In surviving and growing as a small business, Elizabeth Kwiat of Equation Research credits the company's success to its nimbleness, particularly in hiring, where it is able to respond to the "ebb and flow of business." Although full time employees can be hired through an interview without previously working with the company, oftentimes, this small Internet company adds employees on a contractual, project by project basis. A permanent position is created when managers are certain that the workload cannot be handled by existing employees. At that time, they ask "what skills do we need to build this company?" and hire appropriately. When a large survey project for US Airways needed additional help, the information technology contractor posted the need under "rent a coder" with vWorker, an Internet posting service, and that led to the hiring of Louis Bouchard.
A subcontracting relationship between Equation Research and Bouchard continued for several years and the company became familiar with Bouchard's work. When the company saw an increase and consistent flow in the demand for testing and programming, they approached Bouchard about a full time position. The experience satisfied the company's "need to see if they are right - tried and true as an employee," as one company manager describes it. They knew that he would be a good fit for the culture of this unique distributive company.
The company's usual practice is to post an ad online and then filter through the resumes and begin a series of interviews, all over the phone. First the interviews are one-on-one, and then, two or three people are teleconferencing. This process gives the hiring team a good understanding of how the candidate will function in the usual work mode of the company, since each person in the company works from home.
A key part of the process is to see how the person works with others, since the company is based on each person working to make all others on the team a success. The first 30-60 days are important to monitor the capabilities and performance and act accordingly if it's not working out. Kwiat believes that it is important that managers move quickly to end the relationship before "there is too much invested on either side."
Those who hire for Equation Research do check out references but do not put a lot of weight in them unless something of concern is raised during the checks. They find the most valuable question to ask is whether someone would hire this person again. A quick, energetic positive response is as telling as a hesitant, reluctant response.
This company does not grant informational interviews because of its geographic dispersion.
Currently the company has progressed to the point where any new employees will need to be highly experienced in market research, since they have few beginning research work projects where the employee could learn as he or she worked.