• Your résumé and credentials are basically irrelevant at web-development company Basecamp.
  • Instead, CEO Jason Fried wants to see how you do on a sample work project.
  • Basecamp also requires job candidates to walk through the project in a text summary, in order to test their writing skills.
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On an episode of the Work and Life podcast, Basecamp CEO Jason Fried explained why his company never looks at job candidates’ credentials.

“We basically throw résumés out the door,” Fried told host Stew Friedman, who is the founding director of Wharton’s Work/Life Integration Project.

It doesn’t matter if you went to Harvard or to your local community college – Fried thinks that’s more or less irrelevant to your ability to thrive at the web development company.

In fact, when I spoke with Fried in 2016, he told me Basecamp has hired several people who didn’t graduate from or didn’t attend any college and they’re “wicked smart.”

A résumé "doesn't say anything really about what someone's capable of," Fried told Friedman. "We're always about getting to the realest possible thing, so we can cut through all the fog and find out if this person can do what they say."

One way to do that is to have the candidate complete a sample project. Fried gave Friedman an example: Let's say Basecamp is hiring a designer. They'll give a candidate for that job one week to complete a project - and pay the candidate $1,500 for the work.

Read more: A former Starbucks HR exec shares the single job-interview question that predicts success better than a résumé

Then Basecamp will ask the candidate to walk them through their thought process in a written summary of the project. This step is crucial.

"We only hire good writers," Fried told Friedman.

Because Basecamp's employees work all over the world, they communicate mostly via writing. Basecamp also publishes books and blog posts on topics like company culture.

Fried said: "If you can't make your points clear and concisely; if you can't go into detail in a way that doesn't spark more questions than you're answering, then you're just not going to work out well here."

That's why a solid cover letter is key. Fried said: "Can someone sell us on themselves in a very brief letter that's so well-written and so well-thought out that we're like, 'This person knows how to communicate'?"

If there are ever two equally qualified candidates, but one's a more skilled writer, Fried said, "we will always hire the better writer."