How We Hire at CareerPlug

It’s our mission to help businesses attract, hire, and develop the right people. Part of living this mission is by following our own hiring advice and building a great hiring process. Our process has evolved over the years and will continue to change as we keep the conversation going, keep the feedback coming, and focus on creating exceptional experiences for both candidates and hiring managers. 

Let’s pull back the curtain on how we hire at CareerPlug, to provide insight into how a good hiring process works and the impact it can have on recruitment success. 

Who we hire 

As you design your hiring process, you’ll configure it based on your company’s needs and the type of positions for which you’re hiring. At CareerPlug, we typically hire for positions that require specialized training or industry expertise: Software Engineers, Partner Success Managers, and Client Consultants. 

Besides professional history, we always hire candidates who align with our core values. 

These are the four core values that we want every person on the team to exemplify: 

  • Be Kind
  • Speak Up, Step Up
  • Keep Growing
  • Work Together, Win Together 

Before posting the job

At the start of our hiring process, before the job is posted on the job boards, there are a few internal pre-hiring steps we follow: 

  1. Write an up-to-date job description
  2. Create an Ideal Candidate Profile (This is an exercise that helps us get really clear on who we are looking for to fill an open role.) 
  3. Submit a personnel requisition with departmental, HR, and leadership sign-off 

Our hiring process 

hiring process steps

We lay out our hiring process in this basic workflow: Review, Phone Screen, Assess, Interviews, Verify, and Offer. Since becoming fully remote in 2020, the entirety of our hiring process takes place virtually. Let’s touch on all of these stages in detail. 


Our hiring managers use this step to evaluate incoming applicants within our applicant tracking system (ATS) and decide whether or not to move them forward. We include four to five prescreen questions on the application asking about the most important information, usually about experience level in their field. 

Phone Screen

Hiring managers typically conduct a 15-20 minute phone screen with candidates, though candidates may also be speaking with a member of our HR team. Our phone screens have three parts: 

  1. Vetting basic qualifications for the role (Tell me what a typical day looks like in your current role?) 
  2. Discovering job preferences (What’s your ideal work environment or company culture?) 
  3. Time for the candidate to ask questions (We like candidates who do their research and ask thoughtful questions.) 


We use the personality and math/verbal assessments within our hiring software for many of our roles. Candidates spend 10-15 minutes on each assessment, and then we review the results with them during their first in-person interview. For some positions, like Software Engineers, we’ll do a job assessment more specific to the role, like a coding challenge. 

First interview

The first interview is led by the hiring manager with one or two co-interviewers — sometimes the department head and sometimes a peer from the team. This interview takes 60-90 minutes and will typically review the assessment results and dive deeper in a candidate’s experience through behavioral style questions (“Tell me about a time…”). 

Leadership interview 

Candidates that make it to the next stage of the hiring process meet with two or more members of our Leadership Team. Our team asks questions driven by our core values. Culture fit is non-negotiable for us, and the members of our Leadership Team are the final gatekeepers. This interview is also an opportunity for candidates to ask questions and learn about the company’s vision and strategy. 

Lifeline interview

The lifeline interview is my favorite interview, and is conducted in two parts. Part one looks back at a candidate’s resume, dividing their professional life into “chapters”. We ask questions like these: 

  • What happened during that chapter? 
  • Who was your manager and what was it like working for them? 
  • What were the highs/lows of that job? 
  • Why did you leave? 
  • What were your key takeaways or lessons learned?

Part two is a drawn-out variation of the question “Where do you see yourself in five years?” We like to understand a candidate’s career goals as well as some of their personal goals and values. This allows us to mutually decide with a candidate if the job at CareerPlug will help them fulfill their aspirations. 

For both career and life (anything outside of work-life that people are comfortable sharing), we ask: What does “awesome” look like in this category in the next five years? How do you envision this happening? How would you feel if you achieved this? 

We typically share our screen and write notes from this interview, with the interviewer (usually myself or another member of the HR team) documenting as the candidate answers. We close the interview by asking, “Given what you know about this job and CareerPlug, can you see yourself accomplishing these goals with us?” 


We wrap up our hiring process with a few more internal steps. First, we always conduct a reference check for final stage candidates, aiming for three with a strong preference for past supervisors. 

We also do an internal step we call the Candidate Defense. This is where it all comes together. From the Ideal Candidate Profile and job description to the assessments and interview notes, the hiring manager gathers everything and presents the candidate to our leadership team. 

The hiring manager makes the case for why this person is the right fit for the role. We share our feedback, ask probing questions, and sometimes play devil’s advocate. This is designed for the hiring manager to feel confident in their hire and ensure they’ve evaluated everything most important to the role. 


Finally, we give the candidate an offer. We try to do this in a virtual meeting so we can present the full offer and be there for their reactions and questions. We believe in leading with our best offer and don’t negotiate with candidates. This helps us stay equitable as well as have early, transparent conversations about compensation (we include compensation on all job postings!) so we don’t get blindsided at this stage. 

After the offer is accepted, we do a criminal background check through Universal Background (a platform integrated with our ATS).

