Published in Notion HQ

How Notion hires

By Maryanne Brown Caughey

Chief People Officer, Notion

3 min read

When I became Notion’s Chief People Officer years ago, the company had just over 50 employees. Now, we have more than 500 engineers, designers, account executives, marketers, and other professionals spread across our offices in Dublin, Hyderabad, New York, San Francisco, Seoul, and Tokyo.

How far we go as a company depends on the quality of team we assemble and the culture we foster. Hiring exceptional talent is one of the most impactful activities for anyone working at Notion.

We strive for Notion to be a lasting company where employees can look back and say they did some of their best and most meaningful work; where they find their eudaemonia — their fulfillment, flow state, and growth.

An illustration of a handshake

To create this vision we care deeply about how Notion hires.

We’ve always been intentional about how quickly we choose to scale headcount at Notion. We don’t hire just to meet a headcount number - recruiting done well is not a sport. If a candidate doesn’t meet our craft + values bar, we pass. The talent we hire today impacts the company we build in the years to come.

Who Notion Hires

Craft: We strive to hire exceptional talent that takes their craft seriously. There is a fine line between good and exceptional. We look for teammates who intrinsically give their best, and continuously work to perfect what they’re already great at.

  • For an engineer, it’s someone who proactively provides input on technical, product or business decisions for the team. Someone who has exemplary knowledge and best practices in their domain, and constantly improves on existing processes to enable others to work together more effectively.

  • For a recruiter, it’s someone who wants to ensure we’re hiring only the best talent for Notion. Someone who has perfected the art of sourcing, provides a white-glove candidate experience, and is a thought partner to their hiring team.

  • For a CX member, it’s someone who puts our users first and thinks of new and innovate ways for us to support our users at scale. We look for people who care deeply about all parts of the customer journey, and create solutions to any opportunities that are identified.

Values: Our values are both simple and intentionally challenging: we are drivers of our mission, we are pace setters, we are truth seekers, and my personal favorite — we are kind and direct. We look for these values in all prospective colleagues. These values are a shared contract for how we want to work together as a collective team. If we do a good job, we can be confident in our everyday interactions — from decision making, to building the best product for our customers, and even to interviewing our future teammates.

How Notion Hires

  • Look for excellence: We hire exceptional talent. Special talent is positively compounding: when you hire someone great it makes it easier to hire more great people. Every interviewer should feel the weight of each hire we make; it can change Notion’s trajectory in either a positive or negative direction.

  • Maintain a rigorous process: We run a thorough process that ensures we get comprehensive signals on candidates before moving to the offer stage. If we have open questions, we take the time to resolve them before moving onto the offer stage. An important component of this rigor is references. We believe that references are a strong predictor of success at Notion, not just an exercise in checking the box.

  • Keep it conversational: The best interviews are two-way conversations, not interrogations. Candidates should feel a human connection with us. We want to have an honest conversation, authentic to who we are at Notion, so each side can figure out if there is truly a long-term match. We’ve created interview guides for every role to give people a sneak peek into our process and ensure there are no surprises.

Our CEO and founder, Ivan Zhao, is involved in the hiring process for almost every role, which continues to be important as the company scales. His questions dig at the core of what’s important to Notion: does the candidate excel in their craft? Do they share our company values? Have we conducted a fair, rigorous interview process?

Ivan invests this time because he deeply believes it’s the people who will take Notion to its full potential. He sees a direct correlation between our ability to attract and grow the world’s best talent, and our aspiration to build the world’s best products.

That’s an incredible gift — of time, of perspective, of standard-bearing. It’s one all of us on the People team seek to keep front of mind every day.

We hope that sharing our hiring philosophy inspires you and gives you insight into our recruiting process. Want to work together? Apply for our open roles here.

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