Elevate your Recruitment Approach: 10Pines' Hiring Strategy

Joost Minnaar
Written by Joost Minnaar March 10, 2024

We are soon launching our newest course in our Academy. This course will be all about how self-managing organizations tackle their recruitment challenges with bold, rebellious practices and strategies. In the course, we will describe new approaches to mastering the art of recruitment and delve into the processes of identifying talent, refining interview approaches, and optimizing onboarding processes for self-management. In this post, I'll provide you with a sneak peek into one of the practices we describe in the course: the case of '10Pines' and their meticulous hiring process.

10Pines

In 2009, four Agile enthusiasts in Argentina, inspired by Ricardo Semler's Maverick approach, kickstarted what would later become 10Pines. Focused on addressing the gap between software development and management, they embraced Agile methodologies and drew inspiration from Semler and sociocracy.

With almost 100 team members, '10Pines' has grown significantly, maintaining a strong emphasis on software development. Beyond their core work, they've established strategic business units (SBUs), including an academy for software best practices and Agile methodologies.

Notably, '10Pines' is a standout case study, recognized for innovative recruitment and a remarkably low turnover rate. (To be exact, that’s only four departures in six years, attributed to personal pursuits, marriage-related relocations, and entrepreneurial ventures.)

How did '10Pines' achieve such remarkable retention rates? Let's explore their unique approach in detail.

Trust-centric organization

Being a self-managing organization, '10Pines' prominently centers its organizational model on trust. This philosophy extends to their meticulous hiring process.

Unlike hurried recruitment, they invest time in selecting the right individuals who align with the company culture, avoiding potential disruptions and fostering a collaborative environment.

In the words of Jorge Silva, one of '10Pines' co-founders: 'If you say people are important, take time to choose them. That’s why our hiring process takes time, but it’s worth every invested minute.'

Now that the stage has been set, let’s dive into the hiring process at '10Pines'.

A recipe for choosing the right seeds

In the '10Pines' ecosystem, everyone is a 'Pine,' emphasizing the significance they place on individuals. This commitment is evident in their deliberate approach to selecting the right seeds, or, as Jorge Silva aptly puts it, 'selecting the seeds for our Pines.'

Their recipe for cultivating the right talent involves three key steps:

  1. First contact interview
  2. Technical interview
  3. Group interview

Let's explore each step in detail.

1. First contact interview

In the world of '10Pines,' every potential seed (candidate) comes with a recommendation or sponsorship from an existing Pine. The first phase involves an interview, bringing together the internal sponsor, the candidate, and an external party (another '10Pine' employee).

This initial meeting differs from the traditional one-sided interview, resembling more of a 'date,' where both sides aim to convey why '10Pines' is a fitting match for the candidate, and vice versa—establishing a mutual understanding of compatibility.

10 Pines Hiring

2. Technical interview

Following the initial interview, candidates embark on a practical exercise to solve at home. The exercise's complexity aligns with the candidate's experience, often incorporating real-life examples from '10Pines' day-to-day operations to mirror authentic job situations. At '10Pines,' these exercises are often programming-based, as this is what the candidate will be doing from day to day.

The constraints for solving the exercise are:

  • Choose the programming language you want
  • Do it yourself (!)

The rest is up to the candidate:

  • Questioning encouraged: Asking plenty of questions is encouraged, showcasing strong analytical skills.
  • Tool flexibility: Use any online resources like Google or Stack Overflow, just as you would in real-life scenarios. Specific protocol memorization isn't critical; the focus is on problem-solving and learning capacity.
  • Flexible timing: Solve the exercise at your own pace and convenience. The emphasis is on your problem-solving approach and ability to learn, rather than rigid time constraints.

Code evaluation and discussion

After the initial exercise, the candidate proceeds to a second interview following its review by the team and '10Pines.' In this round, two different team members, familiar with the resolution, conduct the interview.

During this session, the candidate is prompted to explain and justify their decisions made during the exercise. Questions like 'Why did you choose to code this class?' or 'Why did you opt for inheritance over delegation here?' are posed.

The objective is threefold:

  • Verify individual problem solving: Confirm that the candidate independently solved the exercise.
  • Assess thought processes: Understand the candidate's reasoning and thought processes.
  • Evaluate adaptability: Observe how the candidate responds to changes and critiques, as their solution undergoes analysis and criticism during this session.

3. Group interview

The group interview serves as the final stage—if the previous steps have been successful. It involves all the Pines who choose to participate and the new seed, allowing both sides to choose their potential teammates. This interview aims to assess compatibility and determine if there is a mutual desire to work together.

During the group interview, a relaxed atmosphere is created, blending technical questions with personal ones. It provides an opportunity for candidates to interact with the entire team and gain insights into the diverse universe of possible teammates within the company. This approach ensures that the seed does not encounter surprises on their first day or week of work.

The interview encourages everyone to ask questions and share experiences, fostering open communication and collaboration. The ultimate goal of this step is twofold: for the company's side to answer the question, "Would I like to work with this candidate?" and for the candidate to answer, "Would I like to work with this group of people?" It serves as a crucial evaluation of team fit from both perspectives.

More in the course

At '10Pines,' the responsibility for choosing new team members is distributed across the entire organization, emphasizing collaborative hiring. Every Pine, regardless of their role, actively participates in this cross-functional task.

In the new Academy course, Elevate Your Recruitment Approach, we share the '10Pines' case and their hiring practice in more detail. That is, however, not all. We share many more cases and many more practices. Check it out here.

In the words of Jorge Silva, one of '10Pines' co-founders: 'If you say people are important, take time to choose them. That’s why our hiring process takes time, but it’s worth every invested minute.'
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Written by Joost Minnaar
Joost Minnaar
Co-founder Corporate Rebels. My daily focus is on research, writing, and anything else related to making work more fun.
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