Our approach to hiring
Our goal is to build a diverse, world-class team that allows us to act and iterate fast, with a high level of autonomy and innovation.
Our recruitment strategy is to run:
- 100% inbound by default - effectively a word of mouth strategy, like our marketing and sales model.
- Supplement this with occasional, targeted sourcing to increase the pool of diverse candidates (if needed).
This has resulted in the highest number of qualified and motivated candidates reaching final stages with us compared to other methods, such as more generic sourcing. As a result, we invest most of our energy in:
- Writing exceptional job descriptions, and re-writing them frequently
- Ensuring our careers page and application experience are world class
- Sharing our roles within our networks for exposure in unusual ways (as candidates are likely to be pre-qualified)
- Giving candidates genuinely useful and direct feedback if they weren't successful with us
- Running a smooth and incredibly slick recruitment process, from application to offer
Summary of process for current live roles
|Position title||Location we're happy to hire in||Small Team||Manager||Interview Process||SuperDay Task|
|Full Stack Engineer||GMT -5:00 to +2:00||Experimentation||Eric||1) Culture Screen - Coua|
2) Technical Screen - Eric
3) Small Team Culture Screen - James H.
4) SuperDay Assessment - Eric, Li, Neil, Tim & James H.
|Live Task (link not available)|
|Full Stack Engineer||GMT 0:00 to +2:00||Product Analytics||Marius||1) Culture Screen - Coua|
2) Technical Screen - Marius
3) Small Team Culture Screen - James H.
4) SuperDay Assessment - Marius, Paul, Michael, Karl, Luke, Tim & James H.
|Live Task (link not available)|
|Technical Content Marketer||GMT -8:00 to +2:00||Marketing||Charles||1) Culture Screen - Coua|
2) Technical Screen - Charles & Andy
3) Small Team Culture Screen - James H.
4) Super Week Assessment - Charles, Andy, Ian, Joe, Tim & James H.
|Live Task (link not available)|
Tasks are only available internally - please do not share these publicly.
All of our recruiting is done in-house, and we do not work with external agencies for any of our roles. We frequently receive unsolicited messages from agencies - sometimes 20 in a week - who want to work with us, and the best response is to simply ignore the message. If they attach any candidate profiles or résumés to their email, please do not open the attachment. If you are ever unsure what to do, feel free to forward any unsolicited messages to email@example.com.
Deciding to hire
‘Talent Compounds’ is one of our values here at PostHog. We think carefully about each new role and the complexity it introduces to the organization. We also have an extremely high bar for the people we do hire!
We use Pry to plan our hiring. We use the hiring forecast as a guide, but iterate on this pretty much every month, so we can stay super responsive to changes PostHog's needs. Typically we know:
- 3 months out - exact job titles we want to hire for, and in which month
- 6 months out - number of each type of job (e.g. 1x designer, 3x engineer)
- 12-24 months out - number of hires overall we want to add to the team
For each new role, please open a new issue on the Ops & People project board and add all the requested information from the new hire form. Everyone will have the opportunity to give their feedback on the proposed role before we publish it.
The role of the Hiring Manager
The hiring manager is a role assigned to the person who will work most closely with the People & Ops team to make a hire. Usually this is the person who will manage the new hire or is a Small Team lead.
If you are a hiring manager for a role, you will usually:
- Give input into the job spec to make sure it's right
- Give the People & Ops team feedback on candidates
- Conduct the technical interview
- Kick off the SuperDay and be the candidate's main point of contact on the day
- Make the offer call
How to write a great job description
The People & Ops team will then write up the full job description in Ashby.
As we keep iterating on our specs, the best approach is to copy our most recently advertised role over in Ashby. We find the following approaches work well:
- Being extremely clear and precise about what this person will actually be working on (including linking to example PRs/Issues of similar work in GitHub where possible)
- Sharing why this role specifically is exciting, and the impact they will get to have
- Linking to as much useful contextual information as possible, including the small team they will be working on
- Using the absolute minimum number of requirements needed - 5 'must-haves' absolute max
- Run the text through a gender decoder tool to check for unconscious bias
- Don't use specific years of experience as a qualifier
Once the hiring manager has signed off on the spec, we will publish it on Ashby - instructions on how to do this are here.
