How We Hire: 3 Interview Approaches for Sourcing a Great Team

When you spot an exciting job opportunity, it’s only natural to feel a little anxious about what the recruitment process might involve. However, at MeisterLabs we believe that hiring processes should never be scary. They should be a reciprocal exercise into judging whether the position would be a good opportunity for the applicant, and vice versa.

how we hire at meisterlabs interview approach

To provide insight for any potential applicants, we thought we’d provide a walk-through of how we approach hiring decisions at MeisterLabs. This way, applicants can feel assured that there won’t be any nasty surprises along the way 😉

Our Hiring Aims at MeisterLabs

As I shared in my last People Management post, our hiring plans at MeisterLabs are fairly ambitious. We’re looking to grow our company from 30 to 50 employees by spring this year, hiring across our Vienna and Seattle offices. And, of course, we don’t just want numbers. We want to recruit talented, enthusiastic team members, who will be a great fit for our team.

To assess who’s right for the role, we undertake a quick exercise in suitability diagnostics, coined by psychology professor Heinz Schuler in his book Psychologische Personalauswahl. The suitability exercises are based on three key approaches: the construct approach, the biographical approach, and the simulation approach.

At MeisterLabs, we sample from each of these three approaches when hiring for positions. We also assess applicants against our company values, which we’ll share in this article.

So, here’s what’s behind each of Schuler’s approaches and what you can expect when applying for a role at MeisterLabs:

1. The Construct Approach: How Do You Respond to Challenges?

The aim of the construct approach is to allow us to get to know each other, based on some relatively testable criteria. For example, how does this person tackle difficult technical problems? And are they able to think outside of the box when facing a challenge?

In order to assess this, we have a few test questions for our frontend and backend development roles, put together by our existing development team. These challenges are important for us because, in the rewrite of our whole tech stack, we’re looking to take on highly skilled developers. These assessments help us to judge whether someone’s technical abilities are up to scratch. They also correlate with our company value to continually strive for excellence.

how we hire at meisterlabs interview approach developer challenge
An assessment for a backend developer position

Other common examples of assessment via the construct approach would be general cognitive tests. These tests, known as IQ tests or psychological tests, are more commonly found in corporate workplaces. However, please don’t fear – we don’t use these at MeisterLabs!

Instead, we ask applicants to provide examples of how they’ve conducted a challenge in the past, to assess whether they made smart choices. These stories are shared and heard during the second stage of an applicant’s assessment: the biographical approach, conducted during an interview.

2. The Biographical Approach: What’s Your Story?

When interviewing at MeisterLabs, we want to get to know your story. We believe that each person’s story provides the context for our experiences, and it’s through these experiences that we’re able to find the inspiration to make an impact.

Each of us has been transformed in some way through every job we’ve held, each important interaction we’ve had and each personal success or failure we’ve experienced. Of course, it’s important for us to hear about the responsibilities you’ve managed in previous jobs, to understand whether you can get the job done. But it’s also important for us to understand the reasons why you’re sat with us for an interview. As Bill George, Peter Sims, Andrew N. McLean, and Diana Mayer describe, inspiration can be traced directly from your story and we encourage you to share it.

We experienced the power of someone’s story during our extensive search for a part-time Office Manager. When Christoph, a molecular biology student, applied for the role, it demonstrated how fast a company can make a hiring decision. Specifically, when an applicant’s personal decisions seem harmonized and illustrative of the kind of person you’d like to hire.

Our new team member worked for many years as a social worker. During his interview, Christoph took us on this personal journey, telling us about his daily work with clients. It was not only moving but also led to a clear conclusion: by explaining how he used analytical problem-solving skills on a daily basis with a variety of clients, Christoph quickly proved his high social competence, an ability to improvise and a strong sense of initiative. Christoph also demonstrated himself to be someone exercising respect and valuing equality, as a proactive team member – covering three of our key company values at MeisterLabs. In Christoph’s case, the decision for us was simple. An hour after his interview, we hired him.

Company Values how we hire at meisterlabs interview approach
Our MeisterLabs company values

3. Simulation Approach: How Would You Perform in the Role?

When recruiting for leadership positions, we often try to simulate a situation that’s important for the job. For instance, we were asking our applicants for the position of Head of Marketing to develop and present a strategy for 2018, as well as to lead a workshop on email marketing. Our Marketing team members were invited to join these presentations, in order to assess the knowledge, strategic abilities and leadership skills of each candidate.

Of course, we know that a candidate can’t have all of the answers yet. However, we can evaluate their understanding of our business and the wider industry, as well as their presentation style and leadership approach. Simulations are also a great way of demonstrating that you’re bringing something new and creative to the company. Just like every organization, we know that outside opinions will help us to remain competitive. Returning to our company values – we always aim to innovate and fresh insights from new team members help us to achieve this.

Testing specific skills, getting to know someone’s story during an interview, and simulating important professional situations, all help us to build up an image of how someone would fit into our team.

If you like the sound of working at MeisterLabs, we’d love to hear from you! You can check out our open positions on our MeisterLabs jobs page.

If you can’t spot a current opening but feel you would be a good fit for our team, or have any questions, please feel free to drop me a message to Lena (at) 🙂