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The faces behind the Asana interview

July 8th, 2020
10 min read
The faces behind the Asana interview

As a growing company, we share a lot about the fact that we’re hiring. Almost every team and every region of Asana is looking for enthusiastic collaborators to join us and help improve how teams around the world work. 

We know that interviewing is stressful. Now, there is the additional challenge of interviewing without ever meeting people face to face. Our global Talent Acquisition team is here to help you feel prepared and confident for your interviews. We chatted with them to give you an inside look at our interview process and the people you’ll meet along the way.

Rich Ha headshot

Rich Ha, TA Manager, San Francisco 

“Like many folks in recruiting, I fell into the profession coming out of school and started at an IT recruiting agency. From there, I learned the fundamentals of recruiting and ventured in-house, and I’ve been lucky enough to hold both individual contributor roles and leadership positions. I’ve worked at Uber, Google, LinkedIn, and Instacart. Now at Asana, our TA team focuses on recruiting for: Product Management, Design, User Experience Research, Business Technology, and our Vancouver office.”

Q: What makes TA unique at Asana?

Rich: “Something we focus on a lot during the Asana recruiting process is the “why”: Why is this role open? Why is it important? Why would someone be a good fit or not a good fit for a role? Why did the candidate’s career progress the way that it did? Why are these the candidates interested vs. others?

At Asana, we build on these whys to encourage deeper exploration from each person at Asana who is a part of the recruiting process. We find this approach leads to stronger collaboration among our internal teams, better understanding of our candidates’ needs and ultimately, more alignment and clarity from everyone involved in every step of the process. 

Another unique aspect about TA at Asana has been how we’ve approached diversity and inclusion as a talent organization. It’s not just the responsibility of the TA team to build a diverse team; it’s a clearly stated company-wide business objective. We truly believe diverse and inclusive teams will build the best products for all of our users, drive better business impact, and ultimately help us achieve our company mission. While TA plays a large role in driving diversity and inclusion initiatives, it’s a ‘team of everyone’ approach to achieving it.”

Parijat Talkad headshot

Parijat Talkad, Recruiting Operations Manager, San Francisco

“I got into the operations space by chance. It started with my desire to find consistency and to develop processes that helped enable teams. After returning from a year of teaching in India, I worked at a youth employment program for almost 5 years where I ran the youth leadership program for high school students. We built skills training programs for students, which was my first touch point to recruiting. While working at a venture capitalist firm, I got an inside look at what it takes to find and hire talent. I mapped out our processes, identified blockers in our workstreams, and provided operational solutions to the team. There was so much that went into hiring the right people. Understanding all of the work that goes into finding the right candidate is what set me towards TA. 

I ultimately found my place at Asana where I manage a team of TA Coordinators and help build out our internal processes so that we can continue scaling and growing the team. When I think of my journey and each step I took in my career, it was grounded on what I needed in order to learn and continue to be my best self. Each step has been a challenge, but the choices I made have shaped who I am. Each job I have taken was to push my skill sets and challenge me on my path of growth.”

Q: What were some of the considerations we made when transitioning to a 100% remote interview process?

Parijat: “Our main consideration when transitioning to a 100% remote interview process was that it be as smooth as possible for the candidate and the interviewer, from the interview flow to our inclusion practices. How do we make remote interviews feel the same as in- person interviews? We leaned into the experience that many global Asana teammates have when they attend meetings, town halls, and all hands via video. We took their advice to make sure we had a smooth transition to a remote interview process. 

One thing that we were very aware of when transitioning to remote was that making the experience inclusive was more important than ever. Having an inclusive interview process means that we embody awareness of how people deal with different things that may impact how they show up and how they feel a part of the conversation. This includes openness to different communication styles and needs, and establishing trust that people can be themselves without judgment. At Asana, we constantly emphasize the idea of real talk with one another, so we make it clear to candidates that we understand that there are day-to-day interruptions like kids, pets, or other life factors that can throw off your day. We want them to know that we acknowledge that life is still happening, and everyone is going through something different right now.

