September 7, 2022
May 6, 2020

Our approach to hiring new talent at The Gradient

Denys Skrypnyk

Attracting and retaining great people is something that we at The Gradient think is critical for building a sustainable business. But hiring as a small agency is different from how it’s done at big companies and requires a fundamentally different approach. We are building a world-class agency so our recipe for success is hiring RIGHT. We want to work with people who share the same excitement and passion as we do — individuals who are excited about building meaningful products, platforms, and solutions.

To do that, we keep our hiring bar high. From crafting job descriptions and building candidate pipelines to drafting interview questions and test tasks, every step requires careful consideration and time investments.

Because hiring well is important for us as an agency, we want you to understand the nuts and bolts of our hiring process. Even if our approach might seem complicated and sophisticated, we want to be transparent about it to make sure our potential candidates know what to expect from it. We don’t want to miss out on hiring that great person!

Although there is no checklist of all the things a candidate needs for us to hire them, we are happy to tell more about our approach to work and what we are looking for in people. In this article, we will share our main values as a team at The Gradient, what we look for in the candidates, and why it matters to us.

The Gradient office

The key to good hiring starts with setting up company values

We believe the company and the candidate need to be aligned along three dimensions: values, motivation, and skill-set. Often, companies tend to focus only on skills and experience, but in that case, hiring becomes just matching a list of skills with what’s listed in the job description. Skills do matter for sure, but we think finding out who the candidate is as a person is hugely important, what motivates them, and if our values resonate with them. And if they’re not motivated by our mission or they don’t identify with our values, that’s a no-go for us.

The Gradient was founded by three colleagues just about four years ago, one of the first steps for founders was to identify what our values are since they ultimately guide our team. Our values and work principles help us make decisions about strategy, design, and how we work and collaborate as a team. Altogether, our mission, values, and work principles inform and guide our daily work.

It is very important in our hiring process to have a two-way conversation about how the candidate and we could work together if our values are compatible. Communication and personal qualities are very important for us as a small team.

Our core values at The Gradient are:

  1. Move fast and iterate
  2. Be brave
  3. Stay curious
  4. Care
  5. Work effectively
  6. Produce amazing work

A strong culture, a system of values, and hiring principles help us make good hiring decisions while eliminating bias and to repel people who aren’t a good fit.

Design Director at The Gradient

What to expect from the process


So, you’ve applied online on our website, find our open vacancies on social media or popular hiring websites and What’s next?

First, as you apply it is important to include your CV/resume, link to portfolio, and a cover letter; links to your social media profiles would be a plus. Second, if everything mentioned above is done right, you can expect an email from our HR manager asking you to book an interview with us.

Culture fit interview

On the first call or meeting, we’d love to get to know you and your background. The main goal of this conversation is to discuss role-related questions and generally understand your aspirations and experience. This is also your perfect chance to learn more about The Gradient culture and processes. Please, prepare your questions too and ask as many as you’d like.

Portfolio review

For the next stage, we will invite you to our office to talk with our agency partners. A portfolio review is focused on your design experience. We’ll ask you to show your real hard skills and experience with various design disciplines and types of projects. No fancy case studies and Dribbble shots, just real design deliverables.

Test task

Different people work in different ways, so this step of the process is designed to fit around your working style, your design process, and how you approach quality in your work. We’ll ask you to lead us through your design task, your process, and present the results. Our goal is to have a two-way discussion that helps us learn about your design practice. We’ll want to understand how you approached the problem, worked with constraints and how you consider what success could look like.

Designer works at The Gradient

What we are looking for in people

In one of our previous blog posts, we talked about how our product teams are composed of individual contributors with complementary skills. Generally, in our recruitment process we are looking for people:

  • t-shaped professionals with a diverse set of skills
  • people focused on solving real-life business problems

If we talk about hard skills, we are looking for T-shaped people, for example, a designer who can not only design UI but also complete a business, user, and competitor research, who understands that the interface is much more than just a number of buttons.

We are looking for people who have the ambition to grow as the company grows. If they have that drive, then they’ll want to tackle various problems and work on different types of projects. Denys Skrypnyk, CEO at The Gradient

As for soft skills, most crucial for us are good communication, adaptability, and openness to feedback.

We need to understand how a person works with problems, how much he understands the market and trends, knows how to work with information. For designers, it is very important for us that he delve into and understand the client’s business, as this is a service business and our ultimate goal is to solve the business problem.

The Gradient office


Our meticulous hiring process ultimately benefits both the candidate and us as a company, as we have more time and different points of contact to get to know each other better, find out the various nuances in work and communication. Additionally, through this process, we understand the strengths and weaknesses of the candidate and can determine what areas for growth should be included in their OKRs.

After the successful interviewing process, all new employees start their three month testing period, during which they meet every month with agency Partners and HR manager and exchange feedback.

We hope it serves as a guide to our values and can be helpful for new candidates who are looking for work with us. If one of our current open roles excites you and puts your skills to good use, let us know!

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions about our work at The Gradient, we’ll be happy to answer them!

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About author
Denys Skrypnyk
Denys is a Founding Partner & CEO at The Gradient.

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