Hey! Writing from the OP recruiting team.The vast majority of our candidates for roles are first-time applicants we don’t have much context about, and the purpose of the open paragraphs is a) a quick test of writing ability/attention to detail (i.e. can they write something clear, coherent and free of typos), and b) getting an initial sense of the applicant’s existing level of interest in and context about OP. The majority of applicants are also not highly engaged in EA (or necessarily aware of it at all) and these responses are a helpful temp check for understanding where they’re coming from and what their level of understanding and excitement about our work is (e.g. did they find us via a Google search and basically see us as similar to most foundations or have they done enough research to genuinely understand and be excited about what we do?).
It’s definitely not the intention to frustrate repeat applicants, and we can add a line to the form clarifying that if you’ve answered these questions recently you don’t have to fill them out again. You're always welcome to say something like, "I've applied before recently, and my answers haven't changed."
Based on my experience working in hiring at Open Phil, my sense is that operations is an urgent need and that many organizations are currently struggling to meet it. I think this is a shift I've seen happen especially in the last year as more mature organizations are trying to scale, and an increasing number of early stage projects are working to get off the ground. Anecdotally, over the last year I have been asked (by others in the community) for referrals/recommendations for operations roles more frequently than I've been asked about any other kind of role, and I can easily think of 10+ EA organizations or projects that have recently suggested to me that they are struggling to hire skilled and aligned operations people.
I'll also take this as an opportunity to reiterate that OP is currently hiring for virtually every operations function and will be for the foreseeable future. (As are many exciting EA organizations right now including Redwood Research, Anthropic, Lightcone, Rethink Priorities, and more!)
Thanks for the kind feedback, Christina and for sharing your thoughts!
And I think I generally agree that the optimal place is somewhere around 2, with some centralized provision of certain goods and services that are valuable to lots of decentralized hiring agents.