Forget the Resume: Enjoying the Benefits of a Nontraditional Hiring Process

By Nathan Hughes on October 12th, 2015 / Comments

Identifying and retaining high quality candidates is a struggle for most companies. At Detroit Labs, we have developed a unique hiring process based on whole team collaboration that addresses both concerns. Our approach to hiring focuses on an individual’s potential, and provides an exciting example of how to find success by creating an innovative process that capitalizes on your organization’s unique characteristics.

Our organization includes our team members in all of our hiring decisions. Team members are integral to the Detroit Labs recruiting, interviewing, and selection process. This makes them active and engaged participants with final say over which candidates move forward in the hiring process. Making our team members a part of the process is also the best way to select and identify the best candidates. Their insights and feedback provide a more nuanced view of applicants than any individual hiring manager could realistically achieve.

The fact that our hiring process is a little different becomes clear right away, when candidates discover that we do not ask them to submit a resume. Instead, we ask potential hires to fill out a questionnaire with a detailed set of questions (tailored for the role being applied for) designed to help us get to know them better. The answers to those questions provide more insight than any resume could. We ask our employees to help us review and discuss these questionnaires and vote on which candidates will advance to the next stage in the interview process. All of our applicants receive ratings from current team members, and only the applicants who score the highest on that scale are considered.

After this screening process we then invite the applicant in for a first interview. This is our chance to sit down with each candidate and get a better sense of how they will be able to contribute to and improve Detroit Labs. After a successful first interview, the candidate comes back for a technical interview. For instance, this could be a coding exercise for developers, and often includes simulated meetings or other scenarios (complete with role-playing and other realistic elements). No one is offered a job at Detroit Labs without demonstrating how they actually perform the specific required skills of the role for which they are applying.

A key goal of our interview process is to identify future potential, rather than simply sign off on a checklist of skillsets and accomplishments. The technology we use changes rapidly and we would much rather hire someone with the ability to innovate, adapt, and demonstrate creativity than someone who happens to have a grasp of today’s coding languages. We need great people, not great resumes.

Our hiring process is designed to create sustainable professional success by finding and hiring great people. While many organizations claim to believe in that same basic principle, we have taken steps to make certain that our company is shaped by it. Our collaborative approach ensures that our team has direct input into who they work with and our work is significantly stronger because of that dynamic. The fact that our team members participate in the hiring process helps make them more invested in each other’s success. It creates an organic and foundational sense of cohesion and teamwork that is impossible to fake.

It is probably not a coincidence that our turnover rate is exceptionally low. Fewer than 10 full-time team members have left our company since we founded Detroit Labs in spring 2011. We do not claim to have all the answers, but we feel strongly that our example supports the notion that nontraditional hiring processes can provide a dramatic and defining source of strength and professional success in today’s competitive marketplace.

Hear Nathan Hughes discuss more details on hiring and building an innovative culture at High Growth Happy Hour this Wednesday, 6-8pm. 


About the Author

Nathan Hughes

Nathan Hughes

Nathan Hughes serves as co-founder of Detroit Labs, a Detroit-based mobile development company and maker of iPhone, iPad, Android, and vehicle apps. The firm has partnered with national brands like Domino’s Pizza, General Motors, DTE Energy, and Hyundai to dream up, design, and build beautiful, intuitive apps. For more information, visit