Experience isn’t everything.
Alex Schleifer, Airbnb’s VP of design, spoke to Matt McCue at 99U about how the company — which was founded by friends who graduated from Rhode Island School of Design — builds its team.
When McCue asked Schleifer about the thought process behind adding a former librarian, a mechanic, a therapist, and more employees with seemingly irrelevant backgrounds to the design team at Airbnb, Schleifer answered:
“It enriches the design and gives us more empathy as we bring in people with the ability to think through problems with different points of views. Part of what we do when we recruit is to look for potential rather than work experience, and that has served us well. Looking in unconventional places brings unconventional thinkers and those always add to the mix. We design for everyone, and that needs to be represented.”
He went on to say that the skills of the trade, the tools, and the process can be taught, but new employees have to be good at the craft. “We provide structure,” he said. “We provide an opportunity to work with a product with millions of users. We provide training. All of that stuff. What we want people to bring to the table is their craft and their ambition.”
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