One of the biggest missing pieces for candidates in a remote “onsite” is getting a feel for office life. To make up for this, we worked closely with our Employer Brand team who helped create content, blog posts, and videos to help showcase what life at Asana is like. We now send this out to candidates when we confirm their interview. Our TA Coordinators hold a candidate greet before the interviewing starts to give them a few minutes to adjust and get comfortable with interviewing over video. Being mindful about the fatigue that can come with back to back video chats, we were sure to incorporate small and long breaks and opportunities to shut off their camera. Lastly, to ensure smooth transitions from one interviewer to another, our TA coordinators set up group chats so interviewers can communicate when they are ready for the next person to join. Being open to feedback helps make the remote interview process great for our candidates, as well as our interviewers.”

Katie Quinn headshot

Katie Quinn, TA Manager, Dublin 

“Prior to joining Asana two years ago, I managed the Business Recruiting team at Facebook for eight years. Asana’s presence in EMEA has grown rapidly over the last 18 months and we have had the amazing opportunity to speak to a lot of candidates!”

Q: What are some ways that candidates can best prepare for their interviews at Asana?

Katie: Before your onsite interview, make sure you know who you will be meeting with and what their role is in the organization. Going the extra mile and looking them up on LinkedIn shows that you are invested in them and their work. Make sure to have 3-5 questions prepared, too. This shows that you are genuinely interested in both the company and the position. During the interview, stay focused and practice active listening. Make sure you take time to think about the question being presented to you before answering. Remember that it’s okay to take a moment to thoughtfully construct your response. 

Be open with your recruiter, we are here to help support you! Transparency is important to ensure alignment throughout the entire process, so level setting on expectations will really help drive this. Building a good rapport with your recruiter will help—they will act as your ally throughout the entire process. 

Finally, be curious and be yourself! The recruiters aren’t the only ones doing the interviewing, you should also determine if the company is the right fit for you. Enjoy the experience and remember this is your time to shine!

Alex Margarite headshot

Alex Margarite, TA Partner, San Francisco

“I have been in recruiting for seven years and have a passion for recruiting leadership candidates. I started my career in research at an executive search firm, which gave me an acute awareness of my connection to impact: recruiting impactful leaders to impactful organizations.

Remote interactions are hard, even with members of our closest friend and family circles. Remote interactions with folks we’ve never met before, and whom we know are assessing us, can be a lot to hold in our minds.”

Q: Any tips for remote interviewing? 

Alex: Don’t overthink the things you might need to say or do to help yourself start off on the right foot when a call starts. If small talk helps you relax, spend 1-2 minutes priming your interviewer with a question to build rapport up-front, while being mindful that they have a number of questions for you as well. If you feel comfortable doing so, ask about the agenda for the video call and how the interviewer plans to divide up the time. Give yourself the opportunity, as an interviewee, to get to a baseline understanding faster so you don’t focus the majority of your interview time on getting comfortable or connected to your interviewer. It will relax that part of your brain faster and allow you to provide answers that are more authentic and less performative. And finally, try and lean into the discomfort as a new way to show up. A small amount of stress can push humans to a better level of performance, so make room for those potential small stressors by proactively addressing other ones (think creature comforts: your appetite, comfort in your space, and leaning in to your excitement vs. nerves).

The talent landscape is certainly in a unique moment right now. Talent teams who are still hiring may be dealing with higher volume, or simply their own stress of navigating their own remote setup. Use the circumstances to your advantage, be kind to yourself when some conversations don’t go to plan, and maybe you’ll find yourself showing up in new ways and connecting with the right next opportunity for you.

Monique Sudirgo headshot

Monique Sudirgo, TA Manager, San Francisco 

“I initially started my career in recruiting when LinkedIn reached out to me about their Sourcer Developer Program. I stumbled down this career path and thought it would be exciting to experience the tech industry. I found sourcing and learning about engineering to be interesting so I decided to continue my journey at Uber, focusing on our Data and Infrastructure teams. My next step was at Facebook where I shifted to a full cycle recruiter focused on niche roles in aerospace and connectivity. I began my career at Asana as the leadership recruiter across Tech, Product, and People. One of the things I love about Asana is the opportunity for career growth and mobility. Now I’m a TA Manager for our General and Administrative teams.

