Anaplan is continuously looking for new talent, from interns to senior leaders. Regardless of your experience level, being considered for a new position can be a daunting process; every company is different, with different methods of evaluating potential new employees. If you've applied and are starting to prepare for that interview with Anaplan—the first in what could be a series of conversations—you likely have questions. What can you expect? What are we looking for in a candidate? What will the total candidate process entail?
Openness is one of Anaplan's core values, so we sat down with Pete Lawson, Anaplan's Director of Recruiting, to see if we could get answers to some of the questions. Whether you're considering applying at Anaplan, are waiting for that first call, or are halfway through the process, we hope this sets you up for success along the way.
What can you tell us about the interview process at Anaplan?
It can be totally different per line of business but they all, for the most part, follow a similar structure. Usually, the first step is talking to a recruiter. It's usually a 30-45 minute phone call to cover the job logistics— what the role is, what the scope of the role is, what the career path for that role is, and then understanding how that person's attributes, skills, and background fit into that role.
Then, we make a decision on whether or not we should continue the conversation— or if maybe there's a different opportunity that's scoped better for that person. From there it goes to a hiring manager interview, and that’s usually virtual for about 45-60 minutes. At that point, if we want to move forward with that candidate we’ll usually bring them into the office where they'll have anywhere from three to five onsite interviews. That will be anywhere from two to four hours depending on the type of role and the number of people we have meeting them.
Once we have our finalists, we go to final interviews, usually with either an ELT member or a VP of that organization. From there we go to offer. The process generally is anywhere from three to six weeks.
What are some things you look for in that interview process?
We try to map the entire life cycle of the candidate experience onto a couple of things. One is our culture and our values. We do this by organically inserting questions that help us understand how people think about and act like A-Shaped People—where they would fit within our culture and whether or not they resemble the type of people that we’re trying to hire.
A big part of it is identifying skills and attributes. A candidate’s first conversation with the recruiter helps dictate how the rest of the process will go. We may arrange or cater to additional questions differently throughout the process to drill down a little bit further in certain areas.
After the candidate has met with different people each looking at different things, we have formed a 360-degree view of the candidates. So at the end of the process, when we have, let's say, three finalists, we know that everybody's looked at them through the same lens. We try to be fair.
What kind of unique skills or Anaplan-specific traits are you looking for from a candidate?
Specific skills definitely will vary per role, but we've done a lot of analysis on what makes people successful here. Some of the common things that we see are the ability and experience to work in a smaller company environment, a more Agile startup environment, but also experience working in a large global organization and knowing how to leverage different business partners to move things forward. So they've seen both sides of that coin and they know how to be very Agile in a smaller company, kind of roll their sleeves up, have a GSD mentality.
We're scaling rapidly, so the environment is ever-changing. Someone who maybe only worked at large companies could get frustrated in an environment like this because we have a lot of pivots. Maybe a project that they're working on gets put on hold or scrapped and they have to go in another direction. That's just the nature of our business, so we try to identify people that have the experience working in those kinds of environments to know that they're not going to get frustrated here.
Additionally, an understanding of finance or the backend of how businesses work is a great foundation for any role here because of how our platform works.
What should applicants know about Anaplan? What kind of homework should they do about the company or role?
We can always tell when someone hasn’t done their homework! You don't have to know every single white paper we've produced, but it’s good to know some of the major milestones or who some of the executives are.
Grill your recruiter, too. This interview is for both sides. Ask, “Who else am I up against for this role and what are some of the things that that person has that I do not?” It’s a great question and sometimes it puts me on my heels a little bit. That's good. That's where a true conversation comes and it might create the chance for you to address a concern we might have. Make sure you're truly getting down to the root of where you’re ranking in the process to drive more meaningful conversations.
Have really good questions prepared. People come in and they really want to work here, but they don't want to ask too many questions because they don't want to pry. There's definitely a fine balance there, but I would have 10 really great questions prepared on a notebook, ready to ask everybody that you're interviewing and then compare your notes afterward. Examine how everyone answered and ask, “Is this the right culture for me? Are these the right problems that I want to face when I come into this role?”
What are some examples of good questions for candidates to ask?
As recruiters, the question we hear a lot is, “What is the hiring manager like to work for?” We do answer very honestly. There are certain demeanors and management styles and you want to know that this is someone that you have a similar style to or that you can work with.
Another common question is “What is my upward mobility, growth, and career trajectory look like with Anaplan?” My general answer to that is that you can come in here and be successful for whatever path that you want to carve. There’s a lot of ability to move laterally and expand your knowledge and depth depending on what direction you want to go career-wise.
We definitely get asked what our executive team is like. “What’s the style?” Even after we’ve described the culture and values and all of that, we get, “No, what's it really like?” So usually I explain how we live our values every day and, yeah, it is a customer-first organization, but we can't have customers without sales. So there's a definite focus on sales, too. What's great is we have an organization where our entire leadership team will roll up their sleeves and get involved in a sale as needed. That's a good thing. It drives growth. With that said, we don't sacrifice our values for that; it's a work hard, play hard type of environment.
Do you have any final tips for people who want to work at Anaplan?
Our number one source of hire is referrals. My advice to people that are trying to get in here is to connect with people who are currently working here. Find out what it's like to work here and form some of those connections and open the network up. Have a coffee meeting with someone even if there's not a current role open; we're growing and we'll eventually have a spot for you.
If you have questions that we didn't address here, please leave a comment below and we'll track down an answer for you!