Designer Jon Nguyen on showing respect to candidates during the hiring process

Jonathan Nguyen profile photo

You’ve heard it all before, “Why I left Company ABC” or “Why I joined Company XYZ.” We’re here to change the way you think about why people leave or join companies. In this new series, we’ll be talking to our newest team members about what made Poll Everywhere different, and what drove them to look for a change. For the inaugural interview, I sat down with our most recent addition to our growing design team: our visual designer, Jonathan Nguyen.

Courtney Rogin: So, tell me a little about your role here at Poll Everywhere.

Jonathan Nguyen: Well, I’m the visual designer. I’m responsible for anything that you would consume when interacting with the company: advertising, content, anything that we put out into the world.

CR: How did you make visual design your career?

JN: To start from the beginning, I always had a knack for something creative. I started out learning about fine art – drawing, sculpture – and there was something that always drew me to design. There was a natural inclination toward design that I possessed before I even knew what “design as a career” truly was.

And, thankfully, there’s a design school in Florida, which is where I completed my undergraduate studies in graphic design. I was pretty blessed to go to design school, which is part luck and part hard work. I made a lot of connections, and it set a lot of groundwork for my design career.

I knew nothing about Poll Everywhere at first, though how I was treated was just such a stark difference.
– Jonathan Nguyen

But your drive and dedication to the craft, and your interest in it, is what’s really important. Nowadays, you can pick up a book and download a program; a formal education is no longer required. In my case, I found school super helpful, but someone else’s path may be completely different.

Either way, you really don’t know what a design career entails until you start actually working in design. I started with a product internship, which meshed my passion of design and my love of California’s weather and people.

CR: You’ve been in contact with PE for a long time relative to a typical hiring process, can you talk about that process?

JN: Poll Everywhere has been such a strange experience for me in the best way. Overall, I interviewed three different times for three different positions. Looking back at it, it was very organic how the relationship developed. What drew me to the company was how I was treated even in the most preliminary efforts, even in the screening interview.

I knew nothing about Poll Everywhere at first, though how I was treated was just such a stark difference. Coming from contracting and staffing agencies, they just didn’t have the same level of respect, which is very rigid and automated – lacking friendliness.

The lesson learned here for me was to follow your gut. I wouldn’t say to chase money or a title or fixate on a certain type of work you want to do, I think that’s most important.

CR: What attracted you to the company initially? What kept your interest?

JN: My feeling toward the company, which set a precedent for the future. The first time I interviewed, I didn’t choose Poll Everywhere, but I had such a good experience. When I called the recruiter to notify her that I would not be moving forward with PE, I felt my decision was respected. I was not poked or prodded with invasive questions. She wanted to stay connected, we did, and now here we are. How my decision was dealt with spoke to me in a certain way that made me want to come back.

When I interviewed the second time, I wanted to re-establish that connection, and I was super bummed when I didn’t get an offer the second time. Looking back at it, it was all necessary to get to where I am now – experience under the belt. Third time’s the charm.

CR: What do you look for when looking to make a job move?

JN: Specifically for Poll Everywhere, I wasn’t looking to move at the time. It was serendipitous. It happened in a way I didn’t expect it to. However, I start to look around when I feel like I’m not being challenged creatively in the work, or challenged by the people I work with. In design, there’s always a need for constant feedback, it really takes a toll on your output. That’s something that affects me and would cause me to look for a job.

CR: What sold you on PE?

JN: What sold me was the dedication and emphasis on the hiring process. If that amount of effort went into hiring someone, making sure that person is a good fit, I want to be able to do my job that well for the company.

CR: What made the hiring process unique and different than other ones you’ve seen?

JN: It was such a unique experience in getting hired here. I’ve never had the same level of respect at any other place through the hiring process. I met with a lot of people, and got to know them. I imagined myself here and being really challenged.

You could be doing the most awesome work of your life, but you don’t connect with anyone. That’s super important.
– Jonathan Nguyen

In most companies, you have complete design challenges. It goes something like this: you get a brief, you’re asked to have it completed within a certain timeframe, you go in for an onsite and present your project and it is judged accordingly.

This is where PE has stood out for me to really highlight their design team and design process. I wasn’t given a random brief to work on by myself. The design challenge was a multi-step iterative working session broken into 3 parts. So much of design is often whittled down to the final output, leaving out the really important stuff. Having the opportunity to be able to show rough ideas and iterate on them with the team I would be joining added context and meaning to something trivial like a design challenge.

CR: You’ve been at PE several weeks now. What’s been your favorite thing about the company, role, or people?

JN: I’m really enjoying the collective experience. There is a very specific culture here, and that’s why the hiring process was so in depth. It really speaks to the type of person who comes to work here. And that makes me feel part of a team that is very people-oriented.

CR: What’s working on our design team like?

JN: What I was really craving was a team that would be very open and growing; they accept that not everything is right and that there are flaws. However, they’d be able to look at it objectively and say that, “this is what could be improved.” With creative work, there’s a stereotype that we’re sensitive, but coming on to the team here, there’s room for critique and feedback. What I’ve seen so far is pretty open in terms of the design process.

That wraps up our first team interview in our new series. If you’re a designer and you’re looking for a new adventure, we’re expanding our design team this year. Head over to our Careers page to learn more about the open roles and apply.

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