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How we hire

Overview

We don’t want to miss out on great colleagues like you. That’s essentially why we decided to hire anonymously – because no matter how many times we’d tell ourselves we had a fair, bias-free hiring process, we were uncomfortably aware that it just wasn’t true.

It's human nature: knowing what someone looks like, what their name is, where they live or what education they've had will affect how they're viewed and evaluated by others. We were aware that we were probably losing out on some fantastic candidates as a result of having this information early on in the hiring process, so we decided to make some changes.

We now make a point of not seeking out any of these details until after we’ve assessed skills, expertise, goals and other job-related factors. By doing things in this order, personal information becomes almost irrelevant. (Also, of course, it’s much fairer on anyone who’s applying for a job).

We’ve been recruiting anonymously since 2015, and the process is working better than we’d ever hoped. We've hired some excellent new staff across a variety of roles including Office Manager, Developer and System Administrator. Even though our recruitment strategy focuses on skills, goals and experience over personality or demographics, we find that new employees fit right in and get along with everyone else brilliantly: they help make our culture rather than try to conform to a prescribed, inflexible one.

We understand that most people have never been through an anonymous hiring process before – and you probably have plenty of questions about how it all works – so we’ve put together a nice, chunky collection of information for you. While we don’t actually want to know anything about you (for now!), we want to make sure you know enough about us so that you’re comfortable with our process and methods of recruiting.

The process

How anonymous is this process, exactly?

Your initial online application and first two interviews are as anonymous as we can possibly make them – in order for us to focus purely on your skills, goals and other job-related factors. It’s only just before the final stage that we ask for more personal information such as your name and previous jobs.

Overview: Online application

The application process starts with you providing a nickname (or “handle”). That name shouldn’t give away anything about you: we don’t want it to reveal your gender, your age, your location, or anything else. To give you an idea, we wouldn’t be too happy to receive an application from “Gorgeous Guy 1986” (no matter how lovely you look), but “Surprised Herring” is absolutely fine.

We’ll ask for your mobile number, so that we can send you text messages (SMS) to inform you about upcoming interviews. Your mobile number will additionally act as your login to your personal application area on the site, where you’ll be able to communicate with us and view your application. At this stage you won’t be asked for your email address: it’s likely to reveal something about you, and we don’t need it yet anyway.

Your first task will be to answer a quick online application survey, which focuses on skills rather than personal or background information.

If we like what we see, we’ll send you a text message about moving forward to the interview stage. (We will try to let you know as soon as possible if we don’t think you’re suitable for the role: it wouldn’t be fair to leave you hanging.)

Overview: First interview

The first interview is conducted remotely though this site in a chat room, where your interview panel will spend 30 minutes getting to know you a bit better and understanding more about your past work experience (such as the tasks you performed and the challenges you faced, rather than any identifying characteristics of the company). It’s also your chance to ask us any questions you like, and expand on anything you mentioned in your online application.

To preserve your anonymity, your chosen handle will act as your chat room username. Yes: if you’re “Funky Potato”, that’s how we’ll refer to you. We really don’t mind, though: it makes life even more fun for us.

After the interview, we’ll let you know as quickly as possible if you’re through to the next stage.

Overview: Second interview

This usually takes the form of a skills challenge, and we include this stage for certain roles only. (Candidates for some jobs will often move from Stage 1 straight to Stage 3.) The length of time will vary depending on the challenge – anywhere between 30 minutes and four hours; e.g., developer roles will have longer challenges.

Just like the first interview, this one will be conducted remotely – and we won’t know anything about you other than your chosen handle.

After the skills test, we’ll let you know as soon as we can if you’re through to the next (and final!) stage.

Overview: Third (and final) interview

If you’re wondering if you’ll be expected to come to work with a paper bag over your head and a voice-distortion machine, read on! The third interview is where we put anonymity to one side.

If you get through to this stage, we’ll ask you to email us your personal details (your name and CV), and then we’ll invite you to our offices for a final in-person interview. This will be the first time we see your face and learn about your background.

We hope that anonymity in the crucial early stages makes a positive difference in how fairly and objectively you and all other candidates are assessed. If you’re invited for a third interview, you can be confident in the knowledge that you passed a selection process that’s based solely on your skills and abilities.

How many people am I up against?

Honestly, this varies quite a lot. We're dedicated to finding the best suited person for the position, so we don't cap the number of people for each stage. As for hiring, occasionally we find a couple of people who we simply can’t choose between, so if budget allows, choose both!

My work history is quite short; will this be held against me?

Don’t take this the wrong way (because it’s meant in completely the right way): we couldn’t care less! We don’t even want to see your CV or know any identifying details about companies you worked for until the third interview.

