inclusivity and authenticity, so this meant we really needed to hire people who were more passionate about the mission and vision. The company we aspired to build was with individuals that describe their priorities: company, colleagues, then self. But the reality was we had created a culture that was focused on self first, colleagues second, and company last. This became harder to correct the bigger we got. 

It meant we ultimately had to adapt our culture to be something that wasn’t our vision BUT we never gave up. Instead, we learned from the failures and adapted our values and our mission to create the culture we always dreamed of. 

Simply put, be patient and intentional with your first 10 hires. It may be hard to do so but the first 10 hires will set the culture. And, it’s very difficult to correct after you’re a twenty-person team. 

Go slow to go fast, you will thank yourself later.

What changed?

After a couple of years, we knew that we needed to take a different approach. That’s when we sat down to really discuss the company culture we believe would allow us to scale and be one of the most authentic companies in tech. 

Core skills wouldn't be enough—we knew there were hundreds of folks that could do a particular job. It's the passion for the mission that brings us to a “yes” on a candidate. 

We'd rather miss out on an exceptional candidate that exceeds our expectations in terms of qualifications, but soft on the mission and instead hire someone with the aptitude to learn new skills, but is passionate about the mission.

We have continuously iterated our process and with thanks to Tariq Meyers our CPO and Erin Chapman our Recruiting Lead. We’ve now found the people that make our culture what we’ve always wanted—a place where everyone can be themselves and be celebrated for their differences rather than judged.

How To Hire For Mission Fit

  1. Get to know the person: What are they passionate about, what do they want to work on, what are their goals and aspirations, what do they value, etc. 

  2. Learn their why: Why are they interested in joining your company? There are so many opportunities and companies out there, ask them why they’re interested in you? What does the mission mean to them?

  3. Make sure there is alignment: It's important that someone's personal values & the company values are aligned. having a values-based interview during the interview process is really important when hiring for mission fit.

What’s the conclusion? 

Hiring for both skills and mission fit is important. With that being, you really have to find out what you value more. Everyone and every company are different. But for us, we really care about the people we work with, it’s all about opening doors for others and leaving our ego at the door. When you hire for mission fit, you have a team that can disagree and commit because they all want to achieve the same thing. They are always willing to go the extra mile for the company. 

Don’t follow the playbook. Instead, go create your own. 

We welcome everyone from all walks of life, it doesn’t matter if you never went to school, or worked at a company we’ve never heard of, or even living in a different country.

— Ben Herman, CEO

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