On arriving to StudyMode we were a product team of two which downsized to just myself running product end to end making sure a team of 2 mobile engineers, 2 front end developers, and 10 back end developers had executable and valuable scope to tackle. While I was able to keep ahead of the team and validate direction this wasn't sustainable to provide cognitive power in all areas of the business at all times. Over the course of two months I engaged with 3 recruiters and vetted 75 candidates, conducted 50 intro calls and 10 in person interviews. Building a rounded team and know where the gaps are was critical in minimizing the impact of time throughout the process as well as filtering out candidates based on fit and proficiency.
In thinking about product, I see the following spheres that overlap resulting in the proficiencies and ownership of product in any organization. This in mind created 4 core profiles to hire up our team and fill a candidate into each. Each interview executed was unique in following down a path to validate proficiency and fit in the below areas of need.
Hiring for Gaps
This is the ideal candidate. Someone well versed in Technology, Business, and User Experience who is a full stack product designer with metrics driven approach and development proficiency. You can call these unicorns or the rockstar product managers who I targeted at the Senior or Director level to be a flexible asset to mentor junior staff as well as move to different areas of the business as needed. These are also the hardest to validate through a truncated hiring process to validate true proficiency across the board.
UX + Business
This is a hire to traverse user behavior and how branding, communication channels, and UI/UX can drive metrics. A/B Testing is in StudyMode's DNA and candidates here must prove a strong visual acumen but reasoning behind their decisions rooted in metric driven analysis. Being that the majority of our users have their first brand experience via organic search this is vital to user acquisition and reinforcing product value.
UX + Tech
We accept content in a multitude of languages in which we needed to find a candidate with a strong development background or technical proficiency you can groom to manage these core areas. Search and Taxonomy also comes into play here with someone who can translate search volume into structuring the navigation channels within each of the domestic and international properties.
Tech + Business
Such as we accept content from a variety of sources we also accept payments in an array of currencies. The hire here was to find a candidate with a strong development background or technical proficiency to validate health and optimization of payment processing as well as uncover areas of opportunity. In addition to payment operations being that so much of our business is built around funnel mechanics this was a core asset to find in analyzing both health and growth metrics across the board.
While validating user proficiency in the groupings above almost as critical is cultural fit as at the end of the day relationships are key in team success. By culture we aren't defining it as corporate strategy in trying to pull teams together via events, etc but the natural cadence between employees to build genuine camaraderie and collaboration.
Ramping Up New Hires
Through the process of isolating talent across all four proficiencies now came the task of integrating each employee into our current workflow as well as make adjustments for growth. Here I started with previously defined scope to validate proficiency and the assumptions we made during the hiring process. Here we allowed ourselves to also be flexible to see where
As I delegated scope and grew the internal team at StudyMode I kept finding myself thinking about Conways Law. New employees are a fresh start with limited to no preconceived biases so here the goal was to allow each member to create and prove their own hypothesis and not fall into the pattern of having our own product design systems that copy the internal influences of our organization."
As each member was on-boarded the shirt was then to grow the new hires into subject matter experts in the areas they were brought into or that they grew into organically being on the job. This is a shift from delegating scope but allowing for ideation in core business areas.
Every business has it's needs to fill when hiring but following the core breakdown of product strengths and matching candidates to those profiles is always a path to building a more successful team.