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Choosing Candidates Who Share Your Company Culture

Jimmy DePetro

Senior Director and Head of Engineering at Wag Labs

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Problem

My management style has always been about getting the right people into the room. You have to hire the right people at the end of the day, whether you’re a manager or the CEO.

One challenge that I’ve faced is deciding whether or not a potential employee is a good fit with the culture of the company in the long-term. Engineering is a very skills-based occupation; you can throw whatever technical challenges you want at an Engineer, and, if they know their stuff, they’ll usually be able to get by. However, even the most technically-advanced Engineer will not thrive if they do not subscribe to the culture of your organization as a whole.

Measuring a match in personality during the interview process is extraordinarily difficult. Many professionals are well-practiced interviewers; they smile and have all of the right answers to give. As a manager, you need to ask yourself how they will fit in personally with the rest of your team. It’s Friday at 6pm, and everybody is trying to go out, but there’s a P0 project on the line with a production issue slowing down everybody’s progress. How are they going to work through that?

Actions taken

Try to notice these finer details from the get-go. Do they have an ego? Are they receptive to feedback? You can ask those questions straight-up in your interview, but you’ll rarely get a genuine answer directly.

It all comes down to what the person wants and where they’re at. If they’re not open to feedback or change, it can be difficult to convince them otherwise. Sometimes, it is best to simply part ways. Others with good intentions will be more open to growth.

I try to notice whenever somebody like this is willing to invest in themselves and to evolve in order to work with my team and I. As long as they have the right attitude, technical ability is secondary. We can build you into the best Engineer that you can be. We will find a place for you in this company.

Lessons learned

  • Clear expectations are a must. The tricky part is understanding how an employee best receives these intentions. Some people are verbal. Others need more hand-holding or some sort of written communication - goals, deadlines, and milestones that keep them on track.
  • Check in often when necessary. Present the roadmap and look for the person who says “Yes.”
  • As a manager, every person that you work with, you learn something from them. Everybody has different working styles, ambitions, and goals. The more types that you’ve met and managed successfully, the more diverse your managerial experience will be. You will be more comfortable and more prepared for any situation down the road.

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Jimmy DePetro

Senior Director and Head of Engineering at Wag Labs


Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyCulture DevelopmentFeedback TechniquesCareer GrowthSkill DevelopmentIndividual Contributor RolesLeadership Roles

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