To best describe what EQ and thoughtfulness mean to us at LightStep, we asked different team members to share their views:
Alice Fuller, software engineer, ex-Box: “Ever since I started working at LightStep, people always ask me what my team is like. The first quality that popped into my mind was ‘thoughtful’ followed by ‘intelligent.’ Now nearly three years later, I’d still use the word thoughtful to describe my colleagues. We approach technical conversation, company growth, and our interactions with each other with care and consideration. I love that I can go to any of my knowledgeable teammates with questions and they will not only be able to teach me a lot, but also want to take the time to do so. I find that balance is crucial to a positive workplace, and I am so happy I work at a company that values EQ > IQ.”
Joe Blubaugh, software engineer, ex-Namo (acq. Twitter), ex-Google: “My co-workers care about me as a person first, and that helps us have the kind of trust and candor that brings out my best work. I love that everyone at LightStep is so low-ego and my brilliant colleagues love explaining what they're working on to others. I get to share their excitement and we get to learn from each other.”
Strong emotional intelligence stands out in our people and plays a big role in what makes our culture unique! We assess for EQ in our interviews, starting with the very first phone screen (which is always with an engineer, not a recruiter!). While bright may sound an awful lot like IQ, we don’t think of it as being the same as smart or brainy. Being bright means being intuitive, perceptive, resourceful, and astute. While we think it’s great to be the kind of engineer who can formally prove an equation for determining the storage requirements of a binary tree, we think it's more important to be the kind of resourceful engineer who can use Pry to get to the root cause of a bug.
Working with those who are likable and engaging is certainly something we all appreciate but we know it’s not enough to be nice. We find it’s imperative to our success to also be kind. Kind allows us to be considerate, thoughtful and helpful. In engineering, you will often hear kind=empathy. Being kind allows us to do what’s right for the company and the individual. We have tough conversations, actively seek out diverse perspectives, and help one another’s growth. Kind is the foundation to our being steadfastly client-focused. We are motivated by empathy for our end users, and commonly make trade-offs in favor of our (internal and external) clients.
The employees at Stitch Fix are goal-oriented folks. This can be be contrasted with someone who is ambitious (enterprising, zealous, fervent, or aspiring). Ambition itself is not wrong, but we reject people whose personal ambitions come before the team's goals. It's important that we're all working together.
16 Open Positions
We don’t hire brilliant jerks. We don’t hire ninjas or rockstars or wizards. We hire people who want to change people’s lives through travel. We hire people who care about others. We’re creating products that are used by people across the world and this requires us to be empathic.
The final interview step at G Adventures is what we call a G Factor interview. This is an interview with three people from different areas of the business and the goal of this interview is to see if you’ll be a positive add to our company’s culture. We’ve had really smart candidates who haven’t passed this interview due to a lack of emotional intelligence.
Distributed Revision Control and Source Code Management
San Francisco, CA (HQ); Boulder, CO; Amsterdam; Tokyo; Remote (65%)
As a remote-first team, having the ability to communicate effectively and empathize with our remote peers is vital.
Building software is hard. Yes, knowing how to build something is key – it’s part of the skill and part of our craft – but knowing what to build and what questions to ask are rarer skills than simply the ability to implement. So, when we hire engineers for GitHub, we want to select for people that are high in both IQ and EQ.
Because of how distributed we are, we’re able to hire the best person for the job with little regard to location, but that also means we need to hire people who will thrive in our distributed environment. We’ve managed to hire engineers that are both best of class in skill and expertise, but also incredibly nice, high quality people. To do this, we screen for quality throughout our interview process. For example, all of our final-round interviews include a section where we talk about diversity and inclusion issues in tech. Our questions and conversations are super open-ended, as we know not everyone will come to GitHub with extensive experience dealing head on with D&I. We look for people who are thoughtful, excited, and willing to participate in overall diversity and inclusion efforts.
25 Open Positions
Our biggest differentiator in the financial sector is in the way we coach our clients. Our trainers provide personal, 1-on-1 support to each of clients, helping them to set goals, budget, save, repay debts, travel hack, boost credit scores, and secure retirements. As a result, it is far more important that we have and practice empathy.
