Great Interviewing Practices to Scale Engineering Teams with Tido Carriero and Emily Zahuta

Tido Carriero
In this episode, Tido Carriero and Emily Zahuta discuss the importance of a well planned and executed interviewing process and how important it is to scaling a successful software engineering organization.
Tido Carriero:
Tido has been the VP of Engineering at Segment for the past two years, where he’s spent much of his time growing the engineering team from ~10 to ~55. Prior to Segment, he was an early member of the Dropbox engineering team. At Dropbox, he started the Dropbox for Business product and later led the Product Engineering organization, which was approximately 170 engineers. He graduated with a degree in Computer Science from Harvard in 2008. His favorite movie is Cool Runnings.
 Emily Zahuta
Emily Zahuta – Emily joined Segment in January of 2017 as Head of Recruiting and has worked to lay the foundation of building a world class recruiting team. Prior to her time at Segment, Emily ran global recruiting for a San Francisco based agency and started their Dublin and London offices. Emily graduated from Santa Clara University with a degree in Communication. She is a self-proclaimed sommelier with absolutely no formal training.
Show Notes:
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Christian Mccarrick:
[0:00] Welcome everyone to the show and today is a very special show because I actually have multiple guests in the audience which is the first so good morning to you too how are you.

Tido Carriero:
[0:09] Good morning doing well.

Christian Mccarrick:
[0:10] Excellent Emily welcome to the show.
So today Tido if you could just tell her just a little bit High little backgrounds kind of where you got to where you are and where you are today.

Tido Carriero:
[0:21] Yeah so I graduated with a CS degree in 2008 from Harvard I went to Facebook out of school Facebook was still in the earlier days,
150 Engineers were scattered across nine different buildings in Downtown Palo Alto so definitely the startup days I was there for about three and a half years that’s where I first became an engine manager about halfway through my time there.
I left in early 2012 to to join Dropbox when there’s about a hundred total people about 25 engineers in.
I built the Dropbox for business product and the engineering team around that grew that or for my team there to about 170 people across all of product engineering.
And then two years ago I join segment where I am now I’m the VP of engineering at segments and.
Very focused on Total Building out the team that entity was about 10 people when I got there at 2 years ago about 55 today and.
Growing very rapidly so I think a lot of good learnings in that. Which will be talking about in a bit.

Christian Mccarrick:
[1:19] Excellent excellent.
And I think for the for the listeners Tito is one of the panelists on one of the events that I moderated and during the discussion he mentions some of the hiring practices that is company segments and I,
that actually very valuable for our show so the majority of the show we’re really going to be spending on.
Talking about recruiting and hiring practices especially as relates to Silicon Valley and and technology companies so obviously.
Built-in scale teams at multiple companies right so you kind of have a lot of experience with doing this to know in general how would you describe.
State of tech hiring today.

Tido Carriero:
[1:59] Yeah that’s a great question so I think 2 years ago in when I first started we were,
at that the very Beginnings we didn’t have much of a well-known engineering brand we didn’t have actually had no Technical Recruiters we had our first technical,
working or shortly after I joined so we were just running a fairly odd Hawk process finding people on GitHub who are contributing to the libraries that we had open source,
convincing them to come join us is actually a fairly distributed team since not everyone lives in San Francisco and get Hub obviously so.
That was kind of the beginnings and then the first year honestly it was a lot of bumbling if I had to use the word to describe are hiring process I would say week we mumbled quite a bit I weird,
you’re trying to figure out what our interview process look like we had really no,
engineering brand still in till we just were kind of kicking along and starting to get the the semblance of a reasonable process going but I’d say in the last year we’ve really accelerated a quite a bit,
one of the big Investments we made a big Strategic investment company wide at the beginning of the year that we really wanted to invest in the engineering brand as a whole which.
May sound like a weird thing at to invest in that was one of our three top-level company goals and it was really about.
Making sure that we were able to hire and then obviously retain.
Tier Talent we thought that that was a big strategic rest for us as a company and so we embarked on something that none of us knew how to do which was to build an engineering Branda I realized at that moment that I had sort of taken for granted the brands that I inherited at.

[3:33] Facebook and Dropbox obviously both huge consumer Brands almost every engineer we had we had talked to knew what those companies were inserted what those products were about.
Much more challenging at segment which is a B2B company until the small fraction of our Engineers came from being the developer who implemented segment at their company,
I’m really not that the brand that either Facebook or Dropbox had and so what does that actually mean it will meant really getting our blog up and running we have a an amazing CTO who,
amazing amazing story teller and also amazing speaker and so we really started leveraging his time to sort of tell some of the stories of the awesome work that was happening to descale our infrastructure,
that was a piece of it we start investing in in-house Advanced we started hiring more senior folks who had experience being hiring managers.
And I think that’s really turn around the state of where we are today where we were hiring about 15 people a quarter and it’s just a much more.

[4:34] Well understood Pipeline and we sort of understand how like how it converts throughout the funnel and we.

[4:42] Don’t know longer rely necessarily referrals but,
we have to be a referral Channel even outbound Channel 11 inbound channel so it’s matured a lot obviously we’re just starting to hit our stride with with scaling so a lot more to go but I think we’ve really kind of mastered some of that.
Building blocks of a great recruiting process.

Christian Mccarrick:
[5:01] And you mentioned something I think that’s really interesting especially when people at their own engineering manager at a more of a specialty consumer company right that’s more branded and brand-name recognition and you have this this.
Influx of resumes right the inbound flow is probably a lugloc greater than it is at segments and even some B2B companies in general.

Tido Carriero:
[5:22] Absolutely.

Christian Mccarrick:
[5:23] And to get dumped into an environment where you’re like your crickets.

Tido Carriero:
[5:28] It was a weird experience at the beginning but yet and I think it’s it’s our job as engineering managers as recruiting to.
How to solve the Crickets problem and I think we have solved that through a really engaging deeply technical engineering blog regularly gets uploaded on Hacker News we we able to have one of those hits every single month on Hacker News.
I’m sure there are ways to combat the problem but it definitely doesn’t come for free in the same way it does with that a huge consumer brands.

