The People Process at Dgraph

0. What do we believe in?

Dgraph has a goal-driven, performance-focused, rocketship culture. We act like a rocket crew, not a family. As in, all our members are star players, who are in the company because of their strengths and what they bring to the company. Conversely, if family members are not performing, they would still remain your family members.

We believe in risk and adventure. Working at Dgraph should bring you complex problems to solve, incredible teammates, constantly challenging environment and zero politics. We hope to give you experience that would set you up for life. We are pirates, not navy.

We believe in people over process. We believe that if we hire and keep the best people, they would do what’s right and what’s in the best interest of the company. We don’t need to run strict processes to manage them, because they will amaze us with what they can achieve. So, while we do need processes and governance, these should be as minimalist as possible.

This document puts together the process that we should follow as a company to maintain this culture (also see Dgraph Core Values).

1. Hiring

Ideal Hire : Smart, Humble, Effective, Collaborative.

Hiring is the most important job in the company. This job requires everyone in the company to be involved. We provide a great salary to attract top talent to the company. Also, anyone who references a person who gets hired gets a referral bonus.

Dgraph interviews run with a 50:50 split. 50% of the assessment weight around the skills needed for the role. 50% of the assessment weight around the cultural fit for the company.

We identify the top performers in the company who embrace Dgraph culture, our A players. These are our interviewers. We also identify the cultural role models for Dgraph among our A players. They do our cross-functional cultural rounds.

Our interview process are in these stages:

Stage 0: Introduction Call

Send out information about the company in written form. What is Dgraph about? What is Dgraph’s culture? Where are we headed? What are our benefits? etc.

Stage 1: Screening Test

Screening Test (Hacker Rank) - for engineering roles.

Stage 2: Screening Call

Call with the Talent Acquisition team.

Stage 3: Skills

At least 2 rounds for technical skills. The decision to proceed made by the recruiter with help from an A player.

Stage 4: Culture

  • 1 extensive cultural round
  • 1 follow up cultural round (as required)
  • 1 final round with CEO (as required)

Stage 5: Reference checks and Offer

Hiring Committee (HC)

Recruiter submits write-ups to the HC who makes the final decision. Meeting duration is proportional to the number of candidates to be reviewed. 15 mins for each candidate who made it through all the rounds.

Hiring Committee is as lean as possible. Consist of the top management in the company. For now, chaired by the CEO.

2. Performance Review

We run a perf every quarter. Our perf review is run with the same 50:50 split. 50% of the perf assessment around their performance in the role and 50% for embodying the culture and values of Dgraph.

We don’t have a rating scale. If we indeed have a rocket crew, we don’t need to rate them to help them improve.

Questions to the employee:

  • How was your performance this quarter?
  • Tell us instances where you have strongly showcased Dgraph core values
  • Tell us instances (if any) where you behaved counter to Dgraph core values. Please explain why.
  • How can you improve?
  • If you were to change something (at the company) impacting you, what would that be?

Questions to the manager:

  • How did the employee do this quarter?
  • How can the employee improve?
  • Keeper Test: If the employee was thinking of leaving for another firm, would you fight to keep them from leaving? Why?
    • Respond with Yes/No and reasoning. Stay objective and avoid maybes.

3. Let Go Decision

Dgraph’s rocketship culture promotes performance and adventure. It enables these high achievers to have a lot of fun and learning and sets them up for life. However, Dgraph’s fast-paced culture is not for everybody and we will inevitably have to let people go who are not fitting into the culture.

The output of the keeper test is ideally not a surprise to either the employee or the manager, as there are regular 1:1s scheduled with team members.

If an employee fails the Keeper test, a final decision about letting the employee go, or any other possible action is made between the manager and the CEO. If a decision is made to let the employee go, we do so with the utmost respect and in a way that sets the employee for success at another company.

4. The Rocket Crew

We ensure that the rocket crew, the star performers, who their managers fought to keep are well taken care of. We figure ways to ensure that these people stay at Dgraph.

Managers have regular (even 20-min) 1:1s with members of their team. Some questions their managers should bring up in conversations:

  • You are amazing! (not a question, but do mention it)
  • What excites you?
  • How can I best support you?
  • What can I do to make you more effective at your work?

Some questions that an employee should ask their manager:

  • What do you think about my performance?
  • Would you fight to keep me?
  • What is going well?
  • How can I improve?
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