Setting Up Engineering Team Values to Aid in Recruiting

Karl Baum




Three years ago, when my company VTS had about ten to 15 engineers, we were really ramping up our recruiting, and I realized that we needed a common set of values when evaluating candidates, and we needed to be explicit about what they were. Doing this would give us a common way to communicate about each candidate.

Actions taken

Before beginning our recruitment process, we got together as a team and came up with our engineering values. One of the engineers in my team was really excited about leading this process, so I let him do it. When an engineer is excited about this kind of process, why stand in their way?
All of our team was involved in the process. I broke the team down into small groups of three to four people. Each of these groups was given the task of coming up with what they thought our engineering values were. Once the groups had completed this task, we got everybody together, we wrote all the commonalities from the different teams up on a whiteboard, and we hashed out the values that we thought were most important. Then, once we were done, we published the values online via a blog post.

Lessons learned

Coming up with engineering values obviously helped us in making decisions about candidates, but it also helped us internally when we needed to make difficult decisions. In addition, publishing the values online was really important, as candidates then read these values and reached out to us based on them - our current Director of Engineering reached out to us based on the blog post we wrote about our values. If I were to do this again, I would have actually done it sooner - when we had just five to ten engineers. When you are recruiting, you really want to make sure everyone is on the same page and that everyone is looking for the same attributes in candidates. Having clear values helps to ensure this. In addition, candidates who don't fit with our values are more likely to filter themselves out.

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Karl Baum


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