Christian Mccarrick:
[5:56] And you’re going for about 15 hires at quarter right now what percentage of that you think is a publication versus actually you know making offers to.

Tido Carriero:
[6:08] So you mean what’s it like what is the pipeline metrics look like at each step yeah that’s a good question I think we have about.
50% sort of initial hiring manager to technical on-site about 50 there’s a technical pre-screen about 50% technicals pre-screen to on-site about 50% on site to offer and then about.
80 90% close rate right now and we do not that’s actually been one of those things as well as we made the process better that’s really,
gotten streamlined one of the big learning is there as we’ve gotten a lot more aggressive at filtering earlier in the final which is a hard thing to do cuz you want to convince yourself that this candidate might actually be the perfect candidate think I’m on side there going to be.
Wooed by the office and they’re going to definitely accept their offer but I think what we’ve learned is to hear some of these warning signs earlier so we don’t invest 567,
8 hours of the recruiting teams time the engineering teams time to to evaluate those candidates if they’re not candidates that are likely to accept,
we actually have a rule of thumb at every single step in the process where we ask ourselves is this 80% likely for this person to come,
come interview and.
Accept an offer and if we can’t convince ourselves of that any step in the process that’s assigned to us that we probably should either have a tough conversation to get more information from the candidate or we should.
Do you say no or say this probably isn’t the right fit.

Christian Mccarrick:
[7:33] Great great and Emily how long have you been excitement now.

Emily Zahuta:
[7:37] I’m coming up on one year just at the end of this year.

Christian Mccarrick:
[7:40] Accent well congratulations on that and at what point here cuz I want to think I keep hearing is metrics.
Right and I think without measurement of things you can improve so tell me a little bit about some of the key metrics that you guys use as fart of your hiring process inside of segment.

Emily Zahuta:
[7:59] Yeah absolutely one of the first things that I was tasked with one initially joining was building a more metrics based recruiting team paying attention to those numbers and what.
What actually is Meaningful in the process or is this just what I think we stare at him and try to make meaning out of the the most powerful metrics we started to watch our engineering hours per higher which is been really meaningful.

[8:19] And that will eventually skill through the rest of the organization so we’re watching what is the time investment it takes for every single candidate to eventually close.
And it tells us where process is conky do we need to clean it up are we bringing the right people in.
We do watch the conversion metric says while which is on site to offer an application to phone screen phone screen to on site and other things we pay attention to.
But there are I think we’ve elevated a lot more the acceptance rate the engine hours per hire some of the more meaningful.

Tido Carriero:
[8:49] Yeah and I think that that’s a big learnings I have from Dropbox which is just when we were really.
Pushing on that the hiring process and really going all out it turned out that the actual bottleneck was people unwilling to do interviews at a certain point you can get an engineer to do an interview,
maybe three to five interviews a week and beyond that,
both bad for morale and it was a bad for just defective minutes of the engineering team obviously they have other jobs than just interviewing people all day long and so I think that’s it,
because that’s the long term bottleneck you off and run into when you’re skinny really fast obviously this is sort of an unconstrained headcount,
that situation but when you get into that it’s really the size of the engineering team in the hours that they’re spending the ends of constraining the process in most companies I think.

Christian Mccarrick:
[9:32] Absolutely and you talk about your interview process so what are you going to a little bit about what year your New York or interview process is today.

Tido Carriero:
[9:40] Yeah so maybe I’ll back up a step and start with the the culture coffee that we had I think that’s it,
some some version of the the phrase culture coffee is is probably a familiar to many people have this culture coffee we had you know,
bunch of technical questions some behavioral questions and then we had this 30 minutes lot that was the culture coffee and recruiting at ask me what the culture coffee is about I said I don’t know I guess culture.
And they’re like what we have like these awesome rubrics on all the other questions you know we have for the technical questions we have what an excellent answer looks like what a good answer looks like what a fair answer looks like what it looks like that maps to you know strong yes yes.
No strong now but we don’t have that for culture coffee so we’re sending these interviewers in and we’re like you’ll find out about the culture and that didn’t seem.
Didn’t seem to line up with worth while we were at the rest of the question.
And so Emily took on really revamping that the culture coffee and turning into what we call the core interview today so I’ll let her explain a little bit more the process there.

Emily Zahuta:
[10:45] Yeah it was painfully obvious when we were having our debriefs and every interview I would sit there and say exactly what they measured on and how the candidate.
Rate at our house with a signal that was gathered on that interview was when the culture coffee came up and we’re hearing a lot of I really like this person or I don’t really see this person working out at segment but they there wasn’t any foundation to back that up on.
So Tito came to me approach me with the challenges let’s find a way of making this.
Better and stronger interviewing we came up with what we call the court interview program basically the way that I like to think about it is if we didn’t have the leadership team in place that we have today and would.
And think about the people that we hire consistently would they make decisions with the same framework.
That our leadership team would and again stars are values so the core interview is actually a culture based interview that’s.

[11:32] Level its measured against our values so that’s how it’s it’s tangible you we have direct questions that relate to each value.

Christian Mccarrick:
[11:42] It’s consistent and repeatable.

Tido Carriero:
[11:44] Consistent repeatable and there’s a strong rubric for every question so Matt rubric is the hardest thing to actually build.
About for each of the values we have questions that we believe will sort of elicit those values to either, come out or not come out and.
We have a very strong rubric on what a excellent answer looks like what a good answer looks like what I would have not so good answer it looks like and we basically are asking questions about their past career their past sort of behaviors are past decision-making and sort of,
we want very explicit stories so you,
as a core interviewer you can’t just come back with like a general feeling you come back with either an explicit story that demonstrates this and that’s a past or you say,
you know I spent about 10 or 15 minutes on this particular value and I couldn’t actually or either I got a red flag or I couldn’t actually drive signal from there.
And so and then that turns into a know obviously.

