Building VTS

The Official VTS Engineering Blog

VTS Engineering Core Values

By Andrew Lin

What qualities make a good engineer at VTS? Here’s our unedited document below. Read on afterwards to see how we developed it.


VTS Engineering Core Values

Headings are ideas with their own meaning, but are nuanced by the bullet points nested underneath. Importance is indicated by ranking in list, not by number of bullet points.

1. Passion

  • Driven, takes initiative, self-motivated

  • Software Engineering feels like a hobby.

  • Enthusiasm about technology, learning


2. Collaboration

  • Make each other better

  • Willing to put own work aside when a teammate asks for help

  • Good communicator

  • Sense of humor


3. Empathy

  • For clients, other devs, other departments

  • Respectful


4. Beginner’s Mindset

  • Willing to ask questions

  • Self-awareness of strengths and weaknesses

  • Curious

  • Humility


5. Trustworthiness

  • Honest

  • Friendly

  • Dependable


6. Pragmatism

  • Adaptive

  • Flexible


7. Discipline

  • Follow best practices

  • Detail-oriented

  • Focused

  • Meticulous


How we got here

We always had a strong sense of what made a good engineering candidate, but those ideas were often trapped in tribal knowledge. In order to ensure we make hires that fit our cultural and technical standards, we wanted to come up with a document. The hard part was making sure everyone on the team had a say. Here’s how we did it.

1. Break the engineering team into random groups

We randomly assigned our 20 engineers (through a script of course ["engineer1", "engineer2"] .shuffle.each_slice(4).to_a) into groups of 4 in order to kick off brainstorming about what made a good engineer. This was an attempt to get diversity of thought without letting anyone’s opinions get drowned out (which inevitably happens in large groups.

2. Have engineers submit anonymous(ish) answers

After everyone had a chance to brainstorm with peers, we collected answers from everyone. [Everyone was instructed to submit 3-5 qualities that could be in the form of words, phrases, or sentences].

3. Meet up as one large team and finalize the draft

We whittled down the rough draft and came with the finalized document you see quoted above. The whole team generally agreed on what qualities are the most important and came up with something that we’re proud to define ourselves with.

The document is already paying off

It’s not only valuable to have this for new hires, but it’s also an important decision-making tool. We’ve ruled out otherwise strong candidates and moved decidedly by referencing the document. For instance, we turned down a candidate for a lack of desire to work collaboratively.

Conclusion

We tried to involve as many engineers as possible without making the process cumbersome. In total, it took two weeks for us to create this document, which isn’t too shabby considering all the thought and work we put into it. In the end, we came up with a document that’ll guide our hiring and our culture.