Interviewing stories

Networking pays off

We’re currently hiring for a hard-to-fill position.

I reached out to a good friend to see if he was interested, and to my surprise, he said he was going to apply.

It was unlikely given he is currently employed, less than a year in at his current company, with decent compensation and a good work environment.

He applied to the position, and sadly, got a rejection letter almost immediately.

No explanation, no feedback, no courtesy initial phone screen, nothing.

This would be the end of the story in most situations, but he reached out to give me an update and told me about the rejection.

Here is where networking pays off.

I reached out directly to the recruiter and mentioned that for such a difficult spot to fill, In the current competitive market, getting my friend to apply was unexpected, and that it was surprising not to have him go through at least an initial phone screen.

The recruiter mentioned they would look into it and update me soon.

A couple of days passed, and I heard back from the recruiter.

They had made a mistake and had declined my friend’s application while going through candidates.

They offered to reach back out to schedule a screening call if I thought it was ideal…I said yes!

A few days have passed since, and today, I got an update from my friend.

He received an email from the recruiter apologizing for the mistake, and they held a screening call.

Later, the first interview with our VP of engineering happened, and he is now scheduled for follow-up discussions.

I am happy for my friend and excited that he is moving along in our hiring process, but this would not be the case if he did not know someone already working at the company.

Networking paid off! Reach out to your ex coworkers, keep in touch, and remember that sometimes a quick conversation can be a powerful tool.

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Hiring Interviewing

Hiring your boss

Today I had the great honor of interviewing my possibly future boss.

During the interview, I was looking not only for this person to be the right fit for the company, but I was looking for this person to be the right fit for me.

Here’s what I mean by that.


I dislike micromanagement, but sadly in engineering groups, this might be a common approach to execution.

On this topic, I am usually on the lookout for good delegation, a high-level understanding of the project, well-defined processes, great stakeholder communication, inclusiveness, and utilizing everyone’s talents to their best.

A red flag for me would be someone who feels that they have to control all aspects of the project.

This shows via lots of “I” statements such as “I did,” “I executed,” “I managed and architected,” so on.


I am empathetic, so when we ask about challenging situations, I like to hear if someone embraces a problematic situation by thinking about the other person first, starting from a position of curiosity and doing their due diligence to fully understand all sides of a given problem.

A red flag in my case is hearing that they made up their minds quickly, placed blame on the individual without holding the team accountable, and probably defaulted to PIPs as a trusted tool.


I value friendship, so when I hear about managing stakeholders and relationship building, I love to hear stories of fun moments, camaraderie and getting together to overcome challenges.

For me, a red flag is to listen to stories of political or brute force approach or battle of wills.


Hopefully, this quick rundown through my small list of desires helps you start thinking about your list of wants for your possible boss.

Suppose you ever find yourselves influencing who will be your boss. In that case, It is highly beneficial to prepare in advance and understand the questions that will surface the behaviors you would love to see.

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Hiring management Team building

Seeding new teams

We’re currently trying to seed a new team to work on a high profile high-value initiative.

In this post, I will walk you through the different options we came up with, as well as the DACI format we’re using to get to a decision.

Existing team

The fastest option but also the one that carries the most risk.

Existing teams already own components and have plans for them in the future.

By switching priorities over to this new initiative, they will have to drop their work and ownership onto someone else’s plate or decide that there is no value in engaging in the work, which could have very real negative business impact.

Add to that the human factor. You usually join a team, make plans, and have certain expectations of the work you will be doing.

Now imagine that suddenly, the company decides to switch directions and sends you over to go build something entirely different.

Depending on what the new work is, this might sound like a fascinating opportunity or a terrifying one that could cause some churn within the company.

New team

The most time-consuming option is establishing an entirely new team.

It takes an average of three months to hire a new engineer, even longer to hire an engineering manager, a product owner and a designer.

Add another three months or so of onboarding time and we’re saying that if we start today we will see progress on this initiative in about six months.

Internal recruiting

This in-between option means that we seed the team initially from within but, unlike option number one, where we’re using an existing team, we will open up a requisition to gather interest from within the company and go through our internal hiring process to seed the initial squad.

The approach comes with a few advantages and disadvantages.

On the plus side, we ensure that interested individuals actually join the team.

It is also less time-consuming than hiring externally.

It is possibly less disruptive than removing an entire team, given that ideally, the individuals will come from multiple parts of the company.

On the negative side, it does take longer than just taking an entire team and switching directions for them.

There’s also the risk that no one shows up or is interested in the work.

As well as the unlikely option that an entire team would want to move over.


While we have not decided what we’re going to do, I’ll talk a bit about the DACI framework used to get to a decision.

The framework stands for driver, approvers, contributors, informed.

The driver’s job is to initiate the process and gather all the approvals, contributors, and people that need to be informed of the decision.

The driver could also be in one of the other statuses.