Christian Mccarrick:
[12:39] But I think it’s important especially if you’re trying to improve a set of diversity and hiring actually have something that’s more quantitative then gut feelings as well right.

Tido Carriero:
[12:50] Yeah I think I think if you think of the culture coffee as you know what I would like to grab a beer with this person in or what I like to sit on the next to them on a plane of hurt all of these things before as the description of what the culture coffee.
Basically setting up a situation where you going to hire people like you rather than.

[13:08] Yeah it’s auction by it’s exactly that may be useful to actually give an example of what one of the values is and in a specific question we ask Justin to give folks a a framing and flavor of the kinds of questions were asking here.

Emily Zahuta:
[13:20] So one of our values is focus and what Focus means to us and what we look for in the interview is is this person able to drive able to work with business impact at 2 at top of Mines is this their main focus and everything that they do.
And so to give an example of a question we might ask about this is you know what about a project tends to motivate you and.
And tell me a specific story about a project that exemplifies this past and so we’re really making then take a step back think about an experience where they’re driving,
business impact first and they don’t really know exactly what they’re answering so you tend to get a raw answer very unfiltered very.
Open and so the storytelling opens up from there and we’ve also interesting only had to adapt this lately for different types of backgrounds to so.
That’s kind of the next phase of our core program but the the questions pause.

Christian Mccarrick:
[14:09] Sure and with those questions and do you actually train then the interviewers to how to answer ask the questions and to listen active listening as well.

Emily Zahuta:
[14:23] Yeah absolutely that’s a big piece of the corner of your program we can selected we started with about 10 people and created the rubric created the grading criteria what they’re listening for in certain questions are certain answers and what constitutes yes versus a strong yes.

[14:38] And so they’re absolutely trained with what to hear and what to listen for.
They’re also trained to take them or Junior interviewer and kind of guide them a little bit towards what we’re asking and what we’re looking for.

[14:49] And they’re also learning to take a step back and then hear a better answer for more senior candidate so there’s a lot of nuances that they need to be very clear on.
This is obviously a work in progress and it’s something that makes it more difficult to scale but it’s something we pay really close attention to.

Tido Carriero:
[15:04] Yeah I would say the easier part is the the rubric and in the questions and the harder part is actually still in the program.
You need to pick people like the people we have select criteria.
Tenure in sort of general feeling that these folks are great examples of our core values and then the second pieces we actually look at the interview data of what they’ve done this far,
insult someone who’s saying no to everyone or something to say yes to everyone or someone is only done 6 interviews in their first year at those folks.
Will not get hand selected where as the folks who have demonstrated that they are sort of high signal interviewers,
and I also demonstrated the values of the folks to get hand-selected and scaling that pool because obviously we’re asking this question to to every candidate who comes to an on-site.
Scaling with pool actually ends up being a really critical piece but I think is also a great piece for really living the values and not just paying lip-service to them as if you have a set of people within the company actively thinking about this and helping a.
Provide a filter for for everyone joining the company so it’s an interesting challenge.

Emily Zahuta:
[16:09] And I just actually it’s they’re passionate about it the idea is that these people feel honored to be a part of the program they’re dedicating a lot of their time to this and are thinking about that they actually hold the key piece of controlling what the rest of what the future of segment looks like so it’s.
Not that kind of prestige around it is also really important especially as we scale.

Christian Mccarrick:
[16:28] And you find any similarities like today tend to be the more senior Engineers or is it just you know random.

Emily Zahuta:
[16:35] I was thinking about this before we came here today and.

[16:38] It’s not random it’s actually intentionally not random and one of the things aside from the two criteria that you don’t mention the other pieces diversity among this group are we representing different teams are we representing male and female accurately,
are we looking at people with different life experiences and levels of experience and so that’s something we’ve taken into consideration not only with the initial group that every single time we had an additional class.

Christian Mccarrick:
[16:59] And you keep mentioning the term rubric here and we do that here as well but maybe if you just kind of give a high level of what that means in relation to to hiring.

Tido Carriero:
[17:12] Yeah it is in relation to the core interview question yeah Emily shared like an example question earlier about focus and focus on business impact.
Going through sort of what we’re looking for on the engineering side here often when you get rid of a question that’s a little,
questions a little bit and make us an engineer will start telling about a very heroic like deep technical tasks that was incredibly challenging and why they are so proud,
and then the interviewers are trained to be like about you know what was the customer impact was the business impact and sometimes you’ll see that they actually can’t connect to that last,
a percent is that an example of actually necessarily wrong that someone’s interested in really hard technical problems but if.
The culture of the company and it is for us is to focus on the customer promise to focus on this business impact then it is wrong,
for us culturally and it doesn’t pass the rubric into these are,
pretty pointed decisions and opinionated decisions we’ve made around this and I think it’s important that the rubric reflect that until we have similar examples for each.
I breach of the values.
I’m in some of them are quite opinionated I don’t even think they’re necessarily bad for every company that I think many companies really want to hire people who are incredibly motivated by problems of high scale and Technical complexity not that we.
Don’t want that but we’ve put first this focus on the customer because that’s so important to our values.

Christian Mccarrick:
[18:36] NAU quantitatively measuring this I get a one-to-five scale or is it yes or no.

Tido Carriero:
[18:41] Christian so usually we’re looking for one compelling specific story that we think really exemplifies it and that will turn it into the gas range.
And then if we spend a bunch of time sort of trying to dig in poker Round 4 for what we’re looking for after about 10 or 15 minutes if we can,
if we can’t get it or just kind of clear out the can it doesn’t think of it this way we will will say no for that for that value.
And then sometimes in this is more unusual but something a little crazier that’s like a real red flag comes out,
I definitely had these folks aren’t that me just because they are recording of yours are really attuned to picking up those kinds of red flags to occasional get like a more serious red flag out of this and then basically it’s like a strong enough for the whole.

Christian Mccarrick:
[19:28] The whole interview.

