How-To: Apply For A Job On Our Team

You saw a posting for an open spot on our team. The position sounds perfect and you want to learn more. Great!

Here's a bit of background on how to apply for a job with us and also the inner workings of our hiring process.


First, here's some advice on how to craft an application that will get our attention.

Read the entire job posting and application requirements. This may seem obvious, but the usual advice regarding tailoring your cover letter and resume for a particular position will definitely help you here.

If we ask why you're the perfect fit for a given role on our team or why you're excited to work with us, just answer the question. You might be surprised (or perhaps not if you've ever been in the position of reviewing applications) at how many people don't follow the application instructions and you're immediately in a better position if you're in the batch that does.

We do read every application we receive so we also mean it when we ask you to be brief. The purpose of your application is simply to get us interested enough to reach out to you to have a conversation. We can get into the details then. That said, don't obsess over fitting your resume onto one page. We won't be printing it out anyway.

Remember that showing is usually much more effective than telling. Instead of a long cover letter, share some work you're really proud of, tell us how you did it, what you learned and how that will benefit our team. For designers we do expect to see a portfolio of your work (a list of links with a bit of background on each is fine); for developers we do expect a link to your github repository and/or other code examples that show us what you can do.

Don't oversell. This is probably the hardest thing to do because you really want to impress us, but it doesn't help you and it doesn't help us if you include skills on your resume that you don't really have or if you exaggerate your role in any given project.

It is, however, totally fine to list skills you want to develop and to be honest about any pieces of the job posting that you know might be a stretch. We know that not every applicant will have every skill we list in any given job posting and we'd rather you apply even if you don't think you meet all of the qualifications so we can at least have a conversation and decide if there's a way to work things out with the skills you do have.

Finally, if you include file attachments, please name them something sane and use a file format we can open.

  • Bad: resume-final-use-this-one.wps
  • Good: smith-jane-INN-lead-designer-resume.pdf (.txt or .md also work if you're so inclined)

Once you have your application materials together, just send them off to the email address specified in the posting and we'll respond (usually within 24 hours) to confirm receipt of your application and let you know when you can expect to hear back from us.

We know the job application process can be stressful (particularly waiting for news), so throughout the process we'll try to communicate as clearly and frequently as possible to let you know where we are in the process and the status of your application.

Reviewing Applications

Now, here's what happens internally when we get your application.

Typically at least three senior members of the team review all applications for each position and then decide, independently, which candidates we're interested in talking to.

We then meet as a team, compare notes and decide how to proceed. Depending on the position, we might pick three applicants to talk to or there might be a dozen or more. It just depends on the strength of the applications we receive.

For this first round of conversations we're committed to at least talking with everyone we think could be a fit. This is true even if we disagree internally. If one member of the team feels strongly about a particular candidate (or just has a hunch), we'll talk with them.

We don't want to rule anyone out at this stage just because their qualifications may not be a perfect fit and even if we ultimately decide you're not a fit for this particular position, we may know of something else that would be great for you with a member organization, a future opportunity on our team, etc.

Initial Interviews

Once we've settled on a group of semifinalists, we'll split them up among a few senior members of our team and schedule initial one-on-one conversations (usually via Google Hangout).

In these conversations we're interested in getting to know you but also want to give you a chance to get to know us. These conversations are informal and you don't need to over-prepare.

However, we do recommend that you at least do a little background reading (peruse the INN website, get to know our members and maybe explore our team docs and projects on github) so you have enough information to come with some thoughtful questions about INN, the role you've applied for and how you'd fit into the team and our work.

Our team docs are especially useful in understanding our values, how we work and also because you'll find a list of interview questions we usually ask job applicants.

Second Round Interviews

After the initial round of interviews, we'll again meet as a team and compare notes. From there we'll typically select a smaller group of applicants to talk with in a bit more depth.

This next round of interviews will typically be with a group of our senior team members (again, usually via google hangout) and we'll take turns asking you questions. Some of these questions will still be rather general, getting-to-know-you sorts of things but we'll also ask questions more specific to the role we're hiring for.

We'll also typically ask you to walk us through one or more recent projects and explain your thought process, key decisions you made, how everything worked out (or didn't), what you learned and what you'd do differently next time. We do this because we want to understand more about how you like to work and solve problems but also your ability to explain your work to others.

We also want to get to know you a bit more as a person and how you'd fit as a member of the team. We'll likely ask about things like your preferred working environment and work schedule, how you feel about working remotely (including any concerns you might have) and also what you like to do outside of work.

At the end of this interview (which will usually be about an hour) we'll leave plenty of time for you to ask us questions.

Final Selection

Once we talk to all of the finalists as a group, we'll again discuss amongst ourselves. At this point we may have settled on a single candidate and be ready to move forward or we may have a couple candidates still in contention.

If we're still not settled on one candidate, we may have another round of interviews and/or ask candidates to complete a small project and then meet with us to discuss the results.

Once we've settled on a finalist, we'll ask you for a few references and talk more in depth about salary, benefits and any other outstanding questions you might have.

From there, we'll talk to your references and assuming everything checks out, we'll extend a formal offer, work out the details and welcome you to the team!


I hope that provides a good overview of how we approach hiring and what you can do to craft a successful application.

If you have questions about the process or about any of our open positions, feel free to reach out anytime or drop by our weekly open office hours.

We'd love to hear from you!

Welcome The Newest Member Of Our Team: Kaeti Hinck

INN's news applications and technology team has been growing steadily over the past few months to allow us to better serve our members.

june2013kaetismallToday we're very pleased to announce another addition to the team, our new Design Director, Kaeti Hinck.

Kaeti joins INN from MinnPost where she was most recently Director of News Technology. In that role she managed MinnPost's web development and strategic digital projects

In 2011, she successfully led a redesign and platform migration for, which launched as one of the first responsive news sites in the country.

She also created MinnPost's data team, leading news application design and interactive reporting. All of MinnPost's data projects are open source and available for other journalism organizations to use and learn from:

Before joining MinnPost, Kaeti spent time as a magazine editor, video producer, graphic designer, and photojournalist. Much of her work has been focused on visual journalism, design, and making things for the web.

At INN she will be responsible for improving the design of our current products (including our Largo WordPress platform) and will work with the rest of the news applications and technology team to develop interactive features and news apps to support our members' editorial work.

Kaeti also brings a lot of strength in building team culture, process and design thinking and we're excited to get to work with her on tackling the thorniest problems facing nonprofit news organizations.

Kaeti's first day at INN will be September 22 and she'll be with us in Chicago next week for the Online News Association Conference. Please make her feel welcome!