August 13, 2021

What is it like to interview with Apollo? (part 1 of 2)

Chris Shaw
VP of Talent Acquisition
Life at Apollo
Last updated September 9, 2021

We’ve all been there. You’re interviewing for a company that has a job you’re very interested in. But you have no idea what to expect in the interview process. You’re wondering; what will this process actually be like? How much time will it take? Should I prepare? How much should I prepare? Will I get a chance to ask my questions so I can learn more about the company? {Narrator: Gosh, I sure hope so.}

This is the first of two “interviewing at Apollo” posts that outline our interview process from start to finish. For anyone considering Apollo as a future employer, the goal of these two posts is to help you get comfortable with our interview process before you have your first interview.

This first post will cover the first two pieces of our interview process:

  1. How we prepare our interviewers internally to create alignment and ensure a consistent process.
  2. How we put our candidates in the best position to succeed by preparing them for what’s to come.

In the next post, I’ll describe how we get everyone on our interview panel on the same page to ensure we have an equitable interview process.

Let’s kick off with how we define, design, and strategize the role.

Phase 1: Define, design & strategize

Consistency in hiring is something we work hard to create. A consistent process creates fairness by ensuring interviews are the same for every candidate.

Step 1: Define the role

Where does any new hire begin? Let’s start with an adage; “If you don’t know what you are looking for, you are unlikely to find it.” Step 1 in the hiring process is the hiring manager defining what they are looking for in their new hire. We create a document called an MOC, which outlines the Mission, the Outcomes, and the Competencies for the role.

The mission is the primary purpose of the role. For a recruiting role, that is making hires. For a salesperson, it’s bringing in new customers and revenue. The outcomes are the documented expectations for a hire to deliver in their first year of work at Apollo, and beyond. The key here is to avoid creating a laundry list of “necessary skills”, and instead we want to evaluate whether the person can deliver the needed outcomes. Later we’ll use these outcomes to help create onboarding plans, but onboarding is a blog post all on its own.

Step 2: Design the interviews

Next, let’s talk about why choosing the right competencies is so important. Competencies are the critical skills and attributes needed to deliver the outcomes we’re looking for. Note that I said “critical”. If you have too many, you create a unicorn hire that you’ll never find. That’s why most roles at Apollo have four or five competencies. Choosing the appropriate competencies has additional importance because we use the competencies to design all of our interviews. It’s paramount for each interviewer to design questions that allow a candidate to put their best foot forward. We promise not to ask you how many golf balls you can fit into a 747.

Most of the skills a candidate possesses are earned as they deliver outcomes in their career, so we’ll design interview questions to test how deep that knowledge goes. That said, you can’t judge a book by its cover, and you can’t judge the depth of someone’s knowledge by looking at how many years they have on their resume.

Ah, but what about attributes? Sometimes we’re not requiring prior knowledge of a skill, and instead, we’re looking for aptitude. This practice helps us open the aperture on our requisitions, which supports another key goal in our hiring process; diversity and inclusion. We will often design an interview to test for someone’s ability to learn a skill. This was especially important five years ago when we were hiring people for something called “GraphQL” that very few people had experience with.

Step 3: Prepare our interviewers

Our interviewers are chosen by the hiring manager for their ability to assess the competencies they are assigned. The ability to assess competencies comes with experience, and we shorten the learning curve by utilizing interview shadowing. If you see more than one person in your interview, it’s usually because a new interviewer is learning how to best conduct that interview in the future. After an interviewer has conducted an interview 10 or more times, they become adept at identifying if an interview performance was strong or not.

Even before the recruiting team starts talking to candidates, we have a hiring panel kick-off. Why? We never want an interview panel confused about what we’re looking for. Every single interviewer has to be on the same page with the hiring manager, or you can end up with disagreement when their skills might be exactly what the hiring manager is looking for.

All of the time we put in early on is ensuring we’ve built a fair, consistent process. This is why we want all of our candidates to have as similar a process as possible.

Now let’s get into what your experience as a candidate will be like.

Phase 2: Preparing our candidates

First of all, why are we doing this? Many companies seem to revel in their infamously challenging interview processes. From gotcha questions, to double-digit interviews, to multiple months of interviews, I’ve heard it all from candidates over the last 20 years.

At Apollo, I’ll just say that we take a bit of a different tack. Everyone here is committed to designing a process that puts our candidates on equal footing with our team. Yes, we want to hire the best people in the world who are excited to do great things at Apollo. But we want to do it in a way that we can be proud of. Putting candidates in a position to show us their best is what this is all about. If we get a chance to see that in your interviews, we know we can put you in that same position once you’ve joined us.

Here are three simple things we’ve done to put our candidates in a position to succeed:

1. Blurbs!

We all feel a little weird using the word “blurb”, but they’re an important part of preparing our candidates. A blurb is a short description of each interview a candidate will have. We’ve found that candidates love this aspect of our interview process. The feedback we most often hear is, “You really put my mind at ease prior to the start of my interviews.”

2. Organize the heck out of everything

Organization might seem like a small thing, but I’ve had candidates tell me how they feel cared for in our process because of our attention to detail. When we send your interview schedule, you will be emailed our now semi-famous blurbs, but along with them you also get a link to each interviewer’s LinkedIn. If there’s a change in the schedule, we’re on top of it. Oh, and your Zoom links will be correct, which is awesome when Zoom is working the way we expect.

If a candidate wants to prepare and get more comfortable with who they will be speaking with, it’s all right there in one place. We’ll also schedule a quick check-in call with a recruiter to answer any last questions you might have before you start your interviews.

Step 3: Honesty and integrity

There will be times when a candidate is hoping a job offers something it doesn’t. For example, someone who is hoping to be a manager within a year. We will never promise something that we can’t guarantee. I often tell candidates that we would never want to trick them into joining Apollo, only to have them find out it’s not the right fit. I’ve seen companies do that in the past, and it almost always ends badly, with the newly hired person leaving after maybe 5 or 6 months after joining. That’s bad for the candidate (and their resume), and it’s bad for Apollo.

That’s why we always make sure there is extra time built-in for you to ask us questions. We know that you have plenty of options, and we want to make sure you can evaluate Apollo to see if it’s the right place for you. It’s our job to give you the information you need to make an informed decision, and that’s what we’ll do, even when it means we’ll lose a strong candidate who is looking for something we can’t offer.

Conclusion

It’s hard for people to make empowered decisions without all of the relevant information. We want you to know as much about us as possible so you can make an informed decision on whether Apollo is right for you. We do this to empower our candidates, but also because we really do care if people are happy when they join Apollo.

Part two of this series covers Apollo’s interview and offer process.

You can also check out some of these links to learn more about us:

Written by

Chris Shaw

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