Tido Carriero:
[19:29] Well we we don’t kick them out of the room right at the moment.
Get out of the office now. Not all like that but yeah that that is enough and that is enough to veto the entire the entire on-site if depending on obviously,
that’s riding on texting and what exactly happened but yes it’s for each value we’re looking for that specific story that we think really tells it well and the interviewers are trained as soon as we get that specific story to basically switch gears to the next Value Inn,
we don’t.
Exactly explain that we’re doing this we Mort we tell Ken is hey this is our core interviews is our most important interview I just going to kind of help test if if you’re a lying to sort of some of our values by,
you’re really going to just be telling us stories about the past there are no right or wrong answers necessarily on but we want to understand how you how you think about the world and how you think about.
What you’ve done in the past.

Christian Mccarrick:
[20:18] And these people are not necessarily coming from the engineering department are they.

Emily Zahuta:
[20:22] I was just going to say something about that so the idea here is,
this will be better as we scale but the idea is that the court interviewer should actually not be directly tied to that higher so there’s no emotional investment there’s no team investment that the person feels tied to they can.
Make a strong decision that can veto the candidate with zero impact to the rest of the team that can make that decision and I think the idea is that an outsider’s can unbiased.
Opinion of a candidate without being bought into what this person will do and how badly we need them creates a really easy way for them to see objectively yes this is a strong person no this is not a strong person for these exact reason.

Christian Mccarrick:
[20:57] Sure and so Google has a concept of their interview panels and it’s pretty blind in any of you mad at me in the hiring manager isn’t necessarily even on that right it’s not quite that extreme.

Tido Carriero:
[21:10] It is not quite that extreme I think we.
As word skelling the debrief process in the excess probably the next big part of the hiring process that we’re not completely happy with we may move a little bit more toward that but this is sort of an isolated independent Viewpoint as a sanity check on the cultural values.
We may at some point move more towards for this kind of panel as we especially as we scale and that’s the Deep grief process undergo some change.

Christian Mccarrick:
[21:35] We talked before about the the started the hiring funnel right when are you going to each of those steps instead of what they are today for you and what do you think is some of the most important pieces of that.

Emily Zahuta:
[21:47] So it’s to the recruiting funnel from start to finish. So can I just come from a variety of places there either Source Talent through our team they applied directly or they referred.

[21:58] I’m in applied till I can come from blog post or an event that someone spoke at so all of that are kind of lump in the same group.

[22:04] Once the application happens recruiting jumps in and does an initial phone screen with the candidate this is what you’re asking for.
I just want to make sure it will do an additional phone screen are they a general fit for the role do we have a place for them is this someone that.
Someone on the team is going to be willing to come to table for which justifies and going to the next step which is either a hiring manager screen or some kind of technical exercise to weed out those up just won’t be up to the technical bar for the role speaking specifically about engineering.
After that’s done there’s a hiring manager screen before or after and then we bring this person on site.

[22:36] There’s a big thing that happens between that initial hiring manager screen and then our on-site interview which we can talk through but after that we after the on-site it’s it’s pretty much decision time once the team has been debriefed.

Christian Mccarrick:
[22:48] Okay and then what are the different rubrics that you have you have your core interview and you have your your technical one are those the two main ones.

Tido Carriero:
[22:57] Those are some of them we do have we do have some other.
So I would say actually on the technical side we’ve really been moving away from whiteboard coating and will either do pair programming when they’re.
When they want to come into the office,
exercise also make available a lot and take homes we really believe giving candidates a chance to do their very best in their own environment on,
we try to make those take-homes a reasonable amount of time to have a take-home that suddenly feels like a real full-time job.

Christian Mccarrick:
[23:30] Thesis paper.

Tido Carriero:
[23:30] Yeah thesis paper at it so which we try to do a void that we’ve been trying to cut down that the take-home commitment,
when we do give a take-home we do usually follow up on site have them walk us through the take home and then often will build like a another small feature or do a small refactor we find that this is way better signal for us in the technical side just because it’s much more realistic than.
You have some questions about circular linked lists or something haha.

Christian Mccarrick:
[23:53] That’s right red black trees.

Tido Carriero:
[23:55] Yeah yeah exactly other we did use a bloom filter not too long ago in a day to start which was incredibly exciting to the undergrad version of me.

[24:04] Anyway so yeah so that’s the technical side we have pretty strong rear brakes but it’s really all pretty Hands-On and we don’t do we don’t do a lot of repetitive.
We do one one or two of these but not do it 6 times over in some of my previous jobs we do 6 similar-looking white board questions and then to try to average them we don’t think that makes as much sense we try to do one and maybe too much more in-depth questions.
I was actually leaves time for a bunch of other things core is a big one.
I may have a career interview which I usually the hiring manager does which is sort of trying to understand that career trajectory that the person has had you know roughly how senior are they roughly what you want is there certain,
promotion trajectory look like not necessarily,
looking for anything super specific but we want to make sure that we’re going to level level them properly and then also have a good idea of sort of,
how quickly they’re moving in their career how do you get a sense of the role that they want as well and I think it’s important to have sort of that trajectory I think that’s most of them too.

Emily Zahuta:
[25:03] I know and that’s pretty much it and I think the one lens to that makes all of this really important as well as Gathering signal for the segment team are hiring managers or any team that Implement something like this,
is it feels really good on the other side so as a candidate sitting in the room you don’t feel like you’re answering the same questions with every single person that walks in your interviewer feels prepared they understand who you are why you’re sitting there and you can kind of see your own growth within the company’s you talk through some of these things.
I think that’s just as important as making sure we’re watching the time for hire and the the questions and the signal that we’re trying to gather with a variety interview questions.

Christian Mccarrick:
[25:33] That’s an excellent point I mean even in my own personal experience going in as a interviewee.
It’s is a big difference between companies that get it and have a good experience and that those that don’t and it really reflects as a candidate.
Well if the interview is this disjointed you know how is the team running and how’s the company going to be.

