At Tandem, we value creating a supportive, trusting environment. This means finding ways to help each other, collaborating closely, and doing the right thing for our teammates and clients. It’s a reflection of our core values Open the Door and Act with Integrity, and is also a crucial part of our hiring process. We’ve intentionally created our designer hiring process to be transparent, collaborative, and as helpful as possible for our job candidates.
We don’t want to surprise our job candidates with twists and turns; we want to give clear expectations and a chance to prepare, because that’s how our team wants to feel each day working at Tandem.
Public salary bands and career paths
Tandem’s salary bands and career paths are public, so candidates interested in working at Tandem can see from the very beginning if these fit their expectations. Our salary bands and career paths apply to all Tandem product designers and software engineers, and promote equity within our team. To make sure this is working, we hire an independent data analyst to run a pay equity audit every other year, and we update our salary bands regularly based on the hiring market.
Clear expectations for each step of the interview process
We know interviewing can be stressful, and every company has its own process and expectations. For each step of Tandem’s designer hiring process we share in advance the agenda for the session, what the goals are, and who will be attending. For portfolio reviews, we describe how many projects we expect to see and what we’d like to get a sense of, such as how a problem or challenge was solved, how a candidate collaborated with other disciplines, stakeholders, or users, and how they may have changed direction or responded to feedback.
We facilitate the design challenge step within a collaborative FigJam board (described more below), which we send to candidates a few days in advance. While we aren’t asking for pre-work, we want to give candidates the opportunity to get comfortable with the tool and have a clear understanding of what the session will be like. The board includes a number of tips about how to use FigJam and how to approach the design challenge, such as working collaboratively, showing assumptions, and choosing deliverables that best show one’s strengths as a designer.
Our Tandem team is highly collaborative; we believe in pairing, both between designers and between designers and engineers. It’s crucial that this is reflected in our hiring process, and we’ve built in several opportunities for candidates to discover Tandem’s culture and collaboratively work on a small project together.
Meeting the team
While we have consistent questions we ask each candidate to create an equal baseline of comparison, we make sure to leave time to get to know each other during our hiring process. Candidates are encouraged to ask questions so they can get a feel for who we are at Tandem and what’s important to us. Throughout the hiring process, design candidates will get to meet most, if not all, of our design team, as well as several engineers, client partners, and business analysts.
It’s an everyday practice for our designers to spend part of their days working together within a file to solve design problems or consulting challenges. When hiring new teammates, we want to see how candidates collaborate with other designers — and just as importantly, we want candidates to see what it’s like working with the Tandem team.
To do this with job candidates, we have organized a Design Challenge – a mini project held in FigJam where a candidate pairs with two Tandem designers on a consulting prompt for a made-up client. This Design Challenge isn’t meant to just help us gauge the candidate’s abilities, it’s also an opportunity for the candidate and Tandem designers to collaboratively solve the challenge together. The candidate facilitates the activity, but all three participants work together to address the prompt.
We currently facilitate our design challenge within a FigJam board, a tool we use regularly at Tandem for team collaboration. FigJam is a whiteboarding tool with simplified features that’s easy to pick up and use right away. Most importantly it allows all participants to work directly in the board together at the same time, a must for remote collaboration. It’s what we use at Tandem for design critiques, marketing brainstorms, and sometimes even client share outs, among other activities.
Our designer hiring process
These are the four steps of Tandem’s designer hiring process in its entirety:
- Introductory Call
- Portfolio Review
- Design Challenge & Manager Interview
The first step in our process is to fill out our application form, which includes a few questions about yourself, such as the last thing (tool, method, technique) that you learned, and why you think Tandem is the right place for you. We value thoughtful responses, as they help us start to get to know you and why you might be a good fit.
If we decide to move forward, we’ll follow up to schedule an introductory call with one or two of our designers. These calls are a chance for us to get to know the person behind the resume. We won’t be grilling you on design philosophies but are interested in learning about your career trajectory, professional experiences, what interests you, and any questions you have for us.
If that goes well, we’ll ask you to do a portfolio presentation. We like to see a mix of technical design presentations as well as process and how you arrived at your solutions. We will also leave time for you to ask us questions.
As described above, the last step in the process is a virtual design challenge followed by a manager interview. We will pair you with two members of our team, ask you to solve a design problem together, and then share your work with a larger group. This is not real client work. We use this challenge to understand how you work and articulate your design decisions.
After presenting the design challenge you’ll meet with one or two Tandem design managers for a casual conversation to wrap up the whole interview process. It’s a chance to ask any remaining questions you may have, and to align on salary expectations. We are also very interested in suggestions for our hiring process, which aligns to one of our core values: to continuously improve.
If all goes well, you will move to the offer stage.
If you’re thinking about applying for a role at Tandem, we hope that you do! Or if you know someone who might be a good fit you can send them this article or a link to our Careers page.
Do you want to work with the Tandem design team? Check out our Careers page to see our open positions!