How we hire: Our 4 principles for recruiting at Asana

This post originally appeared as a LinkedIn Influencer blog post.

Over years of iteration and sink-or-swim learning, we’ve developed four principles for assembling a world-class team. We have an unconventional approach to growing Asana: instead of hiring quickly, we carefully woo those rare people who are among the best in the world at what they do, or who we believe have the potential to grow into the best. Of course, these people are in extremely high demand. This is how we’ve helped them get excited to join Asana over all their other exciting opportunities — and built a kind of “supergroup.”

1. Get to know the whole person

Any new hire will impact our organization far beyond the specialized skills they contribute. Because our culture is so dear to us, we use a combination of creative and traditional approaches to get to know people. We invite them to off-site dinners, happy hours, and company events. Incorporating “experiences” into our approach helps us connect with candidates on a deeper level. We get to see how they fit, in terms of values, temperament, and reactions to diverse situations. And they get to see the real Asana, from our silliness to our earnestness, from our irreverence to our vulnerability.

Even in formal interviews, the first questions I ask every candidate are: “What are you most passionate about? What gets you up in the morning? Of all the things you could do with this precious finite life, why [design/programming/etc.]?”

2. Communicate your company’s values

Leading big visions requires building a team that collectively understands and embodies your values. Values aren’t just pretty words. They’re the actual guideposts that your team uses day in and day out to make decisions, build your product, and create your brand.

We publicize our values aggressively. They’re listed right on our company page. We publish articles and give talks on, for example, how we apply our value of Pragmatic Craftsmanship to product development, our value of Balance to management, andMindfulness to growing a startup. The upshot is that people who resonate with our values are naturally drawn toward the company. And it filters out people who wouldn’t ultimately manifest them in their work.

3. Meet people now who you might want to hire later

Building a great team is both a marathon and a sprint. The most successful companies don’t just “sprint” to fill their open positions. They also build relationships with people who might be a great fit down the road. Long-term thinking and patience are especially important if your team is dedicated to a big long-term vision.

At Asana, we want to meet and get to know great people, period, and everyone at the company is part of that. For example, asanas invite their friends to meals and company events, even if those friends won’t be able to join for years, or ever. We dedicate 10% of our working hours across the board toward recruiting-related efforts, and much of it is relationship building. Of course, this is motivated by more than just recruiting: sharing ideas helps us be better creators and people.

4. The best people want to work with the best people

It requires a lot of discipline to keep the bar high. For every open position, we meet a ton of great people before we find the one who has that special combination of intellectual curiosity, technical depth, integrity, cultural/personality fit, passion for the work at hand, and raw IQ. And we have to create an environment that those people — many of whom could be starting their own companies, or getting paid extremely handsomely at established companies — feel will fully leverage their skill sets,regardless of whether they’re in a management role. But the result is a positive feedback loop, because great people want to be challenged and supported by great peers.

Build great teams

Having the right team is critical to achieving your vision. These principles have helped us find the best people to join our company.

Interested in joining a collective of peers? See our job openings here.

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