Tido Carriero:
[25:54] I think actually this is been a huge you know,
a year ago and we were at a much lower close raining and now it’s gotten too much higher I think we’ve through all of this care that we put into it and this obvious effort in this organization,
can it snow this this we regularly get feedback that this interview experience was the best by far across you know three companies are five companies are 10 companies that they talk to,
I know that doesn’t necessarily automatically close can if there’s other factors as well but it certainly means were in the in the final running with the the last couple companies and we’re in a really great off in the driver’s seat,
Tech close to Canada because they had such a great experience so it’s a lot of time it’s a lot of investment that goes into setting this up but I think it really does pay itself out on the on the other side.

Christian Mccarrick:
[26:37] And you speaking of that feedback are you actively collecting feedback on their experience both the I guess the hires and then on tires.

Emily Zahuta:
[26:46] Yes so this is actually don’t know if you know about this so.

[26:51] I know one of the things we’re doing after a new hire starts and part of their onboarding,
program which is fairly complex at signature I really appreciate we sit in a room one of the recruiter sits in a room and asks about the interview experience so first we set the framework of how it’s supposed to look and what are,
what are overlap what our goal was for this and then we asked the new hire not the candidate anymore to say,
how did we actually do how do we relate to this and then we have an open a Google form where they just fill in some feedback for us and it goes directly to HR and recruiting and it’s not shared with anyone else so it’s kind of a chance,
he openly about it.

[27:25] On the other side of candidates decline or those that have declined I’ve actually personally called down the list of declined candidates and reached out and said tell me about your experience we want the feedback.
I want understand why you took this other job and I also didn’t want to do it with the lens of I’m still trying to win you it was purely help us improve help us be better and not to toot your own horn but very rarely was it.
Our interview process that was the major issue it was outside factors but that information regardless helps us be better and more thorough about the questions were asking earlier in the process because if we can avoid that.
We will and if we can give the Canada better experience it’s it’s so easy to make that change.

Christian Mccarrick:
[28:00] And Tito as we were talking the other day you mentioned that the entire interviewing process and improvements was all you’re doing alright.

Emily Zahuta:
[28:12] And tell me where,
I will say Tina with a massive massive driver of everything interviewing across the entire organization so it’s partly true.

Tido Carriero:
[28:23] Well I think yeah I actually have a note on this I think engineering tends to be the hardest thing to recruit for in the valley just cuz the competition is so Fierce and and I saw this happening at Dropbox as well I think.
Where there is such Fierce competition where the stakes are high,
are you end up needing to innovate more just otherwise you can’t succeed in side I have seen a pattern that really all the companies I’ve been at,
where a engineering is sort of leading the charge on a lot of these initiatives and I think one of the big,
goals we have for next year is all of these awesome things we’ve learned with having building a world-class engineering team as our top top of a company go how do we.
A lot of those learnings to all of the other teams I think it’s just like a survival need.
In the Valley Tattoo really excel at this and so I do think engineering is a natural place to.

Christian Mccarrick:
[29:10] The competitive Advantage II if you do it really well.

Tido Carriero:
[29:12] Absolutely.

Christian Mccarrick:
[29:13] And the reason I was joking about that, before but the reason why I have your both of you here today is because the fact that I think it is a partnership.
Read that it’s not just the injury manager or manager and apartment by themselves,
or HR recruiting by themselves right I think to be successful you really need to have a no true partnership between recruiting HR and the engineering and injury management,
so how did that sort of evolve on your side to it to really form a partnership and how would you recommend other.
Engineering managers to start working more closely with recruiting or HR in their companies.

Tido Carriero:
[29:53] Yeah absolutely I think this is one of the least well understood things that I’ve observed at a lot of companies I think.
Thing off and it’s like oh well recruiting must do all of the recruiting work and I will do the interviewing work because I that’s what engineering team needs to do.

Emily Zahuta:
[30:09] Thought of more of the service.

Tido Carriero:
[30:10] Yeah I thought it was like a service in the recruiting team just going to go make it happen I think definitely recruiting team is in a critical part of a recruiting but,
every single time I hire an engineering manager I make it very clear that their number one job is hiring and if they don’t enjoy talking to Canada’s they don’t enjoy occasionally sourcing candidates they don’t enjoy interviewing candidates this job is not the job you want to do,
we have these awesome other jobs like technical leader you know architect like senior IC.
All these amazing other career paths but if you’re not passionate about talking to people and really building out the team and doing the hard work that.
It’s at sort of inhaled with that.
I didn’t enter all it’s not for you until I think if you’re an engineering manager and you’re not thinking of hiring its is a big part of of your job in your roll on.
A question that maybe there are is the occasional case were,
we’re not actually needing to grow the team and in that case I might understand but I do think the first mindset shift is this is you as an edge manager is this is my problem and,
I’m the man I’m the person who needs to start figuring out you know the job description what is the exact role I’m looking for figuring out the requirements for the role.

[31:22] What experience is needed does it need to be a particular language does it need to be super specific things can we generalize a little bit more.
Often will like start hiring for a new role without actually thinking through these questions these are not,
problems that the recruiting team can solve they do not know exactly what’s going on in the engineering team and exactly what the needs are and I think it’s a really frustrating process to be given,
the very ambiguous rolls back in the recruiting team being told the ghost source and drum up candidates and so even something as simple of that as at a really defining what the world needs to be and what their requirements are we’ve tripped up on that.
A bunch of times in the past and I think that kind of thing needs to come from the hiring manager and then obviously.
Recruiting can take over at that point in and go build some pipe and really be calibrating a lot very very often with the with the edge manager I think I find that at the end of manager is not talking to recruiting,
probably twice a day when they’re actively hiring for a roll something is wrong in the recruiting team is probably spinning their wheels because they’re not getting actively calibrated on the roll.
Obviously wants a lot of that leg work has been done the recruiting team can run for a while without needing hiring manager input.
But this is these are like examples of the partnership of why it’s so important for the hiring managers to be engaged and it’s not just a problem that recruiting can solve on its own.

Emily Zahuta:
[32:38] I will also say to that with that mindset and that type of passion and in the investment of the time recruiting then feels.

[32:47] So much more empowered to take on more and to do more in to drive the process and to be true partners and up level their game at every stage.

