“Determine what behaviors and beliefs you value as a company, and have everyone live true to them. These behaviors and beliefs should be so essential to your core, that you don’t even think of it as culture.”– Brittany Forsyth, VP of Human Relations, Shopify
We started out Brucira as a boutique design agency with a clear idea of where we are heading. Being a design first- with predicted scale, growth and work satisfaction for every team member- we needed passionate designers to join us. Word of mouth, recommendations, social media was garnering positive attention for all the UI/UX, branding and web development related work we were doing.
We could have rapidly hired, grown and created a team of 100+ designers, developers, project managers, writers within a year or two of our existence. But as Brittany rightly mentioned we chose to evaluate our core beliefs, behaviors and sought them in potential recruits to build a company that has its heart and head in the right place.
Setting Up a Thoughtful Hiring Process
Hiring for skill is necessary, especially at a swiftly growing design company like ours. However, we soon realized that the attitude of potential recruits tells you everything you need to know. For instance, we might have to hire a senior designer and we might find someone who has made a career switch, learnt UI/UX designing on their own and has a great sense of teamwork, empathy, understanding then we would prefer them over a candidate who is entitled about their skills, has an arrogant outlook.
Our core team members truly believe that a recruit with a work-in-progress design skill-set with the right attitude would quickly absorb Brucira’s culture and surpass their own expectations. On the other hand, if we ever hired someone who has great design skills and feels entitled to them by neglecting the team then we see it as a red flag early on.
Communicating the “Why” with the Candidates
Having known our mission and love for design, right from the first round of introduction with the candidates we try to understand why they care for great design. Typically, these are few questions that we ask and encourage to discuss two ways:
- What does design mean to you?
- Why did you choose designing as a career path?
- How important is teamwork for you?
- Is empathy important for designing?
- How do you approach designing in your day to day life/work?
- What did you learn about designing in your previous role?
Over a few early hiring sessions, we quickly realized that hiring should not be mechanical. It should dive deeper and ask questions. As we started implementing this process, we came across candidates who truly opened up during the interviews. By setting up an empathetic ecosystem, we came across newbie, mid-career and seasoned designers who felt de-stressed during interviews. Conversely, we also met candidates who had to work further on their attitude, outlook. We thought of candidly sharing our insights and thus we created a hiring cum culture playbook for our design team to refer to while hiring. It is gratifying to see that put to practice month on month.
Sharing Timely Feedback as the Core Principle
Finding the right fit for the relevant role requires communication, introspection and empathy. It is alright to not hire someone if they have a different set of principles and plans but as a company, we had to share constructive feedback. We consider it to be our moral responsibility and courtesy. As we started doing that, we found candidates heartily appreciating it. A few shared how it helped them to understand their strengths and weaknesses. It led them to great opportunities in the design ecosystem and we couldn’t be happier for them.
While researching more about empathy, culture, hiring, we came across this brilliant insight and it has paved the way for our recruitment process:
“The successful agencies of the future will be those that integrate technological excellence with profoundly human qualities: combining efficacy with empathy… I suspect that we’ll need appetite and empathy more than ever”– Jim Carroll, Ex-Chairman BBH
Considering the dynamic shift we saw post the COVID-19 pandemic and its global impact on workplaces, we feel that empathy, understanding and finding our true purpose has helped us create a holistic recruitment strategy at Brucira. We feel determined to take this process forward and see its positive manifold as we continue to grow our design agency. Do share your recruitment principles and deal breakers – we shall be glad to get more inspired and mutually grow in our design ecosystem.