Q: What are your best tips for the “onsite” interview? 

Monique: The interview process across teams and organizations can vary widely. Not only should you take time to learn about the role and the company, but invest time in learning about the company culture, values, and team. An interview is two-sided and it’s important that you’re informed and bought into the opportunity and company. Interviewers want to feel your passion and it’s important to do your due diligence to show that. 

Secondly, it’s important to take time to think about different career highlights, milestones, and challenges you’ve had, and reflect on what went well, what could have gone better, and what you have learned for the future. Asana really values individuals and leaders that take time to reflect and apply their learnings for future challenges.

Misha Kestler headshot

Misha Kestler, TA Partner, San Francisco

“I support our infrastructure engineering teams in San Francisco and Reykjavik. Prior to joining Asana, I worked in sports marketing for about nine years helping corporate clients optimize their relationships with sports teams, leagues, and organizations. I had a blast working with great people and was fortunate enough to attend incredible events with great stories to boot! 

I’m a big sports fan (DC-area everything!), but I cared more about connecting people to their passions while making an organizational impact, so when I received the contact information for a TA Partner at Asana, I sent her a cold outreach about an open role that I saw as a TA Researcher, and got an interview. I was super lucky that the team was willing to take a chance on someone with no TA or tech experience, and after some serious learning and on-the-job training, I eventually moved into a TA Partner role. Asana’s supportive and learning-centric culture is the reason why I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my professional career!”

Q: What should someone expect at a technical “onsite” interview? 

Misha: Candidates can expect four total interview rounds that include standard technical questions (e.g. algorithms, data models, and system design), behavioral questions, and a coding round. We’ve made some adjustments to accommodate the shift to going remote, and the virtual “onsite” lasts about 6 hours—that time includes a break and a casual chat with a current Asana engineer (think Reddit AMA).

We know interviews are stressful so we share our expectations and evaluation criteria with candidates at the outset, both in email and over the phone by your dedicated TA Partner.

We’re looking for strengths in technical design and programming, but there are other ways to stand out. As a candidate you can bolster your technical performance by:

  • Using precise communication when talking through your solution

  • Actively leading and collaborating with your interviewer in solving the problem

  • Clarifying and iterating upon your approach as the problem evolves

Tala Khalaf headshot

Tala Khalaf, TA Partner, New York

“I started at Asana in San Francisco as a TA Coordinator, before becoming a full-cycle University Recruiter. Recently, I moved to the East Coast and started focusing on hiring in New York.

Before pivoting to TA, I was on the corporate side of the beauty industry. I worked at a Drybar throughout college and found a job right out of school at a large haircare brand working in event management and then another hair color start-up in San Francisco. It was fun and I learned a lot. When I was trying to determine what I wanted to do next, I decided to explore recruiting, and I couldn’t be happier with trusting my instincts and decision! 

If I were to boil down my findings I’d say two things: first, what you think you want is often really different than what you actually want. Second, all experience is invaluable, and it’s okay if you do something and decide you don’t like it, it’s all part of the journey!”

Q: What do we want candidates to know about our interview process? 

Tala: We want you to succeed! Leverage your TA Partner and ask any questions you have. For the engineering team, we even created a guide to help you ace our interviews! Be clear about where you’re at in problem solving, and if you’re stuck, ask for help. Sometimes it’s easy to jump into a solution, but first, make sure you understand the requirements of the problem. I would encourage you to take the time to think through multiple approaches and then be very vocal about the why behind your approach. Interviews are nerve-wracking, but shifting your mindset and understanding that we want you to do well, rather than looking for ways you could fail, makes all the difference!

Come see for yourself

We are still hiring! Come meet these team members and experience our interview process. We have available opportunities across all teams and offices!

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