[32:55] And are we have a lead recruiter on the technical side who probably does know most of the challenges on the engineering side it’s not 100% require but because she has the investment from the engineering organization she then put the investment back to it so it really becomes,
nice positive circle of of giving.

Tido Carriero:
[33:11] Have a great very concrete examples of the engineering team was very excited about this event that we throw called segfault,
which right once a quarter is basically stories of engineering teams worst outages the first one we did was reliability themes the second one was security themed the security thing one I’m not allowed to share details,
it was epic so I think it was cool to the engineering team actually led the first one we were like you’re really excited about this event we did all the logistics,
then the recruiting team was like.
We can do way way way better and we had an absolutely epic event including a fake fire log so we have a fireside chat.
Balloons I mean with the whole thing was just was crazy awesome and it was really the recruiting keep pushing I think it’s like a great example of like the one on one side sets the bar the other side wants to exceed and yeah you just kind of keep.

[34:02] That really good energy guy.

Christian Mccarrick:
[34:03] And one thing you mentioned before was the requirements and really vague requirements for jobs.
I think as engineer’s right just imagine that really vague spec you got in jira for some new feature and you’re like what do I do with it and it’s probably how from a recruiter standpoint you okay.
What is this mean are you going to LinkedIn even is a person looking and if it’s kind of really vague you don’t know what your job is going to do it.

Emily Zahuta:
[34:29] It ends up being a waste of time forever.

Christian Mccarrick:
[34:31] So I think it’s very important to make sure and I make sure my team does as well to get.
Pretty specific on I think the roles and responsibilities of the job but then Converse to that.
In order again back into that sort of diversity sort of an occlusion in a one of the things on the studies is the more required requirements you have for the job tends to limit some of the pool you have for women are under underrepresented groups.
Technology ready to accept balance.

Tido Carriero:
[35:02] Yeah absolutely I think this is one of the the big differences between more Junior hiring managers and answer them or senior ones.
And how kind of detailed that smack is because I think more senior hiring managers realize that I can be fairly loose and maybe there are a couple requirements about,
you having work done High School production systems but you don’t need to go to the Opera necessarily just because someone’s done Java their whole career they can learn go.
Give them three months if they’re the right person with the right career trajectory they’re going to know more go than most of the team in about 3 months and so I think the more senior hiring managers can kind of have stepped back and have that.
Perspective and it’s really important.
The exact of the company or serve training the hiring managers to understand these nuances one thing I found this interesting too it’s not just.
The requirements exactly that you lay out in the in the JD it’s also a calibration. So.
Sometimes you like will lay out some some requirements and then if the hiring manager and the recruiter just sit down for 30 minutes a day for the first like 3 or 4 days.
We’re doing a bunch of sourcing kind of pulling profiles just trying to get a feel for things and then the hiring manager providing very specific feedback and it’s not about being negative toward what the recruiter is doing is just very honest feedback about.
You know and then you actually end up Shifting the requirements or generalizing a bit could you see all these candidates that look awesome that don’t necessarily fit the exact requirements in this calibration. Can be really helpful as well for Fortuna.

[36:35] The raw and is always a work in progress and iterations.

Christian Mccarrick:
[36:38] What you’re looking for as well as what you’re not looking for I think he calibrates both ways.

Emily Zahuta:
[36:42] There’s this weird dynamic that a hiring manager has to do which is what Tito mentioned is with the job description that.
We’ve been almost intentionally vague about what you’re looking for and then on the recruiting side being very very Nuance of why they need a certain skill set and the varieties of.
Places at that school that can come I think that’s also what recruiting brings to the table if you need someone that can do Axwell I’ve seen people from a variety of backgrounds including one two three that have done that that can actually deliver on this requirement of your roll.
So there is kind of a unique little dance that happens with the two in order to land in a place where your job description is compelling an inclusive and your recruiter knows exactly what they’re hunting for.

Christian Mccarrick:
[37:17] And if you’re an engineering manager and maybe they’re trying to improve their hiring process.
Who and who owns what like how would they get started like what are some tips like a year ago you guys were in a different place so tell me a little bit of that Journey like if you wanted to improve it.
It’s your hiring manager today was listening what would be like the first thing to do like the most important thing to get started.

Tido Carriero:
[37:40] Yeah I think I think there’s a lot of the process should not be static,
and I think there’s a lot of is introspection about what is iterative things like any system in production,
there’s all these little changes you can make and still hard to say necessarily are so I can one thing to point out but if your technical interviews aren’t working you’re not getting signal try something different maybe you’re doing whiteboard try pair programming exercise.

[38:04] I do things all take a lot of time though and think of this time it’s like a frustrating trade-off because like this time to be turned into shorter-term features.
Is a very long-term investment you need to make but I think spending a lot of time with the recruiting team hearing their feedback about what they think is not working any time with the engineer’s hearing their feedback on what parts of the interview process aren’t working,
all of these it is a system that constantly needs to be d bugs iterated on,
debug an iterated on I think really treating it more like that rather than oh there’s a process and the way it’s always been done that’s if you have that sort of you point that you’re not going to you’re not going to really turn this machine into a really special.

[38:46] Process.

Christian Mccarrick:
[38:46] And things like your decoding the take-home coding practice that you do did you set of specifically say hey John or Amy you’re going to write this or did someone volunteer was a group thing how did that I did that originate.