Ashby will automatically add the role on our careers page. It will also 'helpfully' publish it on a bunch of other free but irrelevant job boards - you should manually remove all of those except for Ashby and LinkedIn. AngelList will need to be posted manually.
As a Y Combinator company, we can post jobs ads on the HackerNews front page for free at https://news.ycombinator.com/submitjob. This requires a founder's HackerNews account to do so.
Ashby also had a partnership with YC's job board so all roles to YC's Work at a Startup will push out automatically. For certain roles, we also publish on other job boards:
- Hacker News Who's Hiring - see Tim's comment history for a template.
- The Pragmatic Engineer
Every time we open a new role, we will share the details and ideal profile with the team during All Hands.
If you know someone who would be a great addition to the team, please submit them as a personal referral. If they're successfully hired, you'll receive a $2,500 referral bonus! The bonus can be either paid to you directly, or towards a charity of your choice where we will match the amount! You can also split the amount between you and the charity.
Please make sure the candidate has given their consent before putting them forward.
We occasionally open up short term contracts, and you'll receive a $1,000 referral bonus if you recommend someone here too! The contract just needs to be on a full time basis and at least 3 months long.
Unfortunately people who actively work on recruitment in the People & Ops team at PostHog are not eligible for referral bonuses, to mitigate the risk that they influence the process unfairly. If you would like to refer someone and are not sure if this applies to you, speak to Charles.
What's the process?
- If there is an ongoing conversation, please cc careers@ into the email thread with the referred candidate and we will take it over from there.
- Otherwise, please upload the profile to the Ashby referral page.
- If they have applied themselves already, let careers@ know within 48 hours of them applying.
The Getting started for interviewers page makes it super easy to share referrals and track their applications as a social referral throughout the interview process.
If you have other referrals in your network (e.g. 2nd degree connections), who have either applied or might be relevant for us to reach out to, this also counts as a social referral.
The referral bonus for social referrals is $500, and we again match any amount you choose to give this to charity.
You'll get paid the bonus 3 months from the new team member's start date, and it will be processed as part of payroll. Bear in mind that you might be liable for income tax on the bonus.
We also welcome external referrals, e.g. from:
- From our investors
- From the PostHog community (the users Slack Group, and posting on our social media profiles for our followers to see)
- From the YC community (Slack / WhatsApp / Forum)
As a thank you, we will give you $50 credit for our merch shop.
All of our candidates are managed in Ashby - please ask Coua or Charles for an invite to view candidates, leave feedback, and schedule meetings.
We record all candidate-related comms in Ashby so we can ensure we provide all candidates with the best experience we possibly can - even if they are unsuccessful, they should come away feeling like they had a great interaction with PostHog.
Ashby is a pretty intuitive platform to use, but here are a few helpful tips to get you going
- A guide to getting started with the basics - this is pretty much everything you need to navigate through Ashby to provide feeedback and review candidates.
- Link your Gmail account in Settings if you are in direct contact with candidates - this means any emails you send directly from your inbox will automatically be captured on their Ashby record for everyone on the hiring team to see.
- When emailing candidates from within Ashby, you can select a Template from the drop down bar (and customize it if you want). If you find yourself writing the same email, it is worth saving as a template.
If you receive an application via email or some other non-Ashby channel like Slack, pass it on to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For most roles, we don’t just rely on incoming applications. Direct outreach is a great way to influence the hiring pipeline, and enables us to:
- Approach people with very specific or relevant experience, even when they are not currently looking for a new role
- Encourage candidates from a wider range of backgrounds to apply
- Build our employer brand and general awareness
Good places to look for people include:
- Ashby - People search and tags
- LinkedIn - Boolean searches are your friend!
Sourcing isn't just something the People & Ops team do! If you want to get involved, get a LinkedIn Recruiter Lite license (~$80/month) and then send them an invitation to connect with a message. You'll find this is a better approach than using InMail.