What candidates think of our hiring process

We take our hiring seriously, and it can feel intense on paper (and sometimes in practice). However, overwhelmingly we hear from candidates that they love our process.

Hiring for a company that provides hiring software is a unique position, but it makes all of us put that much more commitment and care into our hiring and treat it as a priority. The result has been a team of dedicated, hard-working people who live our core values and have helped us build one of the best places to work. 

Keeping the candidate experience at the forefront has helped protect our process from becoming burdensome. One way to do this is to share your hiring process with applicants upfront. We share this video of me explaining our hiring steps on our careers page and link to it in the automatic thank you email applicants receive after applying: 

Take action 

  • Document your current hiring process, including what candidates can expect at each step. Consider making this a public-facing document that you share with applicants before they apply.
  • Ask yourself: What’s one thing that could be improved in your hiring process to create a better experience for hiring managers or candidates?  
  • Identify steps in your hiring process that various hiring managers handle differently. Brainstorm ways to add consistency to your hiring process so all candidates get a similar experience. For example, you might create interview question templates or create guidelines about how many of your team members should be present during interviews.
  • Consider using an Applicant Tracking System that automates various steps of your hiring process and helps you communicate with clients more easily through text recruiting and email templates. 

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Hiring is hard, but partnering with us makes it easier. From posting jobs to scheduling interviews, CareerPlug allows you to automate certain parts of the process to improve your results and save you time.



Once you think you have found the right person, use our reference and background check resources to verify them. Then, send an electronic offer letter from CareerPlug to close the deal!



Use our prescreen questions and assessments to identify the best applicants. Then use our interview questions and scorecards to evaluate for the right things consistently.



Use our notifications and automations to be the first to respond to qualified applicants. Send texts and emails from directly from CareerPlug to convert applicants to scheduled interviews.



Use our templates to create an attractive careers page and job posting. Then promote it through our job board partners, as well as directly with your employees, customers, and social network.


Brandy Lee

Business Intelligence Manager

Eric Morales

Manager of Account Executives

Kirsten Penaloza

Director of Client Experience

Zach Garcia

Senior Manager of Operations

Tulay Solak

HR Manager

Tyler Berndsen

Manager of Partnership Account Executives

Ashley Johnson

Senior Manager of Partner Services

Originally from small town in central Texas, Ashley Johnson graduated from Texas State University in 2013 with a degree in Business Administration. She was hired by CareerPlug as a Talent Specialist in 2014, and moved up to ultimately lead the Recruitment Services team. From there, she pivoted to Implementation, and is now the Implementation Manager.

As the Implementation Manager, Ashley and 3 direct reports function as a transition between Sales and Partner Success in helping our clients get set up and established in our software. She spends her free time raising her 2 dogs, playing cornhole, and perfecting the art of charcuterie.

Kate Sensmeier

VP Marketing

Ashley Garia

Director of Product Marketing

Canaan Davis

Director of Engineering

Teresa Hall

Director of UX & Product Design

Brad Pilot

Senior Director of Sales

Leslie Chamberlain

Senior Director of Client Experience

Natalie Morgan

Senior Director of People

Andrew Robinson III

Vice President of Product and Engineering

Chris Igou

VP of Business Development

Chris accidentally started a 20-year career in franchising when he was 18 years old and took a job painting houses for College Pro Painters. That job turned into the ownership of his first franchise (a house painting franchise). While at Monmouth College in IL, he operated his business, played on the varsity football team, and studied to become a teacher.

The taste of entrepreneurship and desire to coach others led Chris deeper into franchising, working with a few franchise brands helping them grow their businesses. He lived in the Chicagoland area his entire life until recently moving his family to Austin, TX.

In his free time Chris coaches youth sports, especially youth football, and spends as much time as he can with his wife and 2 children.

Jenny Leman


Native to Texas, Jenny graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2004 and joined CareerPlug in 2017. She retired her first career path as a Registered Dietitian after 10 years, and has found her true belonging in business operations.

As CareerPlug’s President, Jenny leads all teams to an aligned effort toward achieving our vision. She works to build healthy and scalable internal systems to equip and empower the CareerPlug teams to bring their best for our clients. She loves contributing new ideas and rethinking the status quo. Jenny really connects with the company’s core values, but especially with our intent to “Keep Growing.”

In her non-work life, Jenny enjoys time with her family, playing drums and performing with the Austin Samba School, and finding excuses to be on the lake.

Clint Smith

Founder & CEO

Clint founded CareerPlug in 2007 with the simple idea that there was a better way to help employers connect with quality applicants. Today Clint works every day to fulfill CareerPlug’s mission: Make Hiring Easier. Leading by example, Clint loves spending his time developing new ideas and teaching others.

After graduating from the University of Florida, Clint worked in investment banking and strategic marketing; both experiences influenced the development of CareerPlug. He also spent a year away from the business world teaching 5th grade in Boulder.

Clint is passionate about helping others succeed and is involved in numerous mentoring programs. He and his wife, Sarah, are also foster parents. Clint enjoys family time, beach volleyball, and outdoor adventures.