The values interview

We expect every teammate, team, and our company to live up to the Sourcegraph values. It is therefore important that we evaluate every candidate on the values to determine how successful they will be within Sourcegraph. Because of this, all candidates, regardless of level or role, go through a values interview as part of their interview process with Sourcegraph.

What is the values interview?

  • Interviewers: two teammates outside of the department for which a candidate is interviewing.
  • Duration: 30-minutes. We should allow five minutes for the introduction, 20 minutes for the screen, and 5 minutes at the end for questions.
  • Details: this interview is focused entirely on our values and how a candidate’s views and experiences align with them. Our values are key to our success as individuals and as a company. You can read more about them here.

Purpose of the values interview

The purpose of the Values Interview is to ensure that the candidate embodies our core values. It is not a skills assessment. Rather, the goal of the interview is to determine whether candidates can positively contribute to our core values. This is just as important as determining if they have the skill and will to perform the duties of the role.

Workplaces are a version of a community. In any community where you want people to figure out how to work together effectively, it can be helpful to have a common set of guiding principles. Understanding how intrinsically aligned a candidate might be to our guiding principles makes it more clear as to what will be easy and what will be hard for them if they come into this environment. Will they need coaching or might they be an example? I think about it as an alignment exercise to determine what they are going to add that could potentially enhance our values and take them to the next stage as our community at Sourcegraph continues to grow and evolve.

Image outlining the values interview length, who participates, and focusing on our values by asking structured, behavioral-based interview questions

Resources for interviewers

Why is the values interview important for the candidate?

Candidates are brand ambassadors, regardless of whether we hire them or not and candidate experience should be a top priority. We want to ensure we’re hiring people who are going to enhance our values, and who believe in them the way that we do. On the flip side, it provides a really great candidate experience and it allows our candidates to truly realize that we don’t just put values in our handbook, but we actually live them and breed them.

The Values Interview is also important for the candidate for a couple of reasons. Not only does it give candidates direct exposure to our DNA, our makeup, and why our values are important—it also gives them the opportunity to meet people outside of the respective department for which they’re interviewing. For example, if somebody is interviewing for a sales role, they could meet with somebody from the marketing and/or finance team. Not only does the candidate have the opportunity to see that our values are really important, but they also have the opportunity to meet a diverse set of teammates. They have the opportunity to ask why people outside of their respective departments work at Sourcegraph.

Why is the values interview important to YOU?

While we don’t want to unconsciously hire new teammates who are clones of us, having a way of getting a signal on their values is critical. The interview ensures that we are remaining dedicated to our core values as we scale and grow. The right hires who contribute, enhance, and add to our values will positively impact the future of our business.

The Values Interview is also a great way for us as teammates to reinforce what our values are at Sourcegraph. This interview will serve as one of the many ways in which we can continuously keep them top of mind and think of them without having to put them on a wall. We want to embody them and this is a great way to be talking about them a lot more regularly.

Who is eligible to lead a values interview

All teammates who have been at Sourcegraph for 3+ months are eligible to conduct a values interview.

How do I conduct a values interview?

The purpose of the values interview is to determine if the candidate embodies and exemplifies our values.  It is not meant to be a skill assessment, and should only focus on Sourcegraph’s values. One member of the values team will opt in as a lead (this person is the one who begins the introduction and asks the first question), and then you will alternate asking questions with the other member of the values team.

If you haven’t familiarized yourself with our values, please start to do so because we are really going to rely on our teammates to feel like they have a good understanding of all of our values and we believe that these values are what helps us achieve our goals and our vision, and ultimately build an inclusive team.

You can see more information about our interview stages here

Image showing of the three interview parts written below

Part 1: Introduce yourself, build rapport, and set agenda

As we all know, interviewing can be stressful. The priority is to develop rapport, get the candidate at ease, and make them feel comfortable. We should ask them how they’re doing, make sure they have a glass of water, and answer any initial questions they have. We always want to introduce ourselves and set an agenda.

Sample script: Hi [candidate name], thank you so much for joining us today!  We know you have been through several other stages of the interview process, and everyone has really enjoyed getting to know you thus far.  For the next 30-minutes, we’re excited to spend time together discussing our values, which we believe are the principles and beliefs that help us achieve our goals and vision.  We’d like to start with introductions.  We will then ask a series of questions related to our values, and we’ll be sure to leave 5–10 minutes at the end for questions from you.  Does this sound good?

  • 1st interviewer: my name is [name], my role is [position], and I have been at Sourcegraph for [length of time].
  • 2nd interviewer: my name is [name], my role is [position], and I have been at Sourcegraph for [length of time].

You can find the above information in the “interview prep” section of your Greenhouse scorecard.

Part 2: Ask structured, behavioral-based interview questions

  • Your stuctured interview questions can be found in your Greenhouse scorecard. These are the same for every candidate.

  • Your goal is to assess whether or not the candidate aligns with our values only. This is not a skills assessment for the role.

  • Please make sure the interview is recorded by pressing “Record with Brighthire.”  (Recording an interview is not required but we encourage it. To learn more about why we record our interviews and why it helps provide a fair, inclusive, and enjoyable interview experience, click here.

