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April 29, 2021
Back again this week with an article penned by Shopify's VP of Engineering on how to spot stellar candidates.

Hiring a VP of Engineering? Use This Framework from Shopify’s VPE to Get it Right

Arrow going up a pyramid

A startup Farhan Thawar was advising brought him a thorny problem: Their recent VP of Engineering hire lasted only one quarter at the company. They had written up a thoughtful job description, sourced many candidates, and put the final ones through multiple rounds of interviewing prior to extending an offer — all for the new hire to last only three months in the role.

In this particular case, it turned out they had hired a deep technology-focused leader when they actually needed an empathetic people leader to scale the organization. Churn like this all too common.

For Thawar, the solution comes back to defining what you’re looking for and what good looks like on a very granular level. "Answering that will help you better understand how to find, hire, motivate, and grow folks into this role. You may find you don’t even need a VP of Engineering—many times, a team lead, manager, or director is what’s called for," says Shopify's VP of Engineering.

But if a VP is indeed what you’re after, you're in luck. Today on The Review, Thawar is sharing his detailed framework for finding one.

Photo of Farhan Thawar

There is tons of content and advice out there around navigating this important hire, but few practical decision frameworks that help founders and technical leaders probe more deeply into what it is they’re looking for in a VP of Engineering. Over the years, Thawar has come to rely on one framed around these three skills:

  • Process: What occurs when?
  • People: Who’s involved and how are they motivated?
  • Technology: What will we use to get there?

In today's article, he dives into each of these skill areas to discuss why they’re important, how to know whether they’re a priority for you at this stage, and how to recognize people who are a good fit for each.

We're confident that this framework — along with Thawar's suggested questions to ask in interviews and red flags to watch out for — will help you dive a few levels deeper into figuring out what type of leader you need to grow your company.

Thanks, as always, for reading and sharing!

-The Review editors

Take me to The Review

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Made with ✨ by First Round Capital.
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