How We Hire Great Business Talent

Ilona Pitkänen Jul 14 2016 1 PM | 6 min read

At, we strongly believe that recruiting is the third crucial startup skill, right after building a great product with an excellent market fit and scaling customer acquisition through outstanding sales and marketing. This is why we put a lot of time, brainpower and enthusiasm into attracting the brightest talent and building a five-star team.

Great recruiting starts with recognizing the key elements of success in our company culture, and doing our absolute best to find and attract highly skilled individuals who match those principles. At, we are super fast, tech-savvy learners, and we have a brilliant company culture where we value ambition but are reminded to stay humble and friendly. In the end of this post, I describe the recruiting process and requirements for successful business candidates in more detail.

The principles listed above are fundamental to our team, and they translate into our most important requirements for all Smartlies-to-be. As the market and the ecosystem we operate in are constantly developing, our team has to be quick and hungry learners to stay on top and ahead of the situation at all times. We take pride in delivering both a quality product and customer service to our users, so our team has to be very technical. This doesn’t just mean that our developers are amazingly capable, but that our more business-oriented roles are also filled with people who are very close to the product, understand Facebook advertising deeply and can tackle tech problems.

In addition to technicality and an ability to learn quickly, we assess the cultural fit of each candidate throughout the entire recruiting process. We want to make sure that every hire not only elevates the team by bringing new skills and diversity of thought to the table, but also works well in our team of Humble Hungry Hunters. A flourishing company culture, with smart and super nice coworkers is by far the best perk we offer, and that’s why we put so much time and effort into making the best and nicest place to work for great talents.


A great match is a two-way street

Identifying what makes someone a great match for takes time - so does evaluating if is a great fit for the candidate. We want as many of our teammates as possible to meet the candidates, we have wide-ranging discussions with them, we put them to test in the recruitment process and often we even invite them to take part in some company activities before making the decision.

There are two reasons why we want to engage in such an extensive recruiting process. We really, really want to get to know to each and every candidate before we make a final call. Likewise, we also believe that deciding whether to join a company or not is a big decision for the candidate. Going through a more elaborate hiring process allows you and us to make these important decisions based on more data points. That way, the final decision is not as much a shot in the dark as it might sometimes feel like with more swift recruiting processes.

All in all, the recruiting process requires a lot of effort and motivation. However, investing in the process is smart - if all goes well and you get hired, a good part of the onboarding has already been done. This means that you’ll be able to dig into real work from day one, and spend more valuable time getting to know your fellow Smartlies.


5 must-read tips for all applicants  

  1. Budget enough time for the process - flimsy efforts rarely bear fruit.
  2. Don’t just tell us you’re motivated - show what new things you bring to our team, what your speciality is, how you could elevate our team.
  3. Listen to the feedback and take action based on it to show how quickly you learn.
  4. Chat with as many Smartlies as you can before and during the process - invite them to coffee or lunch and get to know to them.
  5. Ask for help. It’s not forbidden.


How do we find out who’s a great match?

We’re impressed by people who are very fast and motivated learners, have a high interest in our product’s business value and technical features, and are outstanding leaders of both their own and others’ work. At, leadership is everyone’s business. In every role, it is crucial to be able to organize your own work effectively and take responsibility in helping the rest of the team succeed.

Through our business recruiting track, we look for individuals who’d thrive as Account Managers, Service Operations Engineers, Technical Marketers and Business Developers, to name a few of the open positions in our offices in Helsinki, Berlin, Singapore and San Francisco. The business track consists of 3 different stages, where the first one is a homework assignment, and the second and third ones are onsite interviews aiming at slightly different results. Throughout the process, we evaluate for cultural fit.

First up, all candidates are given either a piece of work from their specific substance area or a piece of analytical homework. After the homework has been successfully completed, we’ll host an interview where candidates can showcase their understanding of the higher level concepts in Facebook and online advertising. The third stage is - naturally - the trickiest one, where candidates perform a sales demo with the tool, and their understanding of the product’s technical and value-adding features is closely evaluated. We also pay attention to their skills in sales, communication, as well as their ability to handle stress and focus on the essential.


What makes a great business candidate?

We have many different types of positions for business candidates. When it comes to direct customer work, both in sales and account management, there’s no single ideal type we’re looking for, but rather a bundle of different skills. Some of our business people are more technical, while others are more salesy. As we’re working in a fast moving global environment with several offices serving customers in 50+ countries in the Americas, Europe and Asia; we strongly emphasize an ability to endure stress and manage situations with many moving parts with great social skills and communications. It’s not rare for our AMs and Business Developers to manage 40+ customers, so they’re sure to run across many different types of complex problems.

Service Operations Engineers, or Service Ops as we like to call them, are strong analytical thinkers and technical investigators who enjoy finding the root cause of the root cause of our customers’ problems. Service Ops coordinate our 24/5 real-time in-app chat support and make sure that customers are helped in minutes. They are frontline firefighters and system builders, making sure all the valuable information from our customers is being heard and turned into action in customer work and product development.

Searching for a great match in both talent and cultural fit is not easy, as the candidate has to be impressed by us and we have to be impressed by the candidate. Hiring awesome talent is one of our most critical bottlenecks, but we believe that lowering the standards to hire a greater number of people is never the way to go. Rather, we want to do everything we can to offer interesting challenges and great opportunities for learning, and to develop into an even more attractive place to work for the top talents.


Interested in opportunities to grow? We are looking for great people for multiple positions in our offices around the world. 

Check us out at

   Creative Testing Playbook Finding the Winning Creative Concepts CHECK IT NOW
Ilona Pitkänen

Read Next