How To Use Values For Structured Hiring

Doug Daniels

VP Engineering at Datadog



At Datadog in the early days, the hiring manager interviews were done mostly by the founders. They had a very intuitive sense of the values they were looking for in new hires. . While we added a lot of structure over time for coding and design interviews, our hiring manager interviews stayed fairly unstructured as new people started running them. This worked for a bit, but we came to realize that we needed more agreement on what we value to know whether an employee will thrive at Datadog and make good contributions.

Actions taken

Initially, we determined whether there was a fit for the team by having a less structured conversation with the candidate. We also discussed contributions they had made in the past and by talking to them about their philosophy towards work, we tried to find out more about their motivations. What I found over time was that it was actually very helpful to think about what our company's values were, and how past hires have been successful at in our company. I then used that to craft questions for the interview. While I still allowed for some drifting in the conversation, by focusing on these topics, you can give the interview a shape and structure. I take an explicit list of values with me to each interview to discuss with the candidates. It's important that these are the real values of the company, the things that matter and that you'd use to hire and promote. I ask questions targeted toward those values, and look for them to show me how they have taken specific actions to show how they might fit into our company in the future. I found using the same questions in each interview really helpful. I could compare previous answers with new ones and start to get a benchmark around what a good answer looks like.

Lessons learned

Think more explicitly about your company's values and what you want from the people you work with. Then, ensure you craft questions that, as much as possible, allow you to decide whether the candidate will succeed and be a good fit. Over time, you will discover what a good answer looks like by using the same questions in multiple interviews.

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Doug Daniels

VP Engineering at Datadog

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