Interview by Jana Wardag
Photos by Dan Zoubek

January 04, 2019

Highsnobiety sits among the most visited global sources for inspiration in the fields of fashion, sneakers, music, art, and lifestyle in general.

Founded as a blog by David Fischer in 2005, Highsnobiety now attracts more than 10 million unique visitors monthly the media brand said, and employs over 100 people in offices in Berlin, New York, and London and they are seeking for more awesome people.

Isabel Sensan gave us some incredibly helpful tips on how to score a job at Highsnobiety.

Isabel Sensan

Isabel Sensan

Human Resources Manager

Who are you? What’s your job at Highsnobiety?

I’m Isa, a human resources manager at Highsnobiety Berlin.

What inspired you to join Highsnobiety?

I was already a fan of Highsnobiety, inspired by it in areas such as lifestyle, fashion, music, and design before I started working with the team. The chance to work in my profession as a human resources manager combined with a team that acts progressively, internationally, and is an opinion leader and community creator makes me really happy. The variety, complexity, and fast pace of HR at a company like ours surprises and teaches you valuable things every day.

What do you tell your family and friends about Highsnobiety and what you’re doing there?

Most of my family and friends didn’t know the company. I often stick to an explanation of our business model, leaving out aspects of community-building and brand marketing: we write about the things we love on the website, we publish a magazine twice a year, and we create innovative in-house campaigns for well-known brands. When I get the feeling they’re interested in knowing more, I expand by explaining how we aim to change how our brand is perceived by our target audience and how we seek to create an emotional connection with our brand and a digital community that shares our interests. We turn outsiders into insiders offer a platform for brands to reach the right people, and inspire readers by curating brands, trends, and cultural discourse.

Could you tell me about an outstanding project or product you worked on in the past few months?

One of the most outstanding projects we worked on last year was the redefinition of Nike Golf. Golf is usually considered a sport for wealthy people, with neatly mown grass, robotic body movements, and a sense of solitude. Our production team did an outstanding job with the video they produced for Nike Golf, redefining the image of the sport by showing a group of young South Africans of all origins playing together instead of competing, wearing cool clothes, and listening to hip-hop. It’s an avant-garde moment when the voiceover explains how this group of young South Africans uses golf as a way to explore their surroundings collectively and win back personal freedom. Keeping in mind the country’s history, defined by apartheid and racial conflict, this mixed-race group of friends using golf as a way to express their desire to live life by their own rules and free of restriction highlights the transcendent, community-building aspect of sport as well as the territorial aspect, wherein these kids claim the right to play golf anywhere they like.

How and when does your day at the office start? And when and how does it end?

It isn’t possible to map out a standard day in my life as an HR manager at Highsnobiety. The HR team’s responsibilities are broad and may require fast action or detailed and thorough research. Generally, we oversee the recruitment process, take care of the whole employee lifecycle, ensure a meaningful performance and feedback policy are in place, organize training and development, and aim to influence the company culture, so employees feel comfortable, valued, and productive.

“We can’t forget that our business model relies solely on our employees and their creativity.”

How does the company culture differ from other companies?

We aim to build a company culture that fits our brand identity and the values we stand for. Highsnobiety is not a company where people wear suits, perform a 9-to-5 job, and sit solely in front of their computers. The strict, old-fashioned separation of work and leisure is an outdated concept and statistics show that the people’s motivation to work develops from a complex mixture of financial compensation, individual growth and development opportunities, team building, and a flexible, progressive labor code. We can’t forget that our business model relies solely on our employees and their creativity. This is why we try to foster a company culture that highlights cultural diversity, transference of knowledge, team building, and constructive communication.

“We’re working in an extremely fast-paced market and want our team to be ahead of the curve when it comes to technical aspects and knowledge relating to our world and business model.”

What opportunities are there for employees to learn new things?

We try to continually create opportunities for our employees to learn new things. We’re working in an extremely fast-paced market and want our team to be ahead of the curve when it comes to technical aspects and knowledge relating to our world and business model. This is the reason for the company’s emphasis on individual training needs, opportunities for growth, and knowledge transfer. Our open-plan offices foster exchange, communication, and cross-team encounters. Feedback, performance, responsibilities, and goal-setting policies also support this goal.

How does the recruitment process at Highsnobiety work?

Before posting a vacant position on our jobs website, the HR team meets up the respective hiring manager to learn details about the role, the expected skills, the team set-up, and the possibility to recruit or promote internally or from our pool of prospects. If the latter is not the case, HR makes sure the job-ad is distributed and published on the right channels and targeted at a suitable and promising audience. Potential candidates will be invited for an interview to discuss the role and the responsibilities of the position. If the hiring manager decides to proceed with a candidate, we schedule a second interview with a slightly bigger group of people, usually including other team members and HR to respond to specific questions regarding our company culture and teamwork. If the second interview is successful, we reach out with an offer and roll out an onboarding plan to successfully integrate the new team member into our company.

What are the biggest mistakes you see people make when applying for a job at Highsnobiety?

I can’t really give you a general answer to this question because the range of positions and talent we’re looking for is incredibly diverse, so requirements are difficult to generalize. I guess some people focus too much on their cultural identification with our brand because they fear that we only hire people that live the Highsnobiety lifestyle. Of course, it’s essential for us to have a team that shares our values and the interests we stand for as a brand, but you’d be surprised to see what a mix of characters we have working at Highsnobiety.

What gets you excited about a great candidate? What personal characteristics make a candidate exceptional?

Of course, the personal characteristics might differ a lot depending on the position we’re hiring for, but in general, I get really excited about driven, highly motivated people. Our company is a fast-growing media company that benefits in many ways from free-thinking personalities who’re looking to proactively shape business and help build a global media brand. Working here offers you the space to create something amazing in collaboration with a team of outstanding individual talents.

Why are you better at your job than your competitors?

I guess there are many ways to answer that question depending on the angle you look at it from. Personally, I think we’re successful as a brand because we have succeeded in building and maintaining a community that identifies with what we stand for and what we love to write about. Highsnobiety is built on engaging, high-end, authentic, pioneering, street-savvy, and authoritative core brand values. We’re something more than an advertising agency because we tell the stories behind a product or brand and offer space for identification.

What would you tell us about Highsnobiety that isn’t written in your job descriptions?

Dogs are welcome, we have unlimited snacks, we purchased a Supreme pinball machine, have company CrossFit and yoga, and speak more than 20 different languages.

Want to work at Highsnobiety?

Open positions at Highsnobiety:


Thank you very much, Isa!