Pinterest, the image-centric discovery site most recently valued at more than $10 billion, looks for employees that know how to knit.
Not like with yarn — though you can find plenty of that on the site — but with ideas.
The word “knitting” is Pinterest’s core value, representing the belief that invention happens when people connect two or more divergent points of view.
“We look for people who have more interests than time,” cofounder Evan Sharp tells Business Insider. “I don’t want that to sound exhausting or like we’re looking for ‘Type A’ employees who have a million things on their resume. It’s just people who are broadly, genuinely curious about the world and have that sort of ‘liberal artsy’ point of view and set of values.”
The company encouraged employees to show off this quality quite literally last week, when it flew in its people from all over the world for an event called “Knit Con” where they could lead sessions on their secret talents, including makeup tips, bow-tying skills, game theory, cocktail creation, and how to make browser extensions.
The celebration, which Sharp describes as an “analogue version of Pinterest,” gave people a change to discover a new hobby or idea, but it also played into the idea of getting people from different divisions or offices to come together and interact in new ways.
When hiring, the company looks for people who crave collaboration between divisions, because its designers and engineers work together very closely.
“The trick for us [when hiring] is how do we find the people who are of course exceptionally talented at their job — like the very, very best designers — but then also aren’t just interested in design, who are curious about other things and uses those as an input to their work,” Sharp says.
This year, the company is focused on international expansion and “making the basics great,” which Sharp admits isn’t the sexiest sounding goal, but an important one. And like with the product revamp, it will require a lot of idea cohesion and hard work.
“Knitting two things together can be very painful. Because there is often tension between the two different points of view — someone wants to do something one way, and a second person wants to do it a second way,” he says. “Truly knitting those two things together takes a lot of confrontation and directness and debate. … If people aren’t interested in that kind of collaboration, they probably aren’t a fit for us.”
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