We currently don’t have any engineers who are full-time employees, so we can’t say exactly what our engineering culture is or what it will be like. However, we know for certain that our engineers will need to be able to communicate and empathize with not only our clients, but also our trainers. Our first hires will have the opportunity and responsibility to establish our engineering culture, which is why it’s so important to us that we hire people who share our values and prioritize EQ over IQ. We expect to hire 3-5 engineers in 2019 and look forward to building out our in-house engineering team. If you’re interested in learning more, please reach out!
We’re a collaborative team, and as we grow we want to continue fostering an environment where there’s truly no such thing as a stupid question, and where teammates feel comfortable coming forward with ideas.
Why do we value EQ so highly? For one, we’re a service organization that works cross-functionally with other teams. It’s important to us that our engineers understand the unique challenges of each department we work with and the position each teammate is coming from in order to provide the best solution.
We’re also a mission-driven company with one of our core company values being “Focus on the Member.” We know when our members see improvements in their credit, their quality of life can improve dramatically. Having naturally empathetic engineers who intuitively build tools that keep the end user in mind is crucial, and we look for teammates who consistently ask themselves “who is in front of the screen that we’re helping?”
Second, we’re trying to promote talent from within as we scale, and we want our engineering talent to grow with us into management and leadership roles. Valuing EQ highly helps us bring in engineers with the right people skills to eventually lead a team.
Assessing for EQ is built into our interview process with non-technical questions. For example, we’ve previously asked candidates to tell us about a challenging or significant achievement. What we’re looking for, in addition to their own contributions to that achievement, is how they viewed their role within the team, and how they collaborated to accomplish their goals. We also conduct reference checks to learn more about our future teammates and how they work in a team.
While we value EQ highly, we don’t compromise on knowledge or technical skills in the process. Instead, we look for both qualities.
A lot of our ideas come from the drawing board. We have forums of discussion where employees share ideas with each other. These discussions cover a wide range of topics from product/feature discussions to current affairs and latest trends in technology. This public exchange of information has now become a valuable platform for our team as a collective to learn from each other and collaborate on different projects. In order for these discussions to be productive, everyone needs to be self-aware and able to self-manage themselves.
We encourage our employees to voice their ideas and opinions, but we absolutely do not tolerate yelling, aggression, racism, or sexism of any kind. We provide our employees a workplace with a nurturing and inclusive atmosphere.
1 Open Positions
We want folks who can collaborate and listen, just as well as they can deliver. We are building products for Humans, not machines, and being able to work with and listen to each other and our customers is a job requirement. Voom’s problems are about workflows, funnels, and commerce more than they are about algorithms, optimizations, and scale. We believe that not every great engineer went to MIT or Stanford (but that’s great if you did).
We always phrase our stories in ways that make the user-value clear. We want team members who can put themselves in the shoes of the person using our product, and think about what might be best for them… and update our stories as we build.
We are building a person-first product and personalize everyone’s experience using Hipcamp. It is imperative that we practice empathy when building tools for both sides of our marketplace. Hosts and campers have different needs, and high EQ is critical in developing the best experience for each. An example is setting the expectations for a first-time camper so they have an amazing experience and supporting the needs of a landowner who has never camped before and is starting their camping business for the first time on Hipcamp. While the needs of a camper and a landowner may seem siloed, it’s when we think of how one affects the other and creating balance between the two that we come to the best solutions.
Exceptional EQ shapes the way we make product and business decisions, and also plays an incredibly important role in how we operate as a team. We have a strong desire to work and surround ourselves with people who understand that the universal human experience is a journey. We leave egos and backdoor politics behind, which might sound idealistic, but is something we truly live on a daily basis.
When it comes to interviews, we’ve crafted a process that allows candidates to show all sides of their personality. We want to know what is important to you rather than just test your technical skills. We don’t ask behavioral questions in interviews, but we are absolutely testing for it in the way an applicant asks questions, talks about what they do and do not know, and how speak to their passions.
Building solid software for our users and their typical operating environments requires equal parts rigor and empathy. The majority of our users:
Without empathy, we would make the wrong technical decisions resulting in a poor user experience. Without rigor, we would not be able to implement our decisions properly, wasting our users’ time and money, even via the simple act of downloading a bugfix.