Tido Carriero:
[39:01] Yeah we had a lot of volunteers and is actually sort of the same iterative process so.
I think maybe I came up with the first the first coding coding challenges and intake on this when I first got to segments and then sort of,
people saw this and was like oh I can I can do a better one I think this one like has these gaps is a little to algorithms,
we will have more of a distributed systems focus and then we got to a slightly better question which I think maybe came up with and then some of our more experience hiring managers like this kind of question maybe we could add this flavor to the question until,
it just depends on you we venerated on a lot usually it’s either engineering managers that step up,
and provide these things that can be seen your engineer’s it can be any engineer who’s passionate about it but usually if people volunteering,
occasionally when we have a real issue that we just really need to make progress on will will stop other things and say you know we really need to like figure out this,
part of the recruiting process so let’s spend you add a writing a great question or you’re tweaking this part of the process,
I think that’s unusual and I think if you’re hiring people who are really passionate about about hiring then you tend to get volunteers who who Step Up in but it’s not.
It’s been really interesting I thought that each time we’ve done it I’ve been like okay this take-home is going to last us forever and then,
you know what the latest wanted to let you know this is really taking like 10 hours for Kenneth I know I know we think it’s like a $5 take home but this is 10 to 15 and we’re seeing some drop off at the funnel into that was actually the latest rap was we have one that truly takes 3 to 5 hours into that was like a big Improvement.

[40:34] Until that’s like recruiting brings his problems and people step up and usually the hiring team steps up and and builds a new question.

Christian Mccarrick:
[40:41] And Emily for you it what what are some tips you could give to hiring managers right to make their process more successful and to be more successful working with recruiters.

Emily Zahuta:
[40:53] Yeah I think I think too don’t touch on this briefly but it’s it’s listening to the recruiting team and if you have a.

[40:59] Sophisticated enough team with someone with enough experience to say this is actually an issue versus we just need to do some more work and build a building pipeline.

[41:07] You start to see what the real challenges are your recruiter might not be able to identify exactly how to fix it but they can surely surface things that are meaningful,
that are not working for you so I think it’s a super strong partnership between the two is absolutely critical and the other advice I give his talk to the people that you’ve successfully hired,
the people on your team that have gone through a process and figure out what’s worked and what hasn’t worked for them and building an open dialogue around what’s what’s positive and what could have been improved.

Christian Mccarrick:
[41:35] And he also mentioned I think there’s a tear the best practices are the checklist you have is part of this hiring process tell me a little bit about what you feel are the two most important parts of that checklist.

Emily Zahuta:
[41:47] The checklist actually was created did you created.

Tido Carriero:
[41:50] Yeah the checklist was a sort of a summary of a lot of the sort of best practices we learned about,
when various parts of the conversation needs to happen I think like one one really good example is sometimes we wouldn’t get to the comp it’s at all until the very end and then we would be like you know 10 or 15 hours in in with a candidate,
turns out that,
all they want is Cash comp and small startup excitement is not the best way to maximize cash comp from a bunch of lessons like that we’ve kind of have a checklist making sure,
at first that it’s it’s a royal fit before we moved them on to the on-site,
we will usually have conversations not at the very first call but after a bit of investment before will bring them on site actually set yeah it’s at Prien sidestep that really has a lot of steps,
because I wanted such a large investment for the Canada and for us so yeah the checklist is really.
How to find the best practices around what recruiting should be asking what the hiring manager should be asking actually the very first thing on the checklist is making sure we have a proper job description with a proper rubric.
We found ourselves a jumping into.
That jumping into a lot of fun sites without that so then again this is another thing that’s an iterative thing that’s always evolving this this checklist is a template.
Reflects the current state of our Learning Zone what a great process looks like and I fully expect the checklist to change but yeah it’s really just at each step do we know what the role were hiring for is,
does it feel like a roll fed is the comp expectations aligned if we do want to make an offer we have like a whole bunch of ideas about soda.

[43:26] Barry’s closing things we want to do we want to make sure that they understand the equity so we have an equity pitch that week we make sure to give them in so it’s just like a good weight as to stay rigorous throughout and and basically most of the nose that happen,
were failures somewhere earlier in the process I mean occasionally you get into a competitive situation and this is not something you could have.
Burned in advance by.
We’re just finding that a lot of knows we’re still missing like little details earlier in the process and that’s what the checklist is all about so I definitely encourage recruiting teams and hiring manager teams by think recruiting teams to to really think critically about,
making sure that each step is set up for success and if you take each step as a serious time investment which it really is for the business then you can,
I have some of the tougher conversations earlier which will really help you in the long run out with the scaling that the team.

Emily Zahuta:
[44:19] It also on his checklist at least for someone specifically there is a ton of information of what’s going to help us be a successful interview across the board so this becomes a prep,
for the entire interviewing team and that’s something we share before you know the day before or the day off so that each interview knows exactly where this person’s coming from why they’re interviewing what’s important to them,
and again it’s the candidate Focus making sure that they have a great experience with every step of the way and every single interviewer is on top of that it’s a great thing for recruiting to own but it’s imperative that so many other pieces are in place that would involve a strong relationship between hiring manager and recruiter to make that happen.

Tido Carriero:
[44:54] Absolutely I wonder concrete example is before an on-site will have a private slack Channel with all of the interviewers.
And we will yet as Emily just said will send context on who they are what they’re all about clarify in case it’s not.

[45:09] Incredibly obvious like what people are asking for hours are what what interviewers are testing for.

[45:16] And and I think that has gone a really long way in terms of making that they can experience awesome and it takes a little bit extra time,
but you’d much rather give someone to sentence of extra custom guidance then find out your day later that they spent 2 hours at the candidate and we’re testing the wrong things and so we actually will post it in the channel,
we have every single interviewer Emoji the post to.
That they saw it and if you do not act that post you will get hunted down by one of the members of the recruiting team in and just make sure that you go in there prepared because you know it’s disrespectful to a candidate.

Emily Zahuta:
[45:50] Is something as simple as understanding did they apply for this job themselves or did we go hunt down someone that’s not actually looking for something new we’re trying to convince them that this is the place that is for them and that’s just that would be said to keep peace in the interview that each person should so those are the types of things that we make sure.

Christian Mccarrick:
[46:02] That’s right so what do you want to work here well you called me.

Emily Zahuta:
[46:07] Why are you grilling me when it’s supposed to be a fella meeting.

Christian Mccarrick:
[46:10] It’s right now.
Going to the end phase of this when your ear in the you have the rubrics everything’s filled out what is that decision process look like is it everyone in a room is sitting who actually kind of is involved in that final decision.

