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Nov 02, 2020

How OMC thinks about hiring

Alli • in Hiring 6 min read

One More Cloud Inc. is a unique company that loves learning, collaboration, and curiosity. In our efforts to grow as a company, we want to learn from our team and their experiences. We spoke with Designer and Front-End Engineer Allison Zadrozny about OMC’s company culture and hiring process.

Can you tell me a little bit about OMC’s culture?

At OMC, we’re highly collaborative and interdependent with one another. We’re a small team so everyone works in cross-functional ways; we can’t afford hyper-specialization. When things are going great, it’s because of the team working well together. We’re not looking for heroes nor martyrs because neither of those work well with our company mindset.

How does OMC operate differently from other companies?

OMC has two different modes of how the company runs. The first is operational, which is hierarchical and must lean on process, formality, and seniority. The second is collaborative: a flat, informal, and creative style where we “say yes” to each other and play with ideas to find the best outcomes.

Operational modes of working with strict hierarchy is a pretty familiar culture in American business. For us, this shows up in higher-stakes situations involving things like server operations and legal admin work. If we’re running an incident response or wrangling specifics of a legal requirement, we don’t have time to be super collaborative. Instead we are in operational mode, relying on specific skillsets and decision-making responsibility.

Then there’s the creative and collaborative side. In this mode, everyone’s voice is allowed to contribute. The caveat here is that in order for others to take my participation seriously, I must put my skin in the game by adding value to the process with curiosity, willingness to learn, personal research, and generating some sort of output - like writing, PR’s, or visual prototyping work. At a lot of companies, you get people into a room for creative work, and literally whoever is the loudest is probably going to win that argument or “brainstorming session.” It’s difficult to protect against these sort of pluralistic and social biases, but we try. Working remotely and generating work commentary asynchronously helps, as well as having a company posture of openness and curiosity.

These modes have to be employed in a balance. It’s irresponsible to believe one can run all aspects of a business in a flat hierarchy. Likewise, strict top-down management squashes creativity. There is space for both. It isn’t easy, but we strive to have discernment about what mode to use depending on the task at hand.

What is OMC’s hiring process?

Historically we’ve used our network to fill positions. But that’s changing. For this last round of hiring, we posted on tons of job boards — some specifically for BIPOC and underrepresented individuals in tech (like diversifytech.org, womenwhocode.com, 2050.work, include.io, and others), and within the Austin tech meetup space. There’s a lot of decision-making that happens before we post. We’re very clear about what our “why” is behind hiring.

The first step for a candidate is a quick screening call. After that, we conduct a longer interview to assess skills on a video call. One of the final steps is a panel interview. Participants in this interview are the interviewee, the hiring manager, and a couple of people that the candidate would work closely with. We try to have the panel made up so that different perspectives are provided. One important recent change we’ve employed in the last couple of years is using interviewing scorecards that each panelist must complete on their own after each interview. The topics on the card include things from general professionalism to specific role-based questions we ask during the interview, like “Explain your approach to concurrency for multi-core and multi-node applications.” Scorecards take a lot of effort, but they help mitigate bias and have offered good jumping off points for some tough conversations internally.

Our process here is constantly improving, but one thing we try to be amazing at is good and timely communication. We all know how stressful it feels to be on the other side of the table waiting to hear back from a company or getting vague information. We don’t want to ever make other people go through that, so we try to make our hiring as humane and respectful as possible.

How are you trying to make sure you get the most diverse candidates?

The most important question for us: how do we include a greater diversity, equity, and inclusion within our hiring process? Our scorecards diminish system 1 thinking about candidates, but that doesn’t matter if we only have the same kind of people in our applicant pool. This is all about reaching out and getting a broader pool of applicants. I’m not going to say we’re great at this - just look at the makeup of our current team. We’ve used a lot of job boards for BIPOC and underrepresented groups in tech, but I’d like to see us get a larger volume of applicants from these places and work internally to make sure our culture is a place where anyone, regardless of their identities, class background, and race, can feel like they are valued and fairly compensated for their skills and work.

It’s important to me to be real about equity and representation at our company — why wait for someone else to call us on our BS when we can do our own honest self-reflection and be open about it? I think one thing that we’ve thought about a lot is that we don’t want anyone that’s coming on to feel like they are “just the diversity hire,” without a true say in the team and the projects they are working on, or without hope for promotion. We want to make sure that those we’re hiring feel confident as a teammate: “I have badass skills, I’m here for a job, and my colleagues respect me.”

That’s just more of the philosophy part, which is pretty big. We’ve got a lot of work to do as a small company, but I’m confident that we are making ourselves an excellent team to work with no matter who you are.

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