The search for employment is unpredictable and demands unrelenting patience. When you're at your wit's end, it can be tempting to send the same exact resume to what feels like the same job ad over and over again. However, no two firms are identical. Possessing certain technical skills are required across the industry, but there are particular qualities and red flags that a firm won't always simply list on their job ad. In Archinect's “How To Get A Job At ____”, we asked some architecture firms how candidates can stand out from the crowd when applying to their practice.
The challenge in designing holistic environments with mass appeal is what drives Eight Inc., a team of more than 170 strategic designers and business creatives who work across 12 studios in three continents. Having worked with clients like Apple, Tesla Motors, the Oslo National Museum of Art, and Virgin Atlantic Airways, Eight Inc. knows a thing or two about what makes people tick.
Without a doubt, creating environments revolving around human experience reflects Eight Inc.'s very own office culture. When it comes to hiring, what do they seek the most in their most promising job candidates? From Eight Inc.'s San Francisco headquarters, Principal Mark Little and Chief Human Resources Officer Jil Kobe took a moment with Archinect to share.
1. What positions are most in-demand at your firm?
Junior, Mid-Level and Senior Designers, in both Environments and Communications.
2. What are the three most important qualities for any new hire to have at your firm?
Self-motivation, talent, ambition.
3. What information do you expect potential candidates to know about your firm's practice and work?
We would expect them to know some background knowledge on our firm or projects either by word of mouth, our website, articles, and videos and knowing our past client work.
4. After reviewing their CV, what are you looking to learn about an applicant from an interview?
It’s very important that they demonstrate passion about their work and approach to design. We like to learn about the things that interest them outside of the workplace, what have been the most formative experiences in their lives. One of the most telling questions is what have they liked or disliked about previous employers?
Beyond the interview, if we are considering someone for a position, we like to check references, both personal and professional, to get another perspective on the candidate.
5. What do you say is the best thing about working for your firm? What is the most challenging thing?
The basic premise we started the firm with was to create an environment that allows us to do what we love, create the best quality work and make a reasonable income. This approach allows us to attract the best quality and most talented individuals. The best thing about working with our firm is the cultural diversity, camaraderie, respect and expertise amongst our staff.
We intend to provide a studio that is limited sufficiently in size to maintain quality work and increase the association of Eight Inc. with the best in individual categories. Here at 8 we believe the simplest expression of an idea is often the most sophisticated, and this is reflected at our very core in the way the organization is structured.
We can achieve the capacity for projects by extending tasks laterally to our partner offices, which can be challenging at times, but ultimately produces the extraordinary results we expect to achieve.
6. What are some immediate “red flags” for you in applications?
Multiple short stints at companies, weak references and poor presentation of design work.
7. What’s the most common mistake candidates make when applying to work with you?
Poor presentation of their work. Not necessarily the verbal presentation, but the way people visually present their work says a lot about their talents and approach to design.
8. What kind of technical skills are absolutely essential for applicants?
We would rather someone have excellent design talents and a passion for learning than any specific technical skill.
9. What kind of training do new hires undergo when they’re first starting?
We hire experienced, skilled and professional individuals, with a ‘can do’ nurturing spirit and with proven success in working closely with clients and external agencies to manage and influence extraordinary, profitable work. Our business success comes from cross-office, cross-discipline collaboration. Our strength comes from each individual's ability to both teach and learn from each other, our clients and our partners. We hire individuals that have the skills necessary for the work they will be producing, as well as teaching them the existing tools and resources we already have in place to collaborate with global team members.
10. Do you have an internship program? If so, briefly describe.
We do not have a specific internship program, but we encourage interns to apply, and usually hire a summer intern in each office every year for different skill sets, depending on project needs and what new and unique point of view they could bring to the company.
11. What are three words that your employees might use to describe your firm?
Unique, Challenging and Quality
12. When interviewing, how do you describe your company ethos? What part of your working environment do you promote with potential candidates?
We design meaningful experiences. Experiences with emotion and purpose that change the way people think, feel and do.
One of the most significant characteristics of our company and approach to design is the way we collaborate on projects. Our project teams are a rich tapestry of talent and viewpoints. Our studio environment enables us to leverage the multi-faceted talents of our various team members and work efficiently and effectively across time zones and professional disciplines. The result is a body of work that successfully embodies and contributes to our client’s philosophy and strategic business goals.
13. What additional social activities do you do as an office?
We like to do team building outings such as museums and exhibit visits, happy hours and other unique experiences. Our staff become more than just colleagues, they build relationships.
14. If a candidate had the choice between you and another firm, what argument would you use to win them over?
We always like to point out that no two projects are the same at Eight Inc. Each client brings unique challenges and we bring unique solutions to each project. That’s not to say we have to reinvent the wheel every time, but it brings a dynamic nature to the studio and the work that many other firms can’t offer. That makes some candidates uneasy, but the type of people we like tend to thrive in that kind of environment. We also stress the importance of having our team members contribute and feel ownership on a project from concept design through completion. We know this can be a big differentiator as many firms tend to pigeon-hole their employees.
15. Which areas of your firm are growing the fastest?
Communications, Digital and Strategy work
16. How do you see your firm growing in the next five years?
In the last 5 years, we have been growing extremely fast, opening our most recent studios in Dubai and now currently expanding in China.