Kim Tran has been around the block more than once when it comes to hiring great people.
She has more than 19 years of HR experience across the social, technology, and mobile industries—from large established brands to early-stage startups. She’s held senior HR roles at Google and Cisco and been instrumental in the growth and development of teams at successful startups such as Skype and Wildfire Interactive. Now, she works as the Chief People Officer at Symphony—a cloud-based company offering a secure and compliant communications and workflow platform for clients around the world—helping to grow the company from a small-but-mighty startup to a globally recognized brand (and an awesome employer).
Oh, and she wants to tell you how to get a job.
We chatted with Tran to get some insight into what she looks for in strong candidates, why you should consider working for a small tech company like Symphony, and—job seekers listen up—how you can land a great gig there.
What are three things you look for in every new hire, regardless of role?
Personality is a big one: They have the right mindset, desire, and cultural fit. We try to ask a few unexpected and untraditional questions to understand how candidates act when they have to think on their feet—and when there isn’t a clear, or “right” answer. What we’re building here at Symphony is a game changer, so there is no model to follow. We need everyone on the team to be comfortable with forging uncharted paths.
As part of that, I need to see incredible drive. Everyone who works for a fast-paced tech company like Symphony has to be a self starter, has to be hungry, be thirsty, be curious. When you are building something brand new, you need someone who asks questions with a take-charge attitude, rather than an order-taker. That’s how we’ll ultimately make Symphony great.
Finally, everyone I hire should have a high amount of credibility—or, battle scars and beauty marks of what they’ve done in the past to prove what they can do now and in the future to pave our way to success. While experience listed on resumes matters, I find that probing in interviews to really understand the depth of what candidates have done in the past is the best way to understand credibility. So be ready to talk!
What’s a standout application you still remember?
A few years ago, I received a one-page resume that I still think about. It sounds standard, but far too often I get long resumes filled with errors. I was blown away at how well it demonstrated the individual’s impact throughout her career in a succinct way—using metrics to shed light on her achievements. It was a nice representation providing a clear, concise snapshot of this individual’s growth within the scope of her function—a career path starting as a contributor to leading a team of 400 plus.
I’d encourage anyone putting together an application to really think about what is critical to communicate and then edit out the fluff.
What are some mistakes you see candidates making?
I’ve seen so many promising candidates make very basic mistakes! For instance:
- Overselling themselves and being arrogant. I’ve had a few candidates ask me to sell the company to them too early in the process. Deal breaker!
- Showing up late without a legitimate excuse. Running behind is one thing—we’ve all dealt with unexpectedly bad traffic—but being late and not offering an apology is something I can’t overlook.
- Seeming distracted or disheveled. I’ve had candidates who spend the interview on their phone or looking away, or who act differently toward different interviewers (i.e., men versus women). Major turn off for me, and for Symphony.
Remember: The impression you make during the interview will determine the outcome. My recommendation is come prepared, do your research, present yourself confidently without arrogance, and be thoughtful. Most importantly, be yourself.
Why is Symphony such an amazing place to work?
Our motto is work hard, make a difference, and have fun. You will be drinking out of a fire hose here but your footprints and fingerprints will be part of history, and you will be supported by your Symphony family! During long days we’ll eat together, run and cycle, and, of course, have fun—this is part of our core DNA.
Learn more about what it’s like to work at Symphony!
Symphony has a pretty small team right now. What are the benefits of being at the forefront of a company like this?
I joined Symphony when we had roughly 30 employees and have grown our team to more than 160 worldwide today. Being at the forefront (a.k.a. “the happening floor”) enables the team to choose the project they want to work on, something that will have a huge impact on the success of the product and company.
We are focused on building a secure and compliant workflow platform that brings together communications, community, and content in one application. As we continue to accelerate our growth globally, we are bringing individuals on board who will build trust and deliver the best product and service to improve our customers’ productivity.
What positions are you hiring most aggressively for at Symphony right now?
We are hiring aggressively across many functional roles, specifically in engineering, operations, business development, and sales at various locations around the world. Go to our careers page to learn more and apply!