The Good Perspective Series: Yes, Your Technical Skills Matter. But Leaders at Mindfulness App Headspace Say Your EQ is Crucial to Getting Hired.
All high EQ, highly skilled technical candidates, please apply.
That’s the TL:DR for those who want an amazing gig at hot mindfulness and meditation app Headspace. The company puts a premium on candidates who embody its core values - Courageous Heart, Selfless Drive, Curious Mind - said George Torres, Director of Engineering, and Lyndsey Lustig, Talent Partner. This is especially true today as candidate volumes are increasing - and Headspace’s hiring continues at a fast pace.
The two shared more about their hiring process - revamped for a remote-first world - and what they’re looking for as they hire technical talent at a time when finding inner calm seems more important (and harder) than ever.
EQ is immensely important
Headspace requires great technical talent but also works to unearth the range and depth of soft skills of each candidate. “We’re trying to bias toward communication and collaboration,” explained Torres. “We want to hear the technical problems you’ve worked through in the past. What were the nuances? How did you work with others on the team? Are you taking all the credit?
Ideally a sense of humility will come out in the responses we hear.”
Technical chops matter too
Expect live coding through software technology* as part of the interview process, especially now that the process is fully remote (at least for the time being). “We can more easily identify some of those smaller skill sets,” he explained. “I like seeing how code is compiled, how comfortable you are with using an IDE, if you reach out to sources like Google to check a nuance of the programming language, basically how familiar you are with it.”
Lustig agreed. “It feels like we get more insight into candidate skills.”
You can get hired with a non-healthcare background
It’s entirely possible to get hired at Headspace without a deep background in healthcare technology, the two said.
Lustig is looking for a demonstrable drive to learn. “I’m interested in seeing how candidates use their time, inside and outside the office, to learn new things,” she commented. “It could be soaking up knowledge from other departments, reading books, or going to meetups.
“Maybe you want to learn iOS development. Are you meeting with that team to learn on the job?”
Experience with organizations at similar points of growth is also a potentially compelling factor, noted Torres. “We’re making the transition from a start-up to a scrappy mid-sized company,” he said. “A nontraditional candidate who has experience as an engineer in that situation would have a really interesting perspective.”
The hiring process is still comprehensive
Although the process has changed slightly to reflect this moment in time, Lustig said it’s very similar to what it was pre-COVID and the team is used to doing a lot of virtual collaboration. “Our engineering team in particular was already set up to work remotely in San Francisco and New York,” she noted.
The hiring process is also an opportunity for candidates to get a strong feel for the culture.
“We start with a phone call with me before moving to our standard hiring manager screen, which has always been on video,” said Lustig. “In normal life, we’d do the final interview onsite so candidates can get a feel for the office and our team.” Now her team provides a deck with recent articles, the company values, and pictures of the office as a way to give that flavor before there’s an alternative series of panel interviews with breaks built in.
The team also ensures candidates meet with product owners so they can hear about features and share more about how they think of feature development. “We have a junior and senior engineer interview our technical candidates,” said Torres. “That’s important because we really want to see them work together and evaluate their collaboration skills.”
The go/no-go decision is collaborative
Torres said it’s important for candidates to hit the sweet spot of technical skill, culture add, and emotional intelligence - and the interviewers generally have to agree.
“We have panel interviews, and you do have to impress everyone,” said Torres. “And everyone’s assessing candidates from different angles. As I hire people, I’m ultimately looking for all yeses from the team.”
*Editor’s note: It’s CoderPad. We’re the technology here. Headspace is our incredible customer.