Our process for hiring full-time team members

Job Portraits exists, in part, to make the candidate experience enjoyable

Job Portraits exists, in part, to make the candidate experience enjoyable. That’s what our clients pay us for. And as we grow our own team, we firmly believe that, while not every candidate will fit our needs or decide they’re interested in what we do, figuring out whether we want to work together shouldn’t suck. We designed our hiring process with several goals in mind, including finding great people (obvs) and minimizing our unconscious biases when evaluating candidates. Above all, we want candidates like you to feel respected, comfortable being honest, and free to ask us hard questions.

We also want to remove as much mystery from our process as possible — hence this post. A lot of companies keep this stuff secret, out of fear that applicants will game their system. But we believe transparency will make it easier to get to know each other and sort out whether you’re a good fit for our team (and vise versa). And if it’s not a fit, we’ll learn that more quickly, and we’ll all save time.

1. Initial application

Respecting your time starts here. We keep our initial application as short as possible — usually, we just want your LinkedIn profile, a link to your portfolio or personal website (if any), and a few words on why we caught your eye. The goal is to get a basic sense of the quality of your work, your interest in us, and whether your past experience might inform the role you’d step into.

2. Screening call

We review every application, and if we think you have the skills we’re looking for (or the potential to build them), we’ll reach out to set up a 30-minute video call with a member of our team who works closely with (or is currently in) the role you’re applying for. Whatever we decide, we will let you know where you stand, and we’ll try our best to do so within a week.
In this initial chat, we’ll answer any questions you have and go over basics like your background and why you reached out. If you want to do some research beforehand, we’ve collected a bunch of helpful links.

3. Tactical challenge
If we’re interested in moving forward, we’ll send you an email with instructions to complete an exercise we call a tactical challenge. The scope of each role at Job Portraits tends to be wide, but this challenge will focus on a core component of what you’ll actually be doing. We’ll provide you with a workflow or framework for completing a task, we’ll make sure you have time to complete it, and we won’t ask for more than a few hours of your time.

4. Strategic challenge and interview coordination

At this point, we narrow our evaluation to no more than five candidates. We’ll send you an email (or set up a short call) to kick off the next phase. Two activities will run in parallel over the course of one week: a strategic challenge, and three one-on-one “primary” interviews with members of our team.

Like the tactical challenge, the format of the strategic challenge will depend on the role you’ve applied for, but will be the same for every candidate in the running. This exercise is meant to explore a real-world business issue. We’ll give you a prompt, and you may craft a response using any approach you’d like. (Later, you’ll present your work to our team.) Our hope is that you’ll get a gist of the bigger topics we’re thinking about, and we’ll get a sense of how you think about and communicate your ideas.

Along with the strategic challenge prompt, we’ll give you contact info for three full-time team members. You’ll be responsible for setting up one-on-one video calls with each of them, which (hint) is a chance for you to demonstrate your communication skills.

5. Primary interviews
Your three interviews are designed to minimize our own unconscious biases, and they will each assess a different set of competencies. One will evaluate how your background and expertise apply to our business, another will gauge your creative chops (in whatever form that takes for you), and the third will focus on your alignment with Job Portraits’ values. This approach — consistent criteria, consistent interview questions — also helps us focus on what we, as a team, know will matter most to your future success — and it prevents us from basing our judgment solely on gut feelings

6. Presentation of strategic challenge
When the week is up, you’ll hop on a video call with all the full-time members of the team and present your work on the strategic challenge. We’ll evaluate your presentation using predetermined criteria (to help us stay objective), and at the end, we’ll hold a brief Q&A to hear what you enjoyed, and didn’t, about the exercise. There’ll also be time allotted to offer feedback — on both sides

7. Join a House Party
If we decide to move forward, we’ll next have you join our Friday team meeting, also known as the “House Party.” (Named for…long story.) This isn’t shadowing — we’ll ask you to participate. The agenda: each week we discuss what we’re anxious and excited about, share learnings, address big questions that affect all of us, and say what we’re grateful for.

8. Interview with our founders
We’re in the home stretch! At this point you’ll meet with our founders (Miki and Jackson), in person if possible, to follow up on any questions that may have come up during the interview process. We’ll also discuss areas we — and you — suspect you’ll need to grow to succeed in the role. And if we haven’t already, we’ll discuss the far future — of your interests, of Job Portraits’ trajectory, and of where those intersect.

9. Reference checks
If everything is still on track, we’ll ask you to provide three references, and we’ll give at least two of them a call. In the name of full transparency, it’s worth saying that we may also conduct backchannel reference calls with people we’re both connected to.

10. Offer 

Within 48 hours of completing your reference checks, we’ll let you know what we decide. If we don’t make you an offer, we’ll try to give you feedback and share our reasons.


Interested in learning more? See our
job openings or send a question to jackson@jobportraits.com. You can also read up on what we look for in candidates, meet our team, and browse every notable link related to Job Portraits.

A few team members gather ‘round for a mid-2018 strategic planning session.

More on this topic