We put a lot of time and energy into recruiting because we think that no aspect of work is more important than the people who surround you. At Mapbox, we look for people who are kind, people who are surprising, people who enjoy their work, and people who are strong in written communications. We don’t focus on diplomas, and we love applicants from non-traditional backgrounds—we have many engineers who didn’t go to college or didn’t get a STEM degree. Prior to Mapbox, Jordan worked in a theater, Erin ran rafting and climbing trips for a nonprofit’s social enterprise, and Camilla delivered handcrafted wooden furniture.
We believe strongly in the value of diversity and have worked hard to build a hiring process we believe gives applicants of all backgrounds an equal chance to succeed. Our process does not revolve around whiteboarding, giving timed coding tests, or asking questions designed to stump applicants—since our daily work doesn’t include these. We do work hard to provide a unique view into what it’s really like to work here.
While each team customizes the exact hiring process to fit their needs and personality (some prefer video calls instead of phone calls, for example), the following is a good illustration of what you can expect from us as an applicant, using our security engineering team as an example. Once you’ve read through our process, we hope you apply today.
Getting ready internally
Before starting to hire, the security team identifies a 3-person hiring team to evaluate candidates and keep their larger team updated. This is not necessarily the most senior three people, but rather a cross-section of the team, and people who enjoy recruiting. At least two members of this hiring team review every application before any decisions are made, and the hiring team is supported throughout by the recruiting team (Hi!).
The security team also writes and shares within Mapbox their Growth Strategy—this includes the rationale for hiring, names the hiring team, and lays out the onboarding plan. We find that asking hiring teams to think about this early helps everyone focus on finding the right candidate to fill the right role. It’s also great transparency for everyone at Mapbox to see what kind of recruiting is happening and why.
Lastly, we work with each hiring team to scope out outreach we’ll do for each position. We post jobs to our website, of course, but also share our openings on big sites like Glassdoor and reach out to diverse communities via channels like Women Who Code, Lesbians Who Tech, and specific professional communities in our areas.
Job openings for the security team—and most teams here—require applicants to Mapbox to submit both a cover letter and a resume. We really care about cover letters. We have multiple people read each and every one. We relish reading Mapbox-specific thoughts and value the opportunity to get to know our applicants better. We care about why you want to work at Mapbox and what you think you would bring to our team. We rarely choose to interview candidates who submit template cover letters or resumes-in-prose, no matter how much experience they have (and no former employer exempts anyone from this approach). Writing is vital to us because it is so deeply ingrained in how Mapbox functions—we have team members in almost a dozen time zones around the world and communicate much more on GitHub and Slack than by voice.
You’ll see some variations in our job postings across teams: for engineering job openings, for example, we may request code samples, but please don’t hesitate to apply if you cannot share your code. Because we don’t believe in evaluating engineers’ skills by putting them on the spot, it’s necessary for some positions that we have a chance to see examples of your work. Usually, this means your Github profile. We will do our best to dig through profiles filled with forks, piles of undocumented code, and framework boilerplate. We get most excited about candidates who have taken the time to clearly highlight their best projects, written good documentation and tests for them, checked that installation works, and (when appropriate) included links to working demos. At the same time, we know not everyone can share their work on Github. That’s not a problem, and we are happy to receive any examples of your work, whether that means an uploaded portion of a project you’ve finished, a link to your website, or non-public samples sent directly to us.
A posting for a sales job might ask for a product pitch or a communications job for a draft e-mail to our users. Our infrastructure engineering team recently posted a job with the following
Extra Points: We’d love to hear a bit about how you built something, whether it’s a node library, a website, or an elaborately engineered birthday cake. Why did you create it the way you did? More importantly, how would you build it differently now based on what you learned?
Our point is that we’re trying to better understand how you think and how you write, and to give you a wide open canvas to demonstrate this. We don’t want you to do any of these things in the same way that we’re already doing it, either; we’re looking to add people to the team who are thinking differently and who will stretch our collective identity in new directions.
The phone interview
When the security team determines that an application is strong, they’ll set up a phone call. This first interview is usually about 30 minutes and focuses on why the applicant is interested in Mapbox and what makes the open role exciting to them, as well as some more in-depth conversation about their background, skills, and what they’re looking for in their next job. We always encourage questions and are happy to share what working here is really like. We think this is an appropriate time to ask about benefits, learning and development, and whatever else is on your mind. We know that things like health insurance, maternity and paternity leave, and growth opportunities are very important to you, because they’re very important to us.
The face-to-face interview
After conducting phone interviews, the security hiring team meets and discusses how the interviews went and which applicant(s) are the best fit for the position. They then set up a longer interview—if the applicant lives near one of our offices, we’ll invite them in—if not, we’ll typically set up a video call. This interview is used to dive deeper into the same topics as the phone interview and to talk about the specific details of the work we’re looking for help with.
This interview usually takes 1-2 hours depending on the hiring team and specific opening. And to reiterate, our daily work doesn’t entail whiteboarding code, taking time tests, or answering far-fetched theoreticals. Those types of evaluations can be biased against a variety of applicants, and are quite frankly poor indicators of success at Mapbox.
While many companies would now be ready to make an offer, the final step in our recruiting process for nearly all positions—including those on our security team—is to bring our top candidate into one of our offices to work side-by-side with the team they would join sprinting on a project similar to one they would take on if they were hired. We only sprint with one candidate at a time, and sprints are designed to confirm that we want to work together, not to choose between candidates.
This unique recruiting sprint process has proven successful because it gives both our team and the applicant the opportunity to see what it’s really like to work here. Starting a new job is a huge life change, and we want each candidate to have a crystal-clear view of Mapbox and to be able to determine for themselves if we are or are not a good fit for them, their work style, or their priorities. While we think recruiting sprints are a reason for our success, we know that asking for full days from an applicant is a lot. We balance this by striving to be as flexible as possible, paying a stipend, and only inviting candidates in to sprint who we’re truly excited about working with.
If you’re invited in to sprint with us during the recruiting process, you should expect:
To have any travel and lodging booked and paid for by Mapbox, and to receive a stipend for your valuable time.
To sign a non-disclosure agreement, so we can be as candid with you as possible.
To be given the option to work on Mapbox-provided equipment.
To be sent information before your sprint with details of what you will be working on, your schedule, and logistics.
To work closely with the hiring manager and members of what would be your team.
To be exposed to other parts of Mapbox through conversations with members of other teams, GitHub tickets, Slack, and more.
To write up your takeaways (we call this a devlog) from your sprint, capturing what went well, documenting your thought processes, and sharing what we can do to improve future sprints.
To receive a final decision from us within 48 hours after you submit your devlog.
When it doesn’t work out
We work hard to get back to all applicants in a timely manner. To us, that means within a few days of an interview or within 3 weeks of receiving an application. Our data currently shows we reply to 84% of applicants, and we’re working to increase that rate.
Open to iteration
This process has evolved as we’ve learned lots of lessons about recruiting. We want to keep learning and improving—please reach out to Nate or Cathryn with anything you’d like to share or feedback you have. We’ll always link to our latest process-overview blog post from our jobs page.