All Angazans, from interns to senior VPs, must successfully pass the cultural section of our interview process where we screen specifically for empathy and other components of EQ, which we believe is a hard skill, required to compete successfully in our markets.
Finally, all Angazans are encouraged to make field visits to East Africa to gain an appreciation for our users’ daily lives. Whether it’s working out of our office in Nairobi or riding a boda in Burundi to observe training, these optional visits help connect your day to day work to actually improving people’s lives.
Beyond the scope of our product, our mission has always been to be a great place to work – a place where people are happy and growing. Everyone at Custora has autonomy, not only in what they work on, but also in determining how they work. Whether it’s because you are more of a night owl, are transitioning back into the workplace after becoming a new dad (Congrats Ben!), or have a sick puppy at home, we support flexible scheduling that each person defines for themselves. We're proud that our culture supports the unique needs and preferences that let us do our best work.
While we want your work schedule to complement the other parts of your life, we also want people to feel comfortable at the office. We have a number of employee resources groups (ERGs) and internal community groups at Custora, including an engineering-led knitting club, and a Data Science bootcamp that our data scientists (Nick, Andy, and Luke) put together to help bridge the gap for a non-technical team at Custora.
As a company that has been around for over 7 years, we only recently reached the 50-person milestone (and shortly after that, 65). We’ve always prioritized steady growth and have been focused on scaling our culture rather than growing to add numbers. All of our interviews involve culture ambassadors who assess how well aligned an interviewee’s values are to ours, and look into how a candidate will contribute to our existing team and culture.
1 Open Positions
It is incredibly important that we never lose touch with who we’re building your products for. It is the responsibility of everyone who is contributing ideas about how a product will work to have a good understanding of our customers and their problems. Otherwise, the opinions and ideas that we share are based on assumptions, and assumptions are the kryptonite of product teams…
No matter your role, your perspective and input will always be weakened by lack of evidence, and the decisions you make are immediately higher in risk if they are not informed by facts about your customers. We constantly create opportunities for our product teams to take part in user research. A great example is how our Messenger team did user research together when we were redesigning Intercom Messenger, only to discover a major pain point for our customers (they felt like our messages were pop-up advertisements!), and solve for it.
To make this level of collaboration possible, it takes individuals who value and are capable of operating in a diverse ensemble. This is doubly true for an all-remote team. This means developing the skills necessary to give honest feedback without removing safety. It also means knowing what it takes to develop trusting relationships. Breaking into the productivity market takes a fair amount of hubris: we won’t get anywhere without being able to empathize with our users and design solutions that exceed their needs. This isn’t possible with raw intellect alone. During the interview process we have a few methods for screening empathy: we often look at a candidate's ability to write a rich job story. If they capture a rich user context, it's a generally a positive signal for EQ. Everyone on our engineering team has access to our customers – either during customer advisory board meetings, design validation sessions, or (gulp) during bug triage – making the best use of our own and our customers’ time requires emotional candlepower.
Having technical experience and knowledge is important to us, but only if it is coupled with EQ. Not only are we diverse in our abilities, backgrounds, and personalities, but so are our customers. As an early stage company, it is critical to us that we only hire people who recognize the importance of empathy and emotional intelligence.
In the past, we have passed on technically gifted candidates because they did not share our mindset around how to work as a team. As a small but nimble team, we operate with the assumption that everyone is working toward the same goal: creating the best experiences for our users. To that end, we look for people who are empathetic and curious, who have opinions but don’t assume they are always right, operate with an innate sense of urgency, are willing to take smart risks, and take ownership of their work. During the interview process, we gauge this through the different formal (1-1 discussions) and informal (grabbing food with the team) interactions we have with each candidate. We hope candidates do the same evaluation of us. Ultimately, even the most brilliant minds cannot build good products if they can’t work well together. This is twofold for us as we serve a wide variety of customers ranging from restaurants, to retail, to medical offices.
1 Open Positions
Having EQ (emotional intelligence) means having the ability to recognize your own emotions and the emotions of others, and knowing how to decipher those accurately, compassionately, and with understanding. This is critical as we work to maintain relationships with our teammates and our external partners. It is these relationships that lead to building great products.
