Coming To Work Here

Posted by: Mike Rustici
Date: June 02, 2009
Categories: Culture, Hiring, Jobs, The Office


No, unfortunately this post doesn’t mean we’re hiring right now. But the next time we are, it would serve an interested applicant well to read this post from 37 Signals. Plenty of people know how to code and have years of experience to show for it. But, if I get to pick the person I’m going to work with, it has to be somebody I want to spend time with, somebody I look forward to seeing on Monday morning…in addition to somebody with rock star skills. We’ve interviewed a lot of people over the years and we’ve only had one candidate ever “fail” an interview question. The question was “What do you do for fun?”, and he had no answer. The guy was an absolute stud when it came to coding skill and even communicating, but I just couldn’t imagine sharing an office with him. Personality matters.

Skills are of course hugely important too, but often the least skilled are the best at making themselves sound good on a resume. I’m a big believer the fact that the more you know, the more you realize how much you don’t know. The most talented people I know are also the most modest. In software development (and probably in most endeavors), it is the little things that separate the cream of the crop. The small day to day habits that over time make a big difference are what produce excellent software….but those don’t make for great resume fodder. We’ve found our JavaScript test to be HUGELY indicative of an employee’s eventual performance. Great resumes, not so much.

If you want to work here, make an impression. Show us that you have a personality. Show us that you have skills. When we hire, Tim and I hardly even look at resumes. Of course, we want to know something about your background, but a couple paragraph narrative is often much more informing (and easier to digest) than a long detailed resume. When an applicant comes in the door, it is a cover letter and JavaScript test that we are most interested in. Those are the true indicators of skill and personality that lead us to think an applicant might make a good fit.

Of all the people we’ve interviewed and hired, I remember virtually nothing about their resumes. I didn’t even remember that Troy has a master’s degree until I was crafting this blog post…but I vividly remember the elegance of his solution to the JavaScript test. I think I have a faint recollection that Jean did some teaching and magazine editing back in the day…but I certainly remember knowing that she was the gal for the job after reading that she was “getting tired of the stay at home Mom gig”. I remember that Ells did a cool thesis about something for his master’s degree…but I mostly remember that he once DJ’d at raves and that had the guts to mock Tim and I’s alma mater in his first email.