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Recruiting Q&A: IDEO

The product-design company's director for recruiting describes how its teamwork structure attracts passionate people who think outside of the box

Be ready for a Finger Blaster war if you happen through the Palo Alto (Calif.) office of product-design company IDEO. At any given time, a handful of staffers may grab their Blasters -- toy slingshots that shoot foam rockets -- and ambush each other. "You've got to watch it," jokes Beth Strong, IDEO's director for recruiting.

With 350 employees in 10 offices worldwide, IDEO has developed some of the most innovative product designs in the past two decades, including the Palm V, insulin pens for Eli Lilly, Polaroid's I-Zone instant camera, and Crest's stand-up toothpaste tube. Designing cool stuff is the job of a diverse corps of professionals: mechanical engineers, graphic designers, ergonomics specialists, sociologists. Last year, the private company posted $60 million in revenue. Business Week Online Reporter Jennifer Gill recently spoke with Strong about the company's hiring practices. Here are edited excerpts of their conversation: