For us, hiring is a big deal. As an early-stage startup, where every single person has immense impact, each hire is critical to our success.
Conversely, we know that the interview and hiring process is often terrible for candidates. There are hoops to jump through, inane questions to answer, smug whiteboard gotcha puzzles to solve. It’s often confrontational and adversarial rather than constructive and effective.
The stakes are high on both sides, but we believe that the interview process should be a positive one. How can we make the interview process more valuable and enjoyable for both potential employees and our company?
These questions concerned us from the very early days of Igneous, back when we were being incubated at the offices of the Madrona Venture Group.
We set out to create a more humane and effective interview process. Three plus years later, this process has helped us build the smart and talented team at the core of our success so far.
The Igneous Interview Process
Our goal is to ensure that the Igneous interview process simulates actually working at Igneous as closely as possible, so that we can figure out how well we work together.
We start by treating every single prospective new employee as a prospective investor, because you are and deserve no less time and attention that we give our investors. At the very first interaction with an Igneous hiring manager, you should expect to hear all about Igneous: what we do and why we are excited about it, the roles we are recruiting for, and what we have to offer you.
The next step is to see if we can work well together through a take-home assignment tailored to the role. We don't ask you to work on something we’d use in our service offering, but the assignment is meant to simulate real projects you would work on at Igneous. We’ll also collaborate with you on the assignment, just like your team would collaborate with you at Igneous.
An example of an engineering assignment is to implement a simplified TFTP server in GoLang. We’ll give you a spec that is a real world application (and there are many implementations in open source).
If you are a salesperson, we will spend time walking through your region. We’ll talk about the accounts we would want you to support, map out your future territory, and plan a campaign at a target account. We want to see how you think about approaching F-500 customers.
If you are product manager, that homework assignment might be to have you tell us in detail you products you love and hate and how you would make them better, or write a press release for our next hypothetical service offering.
We understand that the assignment will take up a lot of your time, so we’ll donate $250 to a charity of your choice for a completed assignment turned in within one week.
We hope you find the assignment fun, as it’s a good indication that you’ll enjoy the work you would do at Igneous!
A big part of the next stage of the interview process is a code/design review process, just like you and your team will conduct a code/design review in most projects you work on. We want to know how well you can communicate and advocate for your ideas.
For senior engineers and executives, we’ll ask you to participate in a multi-hour-long actual working session on a real issue facing the company.
Our interview process may be long, but it’s been effective in determining who would be a good fit for our company. It means that our offer to accept ratio is excellent—close to 100%—and we find that most of the people we hire are extremely successful here. And finally, it is the process that has enabled us to build a small yet powerful team to deliver the first secondary storage system for massive unstructured data!
We estimate that each successful hire takes, on average, 500 hours of effort on our part.
But it’s worth it.
Every single hire is that important. Every single member of the team can help us soar.
If you’ve read this through and are still excited about working at Igneous, we want to meet you! Check out our open positions and apply on our Careers page.