Play to Learn, Don't Play to Win
This is the only piece of advice we can give you. Don't try to "beat" our screening process. It's here to help us find people who will thrive in our unique culture while being respectful of everyone's time. We also designed the process to be intrinsically valuable, meaning the process itself should help you clarify the type of career you're building for yourself and how you can best pursue the goals that matter to you.
This first call reviews the material that you already have, adds some additional context, and offers you a chance to ask questions. The calls are run by one of our cofounders. That's how seriously we take our screening process! Expect the flow of the call to be something like this:
- Our origin story
- Our structure
- Our ever-evolving screening process
- BMNT archetypes
This call is held on a weekly basis. Everyone who is applying joins the same call.
Remember two of our screening principles: goodness of fit & mutual enthusiasm. Are these satisfied? In other words, knowing what you know at this point:
- Are you even more excited about joining the team?
- Are you even more convinced that you would fit well into both the team and our work?
If the answer is a resounding "Yes!" to both of those questions then it's time to play Level II. Here's what you have to do:
1) Write out a paragraph (no more than 150 words) describing the pros and cons of BMNT's screening process.
2) Come up with 3 questions you want answered during Level II. Some example questions are provided below in BMNT's Bank of Amazing Questions.
3) Email your BMNTers to set up Level II, including the paragraph and questions from instructions 1 and 2. Your players were disclosed at the end of Level I, and everyone can be found and contacted via LinkedIn if you forgot their email address.
At this point, our screening principles should manifest themselves physically. You should be very excited about the BMNTers you've met, and feeling like this was the team you've been destined to join. If that's you, then you're ready to play Level III with the person who would manage you. Research indicates that your direct supervisor has the greatest impact on the quality of your work and how much you enjoy your work. So this conversation should feel good, like you could thrive together. Here's what to do:
1) Write out a paragraph (no more than 150 words) describing the role you think you're being hired to fulfill.
2) Come up with 3 questions you want answered during Level III.
3) Email your BMNTer to set up Level III, including the paragraph and questions from instructions 1 and 2. Your player was disclosed at the end of Level II, and everyone can be found and contacted via LinkedIn if you forgot their email address.
This is where the rubber meets the road. You are now going to experience firsthand some of the intense, creative, uncomfortable, exciting activities we do with our customers. This level gives us very different "data" about you.
This 5-day process is designed to help us assess you from a functional perspective. You will be walking through a "lightweight" version of H4X, the problem-solving system we implement with our customers.
We are looking to see how you engage with the process. That is everything from the way you ask clarifying questions to the way you create deliverables.
You will get an email each morning with instructions and materials. Your BMNT Sherpa will be available each day to answer questions and review materials. At the end of the week you will present a 10-minute Lessons Learned brief, followed by questions from BMNTers.
Don’t worry, though. We will walk you through each step so it doesn’t overwhelm you!
Day 1 is all about understanding the problem.
We selected a problem that should resonate with you. You will review the Problem Summary (attached) the Problem Curation Workbook (attached) then discuss questions during the 30 minute check-in with your Sherpa. The goal for today is to fill out the workbook and arrange for at least 3 interviews with other people who are dealing with the problem.
Day 2 is all about learning more about the problem.
You will receive material that should help you make the most of your interviews. You will update your Lessons Learned Brief (attached) and pick a specific target on which you will focus. Your Sherpa will be available via email to answer questions.
Day 3 is all about exploring possible solutions.
You will receive material to catalog your insights as you review companies who offer products that could solve your problem. You and your Sherpa will have a 15 minute check-in call to make sure everything is on track.
Day 4 is all about preparing to learn.
You will receive material that walks you through a process to tease out hypotheses about your problem. You will pick the most important one, then figure out how to quickly test it. Your Sherpa will be available via email to answer questions.
Day 5 is all about telling your story.
You will take everything done so far and fit it into your Lessons Learned Brief, adjusting it as necessary so the story feels natural for you. Your Sherpa will be available for 30 minutes before the video conference call to do a dry run of the brief, and to answer any final questions.
Introduction to Problem Curation
Problem Curation Workbook
Lessons Learned Brief
Talking to Humans 1-pager
Beg, Borrow, Steal Tracker
Experiment Design Workbook
Now we're over the hump. It is totally clear whether you can thrive at BMNT, and in what role. The last step is spending some time face-to-face with the team you would be joining. You will need to reflect on your experiences so far and come prepared for a 2-day visit to one of our offices. This will include:
- Meeting as many BMNTers as you can
- Reviewing your Level IV experience with your Sherpa
- Your proposals for improving the screening process
- Wide-ranging discussions over meals and drinks
- Discussing compensation, benefits, start dates, et cetera
Goodness of Fit, Mutual Enthusiasm, and Individual Agency
As candidates go through the five levels, they are asked to embrace the three principles of our screening process:
Goodness of Fit, Mutual Enthusiasm, and Individual Agency
Goodness of Fit:
Based on what you know right now, are you and the current BMNT team aligned across all the major dimensions of personal and professional life?
Based on what you know right now, are you even more enthusiastic about joining BMNT than you were when you started the process?
It is your responsibility to know what's expected and play accordingly. The screening page contains the instructions for playing each level the game.
Using a traditional process based on resumes and interviews, we can determine 80th percentile fit. The first three levels of our process get us to that point, but can’t help after that. The only way to assess the subtle differences between the 80th and 95th percentile are by immersing you in a “real enough” BMNT environment, working on a real problem.
A final note: like everything we do, the screening process is also an experiment. We have significantly changed it at least a dozen times in the last few years. Don’t expect a smoothly running machine.
BMNT’s screening process reflects our commitment to finding the rare person who will thrive here. The way we think about thriving is as a 95th percentile fit. These are the rare folks who take action, emphasize learning over rote execution, work well in teams, are self-directed, and can adapt over time.
BMNT's Bank of Amazing Questions
Why should I work at BMNT?
What skill/point of view/background do you think BMNT is missing that I can fill in?
How does BMNT prioritize profit vs serving the customer?
What are the current company goals and how does this team work to support hitting those goals?
What’s the most creative way you or your team solved a tough problem for the government?
When did you understand the importance of BMNT's work?
What is the most powerful thing you've learned working at BMNT?
What is a surprising source of creative insight that you’ve had while working with BMNT?
What do you think is that it takes to be successful and thrive at BMNT?
What is the most fulfilling task or project you've ever worked on?
What frustrates you the most about working at BMNT? Why?
These are challenging, thought-provoking tools for you to use throughout your career. Hopefully you find them useful!
Larry Smith's TEDx talk "Why You Will Fail to Have a Great Career"
Marc Andreessen's series "Guide to Career Planning"
Tim Urban's long-form blog "How to Pick a Career (that actually fits you)"
BMNT is an experiment, and that includes our screening process. Everything has to thread the needle between disciplined execution and bursts of creativity. Don't expect the process to be smooth. That said, please make sure to share feedback and recommendations as you play. We're always evolving!