The great thing about this process is that it allows us to focus more on your skills for the job, your communication style, your career goals and attitude towards work than the fact that you went to a certain university or worked for such-and-such company.

How long does each stage of the recruitment process take?

Here are some rough estimates: Online application: 30 minutes First interview: 30 minutes Second interview (skills challenge): up to four hours, depending on the role Third interview (in person in our York or Manchester office): up to two hours, plus travel time

What happens if I accidentally give something away about myself?

We know this is an entirely new process for most people, and slip-ups are bound to happen. That’s fine: if it happens to you, we’ll gloss over it and move swiftly on. We’d far rather you felt relaxed in our conversation than worried about giving something away in every word you type.

What technology will I need to prepare for remote interviews?

Any computer with a web browser should be fine; ideally, this would be a desktop or laptop with a good internet connection. For programming and sysadmin jobs, our second interviews will require a keyboard or equivalent input device.

If you’re struggling for equipment, we’ll cover the expense for a few hours in a local internet cafe. (Please let us know before the interview and we’ll arrange it for you.)

Do you cover any expenses?

We’ll pay if you need to spend time in an internet cafe for the remote interviews. For the final in-person interview, we’ll cover all your travel and accommodation expenses. Normally we reimburse you in cash on the day of the interview, so let us know if you need us to pre-pay.

Can I make multiple simultaneous applications?

Our recruitment process allows for you to submit only one application at a time. Please don’t try to sneakily get around this: it could jeopardise your chances of getting through to the next stage.

Anonymise yourself

Why do I need to anonymise myself?

We are reducing bias in our hiring process so we can employ people based on skills alone. All we ask you to give us is information relevant to the work you might be doing. That's it!

Why do I need a handle?

We wont ask for your name before a face-to face interview, to keep you anonymous and our process bias free. We will call you by your handle until then - so choose wisely! With that in mind, we ask that you don't use anything that might identify you (not that we'll try to!).

Why do you need my mobile number?

We use text messages to communicate with you throughout your application. This keeps you anonymous and mean you don't have to keep checking back on your application. We wont ring you unexpectedly so you don't have to keep your ringtone on in the library! And we will never pass your number on to a third party

Send your application

How much time should I set aside for the online application?

You can expect it to last about 30 minutes.

What information will I need to provide in the online application?

After you’ve decided on your handle and provided us with your phone number (so we can contact you after you’ve applied), you’ll be asked to complete three short steps:

Type a short “cover letter”, with information about why you’re applying for the job and what you want to get out of it.

Remember that this isn’t a traditional cover letter, and you won’t be sending it alongside your CV; it’s important that you don’t mention identifying characteristics of any company you worked for. (We know it’s tough, but hopefully it’s also liberating!)

Also please don’t copy and paste the same cover letter you’ve used somewhere else – we want to know why you’re interested in us, or the role. Be as specific as you can!

Briefly mention your best skills, as well as the skills you’d like to develop (single words or short phrases are fine). You don’t need to confine your answers to purely technical skills, and it’s fine to mention the same skill in both categories.

Let us know if you have any special needs that we might need to be aware of. It should go without saying, but just in case you’re in any doubt: your application won’t be judged any differently if you have special needs that you wish to share with us. The reason we ask is so that we can adapt the application process to allow for it. For example, in the past we’ve interviewed vision-impaired candidates who used a screen reader; because they made us aware of it, we knew to allow them more time to respond.

What will help me have a better chance of getting through to the next round?

We’re on the lookout for people who are eager to work hard, determined to solve problems, and intent on developing new skills. If this sounds like you, please apply!

Online interview

How much time should I set aside for the interview?

You can expect it to last about 20–30 minutes.

What kinds of questions will you ask?

Mainly we want to get to know you a bit better and learn more about your past work experience, your ambitions, and your working habits. We also tend to delve into the information you provided in your cover letter.

We’ll never try to trip you up with bizarre or “trick” questions – so you can rest assured that you’ll never have to second-guess why we’re asking something.

You can ask us questions too! Use the interview as a chance to find out more about Bytemark and how we work.

Who will be interviewing me?

There’ll always be at least two people: the immediate line manager of the position you’re applying for, and a colleague who’s familiar with the position and area of work. Occasionally we’ll also have a third colleague from another department. You can see your interview panel on the job description.

I’m not very good at communicating in writing. Will this be held against me?

The interview takes place in an online group chat room, where you’ll be “chatting” with us in written form rather than voice/video. The main reason is to preserve your anonymity, but – because much of your job will involve asynchronous messaging and chat – we also need to know that you can communicate effectively in writing.

You’re not expected to have the wit of Oscar Wilde or the elegant prose of Jane Austen, but you will need to be able to get your point or instructions across well – otherwise it’s going to affect the rest of the team.

Will I be penalised for typos, lack of capitalisation, etc.?

