Welcome to Part 2 of the guide on how to get your first job at a tech company with Giedre Dubisevaite. She is a People Manager at Whatagraph, a SaaS platform for collecting and visualizing marketing data gathered from many channels. Whatagraph has tripled its team to 60+ people in 2020 with ambitious plans for 2021 as well.
If you haven’t already, make sure to read Part 1 of the interview, which covers the first steps for getting a job, including building a LinkedIn profile and sending an outstanding application.
🔵 We pick up the conversation from Part 1 at a place where the candidate has cleared the first hurdle and left a good first impression on the recruiter. What happens next? How does Whatagraph’s hiring process look and how long does it usually take to complete it?
It actually very much depends on the role and the team. As a rule of thumb, if we receive an excellent candidate, we do not wait a month to send an offer but rather do it straight away. So if you hesitate whether to apply, today is always better than tomorrow.
In terms of the hiring process, the candidates usually go through the following steps:
- Application (can be done via email or by applying on our careers page)
- Interview with a team lead
- Meet the team / Cultural fit interview
We are big fans of adjusting the hiring process to the specific position, so the candidate gets the opportunity to show off the specific skills as well as get to know the team before deciding to join. After all, it’s an evaluation journey for both parties.
For example, when hiring for a Sales role, we usually invite candidates for a role play with our team. Also, they get to participate in the Experience day, where you get to meet the team and see how your daily tasks will look. For a position like Product Designer, we might give you a scenario with a real UX problem to solve to see how you approach challenges.
🔵 How different are the recruiting processes for various positions, for example, technical vs non-technical roles?
I wouldn’t make a distinction between technical and non-technical roles because each position is different. We look not only at professional experience but also at soft skills that are specific to the position.
Almost every role we are recruiting for will have an assignment step – technical or non-technical. We have found it works well for understanding the candidate’s approach to tasks in general, but it also allows them to show off their practical skills.
🔵 What’s your favourite question to ask at interviews? Why?
While our Team Leaders focus on more technical questions, I like to pay close attention to the personality and cultural fit. When we hire people, our goal is to onboard them on a long-term journey with Whatagraph, so we make sure the new hires share our vision, commitment and values. So my favourite question is “Where do you do your best work?”. It might sound like a simple question, but it actually gives a lot of insights.
For example, it shows if you are a team or an individual player, what motivates you and what management style is the best to support you. Also, it highlights if you thrive in a fast-paced environment full of challenges and if you feel comfortable working at a startup like Whatagraph.
My second favourite would be “What would motivate you to stay in the company for the next 5 years?”.
🔵 Let’s say the talent has triumphantly completed the hiring process and is ready to start their career at Whatagraph. How does the onboarding process look like when most of the team is (presumably) working remotely?
When a new person joins the company remotely, the first week is booked with meetings – we believe it is important to see the faces of the people you will be working with daily.
During your first week, you get to know our Operations and HR team, have intros with your own team and get to meet our CEO Justas. We make it clear that everyone in the company is approachable, and each question is important. Weekly check-ins also help to keep the pulse of the new hire.
To meet people from other teams, we have regular Whatachat events. It’s like speed dating with your colleagues, where you get matched with random people for 5-minute video conversations, which is quite fun. 🙂
🔵 How has the year of remote work changed how Whatagraph operates?
We learned a lot over the past year about working remotely, and although it hasn’t affected how we work that much, there were a few things that we learned to do better.
Communication, for example. It’s easy to set up all day meetings to give everyone a sense of ‘working together‘, yet it’s time-consuming and tiring, especially when working from home.
Instead, we worked a lot on documentation – writing up the processes step by step, creating handbooks, guidelines and explainer videos. We also use task management platforms that give a transparent view of where everyone in the team is, and we moved a lot of conversations offline.
🔵 What should a person expect from his/her first-ever job in a start-up?
I would compare working at a startup to riding a bullet train – you jump in and ride at full speed from day one. It’s not really about lounging on bean bags and playing Playstation 4 hours per day.
At Whatagraph, the pace indeed is fast, which can be challenging for some. But what you get in return is the environment to grow rapidly both professionally and as a person. It would take twice as long to become an outstanding talent in any other company. Here, you can do that in a few months, guided and supported by our experienced Team Leaders.
We trust our people to take ownership and get hands-on tasks from day one. And sometimes, mistakes are made, but it’s a risk we are willing to take. We say that a bad page can always be edited, but a blank one – cannot. Getting our hands dirty is how we deliver more than expected and how we grow at scale.
And amidst the thriving environment for talent, we have our team. We are all very different, complementing each other with skills and knowledge, but what unites us is the sense that we are all together in this magical journey. Everyone is super supportive and friendly – we leave our egos at the door and focus on collaboration every single day.
🔵 Are there any things specific to SaaS companies compared to start-ups in other areas?
When working in a SaaS company, a focus is on the product and the service we offer. To succeed in any of the teams, you need to know the product exceptionally well because you will be either making it, selling it, supporting it or marketing it. So this knowledge is essential.
In their first week, new joiners meet our Customer Success team, where they thoroughly learn the platform and have a knowledge building session to cover the use cases of how marketing professionals use Whatagraph to become data scientists.
🔵 Maybe you can give some examples of team events or routines that are unique to Whatagraph?
Even though we are over 60 people now, sometimes it still feels like a small family. Current situation and remote work has put a lot of stress on how people feel in general, and for us it is important to have this sense of community alive, and to support each other. So we have remote team activities where we connect people from different teams and give them time and space to talk while doing something fun, not work-related. For example, the bi-weekly Whatachat events mentioned earlier.
Obviously, we dearly miss our office activities like weekly team breakfasts, hearing the gong from the sales room every time we have a new customer onboarded, or a bell ping every time a demo is booked, going for a team picnic outside, or just getting together for a beer or two. The time away from the office provided us with a lot of space to get new ideas of activities inside and outside the office, so I’m really looking forward to implementing them! For example, enabling our teams in Vilnius and Klaipeda to switch offices – who wouldn’t want to work with a view over the Curonian Lagoon during the day and then chill by the sea in the evening?
Check out Whatagraph’s open positions on MeetFrank:
🔵 Especially at the start of your career, you might find out that your initial career path is not the best fit for you. How easily can you move between different teams and roles within Whatagraph?
Easy. That’s the best part about working in a fast-growing company like Whatagraph. I joined the company five years ago as a Marketing Specialist, and during my time here, I had a chance to work in Customer Success, Product and Operations teams. This experience helped me find the areas I enjoy most, and now I found my place as the People Manager.
Marija, our Head of Operations, started her career as a Partnerships Development Executive in our Sales team. Žilvinas, who leads our affiliate marketing program, worked as an Outreach Specialist before taking up the new position.
There are plenty of opportunities, and with the current pace of hiring, they are coming up all the time. It’s the matter of you taking that step and making good use of it.