A Look Inside ArborBridge: Our Hiring Process

To give prospective employees a better sense of ArborBridge, I thought it would be helpful to describe the hiring process in as much detail as possible.

Hiring is the most important thing we do at ArborBridge - if we get it right, everything else falls into place, so we are very conscientious about how we evaluate candidates and who we ask to join our team. I am thankful every day that some of the brightest and most ambitious people in the test prep industry choose to work at ArborBridge, and we only elevate this standard over time.

As a result, hiring at ArborBridge is incredibly competitive. Over the life of the company, about 1-2% of candidates have received offers. We pay very well, offer stock options and bonuses, have an exciting, ambitious, and fun work culture with a flexible schedule, and we’re doing some of the most innovative things in the world of test prep and online education (see the ArborBridge SAT Curriculum as an example.)

The Hiring Process at ArborBridge

Here are the various stages and the thought process behind them. Stages can change slightly depending on the role, but this is the general layout. After each stage, only the candidates who have performed the strongest and seem the best fit for our work culture are asked to move onto the next stage.

Stage 1: Basic Resume and Cover Letter Screen

  1. Do you have a strong academic pedigree? While your intelligence is not defined by where you went to college, it is important at ArborBridge. The families we work with are motivated and high achieving – our clients must have confidence that we understand their plight (and have also been successful ourselves in the mission at hand). We want our clients to know that once upon a time, all of us on the ArborBridge team were also hard-working high school students, grinding out good grades, trying to maximize our SAT scores, and nervously applying to top universities.
  2. Does your professional experience “make sense?" Based on your career history, does working at ArborBridge in the role for which you are applying seem like a reasonable next data point on your career timeline? We also look at the cover letter very closely to make sense of this (as well as your writing skills and attention to detail).

Stage 2: Self Video Interview

This is a 10-15 minute video interview that you will do by yourself through our hiring software. We are looking for three things:

  1. You can articulate where you’ve been, where you are, where you’re going, and why this particular role at ArborBridge fits perfectly with that narrative. It sounds simple, but most candidates really struggle with connecting these dots because a) this job isn’t actually the right fit for them, or b) they haven’t taken the time to understand the company and the role. We want people who are burning to work at ArborBridge and excited to build an amazing company with us, not someone who just wants a job and thinks this could work (and your cover letter should articulate this as well). My primary advice for anyone applying to any job is to know exactly why you want that specific job, at that specific company, and to be able to articulate this viewpoint. If you can really answer that question for yourself, and believe your answer, the interview process tends to go smoothly because your authenticity and professionalism shines through.
  2. You have the appropriate domain expertise for the role. If you’re going to be developing curriculum, you got over a 2300 on the SAT, and you’ve tutored at least 50 students. If you’re working in marketing or business development, you love people, you’re an engaging speaker, and you deeply understand our industry and segment of the market.
  3. You may fit into our office culture. You have interests and passions. You are friendly, funny, and lively. You are ambitious and thoughtful. You’re a natural team player. You have a strong EQ. You don’t take yourself too seriously. You express yourself confidently, but you don’t talk endlessly.

Stage 3: Preliminary Skills Test

We bring you into our office for a closer look. This interview is probably 60-90 minutes, and generally consists of 2-3 exercises to test out your actual abilities in areas relevant to your role and to further assess the three items covered in the phone interview. There is little conversation at this stage, because we are all about “showing," not “telling," and before we or you expend too much energy in the interview process, we want to know that you can do high-quality work.

Stage 4: Basic Interview

We bring you into the office again for a more traditional interview, which last about 60-90 minutes, and goes into more depth about topics covered in Stages 1-3.

Stage 5: The "Gauntlet"

The Gauntlet is a 3-4 hour final interview during which we go through a wider variety of 8-12 exercises that are further reflective of the work you will do on the job. Throughout the course of the interview, you’ll work with various members of our team, and we’ll do some scattered Q&A, with a longer Q&A at the end. We have multiple team members interview serious candidates so there is a more comprehensive evaluation from different perspectives and skill sets.

This process both allows us to see the quality of the work you do and how you deal with tight time constraints. It gives us a general sense for your work style, and it also gives you an idea of what kind of work you will be doing and the people you’ll be doing it with. We don’t want surprises on either end, for you or for us.

On the whole, we ask very few “tell me about a time when…” questions that reward candidates who can speak most eloquently about themselves. Fundamentally, we want to hire people who work hard, work smart, are funny and easy going, and perhaps most of all, who are humble. "Pride without ego" is one of our mantras. We would happily hire someone who speaks glowingly about their teammates, but is more reserved when singing their own praises.

Every company does the hiring process differently, and we are constantly looking to improve. We would love to hear how other people hire, if they are open to sharing.

And if you, or someone you know, is interested in working at ArborBridge, check out our careers page and especially our team page to see if you might be a good fit. If you think you are, please don’t hesitate to reach out to andrew@arborbridge.com, even if we have no active job postings. We’re committed to building a team of the best and brightest professionals in the test prep industry, and we are always on the lookout for talented tutors, curriculum developers, sales people, client relations and program managers, software engineers, and those who work in marketing and business development.

Andrew Finn

About Andrew Finn

Andrew graduated with high distinction from University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and co-founded ArborBridge in 2007. A former consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Andrew is committed to bringing the excellence of an elite professional services firm to world of test prep and academic tutoring.

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