Tido Carriero:
[46:27] Yeah so this is probably the disclaimer probably a part of the process that we’re going to change next I wouldn’t say we’re incredibly proud of where this pieces but we will.
Yeah it was getting better we will bring everyone into a room will usually try to pull out some of the themes of.
Appositives we saw,
concerns we saw and try to structure the conversation around those I think we’re doing this a little bit ad-hoc and one of the big things that we’re going to be doing hopefully in the next quarter or so is trying to streamline this a little bit really making the hiring manager spend some time synthesizing,
the whole panel of interview data so that we can have more of a directed conversation I do think there’s a tremendous amount of value about,
getting people together I’m so that you know if it was one person saw something small and then another person like Sade also but like didn’t bother to write it in their feedback cuz it seems like a like it’s very important to surface those kinds of themes,
I think we’re just doing a little bit in an ad hoc way right now where everyone’s coming into a room for half an hour,
I’m by directing that conversation a little bit more thematically is is a big piece that would like to improve.
Are we will pull everyone together sometimes if people were purely selling we won’t pull those folks into the room was spent 30 minutes debriefing and,
I try to walk out with either a decision or possibly next steps on.
Reference checks next next steps on doing some more interviewing because we feel like for whatever reason we didn’t get this kind of enough signal on this particular thing.
But I have to start the process right now.

Christian Mccarrick:
[47:57] And I think the one thing that you keep coming back to you write that theme is that you should be constantly evaluating your process.

Emily Zahuta:
[48:04] Scrutinizing.

Christian Mccarrick:
[48:06] It is at certified you have like a quarterly retrospective a monthly what kind of cadence do you are on going.

Emily Zahuta:
[48:13] I think that’s where it that partnership between the hiring manager and recruiting become so critical to is worth talking about these things all the time and yeah we look at things quarterly annually and it’s important to do the look back and understand what worked and what didn’t work but.
If you missed a whole quarter of doing something really wrong that you miss out on a lot of potential hires a lot of.
Experiences that you’re not capturing so I would say it’s a constant conversation between recruiting.

Tido Carriero:
[48:37] I was going to say weekly to answer your question it’s not that it’s because not structured is not like a 30-minute thing it’s just I would say once a week we make.

[48:46] A small change the process will like really talk about something that’s not working think the debrief is a good example we’ve been talking for a month or so that pieces aren’t working but that’s like a slightly bigger.

[48:58] Project to go figure out exactly what we want to do there but there’s much smaller pieces that we’re tweaking all the time,
I’m just based on a single bad can it experience or single too low signal interview at what we’re doing like a little mini post-mortem whenever something feels off at the end of that debrief.

Christian Mccarrick:
[49:14] And any lasted of final tips or things you’d want to communicate about maybe not just segments hiring process but in general that you kind of want to convey to the listeners.

Tido Carriero:
[49:26] Yeah I would say.

[49:28] The thing that’s hard about all of this it makes a lot of sense that investing here would help you think the thing that’s really hard as such a long-term Investments is very frustrating cuz you’re making these like small changes and it’s not small changes that get.
Deploy to production and have millions of customers impact like that day,
it’s these changes that take awhile to to pile up and really accrue but what does happen over 3 months or 6 months as you do this as you start getting can is telling you that this was an amazing process you start seeing the separate start taking off.
You can’t even really attributed to any particular change,
that certain nature of like you’re making all these small changes that might not even seem worthwhile in the short-term I think I often like to go home and I’m not satisfied about your making this,
tweaking the process cuz it didn’t feel as meaningful as like shipping a piece of coder or whatever but I think it is really adds up in this huge long term way and so it’s the investment you need to make at even though you don’t get delayed gratification.
When I make a.

Christian Mccarrick:
[50:28] Everything else with Engineering Management.

Tido Carriero:
[50:31] Yeah this one’s a really delayed gratification sometimes.

Christian Mccarrick:
[50:33] But I think he even aspect of just focusing on it even without a plan will probably lead to.

Emily Zahuta:
[50:39] Pay attention.

Christian Mccarrick:
[50:41] Right you’re paying attention so you’re hiring correct excellent okay any critical hires out there you want to kind of mention right now.

Emily Zahuta:
[50:50] You’re excited but what segments doing your critical to us.

Christian Mccarrick:
[50:53] Okay and what’s the best kind of way what’s what’s the websites I went to website best way to get in touch with you if you’re looking for a job to participate and give feedback in your you’re awesome hiring process.

Emily Zahuta:
[51:05] Segments job page is always up-to-date and you can apply directly online if you know someone working at the company or referrals right would come in stopping them directly and also apply as what I would recommend.

Christian Mccarrick:
[51:15] And you mention the blog to is that right off of the segment.

Tido Carriero:
[51:18] Yeah blog there’s an engineering topic that’s the one that were super proud of and I think some great examples of.
Content that send very well and Hacker News I think there is a bit of a a formula there,
and I’d be more than happy to talk to any engineering leaders that are trying to get a similar plug up and running that one’s a delayed gratification it while you get a little bit quicker gratification there but it’s a it’s about a 30 40 our investment from a very senior engineer took to write one of those posts.
For each of those post and to really turn them in and get them just right it’s also.
A very humbling experience cuz you’ll write it about three or four times before you actually get it right I think our rcto Calvin is the only one who knows how to write this end to end without any revs the rest of us need to need to do a lot of practice runs but yeah I think,
it’s a really large time investment and you have to slow down some of the other things you’re doing I’m but it is worth it in the long run.

Christian Mccarrick:
[52:12] Exit and a tutor what’s the best way to get in touch with you.

Tido Carriero:
[52:15] My email address is T I do at I’m more than happy to to field questions or or chat with you if you’re figuring out these things I think they’re probably the most interesting things I have to share around some of the stories in,
definitely happy to jam on any of these hiring manager or hiring process hiring manager process type things.

Christian Mccarrick:
[52:34] Accent well Emily Tito I appreciate your coming on the show this morning thank you very much.

Tido Carriero:
[52:39] Thanks for having us.


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