I applied through an employee referral. The process took 1 day. I interviewed at Big Jump Media (Plano, TX) in December 2008.
My initial communication with the company came through an employee who was a former coworker with me at another company. She had been telling me great things about her new job for several months. I sent her my resume and she passed my info on to the company's recruiter who called me. She sent me an application form and a form for employment verification to verify my resume.
An interview was arranged with my friend and her boss, the Creative Director. They requested I familiarize myself with the company's main product, a social networking web site, and bring examples of some of my work.
I met with these two at the office for a 30-minute meeting. They were very interested in seeing the examples I presented to them, and asked me some questions relative to my experience and how I would approach the job. I also asked questions about the company and the position, which they answered to my satisfaction. It was clear to me that the recommendation of my friend (who knew well my level of experience and professional skill set) weighed heavily in my favor. This brief meeting felt much less like an interview and more like a simple meeting to confirm to the Creative Director that I was, indeed, the right candidate for the job, as my friend had told him.
Immediately after this meeting I met with a company executive. He explained more about the company itself. We talked mostly about my resume and HR-related issues. The executive explained to me that the while the hiring decision for this position rested with the Creative Director, he met with all potential new hires as a gatekeeper. This conversation was interrupted continually as this executive was multi-tasking while speaking with me, and he was clearly using these interruptions to gauge my ability to deal with multitasking in a fast-paced environment as well.
After this roughly 30-minute conversation, I was escorted out of the building. I was promptly extended an offer within a few days.
At the time of my interview, my perception of the people, office and work culture was that of the stereotypical "dot-com start up". (This has been confirmed throughout my experience as an employee). The past of work is very fast and fluid. Decisions are made relationally and verbally rather than by strict adherence to process. Rapid change is a way of life -- everything from employee benefits to work environment to the details of specific projects are subject to change much more than in a more established company. Risk is high but so is the potential for reward. The office culture is very relaxed and a sense of "family", or at least of close camaraderie among the employees, is encouraged. Everyone works hard, long hours, and pulls their own weight.
I was offered the exact salary amount I put on my application. This amount was what I believed to be "middle of the road" in terms of fair market value for the position and my level of skill and experience. No negotiating was necessary for me, but I would suggest that if you feel a desire to negotiate, be able to present a strong, objective rationale and you may find the company willing to give serious consideration to your requests. Be sure to demonstrate that you are going to give as good as you get as an employee.
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