Published in Inspiration

Shopify VP of Engineering Farhan Thawar's template for how to hire a VPE

By Ben Smith


1 min read

Hiring the right company leadership can feel more like art than science — but Shopify VP of Engineering Farhan Thawar has a framework for how to spot those diamonds in the rough, and in particular, excellent engineering leaders. At the highest level, his framework focuses on process, people, and technology and is distilled down at each step to establish a set of desired qualities in a candidate. “It always comes back to defining what you’re looking for and what good looks like on a very granular level,” says Farhan. “Answering that will help you better understand how to find, hire, motivate, and grow folks into this role.”

Use his Notion template as a cheatsheet both before and during an interview. It includes all the questions you need to ask and allows you to measure the candidate's responses — so you can make sure you're hiring the right VPE for your company's needs.

Ask tried and true questions to find your dream hire

From development processes and people skills, to task management and technical ability, a great VPE needs to have a particular skill set. This template guides you through three main areas — process, people, and technology — and gives you a bank of interview questions to help you determine a candidate’s core competencies, vision, and suitability for the role. Farhan recommends that teams align internally on which of the three areas are most important first, then mapping that ranking to each candidate for clearer decision-making.

Check off leadership qualities and red flags

Keeping your main rubric in mind while interviewing is crucial to hiring without bias. For each skill section, the template includes two checklists — one for good qualities and one for red flags. By tracking which ones the candidate has as you go, you can see at a glance how the candidate measures up and speed up the time it takes to write up your scorecard.

Take notes in real time to gauge a candidate’s potential

Each interview question is structured as a toggle, allowing you to take as many notes as you need to remember the candidate’s responses — when you’re ready to move onto the next question, all you have to do is close the toggle to keep your doc neat and easy to navigate. It also makes it easier to share these notes with your colleagues and gather feedback directly on the page.

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