Our Hiring Philosophy: How We Hire the Best Digital Product People

I'm going to be honest: Every company I've ever worked for, and every client, all say they have the "best people." In some cases, it's true. In others, it's far from it.

What's not talked about much is how they hire the best people. That information can provide some great insights into how a company operates.

So I thought it would be useful to detail how we hire the best people for Foxbox. Meaning, we have found a good approach (through trial and error) of what works best for us and our clients.

We've gotten great at filtering out the good from great candidates, and been able to hone in on what makes someone a great fit for us.

Here are the top six things we look for when hiring the best digital product people.

1. Our culture → It’s really, genuinely important.

Our culture is important to us. So important that we created a detailed culture handbook on how we expect to work as a team, and it has everything to do with what we call the Foxbox Way.

We created these documents and shared them publicly because we want every hire to understand that having technical expertise is simply not enough. There must be a cultural fit that's so important to us that during our hiring process, we often have to tell technically-skilled and talented candidates, “It’s not you, it’s us.”

And if you've ever considered creating a culture document, I was featured on a podcast where I shared my thoughts on how to create a culture document that scales engineering teams.

2. Engineering → We look for T-Shaped candidates.

We look for experts who have deep experience in single topics while being capable of understanding related subjects. Now, we’re not saying I-shaped or generalist candidates aren’t a fit for you. But we are saying they aren’t a good fit for the way we work. For example, full-stack developers are a great asset, but what we're really looking for is someone who specializes in the front or backend, and if they can also handle the other side too, that's a huge bonus.

3. Solution Architects → Been there, done that, always learning C-Suite counterpart.

When it comes to architecting modern software the right way, we don’t take any chances. We look for candidates who have experience architecting modern, complex software and can easily hang with and deeply understand a c-suite CTO or Engineering Director of any size organization.

4. Product Managers → Friendly, flexible, in the trenches with you, disciplined human beings that get the right things done.

What we focus on is hiring people who are disciplined and understand Scrum and Agile deeply. Agile Product Managers who have the capacity to engage with clients, respectfully challenge them, and actively "steer the ship" rather than blindly following directions passively.

And, of course, we have a few thoughts on creating a culture that isn’t always interrupt-driven, and instead prioritizes uninterrupted focus for our team members.

5. Onboarding team members → It’s never a “welcome to the team, now get to work” type of thing.

We think throwing people in the deep end and telling them to figure it out is a bad approach. That’s why we dedicate one to two weeks for onboarding where every hour of the onboarding is scheduled before they start. Want to know exactly how we do it? We thought you would never ask. Here you go: How We Onboard Our Remote Engineering and Product Management Team

6. Location, location, location → It still matters, matters, matters.

Many things have changed because of Covid-19, including how we work. While we’re open to the “new normal” changes, we believe that building local in-person teams for our clients is the best approach to getting the right work done. We, of course, still help clients in locations where we don’t have a physical presence.

Our HQ is in Chicago, and some of our engineering teams are located in our Latin America offices in Rio, Brazil; Santa Fe, Argentina; and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

This setup has enabled us to expand our talent-base significantly while serving our clients. It has worked well for us.

Btw, we’re hiring.

A lot of work and thought is needed before starting the hiring process.

It's more than just throwing up a job posting on all the job boards and filtering out the most qualified candidates. We have found that doing a deep dive on our cultural values, spending time onboarding, and creating a framework for what makes a candidate work well at Foxbox Digital, has enabled us to find great people that we enjoy working with on a daily basis.

If you have any questions on how we hire or if you'd like tips on how you can hire the best people at your company, feel free to reach out to me directly on LinkedIn, and I'd be more than happy to share my thoughts. Thank you.

September 17, 2020
Rob Volk
Rob Volk

Rob Volk is Foxbox Digital’s founder and CEO. Prior to starting Foxbox, Rob helped Fortune 100 clients, including Pfizer, USPS, and Morgan Stanley build and scale enterprise apps. He was the CTO of Beyond Diet and implemented technology that scaled to over 350k+ customers, and was the CTO and Co-Founder of Detective (detective.io), a venture-backed intelligence platform that amassed 200k+ users in a short time frame. Read more

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