Booking interviews through Ashby
Schedule interviews through Ashby itself. Do not use Google Calendar, otherwise the event won't be populated with useful candidate info and we won't have a record of the meeting anywhere.
When we book a meeting, we have the option of selecting a Google Meet or Zoom call. Zoom should be the default, unless we are scheduling a meeting where the organizer is not attending themselves, in which case use Google Meet (as Zoom will requires the host to attend).
Hiring process overview
A good rule of thumb when deciding whether not to progress at any stage - if the candidate doesn't get a definite yes then assume it's a no. It's almost never worth putting through someone who is a 'maybe'! We provide lots of information about PostHog to enable candidates to put their best application forward.
The People & Ops team reviews applications and resumes/portfolios carefully and leaves their feedback as a comment on the candidate's record in Ashby if relevant.
If a candidate hasn't customized the application or resume to the role, it is a flag they aren't that excited about working at PostHog. Cover letters are definitely not mandatory, but at an interview stage, it's important to note how passionate they seem about the company. Did they try out the software already? Did they read the handbook? Are they in our community Slack?
Candidates who are unsuccessful at this stage will receive an automated rejection email, unless they personalized their application, in which we will try to send a personalized reply.
We stand by what we say, and we do take speculative applications seriously. The People and Ops team reviews every single speculative application weekly and if there is a possible fit for future openings, we will place the applicant into the appropriate Ashby talent project (i.e. full stack engineers, platform, product, website & docs, customer success, PlOps, and marketing) and notify the applicant of this via email.
First interview - culture interview with People & Ops
We start with an interview which is designed to get the overall picture on what a candidate is looking for, and to explain who we are. A template scorecard has been created for this stage in Ashby.
This is to allow both PostHog and the candidate to assess whether the candidate is a great cultural addition to the team (not culture fit), and to dig into any areas of potential misalignment based on the application. We are looking for proactivity, directness, good communication, an awareness of the impact of the candidate's work, and evidence of iteration / a growth mindset.
This round is loosely structured into 4 different sections:
- (If we sourced them) PostHog - quick intro about the company and role
- Candidate background and mindset
- Talk about the hiring process and check if the candidate has seen our compensation calculator so we know we're roughly aligned.
- Answer any open questions
Candidates who are unsuccessful at this stage should receive a short personalized email with feedback.
Second interview - technical interview with the Hiring Manager
In this round, the candidate will meet a 1-2 future team members. This round is usually 45-60 minutes and will focus on a mix of experience and technical skills. Please check the specific hiring process for each team for more details.
As a rule of thumb, everyone interviewing must feel a genuine sense of excitement about working with the candidate. Again - if it is not a definite yes, then it's a no. Ask yourself - does this candidate raise the bar?
Candidates who are unsuccessful at this stage should receive a personalized email with feedback, including a few bullets that are quite specific.
Final round - PostHog SuperDay
The final stage of our interview process is what we call a PostHog SuperDay. This is a paid full day of work with us, which we can flexibly arrange around the candidate's schedule.
If it is difficult for a candidate to commit to a whole day in one go - they may not be able to get the time off, or have childcare commitments that make this difficult - we can be very flexible. For example, we can split the SuperDay across two or more sessions, and can align timezones to suit the candidate, given we have a team that's globally distributed. A candidate will never lose out because they are not available to do a SuperDay right away.
The candidate will be working on a task that is similar to the day-to-day work someone in this role does at PostHog. They will also have the chance to meet a few of our team members, and if they haven’t already, our founders. This gives the candidate a chance to learn how we work, and for us to see the quality, speed and communication of the candidate. It is a demanding day of work.
We will pay the candidate their 'normal day rate.' If they have done contracting before they will have one, but if not we can use this formula to calculate it. If the candidate is unable to accept payment for the SuperDay, we will donate the amount to a charity of their choice.
This day will be the same task each time for a given role, to be shared with the candidate at the start of the day. The task is generally designed to be too much work for one person to complete in a day, in order to get a sense of the person's ability to prioritize.
Overall, the candidate should aim to spend at least 80% of their time and energy on the task and less than 20% on meeting people, as we will base our decision on the output of the day.