  • Be sure to ask “drill down questions” and continue to ask more specific open ended “tell me…” questions to dig deeper and fully understand the candidate’s response before moving forward to the next question. Some examples of “drill down questions” include:

    • “Tell us why you made that decision”
    • “Tell us what you would have done differently”
    • “Tell us how you implemented that feedback moving forward”

Part 3: Answer candidate questions, sell, and end on a positive note!

Even if you don’t feel like the candidate is the right fit for the role, you should still establish rapport and leave them on a high note feeling good. If you know that this is the best candidate you’ve talked to and you are super excited to move them forward, go into selling mode. You could say, “I’m so glad to have met you and I’m happy to be a resource as you go through the process and have any questions. It’s a great place to work.” As a team, we will develop a guide of all of the selling points and how we can consistently sell Sourcegraph. We will create bullets that you can leverage to sell our company, depending on the scenario.

The only time that selling can go awry is if we give any indication that they’re going to get an offer, and then they don’t get an offer. We need to be careful that when we’re selling, we’re not saying things like, “when you join us” or “I’m so excited to work with you.” Instead, we should say, “here is why Sourcegraph is so great” or “here is why I’m so excited to be here and these are some reasons why I decided to join Sourcegraph.”

We are in a candidate driven market. Candidates have many different opportunities and options to explore. We need to make sure that we give an incredible candidate experience. Candidates join companies not only for the role, but also their future managers. Do they feel a connection to the people that they’re going to be reporting to? And do they feel a connection with the team with whom they’re going to be working? It is all of our responsibility to ensure we’re giving an experience that allows us to hire the people that we want versus losing them to other opportunities.

  • Tell them why you love Sourcegraph!
  • We are transforming the world by making it so that everyone can code.
  • We are a handbook-first company, and lead with transparency.
  • We have experience tremendous revenue growth.
  • We have incredible leadership who set the example for trust and open communication.
  • We have endless growth opportunities and we invest in our employees’ professional development.

Providing feedback

  • Please fill out your Greenhouse Scorecard following the interview.
  • To ensure that bias doesn’t impact your decision-making, please be sure to fill out your scorecard before discussing with anyone.
  • To learn more about providing feedback, click here.
  • For Best Practices, click here.

Resources for recruiters

Please ask the Hiring Manager if they have any suggestions for their role. Reminders:

  • Must have been here for 3+ months. Here is a doc that lists everyone who has been here for 3+ months.
  • Must be two people from different departments
  • Please keep diversity in mind when selecting teams

Once the values team has been selected, the Recruiter is responsible for sending a Slack to each values team saying:

“Hi team! As you know, our values interview is critical to ensuring that our new hires embody our values, and we need your help! The two of you have been nominated to serve as the values team for our [role title] opening. I recognize that this is outside of your day-to-day responsibilities, so please let me know if you’re willing to participate (and if you’re too busy right now, no worries! We can always add you to another team when your schedule allows). If you both agree to opt in, below are some helpful details:

  • The two of you will conduct a 30-minute values interview for all [role title] finalists. We anticipate 3–5 total interviews (so this would be a 1.5–2.5 hour commitment) and will be spread out over multiple days.
  • One of you will need to opt in as the lead (this person is the one who begins the introduction and asks the first question).
  • Here is a resource to help you in the interview.
  • All structured interview questions are listed in your Greenhouse scorecard, found in the interview prep link in your interview calendar invite.

Please let me know if this is something you’re both willing to participate in and I’ll add you to the interview plan. And if you have any questions or would like to practice in advance of the interview, let me know and I’ll send a calendar invite!”

Feedback scenarios

  • If both interviewers select yes or strong yes, no further debrief is needed and we can move forward to offer stage if the Hiring Team is aligned.
  • If one or both interviewer select no, but the rest of the interview team is yes or strong yes, then a debrief is needed and the below steps need to be followed before moving to an offer:
    • Step 1: the Recruiter Slacks the Hiring Manager and the VP Talent that the candidate got a no on values. The Recruiter asks the Hiring Manager to review the feedback form and the Brighthire to see if they are aligned with the feedback, or if they would like to investigate further.
    • Example Slack message: “Hi Hiring Manager - I wanted to flag that candidate name got a no / neutral during the values interview. As a next step, would you mind reviewing this feedback and this Brighthire video? We can then make a final determination whether or not to move forward.”
    • Step 2: if the Hiring Manager reviews the feedback and Brighthire and is still interested in moving forward to offer stage, the Hiring Manager sends the below Slack to the values interviewer, the VP Talent, and the Recruiter:
    • Example Slack message: “Hey team! Thank you so much for interviewing candidate namefor the values interview.  We know it’s outside of your day-to-day responsibilities are are super grateful. We noticed you gave a no, so before making a final decision, I wanted to circle back to better understand your score. Essentially, I am wondering if you are a firm no, or if you came out of the values interview noticing “yellow flags” that need to be investigated further.  Some questions: 1. What flags do I need to dig in further before making a decision? 2. Do you have any serious concerns in moving forward from a values standpoint?  In other words, if I dig on the flags and feel comfortable moving forward, would you be supportive? Thank you again for taking the time to provide your feedback (which I greatly value) to help me better understand any discrepancies before making a final call!”