A great team starts with carefully matched diverse perspectives, experiences, weaknesses, strengths, and personalities. It was important to me that we built the team like an admissions team might design a modern preschool or boarding school class.
No enterprise software or retail experience required
Solicited CEO approval to hire a design team with consumer product experience, not enterprise or retail.
Seeded UX talent from our engineering contractors at The Nerdery
The Nerdery’s Minneapolis team were a godsend on the engineering side, but they also brought significant UX talent that would prove invaluable over the coming years.
Need another thing here
HIRING PROCESS OVERVIEW
Recruiters & Referrals
Portfolio & Resume Screening
Remote Design Exercise
In-Person Group Interview
This was more time with me to answer any outstanding or logistical questions. This was often accompanied by after-hours social time with team members, which helped the team and candidates better establish rapport and get to know each other in a more relaxed setting.
Many interview design exercises waste valuable time on both sides of the process and reveal little about a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses, let alone what it would be like to work with them.
I designed our process to be simple and fun, implementing a 90 min time-boxed product design exercise after each candidate passed an initial phone screening, even for non-designers.
The challenge was simple—design an app experience to solve one of three challenges. The final solution must be presented on a single piece of paper, although interviewees can share unlimited process notes and sketches.
The test was a huge success because it was designed to be lightweight, fun, and open-ended. Candidates couldn’t prepare or overwork.
It allowed our team to evaluate an individual’s capacities in a number of areas, from hard skills like design and systems thinking, to soft skills like presenting, working under pressure, communication, debate, ability to process new information quickly, and ability to receive criticism.
Never skipped steps in hiring process, and implemented a team-wide veto policy for any candidate. Exposed team to decision-making.
I didn’t want to see a team of people who looked or acted like me. As a result, I worked hard to negate biases at every step of the process, removing names from CVs and portfolios, and working to remove unilateral decision making.
For manager hires, I wanted every person on the team to have a say — and when we decided not to hire someone, I was transparent with the team about why. We belabored our decisions about how and who we’d hire, because the process often dictates the outcome.
How do you hire the best consumer product design team possible to work on a product that doesn’t yet exist for a retail industry in flux at the largest enterprise software company they’ve never heard of?
It was easier than I expected for several important reasons:
The story made sense. Everyone knew that the retail industry was beset on all sides by new challenges and disruptions, but they didn’t know just HOW bad it was at most major retailers. I joined the team because I saw it as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to do something great, and that excitement was easy for our team to share with candidates.
User-centered design was newly en vogue, and our thorough practice of research trips, user testing, and close collaboration with major retailers was a unique opportunity.
ENTERPRISE SOFTWARE WAS UNKNOWN TO UXasdfasdfasdfasdf
The pay was good—I always tried to pay people as well as I could for their experience levels, and I collaborated closely with HR and finance to keep my salaries competitive with big-name startups.
We had sweet digs — the UX team worked out of Infor Global Headquarters in NYC, and that meant seven beautifully designed floors on Sixth Avenue including a theater and rooftop garden.
I built a team of talented people who were all weird in one way or another — we had successful musicians, artists, and even a world-champion ballroom dancer on the team. Above all, I was looking for a team that was striving to be better and have fun doing it — self-awareness and a sense of humor were top priorities.
I believe intensely in collaboration and iteration, so when it came to the arduous task of on boarding materials for new team members, our rapidly-changing agile product suite and team seemed impossible to easily document.
So I opted for an obvious but somewhat unique approach—I “crowd-sourced” on-boarding documentation to new hires, asking that each new hire fill in gaps and changes as they go, allowing onboarding resources to evolve organically.
When new hires learned or documented something they thought would be valuable for future team members, they’d add it to our documentation.
What started as a five page Google doc grew well beyond 30 pages.
Eventually a new team member, Nicole Roberts, decided it was time for the next step — she turned our sprawling mess of documentation into a clean and organized Squarespace website.
The Retail UX microsite was soon full of videos, keynotes, team member bios and contact info, org charts, product maps, Sketch and GitHub repositories, roadmaps, and even product and process documentation—still editable by everyone on the team, still iterated upon by each new hire as a part of their own on boarding.
Our microsite was so successful it was soon used by the larger product team (500+ people) from sales to engineering, and became a model for the rest of Infor’s UX teams at Hook & Loop.