People Over Profits: Noom’s Marco Tabini and Mark Horton Explain What Seals the Deal for Technical Candidates
Empathy and data run the show at Noom.
While other companies might enforce a staggering amount of do’s and don’ts, the popular psychology-based behavior change app currently focused on weight loss is about principles, not regulations; mission, not money; and altruistic experimentation, said Marco Tabini, Vice President of Engineering, and Mark Horton, Vice President, Head of Talent.
“We’re looking for a good match between what we’re doing as a company and what candidates want to achieve in their career,” said Tabini. “This is an industry that requires a lot of passion and mission dedication. We know the people we hire will ultimately change the culture in subtle ways - and we want that change to be good for them and us.”
So how do technical candidates stand out? What does the interview process at Noom look like? And - most importantly - are they still hiring? (Spoiler alert on that last question: they are).
Noom really is people first
“At Noom, the only people who are focused on money are the finance team because that’s their job,” said Tabini. “On the technical side, our only metric of success is an aggregated one that tells us if people are taking meaningful action in the app, like if they’re tracking weight or logging a meal. We are relentlessly optimizing to improve that number because it’s about using technology to positively affect lives.”
That focus extends to team dynamics, which are refreshingly devoid of internal politics and jockeying for position. “There’s a real practice of altruism,” said Horton. “We’re very focused on maintaining an experimental mindset and collegial environment at Noom. There’s a powerful sense that finding the best way to produce the best health outcome for the user is the most important thing we each do. It’s not having your idea win over others.”
Your drive to experiment matters, but so do your soft skills Experimentation is at the heart of the Noom approach - and failure isn’t perceived as a big deal.
“I very much like people who like to experiment because it’s really the core of who we are,” Tabini said. “People who are very curious, who aren’t afraid of failing, who look at failure as learning - there’s a very good chance they’ll be a great fit here. We need people who want to take agency and try things because no one tells you what to do here.”
The company prioritizes being a good egg, however. Being respectful and empathetic are non-negotiables for Tabini. “We spend so much time together that we don’t have any patience for people who aren’t nice to each other,” he observed.
But what happens when conflict inevitably arises? Tabini said it goes back to experimentation and empathy, not ego.
“We disagree all the time,” said Tabini. “But everything we do is based on data so when that happens, we say ‘Fine, let’s run an experiment.’ If it works out, that’s the direction we head. If not, we go the other way.”
Candidates experience a respectful hiring process
Sometimes companies lose sight of this truth: an interview is also an opportunity for candidates to assess the business and team. Noom emphasizes a respectful, empathetic interview process designed to surface the right signals for both the candidate and the company.
“We want the process to be meaningful for everyone involved and to feel useful,” said Tabini. “I frankly couldn’t tell you how to reverse a blue tree and red tree from memory. The point isn’t to know algorithms by heart but to understand how to experiment and solve problems. That’s why the problems we pose are versions of the issues we’re trying to address every day.”
The team - which was always mostly remote - has now migrated its hiring process to be fully remote in response to COVID-19. “We always try to achieve a white-glove experience and showcase the welcoming nature of our team,” said Horton. “Now, we’re adjusting the process to this new reality while still delivering that. For example, we’re breaking those longer interviews we used to have into shorter, more tactical buckets of time because that’s easier on everyone over video.”
Tabini added, “As candidates approach the finish line, we’re doing more social meetings over Zoom. We have coffee and shoot the breeze. There’s no set agenda - we just want them to get to know us as people and vice versa.”
It’s not just people who are experienced in healthcare and wellness who should apply, Horton noted. “I spent my entire career in finance, which couldn’t be more different,” he said. “There are a lot of attributes that can make someone very successful at Noom but the singular point is being driven to create healthy outcomes for users.
That is so embedded in the core of every person at this company.”