No. As long as you’re able to get your point across effectively, nothing else matters.

Will I be expected to answer each question within a certain time limit?

Nope – take as long as you need (within reason!). We find that that most of our successful candidates fall into one of two categories when it comes to answering interview questions:

1: “Little and often”: They like to “think out loud” and type frequently.

2: “Lots, less often”: They prefer to “think in their heads” first, and as a result will type less frequently.

Either of the above two styles if fine by us, so go with whichever feels most like you.

The kind of person who doesn’t tend to make it through will type very little, very infrequently. By the end of the interview we still won’t have much of an idea about them, so we find it harder to evaluate them effectively.

When you chat with us, you might find that you reply to someone just as another person responds to a different point or asks you a supplementary question. That’s just the nature of online chat: everyone trips over each other! No one minds at all, so try not let it worry you.

What happens if my internet plays up on the day of the interview?

If there are any technical problems, we’ll reschedule for another time. If you need to use an internet cafe instead, let us know and we can cover the costs.

How will I know if I’m through to the next stage?

We promise not to keep you waiting: we’ll let you know as soon as we can about whether you’re through to the next stage.

Skills test

How much time should I set aside for the skills challenge?

It depends on the challenge, but you’ll usually have around a maximum of four hours to complete it.

What kind of challenge is it?

The purpose of the challenge is to make sure you have the right skills for the job, so the nature of the challenge depends on the role for which you’re applying.

For a system administration role, we might put a virtual helpdesk together and ask you to help fix a broken server. For a programming role, we might ask you to build a very small prototype based on a specification – and then we’ll talk about it with you afterwards. And for a customer service role, we might ask you to call a number and leave a voicemail outlining how you can help with a customer’s problems.

How will it work in practice?

The task we set you will be a small but representative sample of the work you’ll do at Bytemark, and you’ll be told in advance how much time to set aside for it. Then on the day, we’ll start by meeting you in an online chat room and outlining the challenge and expectations. You’ll then go off to complete the challenge, and we’ll keep the chat room open in case you have any questions as you go along.

Once you’re finished, all you need to do is report back in the chat room.

What happens if my internet plays up on the day?

If there are any technical problems, we’ll reschedule for another time.

What happens if I don’t complete the task within the allotted time?

While we can’t allow you to continue with the task, don’t worry: it doesn’t mean you’ve automatically “failed” in any way. We’ll assess your work based on what you’ve managed to do so far.

I have a full-time job, so it’ll be hard to find the time to complete this task. What should I do?

That’s fine: we understand that most of our applicants will be in this situation. We’ll work with you to find a time that’s most suitable – such as a weeknight or on the weekend.

How will I know if I’m through to the next stage?

We promise not to keep you waiting for too long: we’ll let you know as quickly as possible if you’re through to the next stage.

Face-to-face interview

How much time should I set aside for the face-to-face meeting?

It’ll take up to two hours, plus travel time.

Do you cover travel or accommodation expenses?

Yes – both. Normally we reimburse you in cash on the day of the interview, so let us know if you need us to pre-pay.

What’s the purpose of the face-to-face interview?

By this stage, you've aced the application, online interview and skills test. This final interview helps us get to know you and you us! We generally discuss your CV and skills test and give you the opportunity to ask questions.

Its also important that you can see yourself being happy with us. You will get to meet some of the team, see the office and get a feel for what the company is like.

At what point do you want to see my CV?

After the second interview, we’ll send you a text message to let you know you’re through to the final interview. We’ll schedule the interview with you over text message, but we’ll also give you an email address so that you can send us your CV.

What should I wear for the interview?

Unless you turn up in your birthday suit, there’s a good chance we won’t even notice what you wear. Most candidates show up in something resembling “business casual”, but it’s completely up to you: we just want you to feel comfortable.

Hiring decision and next steps

How will I know if I’ve got the job?

We'll give you a call as soon as we can. This will be after the all final interviews are complete. Don't worry if you miss the call, we'll send you an email asking to call us back.

If its good news, we will then email you a formal job offer, outlining your duties and salary. We’ll then agree on a start date with you and send over an employment contract. After that, it’s just a case of waiting excitedly to greet you on your first day with us!

I didn’t get the job, but I still want to work with you! Can I try again?

If you aren’t successful in getting a job with us, we'll give you the opportunity to ask questions about our decision.

We'd love you to apply again. You will have to use a new anonymous handle so we can't match you with your previous application. We also prefer you wait six months before applying for the same position.

Any other questions?

If you’d like to know more about the whys and hows of our anonymous hiring process, this blog post gives you an extensive and (we like to think) interesting overview.

If there’s anything else you’d like to know, text +447479638008 and we’ll help as best we can.

Otherwise, feel free to check out our current open positions!

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