The approvers will provide feedback, contribute to the decision, and ultimately make a decision.

Contributors are different stakeholders that will offer some input or based on their expertise.

Informed are the group of stakeholders that will need to be made aware of the decision.

With very well-defined roles, the process is simple.

We start a document with an initial summary that displays multiple options, such as the ones we included at the beginning of this blog post.

We include any risks that we believe there to be with each option.

We sent the document to everyone in the approval and contributor groups and set a deadline to give everyone enough time to provide their feedback.

Once everyone has given their input and provided their preferred option, the approvers will get together and make the final decision.

The last step is to inform the people in the “informed” group.

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Hiring Interviewing

Why do I stick around?

Today, I saw a post from a close colleague of mine that they have joined a new company.

Anytime someone leaves it makes me wonder if I could I be next, what is keeping me here? what drove them to leave? how much money are they making now? are their benefits better? what is it like over at their new place of employment?

Upon reflection, I think about the reasons for me to join my current company and I wonder if those still hold true, as well if I still feel the same way I felt about them when I joined.

For me specifically, I value a place with strong company values, a big emphasis on empathy, and treating people with respect.

to give you an example, a place that thrives on execution and driving people out via PIP is not the type of place that I wanna work for (you know who you are)

I went back to my prior priority matrix for when I was searching for work (yes, I had a weighed priority matrix to compare offers) and I noticed that I weighed heavily on the values, more so than the compensation.

So far, this still holds true for my current employer so I’m happy to say that I’ll be sticking around for a little while ☺️

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Hiring Salary

Don’t tell me your salary

As a hiring manager, I’ll ask how much are you expecting in terms of salary for the positions that we are hiring for.

This is standard practice and you will see this question in one form or another through the interview process

In some states in the United States, if you ask, I am required to provide you with a range, but for most companies, as of 2020, the salary range is kept hidden to candidates.

If you have not done a lot of research on the subject and the company, it is always best to avoid that question like the plague!

Recommended reading on negotiation

How to avoid giving a salary?

The easiest way is to ask right away what is the range being offered for the position and location. Most hiring managers will have that information handy, or the ability to get it for you.

With a range, you can then decide as to whether you would like to continue with the process.

If pushed, you can try to delay giving the information. Depending on where in the process you are, you can say that you are not ready to talk about salary until you know more about the company.

Just be mindful that you won’t always get a range or have the ability to delay the conversation.

To be ready, let’s move to our research phase.

If I must provide a salary? researching salaries

As mentioned above, if possible, get the company to show their hand first.

but be prepared to still have to provide them with a number or at least a range for what you would be comfortable with.

Lucky for you, most salary information is out there so that you have a good idea of what you are getting into.

Sites such as Glassdoor, Ziprecruiter, Payscale, and LinkedIn are a great start for your initial investigation into a potential salary for your position.

Social media is another great place for information, spreadsheets are going around where individuals will post their current company, along with their salary information and location.

Knowing the market rate, or even the possible rates for your specific company, you are now ready to provide them with a number if pushed for.

Anchoring the desired salary

The theme so far has been to get the company to show their hand, this way you know what you are getting into.

When that is not possible, we want to utilize a strategy called “Anchoring” to our advantage.

The idea is simple, whatever number you provide will be used as the base of the negotiation later on.

For example, let’s assume that you mentioned 100,000 USD as your desired salary. As the hiring manager, I’ll base a possible offer starting with your 100,000 USD and moving either up or down from it depending on the salary I can pay.

A better strategy is to provide a range. The same anchoring concept applies, but you open yourself up to the possibility of negotiating up when the actual offer comes through.

With the salary range option, the lower number is the “anchor” the hiring manager will most likely use during his process, so make the lower number your desired salary

Negotiating a salary

You have done all of the above and are now given an official offer, usually with a deadline for a reply.

First, congratulations! both you and the company think you are a good match for each other.

Do not say yes just yet, since your initial offer will most likely be made via phone, video, or in person. Here is what you need to do to increase your chances of getting an even better offer.

  • Thank them for the opportunity
  • Say that you would like to review the opportunity with your loved ones – yes, this could be your pet or even your neighbor, the idea is to buy time.
  • Go home and craft an email to be sent the next day asking for more

Sounds simple, right? it is simple but is not easy. Your feelings and your gut will constantly tell you to just accept the offer.

You made it through their process and they want y0u, why bother negotiating?

Well, the answer is simple as well, a higher initial salary means more money in your pocket now, a higher salary a year from now when you get a raise, a higher bonus, etc.

Even better, all it will cost you is getting over the fear of asking for more, so go ahead and send that email.

For the most part, as hiring managers, we have the flexibility to go up by a small percentage from the first number we give you. The worst that could happen is that we say no to your counteroffer.

So best of luck, avoid giving a number first, do your research, and always ask for more.

Follow up on the subject with a pair of incredible books

Recommended reading on negotiation
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