How to Show Interviewees Your Culture: Tips from Women in Tech

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This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.com by Kate Catlin, Founder of Flock. 

“What was the worst job interviewing experience you’ve ever had?”

That was the first question we asked of a group of women last week as we sipped our morning coffee together at Galvanize. The answers ranged from sexual harassment to a role bait-and-switch to innocuous boredom. I’m sure you’ve got your own stories. Interviewing is often confusing and frustrating and can leave both parties wondering, “Have I really found ‘the one’?”

It’s Flock’s mission to help women in tech join the perfect team to accelerate their careers. Thus, we put our design-thinking caps on and led a brainstorm on improving the process.

Of all the issues discussed, one became the focal point:

How might companies be more transparent about their culture?

As hiring managers, our default perspective is the team’s point of view (How will a new person impact us?) rather than the candidate’s point of view (How will joining this team impact me?). Yet this is the most common concern we at Flock hear from women. When we offer someone a job, we are asking them to spend 40+ hours per week with the same small group of people. If you want more candidates to apply, say yes to your offers and stay with the company longer, you need to help them understand who those people are.

Set expectations clearly on your website

Before a job candidate even applies, they should have some idea of what it’s like to work with you. Some suggestions from our focus group:

  • Go beyond a generic description by telling stories. “We’re smart, hardworking and like each other,” could describe many teams. “Every Wednesday, the CEO arrives early to make us waffles and last week the maple syrup exploded and…” describes only your team.
  • Add a section to the website where each team member has a picture and beneath it completes the sentence, “I believe in…”
  • Link directly to your Glassdoor reviews.

Get the team involved

Shouldn’t a job candidate meet the people they’ll be working with, rather than just someone from HR? As one woman expressed, “When I look at these companies, I’m thinking: ‘Is it worth exchanging the devil I know for the devil I don’t?’ While my teammates are sometimes condescending, it could be far worse.”

  • Encourage current employees to go to meetups or other community events so they can start a relationship with potential job seekers in a more natural setting.
  • Schedule a group interview with members of the specific team this new employee would be joining.
  • Talk about big ideas rather than just code. A great conversation helps people connect more authentically and leaves everyone feeling good regardless of the outcome.
  • Offer a full, 8-hour trial day with the team.

Don’t just talk

The women we brainstormed with were most enthusiastic about this point. Interviews are often forced and unnatural. Make the environment more comfortable for both sides by breaking the mold and doing something together.

This could be a pair coding session, or something more fun:

  • Fika‘ – close your laptops and take a coffee break.
  • Eat lunch.
  • Sit outside in the sunshine.
  • Take a walk.
  • Is there a trail or nature path nearby? Go for a quick morning hike.
  • Clean up a nearby park for an hour, or volunteer on another charitable effort.

And, of course, reach out to Flock. We would love to get to know your team and connect you to experienced, talented, value-aligned developers (who also happen to be women).

Now it’s your turn — What are your ideas on helping candidates see and understand your team’s culture?

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