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Ideas-of-Interest

Outlining the SafeGraph recruiting process

April 13, 2017
by
Auren Hoffman

How we hire at SafeGraph

We started SafeGraph to graph datasets together to solve humanity’s biggest secrets. We consider ourselves historians focused on veracity and truth.

We need to attract extraordinary people to help us do extraordinary things.

This is the high-level recruiting process for roles at SafeGraph. If you are a candidate, we hope this transparency will help guide you through this process. If you are another company, we hope this will help encourage a discussion of how to make the recruiting process better. If you are reading this 300 years from now, we hope this gives you a lens into world-changing start-ups in 2017.

Our goal is to go from initial contact to offer in 10 days.

That’s moving very fast … and we need everyone aligned with that goal. Candidates put themselves out there when they talk to us and we think we owe them a quick answer. If the answer is to come work at SafeGraph, great. If the answer is that SafeGraph is not the right fit, the candidate deserves to know that quickly too so they can move on to other amazing companies. We also are trying to take as little of your time as possible to make a good decision … if you get all the way to the offer stage, it should be 5–10 hours total of your time in the process.

We are looking for people that match our culture and values.

We telegraph our culture to everyone we interview. We want to give people the ability to opt-out early in the process if they do not think SafeGraph is the right fit for them.

If you love these values and they resonate with you, then this is going to be a great process. If you do not feel you are a fit with the culture, let us know and we are happy to refer you to other technology companies where you can be successful.

SafeGraph Team Values:

  1. We optimize for growth. Everyone in the company wants to grow super fast. Everyone. We want teammates who are optimizing for growth over all things. SafeGraph will accelerate your growth with the following commitment: (a) you will work on really hard things; (b) you will have a high chance of failure; and (c) you will only work with amazingly talented people.
  2. Feel the need for speed and focus. Yes, we are a start-up. Which means we need to move at lightning speed. That means we need to maximize our output, so we constantly push ourselves to improve over the long hours we work. We also know that focus is essential. We move fast with the hiring process to optimize for start-up oriented people who can make decisions quickly, with incomplete information. Plus we know that we can only do so many things at once; we want to focus on you intently, make a decision as efficiently as possible, and either bring you on or move on to the next challenge.
  3. Coaching over managing. SafeGraphers are are self-starters that do their best work when given a high level of autonomy. Every team member needs to clearly understand the company strategy and execute. Instead of hands-on, active management, we coach our team members to take their work (and the goals of the company) into their own hands.
  4. Deeply curious. SafeGraph’s mission is to understand the truth about the past so we can answer some of the world’s most vexing questions. So we want teammates who have opinions about the world, diverse interests and backgrounds, and lots of curiosity. We like dinner parties and board games over party parties. We know a LOT about processing big data and machine learning. But we also know a lot about foreign policy, economics, healthcare, sociology, psychology, transportation, investing, energy, neuroscience and more. Our ultimate goal is to help answer questions like: Is increasing the minimum wage good for the economy? Is wine good for you? What is the best treatment for leg cramps? Where was the origin of Zika virus? What is the actual unemployment number? What lifestyle factors help prevent Alzheimer’s? What factors predict successful marriages? Is it worth it to send my child to private school? Is a public company committing fraud?
  5. A-Players Only. Some startups seem to think demonstrating “hockey-stick” growth in employee headcount is what telegraphs success. We think differently. At SafeGraph, our goal is to only hire a small number of truly amazing employees (and rely on vendors for all other tasks). In order to attract and keep such employees, we know we must do 3 things: 1) constantly focus on employee growth, 2) do everything possible to promote from within, and 3) ensure our employees are always being compensated at top of market rates.

Enter the interview process …

Once we identify someone with the right background who is interested in talking with SafeGraph, we setup the below process (which may be modified depending on your situation).

Stage Zero: Written Interview

We love your resume so we set up your Initial Phone Interview. For some jobs (especially non-engineering jobs), we have a written interview prior to the first phone screen. The written interview is going to be a core skills check on your role: if you are a sales person, we may ask you to describe a sales strategy. We may also ask you some general questions like how you deal with cognitive biases and your strategies for growth. The SafeGraph Written Interview will take 15–25 minutes to complete, depending on the position. We’ll go over these responses during the phone interview.

Stage One: Initial Phone Interview

The first round interview is generally with the leader of the group you are interviewing with. This is an initial call and will be, at most, 25 minutes. This is to learn a bit more about you and what you are looking for (and to help you learn more about SafeGraph). We’ll go over your written interview if you completed one. For engineers, this is usually followed by a more technical screen where you remotely work out a few coding problems with a member of our engineering team (<45 minutes).

Stage Two: 2-minute check-in

Here we do a 2-minute check-in with you to get your information, collect any additional questions you have (we write them down and make sure they get answered), understand your compensation requirements and get you our NDA so we can go deep on the business with you. Also: we might love you but this is an opportunity for you to drop-out if you don’t love us (and yes, we will cry … but that is ok).

Stage Three: The on-site

You’ll come to our office (we’re on Market and 9th in San Francisco), and meet the team in-person. This will be max two-hours of your time. Like all our interviews, we work on respecting your time; we keep things quick and give you the option of meeting after-hours or weekends — we can meet 8am to 10pm. At some point in the process, you will definitely meet with the CEO (we think that hiring and developing talent is one of the 3 most important things a CEO does). The goals of these conversations are two-fold: 1) Give you an opportunity to get to know the kind of team we are building at SafeGraph; and 2) Let our team understand what it would be like to work, collaborate and communicate with you.

Optional Stage Four: Project/References

Depending on your background and the interviews thus far, there may be a project. And we may ask you for references … and we are likely doing off-list references at this stage (we will be very respectful if you are currently employed). This will take 2–4 hours of your time and another 1–2 hours of our time.

Penultimate Stage: Preparing you for an offer

If you reach this point, we almost certainly want to give you an offer. But you might not yet have enough information to accept the offer. You’ll have a call with us and go over any questions you have about the company, culture, role, and more — everything you need to know to make a decision. The goal of this stage is to get you ready to receive an offer so that, assuming our offer exceeds your compensation needs, you will accept on the spot.

Final Stage: Acceptance

You get the formal offer — our goal is to be in the 90% percentile when it comes to total market compensation. We hope you accept (you’ll have a short time to accept after you receive the offer so you need to be prepared to make a decision before we give it to you). We’ll discuss your start date (which can be the next day or many months later). And we’ll get your preferences for things like external monitor, keyboard, standing desk, etc.

The Transition:

Everyone at SafeGraph is super excited you’ve accepted your offer. As your start date approaches, we will send you relevant reading materials and begin discussing some potential projects to begin working on for your first week. We already know you are a self-starter, but we also know that providing the right context about SafeGraph’s vision and strategy is essential for you to hit the ground running. Of course, before you start we will get you all the paperwork, health benefits, payroll, laptop, and more so you can spend your first day at SafeGraph doing real work and immediately contributing to the team.

Your First Week

Once you start at the company, it is important you are doing meaningful work. If you are an engineer, you’ll be pushing code on an important project your first week.

Is SafeGraph the place for you?

If this is exciting to you, come work with us!

Auren Hoffman
Auren Hoffman
CEO of Safegraph
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SafeGraph is just a data company

That's it – that's all we do. We want to understand the physical world and power innovation through open access to geospatial data. We believe data should be an open platform, not a trade secret. Information should not be hoarded so that only a few can innovate.