For everyone on the PostHog team meeting a candidate, ask yourself - will this person raise the bar at PostHog? The answer should be yes if we want to hire them.
In advance of the SuperDay, we will need to do some additional prep to ensure that the candidate has a great experience:
- Send them an email in the first instance to schedule the SuperDay - we aim to do this as soon as possible, as candidates often will need to book a day off work. Use the Ashby email template for this. If the task involves them doing 'real' work for PostHog, we should ask them to check that their current employment contract permits this - we try to create fake tasks for this reason.
- (One day before the SuperDay) Send the candidate a follow up email with details of the task, and ask them for their day rate and bank details. There is a template for this email in Ashby, depending on the role - this will probably need customising.
- (One day before the SuperDay) Create a private channel in Slack for the candidate and all relevant people - this will be where they can chat to us over the course of the day if they have any questions etc. Invite the candidate as a single channel guest. We might need to add the candidate to one of our systems depending on the role, e.g. Ashby for a recruiter SuperDay, but on the whole this should be minimized.
- (One day before the SuperDay) Invite the candidate to a kickoff meeting with the hiring manager at the start of the day. On days when we have a company-wide meeting scheduled, invite them along. On days without standup, schedule an informal session with some team members to give them a chance to learn more about our culture. We may also want to have a proper wrap up with them at the end of their day.
- (On the SuperDay) Send the candidate the task - aim to send this before the kick-off session.
- (On the SuperDay) Give the candidate a warm welcome! Make it clear that the team is here to answer any questions, and they should feel free to reach out any time! Otherwise don't feel like we need to check in with them - let them get on with the task and trust that they will message us.
- (One day after the SuperDay) Pay the candidate using the bank details they provided.
Decide if we will hire
We aim to make a decision within 48 hours of SuperDay - being decisive is important at this stage, as great candidates will probably be fielding multiple job offers.
After a SuperDay, everyone involved in the day leaves their feedback on Ashby. If there are wildly different opinions, you should open an issue in
company-internal to discuss.
If a decision is made to hire, the People & Ops team will also open an issue in
company-internal to give the team context about who the person is and why they were hired. It is helpful to include:
- Role background: what they will be doing, and a summary of the recruitment process (how long open for, no. of applicants etc.)
- Who we are hiring: a brief intro
- Why we are hiring them: feedback from the interview process, both positive and areas to improve
- Start date and location
- Share the output of their SuperDay (if it contains personal info, you can just share the task)
If we don't make an offer, it's important to clearly outline to the candidate why that decision was made. Highlight what went well, but also mention specific points of improvement. Offer to schedule a call if they would like to discuss further. Make sure to leave the door open for the future so they can apply again in 12-18 months time as circumstances and people change.
Making the offer
The People & Ops team will prepare the offer details. James and Tim give final signoff. We then schedule an offer call with the candidate and the hiring manager.
During the offer call, the Hiring Manager will share feedback from the interview process, and will sell the role and opportunity here at PostHog. They will also briefly cover the offer details (salary, equity, benefits), and answer any open questions.
The People & Ops team will then follow up with an offer email, outlining all details.
Once the candidate accepts, the People & Ops team will kick off the onboarding process and take the role offline, after rejecting all remaining candidates.
Building a diverse team is at the heart of our culture at PostHog and we are proud to be hiring internationally. In some cases, this includes the need for visa sponsorship. We are currently only able to provide visas in the US and the UK.
- If the candidate is already in the country on a visa (e.g. employed, youth mobility), or require a new visa to remain in the country (e.g. student converting to employed), we will cover the costs for any employee, new or current.
- If they wish to relocate and need a visa, we unfortunately will not cover the cost for obtaining the visa or any relocation costs.
For employees where PostHog covers the costs related to obtaining a visa, the employee agrees to reimburse PostHog if they voluntarily terminate their employment prior to the completion of 12 months of service. The costs will be calculated on a monthly basis, so when the employee decides to leave after 10 months, they will have to repay 2/12 of the costs related to the visa.
If a candidate needs visa sponsorship, please keep in mind that the process is lengthy and costly.