For Engineers, when it comes to code, we always remember that we are not our code. We remember this during code reviews so the focus is on the code itself rather than on the person who created it. This allows us to have a positive review culture where feedback is relevant, constructive, readily given, and well-received. We ask questions rather than making demands, and when we are the authors of the code being reviewed, we provide sufficient context for the reviewer to be able to ask the right questions. Through code reviews we get functional feedback and it’s a process we repeat continuously. Because we are in constant communication with each other, there’s no waiting around for a review cycle - it’s happening all the time and is fundamental to the way we foster open dialogue with one another.
In our interview process, we assess candidates for not only their skillset, but also for evidence of our eight cultural norms which include “Lead with Humility” and “Keep it Real”. Our norms guide how we treat each other every day, and empathy is at the foundation of them all. It’s critical that we screen for our norms during the interview process so we can bring on new teammates that will add to and help perpetuate our culture founded on empathy, accountability and respect.
14 Open Positions
Eaze, at its heart, is an operations company enabled by technology. We create many products for our different users - dispensaries, drivers, internal operation teams. These users rely on our ability to create tools that enable them to do their jobs well. To do that, we expect engineering team members to be able to see problems from non-engineering perspectives.
An example of this is our driver app - we provide dispensary drivers with a mobile app that enables them to deliver the right product to the right customer. Drivers tend to be less technical users. So we have to be able to see the app from their perspective to create the optimal cannabis delivery experience.
At Box, we hire for character first. The problems we face often require emotional intelligence just as much as technical expertise. The ability to collaborate with one another is founded on everyone being able to adapt their behaviors and communication to the circumstance. Many engineers hope to grow into senior roles, leading projects and managing teams. At Box, promotions are not just about building technical expertise but more about technical leadership and being able to effectively lead other engineers. There’s an expectation that as you grow, you’ll also help and mentor others.
16 Open Positions
Helping companies launch successful card programs quickly and confidently
San Francisco, CA and Barcelona, Spain
While we prioritize technical ability, we will pass on candidates if they lack positive attitudes and a willingness to learn. One of our front end engineers, Pau, doesn’t have a CS degree. However, he has a tremendous growth mindset and interest in learning new things. We preferred Pau to other candidates who had a stronger technical background because of this.
Since we’re spread across various locations and time zones, clear communication is crucial. In our interview process we look at how candidates communicate and express their ideas. We want folks who aren’t waiting to be told what to do, but instead see opportunities and grab them.
Our engineering interviews are split into two equally important parts: code reviews and project interviews. Project interviews are very heavily EQ focused. We say at the beginning of each interview that we’re not interested in the technical aspects of the project, we’re more focused on how you work on a team, how you approach working with others, and how you reflect on how things went, almost like a retrospective. Many candidates come in ready to whiteboard the system design of the project rather than discuss team dynamics, we understand it’s rare to walk into an engineering interview and have the interviewer say “I don’t care about the technical part of the project.”
In management interviews, we center conversations around values, psychological safety, and the leadership style. How do you mentor vs. teach? It is important to us that all of our managers are on the same page, and we prioritize people management skills more so than technical prowess.
At Lever, we place a tremendous amount of value on communication. Updating documentation is one example: we expect everyone to be consistently updating and improving documentation. It might not be a lot of new work, but when you introduce a new thought or clarify an existing one that makes it better for everyone after you, everyone is really appreciative and grateful. Sometimes it’s the small things!
Inside NerdWallet, engineers are full participants in the problem solving and product development process. Engineering supports a wide variety of disciplines at NerdWallet and our most successful engineers know how to work with a team of diverse people to deliver the best solution for our members.
Outside NerdWallet, we realize that our users come from a wide variety of backgrounds and financial situations. Having a better understanding of these perspectives and being able to empathize with them enables our engineers to better design and implement solutions that serve the widest number of people.
We make a product for people. We have a company of people. If you can anticipate the needs of a customer, client, or teammate - that is worth its weight in gold. Without empathy and emotional awareness, how can we understand how to better serve our clients and user-base?
In the cannabis industry, we believe having a high EQ is even more imperative than other industries. Cannabis affects everyone differently and everyone has their own opinion on cannabis. It is our responsibility as a company within this space to do our best to understand, empathize, and continue to progress the cannabis space.
1 Open Positions
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