Below are lists of tools you can use for inspiration and as a template for your own organization. Of course, you shouldn't blindly copy any of these any more than you would blindly copy a Stack Overflow post. Use them for research, or to get you over the 'blank screen' problem.
Looking for something specific? The Soft Stuff has tools and resources focused on:
Wrote a job description you like? Want to share your interview questions? Even if you just want to link to something on the web, pull requests are welcome! If you want to contribute but aren't comfortable with Github, you can contact me and I'll help out.
1-1 Meeting Templates, Topics, and Questions
This section is all about the 1-1 meeting. Done well, the 1-1 meeting can be the single biggest contributor to a team member's satisfaction with their job, their manager, and the company. But it's tricky to get right because of how open-ended and unstructured the meeting can be.
A very good overview of how to position the 1:1 meeting for success. This article focuses on the GROW framework for structuring the meeting: Goals, Reality, Options, and Wrap-up.
An excellent overview of what a 1-1 meeting is, why it's valuable, and how to structure them for success. Also includes an agenda template (in MS Word .doc and .docx format) with more than a dozen suggested open-ended questions to stimulate conversation. This is a good place to start if you're building a process for 1-1 meetings.
You’re probably already asking at least one of them – but it’s never too late to stop.
As a manager and leader your buggest impact will be on the culture. It's intangible and difficult to measure but it is a huge part of growing and retaining your team. And it changes over time; the culture you build for a group of five isn't the same as for 500.
Organization design is hard. Whether you’re the CEO of a global corporation, the founder of a venture-backed startup, or a team leader inside one of the tens of thousands of companies that make our…
This section contains links to career ladders and position expectations for technical staff. Not sure what a career ladder is or why your organization should have one? The Wikipedia page is a good place to start your research.
For a startup, a big question is determining which hire to make? CTO vs VP of Engineering? Learn the role for each in this article.
Clear Expectations is one of the three pillars of management at Meetup. In my role as a fractional VP of Engineering, I was ecstatic to help Meetup’s HR team develop a new cross-company leveling…
Expectations for 6 levels of individual contributor, across 5 categories; Technical, Execution, Collaboration & Communication, Influence, and Maturity. Searchable and filterable. A fantastic resource and highly recommended.
I gave a talk last year at the NYC CTO summit on how and why to introduce structure into an engineering organization (slides available here ). I am a fan of structure and the clarity that it can provide an organization, despite its potential downsides. I'm not going to talk about the WHY very much
Expectations for an Engineering Manager at Think Through Math. Note that some expectations are industry-specific.
Expectations for a Senior Software Engineer at Think Through Math. Note that some expectations are industry-specific.
Expectations for a Software Engineer at Think Through Math. Note that some expectations are industry-specific.
Diversity & Inclusion
This section includes publications on how to incorporate D&I as key component of your organizational strategy. It also includes examples of organizations that are having success with D&I initiatives or are doing a good job of being transparent about their progress and their goals.
If you have a success story or you work for an organization that publishes D&I metrics and goals and are willing to share, I'd love to link to it. Either contact me for help or you can submit a PR to this page.
Performance Reviews, Feedback, and Praise
Performance reviews and feedback are tasks that are typically brand new to people coming to management from individual contributor roles. Writing effective feedback can be a challenge for technical people who are taught to be concise when writing. And notably, younger generations find the process of performance reviews more stressful.
But your team needs feedback and guidance on their performance. And whether we like to admit it or not, everyone likes being thanked for their work.
The U.S. military does a lot of written performance reviews. Since most servicemembers become eligible for formal promotion every few years, and every service award nomination comes with a several-page written justification requirement, providing unique and meaningful feedback is part of every military officer's role.
This tool has been used for decades to help officers write evaluations, nominations and reviews. It's not a book so much as a compilation of categorized short phrases. Some topics include Decision Making, Interpersonal Skills, Quality, Professionalism, and Dealing With Stress.
If you work for a larger organization this is a good book to expense and share among the management team.
Several templates in Microsoft Word and Excel formats that might help you in establishing or improving your performance review process. Notably they also include a evaluation forms for peers and managers, which would be useful to help you implement a 360° feedback process.
Interview Process Descriptions
This section mainly includes articles, blog posts and descriptions of organizations' interview processes.
For an organization to write up and share information about their interview process, they must feel pretty strongly about it.
Since an interview process is more than just the document itself, these will take more effort to implement in your organization. Also I highly recommend getting HR involved here so you don't accidentally create a discriminatory process.
A blog post about how Ad Hoc uses take-home evaluations to evaluate technical skills, since they are a remote-first company so they don't do in-person interviews. This post describes their process, the benefits they've found, and specifically how their process is designed to democratize candidates and eliminate sources of hidden bias.
A very in-depth article on the interview process at Auth0. It's refreshing to see organizations provide this level of transparency in to the interview process. They also post some statistics on how many hires they make as a percentage of the recruiting pipeline.
The process covers the following steps:
This would be a good starting point for a startup-to-growth-stage company to use to evaluate its hiring process, or to use as a template to publish its own.
Shameless plug The Flipped Interview is a different way of approaching the interview portion of recruitment. It's based on the Flipped Classroom model that's been successfully used in education.
The core concept in a flipped interview is that all of the Q&A and work happens asynchronously, ahead of the interview. The interview itself, instead of being a series of questions that candidates have to answer on the spot, is used to discuss their responses.
This is a model that's been used with interview scenarios but to my knowledge it's not been applied to the interview itself. This model would work especially well for a remote position.
There's an accompanying slide deck that describes more about the process.
An article describing Foursquare's interview process after they switched to a take-home exercise. The article includes some information on their rubric and some lessons learned.
