Hiring the TaxJar Way: 2020 Edition

by Heather Wilson, CMP August 20, 2020

Update: In June of 2021, we officially retired the Mutual Assessment and are excited to introduce the Mutual Interview. Read our latest post on this here.
Three-and-a-half years ago, we last wrote about our hiring process, and something called a mutual trial. Since then, we’ve learned a lot, and made some changes. 
These days we’re a team of ~200 human beings from many backgrounds, with different opinions and experiences who have embraced and rallied around the shared values that have informed our decision to join Team TaxJar. Since that post was written, we’ve continued to put a lot of thought into how we approach our candidate experience. Some things, like what used to be known as “the mutual trial” have changed in name. Others, like their purpose and meaning remain the same. 

Our culture is key

It’s no accident that we’ve become the collaborative, innovative, trusting team we are today. We know every new teammate represents an opportunity to strengthen or harm the culture that makes us great, and we take this really seriously in hiring. We aren’t willing to compromise what we have here at TaxJar, and this is why we don’t waver from the why and how of our hiring processes.

I’ve applied. What comes next?

Our recruiting team receives hundreds of applications a week, and they take the time to go through every single one of them. Once a candidate has applied, they will get confirmation that we’ve received their application. A member of our Candidate Experience team will reach out to set up an initial meeting with candidates who not only meet the job qualifications; they’ve also demonstrated a true desire to be part of the team by thoroughly showcasing how their past experiences would inform the role they’d step into. Our typical process is spelled out on our hiring page, and consists of three to four interview rounds via Zoom. These vary depending upon the position and typically include talking with a recruiter, a hiring leader, team members and/or panels. Some positions may also require a brief technical exercise.    
If we decide not to move forward with an interview, we will also let the candidate know and hope that they’ll keep in touch. We encourage and welcome former candidates to re-apply even if they weren’t selected in a previous application process.

What’s New

We’ve added a values interview. Everyone goes through a values interview. These interviews are conducted by a culture committee that consists of members from different teams within TaxJar. They help us get to know whether the candidate’s personal values are aligned with our core values. This is important to us, as they guide everything we do. We’re not looking for someone to “fit-in.” Rather we’re looking for teammates whose values align with ours and who can see themselves thriving in our culture; and at the same time are open to learning, growing and helping us evolve.  

What Hasn’t Changed – The Mutual Assessment

Don’t you wish you could get a real, honest preview of how it would really feel to work at your potential new company before you decide to say yes? Or have you ever had the experience of starting a new job, and it was nothing like you expected, even though you went through interviews, asked loads of questions and met great people?  
We want to change that experience. Enter our mutual assessment process.  
Every full-time teammate (yes, every full-time teammate) completes a Mutual Assessment, or MA. We believe in the MA. It’s grown and evolved with us, and it allows for the most thorough exploration of a hiring fit possible – not just for us, but for our candidates, too. 
We used to call the MA the mutual trial or the trial. A trial indicates that the process is one-sided, and implies we’re testing candidates. We’re here to welcome and support. Our goal is for all candidates to succeed, and for them to have the opportunity to assess whether we are also a fit for them.
We achieve this by creating conditions that simulate in the most authentic way possible what a day to day experience will be. Candidates get access to everything they will need – data, people, tools, and are part of regularly scheduled meetings so they can really see behind the curtain into what their work life will be like. This is a paid ”peek behind the curtain.” It is our way of showing them who we are, and giving them a chance to determine if they can build their career here, with people who they’ll love interacting with everyday. Deciding to join us is a big deal. We want them to be as sure as we are.  

taxjar hiring process

The Mutual Assessment, that’s how!

What else should I expect during MA?

We will respect candidates’ time, and will be flexible with what amount of hours that can be given to us to fully participate during an MA. Obviously, the more time a candidate can spend with us the better, but we know folks have other commitments. Rest assured if we are talking about an MA with a candidate, our goal is to help them complete it successfully and at a pace that works for us both.  
We also won’t rush it. We give candidates the right amount of time to get to know us, understand how TaxJar operates, be involved in a few meeting cycles, participate in a project or two, and gain enough knowledge to complete one assigned project. The project varies by department, but is always related to the work a candidate will take on, should they  join us full-time. We’ve learned that a project assignment is more enriching than a “shadowing” experience and helps potential teammates have a real chance to see what day-to-day life will be like with us. We have a full MA support program to help candidates navigate, along with a dedicated resource who can answer any questions that arise. It’s also a chance to access all pertinent information in our handbook so candidates have the opportunity to become familiar with how our policies and programs work.

How long is the MA?

In most cases, it’s about a month. It is also common to contribute on a “part-time” basis in terms of hours worked. Dependent upon the position, length will vary due to job requirements and team needs. For example, in our Customer Experience Team, MA’s are longer (these include Customer Service and AutoFile positions). We’ve taken into account the feedback that candidates value investing more time in absorbing the learning materials before actually starting the work. This also helps candidates feel more prepared and confident once they do get started. Due to the seasonal demands on this team, it’s also important that a candidate experiences a peak month so realistic expectations are set, and there are no workload surprises during our busiest times.
Dependent upon the hours a candidate is able to commit, length can be impacted to some degree. We want everyone to be able to balance other commitments, so we work to find the right duration and length.  

How am I paid?

While on MA candidates are considered independent contractors, and paid an hourly stipend according to the role and position level. Candidates invoice us (typically once a week) for hours they dedicate getting to know us and working on their project assignment. Payments are sent via ACH twice a month. Before anyone begins their MA, we finalize compensation details of a full-time offer upfront so our potential future teammates know what awaits them upon successful completion.

Getting to a mutual decision

At the end of the MA, dependent on the role, candidates present their work, have the opportunity to offer suggestions, answer and ask questions, and give their feedback on the MA process. The internal team meets and discusses how the MA went. At the same time, we encourage our candidate to take time to decide whether TaxJar is where they’d like to invest themselves as a teammate. 
It is our sincere hope that the outcome results in acceptance of a full-time offer. 

“Well, alright! I am pumped! Where do I apply,” you ask?

You can check out open positions right here. Follow what our team is up to on our social channels: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. And stay tuned here on the blog. Next week we’ll dive into what it looks like once a candidate accepts employment. Hint: You have more to look forward to than filling out paperwork. Onboarding, Karaoke and Cake Wars await! In the meantime, feel free to drop any questions in the comments section below. We look forward to hearing from you!

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