Justworks has a Great Work Culture. Here’s How We Hire to Keep It.

Posted June 21, 2019 by Justworks in Hiring and Onboarding
Hiring for cultural fit can be more complex than it seems. Learn how Justworks keeps our company values as we grow, and how you can do the same.

We’re quite proud of our company culture here at Justworks. We’ve been a certified Great Place to Work for four years and counting!

Of course, that’s just one small example of the commitment to an open, motivated environment at Justworks. And that commitment can require significant time, thought, and resources.

Our CEO, Isaac Oates, and the entire Justworks team have spent a lot of time talking and thinking about our company culture. This is particularly important given our rapid growth. We’ve added more than 400 people to the company over the last four years, and we’re still hiring.

In this post, learn a little more about how we maintain our culture and values as we grow, and how you can apply these takeaways to your own organization.

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That All-Important Company Culture

Weekly all-hands meetings, semi-regular company retreats, and an open office space help with our culture. Hiring with our values in mind is also crucial as we grow.

But why the priority on company values and culture at all? A positive company culture isn’t just the concept of people liking their jobs — its value is much greater.

A positive company culture allows businesses to:

  • Grow sustainably
  • Deliver better services
  • Provide better profit margins
  • Create a higher-quality product

And businesses are able to do the above because happy employees:

  • Outperform their competition
  • Are more productive and engaged
  • Take fewer sick days
  • Stay with companies longer and work harder
  • Increase overall company profits

Related Article: The Bottom Line: Employee Happiness is Good for Business

In short, having a positive company culture will help attract top-notch candidates. With those benefits in mind, it only makes sense that a healthy company culture should be the bedrock for any growing business.

But culture isn’t just going on company retreats and having all-hands meetings. It should be an extension and representation of the values both employees and management share.

Re-Defining Cultural Fit Through Values

A healthy company culture starts and ends with two essential ingredients: clear-minded leadership and integrated company values.

Let's focus on the latter. A values-based culture builds the foundation for personal growth and autonomy among happy, high-performing employees.

At Justworks, we decided on our values early on. Isaac and the team sat down and thought carefully about what made Justworks’ company culture special when it was just four employees:

  • Camaraderie
  • Openness
  • Grit
  • Integrity
  • Simplicity

Our values inform everything we do. We develop our product, work with customers, and hire employees with our values in mind. We have a whole page of our website devoted to our values. We even made a video about it:

By displaying your values publicly, you’re more likely to attract the kind of people who will appreciate those same ideals. These candidates will not only fit into your workplace, but enhance it.

Hiring for values doesn’t mean hiring people like you, or people who you’d like to be friends with. It’s about hiring people that share the same ideals, while also bringing individual perspectives, histories, and approaches. Studies have shown time and again that diverse companies perform better.

If you’ve figured out your values and are talking about those values openly, you’re ready for the next crucial step: interviews.

Invest in Interview Training

Members of the Justworks team who interview candidates are trained on how to interview for our company values and culture fit. You can do the same at your organization.

Create trainings or mini-workshops (or hire an outside company that does this) to make sure that everyone at the company understands the type of interview practices you want them to master. It might include lessons like avoiding canned questions, asking interview questions that stay compliant, and creating a positive candidate experience.

By asking value-based questions and digging further, you get a fuller picture of which candidates can truly help your organization thrive.

It’s also a great idea to come up with interview questions tailored to your company’s values. These questions can elicit behavioral competencies — at Justworks, we look for things like raw intelligence, empathy, and grit from the candidates we interview.

Say, for example, that one of your company values was resourcefulness. You could ask:

One of the typical barriers people face at [company name] is X. How would you approach and overcome a barrier like that?

Once your candidate answers the question, dig in further. Ben Gotkin, a principal consultant at consulting firm Recruiting Toolbox said, “The most critical interviewing skill is ‘digging’, or the art of facilitating a conversation to gain as much detail and context from the candidate as possible.”

Some follow-up questions you could use to dig into the above question could be:

How would you get the work done, despite the barrier?

What if that didn’t work? What else would you do?

By asking value-based questions and digging further, you get a fuller picture of which candidates can truly help your organization thrive. It’s not just about the questions you ask, but how you organize who asks what within a team.

Creating a Team-Oriented Interview Process

It’s important for multiple team members to interview prospective candidates. Different team members can spot different strengths and weaknesses. And including more team members will improve the team dynamic once a candidate is hired.

But how do you coordinate as a team so that you’re all on the same page? Here are some essential ways to coordinate best as a team for the interviewing process:

Involve Core Team Members

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Always include multiple team members in the interviewing process. One person interviewing and hiring a candidate can lead to poor choices, negative team dynamic, and lack of transparency in other decisions. Integrating various perspectives will help you dig deeper and gauge the candidate’s potential success on the team. It’s always better to be inclusive and transparent from the start.

Distribute Values-Based Questions

Once you’ve determined who will be on your interviewing team (at Justworks it’s typically four people or so), meet to build a plan of action. First up, discuss what you’re looking for in an ideal candidate. Then, divvy up who asks which values-based questions. For example, maybe you’ll cover humility and camaraderie and a peer will ask questions related to simplicity and integrity.

Use Smart Recruiting Software

Document your ideas and feedback in one place. Justworks uses Greenhouse. Not only does it keep the candidate’s resume in a central location, but it gives us the ability to rate the candidate, give a thumbs up or thumbs down, and look back at initial impressions. The sooner you record your thoughts after the interview, the more detail you’ll remember later.

Debrief Post-Interview

At Justworks, we usually have hiring teams who debrief before and after a candidate arrives, so the communication lines are open. The debriefs also allow teams to piece together their impressions of the respective values they were assigned to.

Hiring for company values is one crucial way Justworks is able to maintain and grow a positive work environment. However, that work is never rerally finished. It’s something every employer should be continually thinking about and improving upon as you grow and move in new directions.