Hiring your first engineer at a startup is incredibly hard. As a founder, you’re already stretched dangerously thin on time.…Read On
As the title implies, this is actually just the front end for an Airtable DB of companies that have pledged to interview without whiteboard coding exercises or CS trivia questions.
From the README:
The companies and teams listed here use interview techniques and questions that resemble day-to-day work – for example pairing on a real world problem, or a paid/unpaid take home exercise.
It's also worth reviewing the short list of recommendations the site lists for what to do instead.
As you scale from hiring 10 people a year to 10 people a week, a small number of processes can go a long way
An interview process that Lever is trying out that includes a mock code review as its core method for identifying developer skill. Lever provides the candidate a pull request of about 200 lines and asks the candidate to provide feedback on how to improve it.
The candidate's feedback is then evaluated in three areas:
Slack has received a lot of praise for its growth trajectory and specifically for the diversity of its technical team. This is a great overview of how they set up their interview process, the steps they use, and what they look for in candidates.
Interview Question Banks
This section contains links to questions you can use to develop technical questions for candidates, either to ask in an interview or for candidates to fill out as part of an application.
If you have questions you've developed and are willing to share, I'd love to link to it. Either contact me for help or you can submit a PR to this page using an existing interview question link as a template.
A list of software-developer-specific interview questions, meant to be answered before an interview (as part of the resume submission).
An extremely in-depth and well-curated list of interview questions mainly for front-end web developers. Covers HTML, CSS, JS, coding, and 'fun' categories.
Koru CEO Kristen Hamilton helps hundreds of people hire and get hired every year. These are the traits she knows translate into excellent performance on the job.
An overview of what distinguishes a senior developer from a developer, and a list of questions in the following categories: Operational and Situational questions, Role-specific questions, and Behavioral questions.
Technical Interview Take-Home Tests & Scenarios
This section contains links to interview scenarios and take-home tests. Typically these are used in conjunction with more traditional interview questions to try and evaluate a candidate's skills. Be careful however - interview scenarios can be controversial because they take a lot of a candidate's time and can discriminate against candidates who have responsibilities that limit their availability to work off-hours.
When I joined Reddit in late 2016, I was faced with a unique challenge: tripling the size of the engineering organization within a year. At the time there were about 35 engineers on the team and a…
Homework exercises to accompany Ad Hoc's developer interviews. There are seven exercises included in total, targeted at different hiring roles; front-end developer, software engineer/full-stack, back-end developer, DevOps/SRE, UX Designer, and Engineering Lead.
This was written primarily from the candidate's point of view but many of these questions could be used as simple coding exercises. They focus on specific data structures and programming concepts so they're probably not appropriate for experienced candidates. Some examples:
A back-end developer test that's designed around having the candidate write a wrapper for an existing API, and present a couple of methods to allow users to pull and filter the data. Originally designed for Ruby/Rails but could be adapted to .NET, Java or any server-side language.
An article and post-natum on the author's experience with a take-home interview test. It includes a summary of the actual test as well as the author's thoughts on what went well about the process and what he would have changed.
A 27-slide presentation describing a hiring assignment for Uber product manager candidates. It centers around the question, data shows that there are more drop offs than pick ups at the airport. Why is this so and what would you do in the product to change that?
This is a detailed case study that's very specific to Uber but could be used for inspiration. Note that the slide deck also includes the author's submission.
An article on screening product managers. It has a pretty good case interview scenario included although it's not specific. This is probably not enough for you to use to write a Product Manager interview scenario by itself, but it will definitely help inform your thinking, and there are very few open resources in this area.
These would be good for using with a more junior developer or for someone you are considering whose only development experience is at a coding bootcamp.
This section contains links to job descriptions for various technical roles. We don't include links to posts on job boards because those aren't guaranteed to be accessible beyond the duration of the post.
Job description templates for a wide variety of technical roles. Each description has a basic description of the role, a bulleted list of responsibilities, and a list of requirements for the position. These are good places to start if you're not even sure where to begin. Templates are available for the following roles:
A listing of open source program/office job descriptions from the industry. Roles include everything from open source evangelist to program manager. Companies include Microsoft, twitter, Box, Capital One, and Huawei. Contents are in markdown format.
This is a category for individual contributors (although mid-level managers will find it useful, too). We expect our managers to have all the answers (and many of them manage like they do!), but sometimes they need a little guidance.
If you're struggling to find ways to work with your manager, or maybe you aspire to manage one day, articles in this section might help. Because this is more of a strategic topic, these tools may not be as easy to put in to practice, but they're still worth the read.
Advice and contributions from experienced management consultants on the process of managing one's manager.
An overview of what managing up means in an organization, with a handful of guidelines for how to be successful: communicate, no surprises, provide solutions not problems, be honest and trustworthy, be loyal and committed, understand your boss’s perspective and agenda, and understand your boss’s preferences.
Objectives & Key Results (OKR)
Objectives & Key Results is an organizational goals and objectives management framework created by Andy Grove at Intel and made famous at Google and other companies.
There are not many tools for it because it itself is a tool, but if you are looking for a way to set goals and objectives for your team, OKR is a great place to start.
For those rare moments when you're not looking for help fighting that one specific fight, there are some great resources you can take advantage of in your quest to become better as a leader and manager.
These aren't necessarily things you can put in to practice right away, but they're definitely worth your time.
It's 2018, but did you know you can still learn things from reading books? If you're making the transition from individual contributor to manager or looking to improve as a leader of technical staff, you need this book. It's extremely thorough and written by someone with deep experience in this area. A kindle version is available too, if you prefer.
A curated list of articles, information and other content targeted at software-focused leaders. It's been around since 2012! One email a week, and definitely worth your subscription.
The Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership - Kindle edition by James C. Hunter. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting while reading The Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership.