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Self-Selection in Hiring

“I appreciate getting to know you, but I’ve decided not to accept your job offer.”

As a hiring manager, those words used to strike fear in me, but they shouldn’t have. In many cases, having a candidate say no is even better than having them accept.

Facebook has been very successful using the slogan “Move fast and break things.” You probably have an immediate gut reaction to those words. They may be “Yes! That’s what I want!” or they may be “I have no interest in doing that.” but either way, that slogan makes it clear what Facebook is looking to do. If you’re the kind of person who likes to measure twice and cut once, you know in advance that Facebook likely isn’t the place for you. By signaling this way, Facebook is helping potential job candidates to decide for themselves if they will be a culture fit.

At HubTran, we could learn from Facebook’s method of sending culture signals. We’re looking for that type of engineer that is ruthlessly focused on delivering value to our customers. We would rather get a product out to our customers quickly, even if it requires some manual hand holding. We believe this is important so that we can get feedback from real world usage as quickly as possible. For us, getting this feedback a month or two faster is worth spending 30 minutes a day on some manual tasks. If this product or feature is successful, we want to do the work to eliminate the manual steps. If it’s not successful, we want to learn that to remove the feature. In either case, we would rather have know this sooner than later, as it may allow us to avoid un-needed work.

In the past, we’ve tried to ask interview questions to determine if an applicant would be a good fit for this world. We didn’t want to come out and ask, since we assumed that candidates would give us the answer we want to hear instead of answering truthfully. It turns out this was a mistake. In the past year, we’ve hired several people who turned out to not work well in this environment. They all ended up leaving.

To that end, we’ve decided to try something different. Instead of trying to guess if a candidate shares this value, we’re going to explain ourselves early and often. We want applicants to know that we are ruthless about delivering customer value early, and that means we’re going to push them to do less and to release more quickly than they would like. If you’re the type of person who values theoretical purity over customer value, you likely won’t be a good fit. Our hope is that it leads us to hearing more turn downs from candidates, but in the end we’ll end up with more people who will excel at HubTran.

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