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.
23 Open Positions
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.
21 Open Positions
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.
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.
1 Open Positions
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It’s important for engineers at Handshake to be able to communicate effectively – and with empathy – in many different contexts. Whether it’s communicating product launches to our customer success team, discussing implementation tradeoffs among the engineering team, or identifying pain-points in design mocks, it’s crucial that engineers empathize with and keep our users in mind.
That’s why we’re committed to putting “Students First.” Engineers must be able to think about problems from a variety of perspectives. What might be the best solution from an engineering standpoint might not be the best solution from a student standpoint. Taking this into account allows us to build amazing products on the Student, University, and Employer sides of the business.
Ultimately, “Act with Empathy” is a core company value. Not only does our interview process screen for this, but we also take measures to ensure it’s practiced in our day-to-day work. For example, after resolving a P0 issue, we ensure our post-mortems are completely blameless. We realize we’re stronger as a team and aim to learn from our mistakes collectively. We also have organically grown into a heavy pair-programming culture because the engineers at Handshake simply have a desire to help each other out. To that end, we make sure to celebrate our people by having people present “Weekly Handshakes” at our weekly company all-hands to give shoutouts to their fellow co-workers.
19 Open Positions
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.
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 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.
The cannabis industry in particular requires high EQ. Cannabis affects everyone differently and everyone has their own opinion on cannabis. It is our responsibility as a company within this space to understand, empathize, and continue to progress the cannabis space. Not everyone on our team consumes cannabis. We cover the spectrum: some team members consume cannabis daily, while others have never, which is more than okay! What’s important is that we all understand the market, the role our product plays in it, and are committed to Jane’s mission.
Our team is close-knit (see Heavily Team-Oriented below) and we all share and celebrate our wins together. Having empathy on a team is really powerful. We believe any win from any person feels like a win for the entire group. It’s our strong emphasis on empathy that helps us lift each other up, and laud and applaud one another in an open and non-competitive way.
We’ve passed on candidates who were technically strong but would be difficult to work with. People who feel above the team and that there’s a ‘right’ way of doing things (aka their way) won’t succeed at Jane. There has to be wiggle room, which is why we know we need the full context surrounding decisions. It’s important to collaborate to fully understand all factors at play, whether it’s a certain timeline, timeframe, resource constraints, or potential iterations in the future.
At the end of the day, we’re working with humans and we feel that at a very deep level. As Abe, co-founder and CTO, says, “As a leader, I’ve learned to be a lot more vulnerable and focused on how I can best empower people to do their jobs. There has to be mutual respect, always.”
Mobile-based personal and professional development platform
San Francisco, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Washington D.C., or Remote (US)
The best products are built when everyone has a seat at the table and feels comfortable discussing ideas without attacking the individual proposing them or tying one’s self-worth to their idea. We also believe that empathy is essential for us to build a product that will allow everyone to reach their goals. While there are engineering challenges in the work that we do, building an effective platform for lasting growth and change – one that meets people where they are – is often much more difficult. These are the sorts of problems that require a deep emotional intelligence beyond raw IQ.
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 to speak to their passions.
We’ve built a team of people who are empathetic and kind. Having empathy enables us to deeply understand the needs of our customers, who vary widely across a number of demographics. After all, it doesn’t matter how good of a coder you are if you can’t hear your customer’s needs.
Emotional intelligence is modeled from the top down at Newfront. You’ll never hear “that’s not my job” no matter how high you go. As an example, our co-founder and CTO held office hours last week to help anyone in the company troubleshoot two-factor authentication setup. Simply put, we do what needs to be done to grow our business and we keep our egos in check along the way.
A simple messaging workspace with tools for managers and staff on the go
San Francisco, CA or Remote
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
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.
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.
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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. Collaborating effectively requires empathy and we have many mechanisms to provide feedback: All Hands, Q&A, anonymous surveys, 1:1s, team retrospectives, and code reviews.
We look for folks who can openly communicate with their peers and managers. In fact, we encourage everyone to share their personal goals with their managers. Engineers often express interest in learning new technologies, attending workshops and conferences, and practicing leadership and communication, and we support all of those goals.
Outside NerdWallet, 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 us to better design and implement solutions that serve the widest number of people.
15 Open Positions
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