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Wrap-up interview guide

The goal of the wrap-up interview is to address any concerns that may be outstanding in order to prepare for a hiring decision.

Watch out for unconscious bias!

Remember that we all have unconscious bias, and that hiring is especially susceptible to bias. However, when we recognize and accept bias we can be on the lookout and it’ll be less likely to unconsciously guide our decisions.

Learn how.

Research shows that the effect of unconscious bias can be profound. For example, in one study, “applicants with white names needed to send about 10 resumes to get one callback; those with African-American names needed to send around 15 resumes to get one callback.”

This bias prevents us from achieving the results we want, which is to select the best possible candidates regardless of background.

Humans are not only biased, but we almost never realize that we’re being biased. However, when we realize and accept bias, and recognize it, we can be on the lookout for bias and it’ll be less likely to unconsciously guide our decisions.

In that spirit, here are a few ways you can look out and correct for bias during the hiring process.

  • Review these guidelines before every interview or round of resume review. Studies show that we’re less biased when we’re conscious of our own thinking, so continually reminding yourself to be aware will help.
  • Remember that we’re especially susceptible to assume that underrepresented minorities — women, people of color, etc. — are less qualified than their white male counterparts. When considering candidates from underrepresented backgrounds, check your thinking about qualification. Ask yourself: am I reading this person’s qualifications the same as if they were white, male, etc?
  • Continually re-check the guides and scoring rubrics to make sure you’re reviewing fairly. After a while, you’ll start to feel like you’ve memorized the guides and rubrics. This is good since it’ll help you be more efficient, but our memories are fickle things. The more you remind yourself of the concrete, established metrics, the less likely you’ll be to make “gut” decisions that could be colored by bias.
  • Watch out for assessments of candidates that may be colored by age, gender, race, etc. For example, we tend to be more likely to use words like “aggressive” or “competitive” when describing men, vs “supportive”, “nurturing” when describing women. Are you surprised that an older person has cutting-edge technical skills? Ask yourself if an assessment might be colored by an applicant’s demography.
  • Don’t check out the candidate on social media, or Google them. A person’s public profile almost certainly won’t have anything relevant to work, and might instead reveal all sorts of irrelevant information (age, gender, political affiliation, race, etc.). If the candidate application/resume links to a personal website, LinkedIn, or GitHub you can check those out — these are more work-focused, and we can assume a candidate has put what they want an employer to see there. If you use Chrome, the Unbias Me extension (written by Fureigh) can help by removing avatars and names on some websites such as LinkedIn.
  • If you come to a conclusion about a candidate very quickly, before you’ve read the whole resume or finished the interview, spend the rest of the session trying to disprove that conclusion. Snap judgments are much more likely to be prone to bias than considered ones. We tend to jump to conclusions and then look for evidence to support our hypothesis. To compensate, if you find you’ve reached a Yes/No conclusion very quickly, spend the rest of the session trying to disprove that hypothesis. Explicitly look for evidence that you’re wrong. If you’ve decided immediately that a candidate is not qualified, spend the rest of your time trying as hard as you can to find evidence that they are qualified.


The interview should last roughly one hour, and include some segments in which the interviewers provide more detail about 18F to the candidate and openly share their experiences working at 18F — remember, interviewing is a two-way street!

  • Remember to be as pleasant and friendly as you can be! You can deliver a demanding interview while being kind and empathetic.
  • Whenever possible, ask questions exactly as they’re worded in the guide to try to get consistency between multiple candidates.
  • For more information on interviewing in general, check out the interviewing overview guide.

Before the interview

  • Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the candidate’s resume and review 18F only, the good and bad signs for the questions you’ll be asking.

  • Ask the other interviewers if there are any areas to probe (without asking why — that will bias your opinion of the candidate’s answers).

18F only, View the notes template

Conversation outline

Take behavioral notes.

When taking notes, note what the candidate says, rather than your impressions. This helps combat unconscious bias and will help you share the reasons for your conclusions and decisions.

See an example.

Try to note what the candidate says, rather than your impressions — that will help you share behavioral reasons for your conclusions and decisions. That is, try to write down what the candidate said or did, rather than how you felt about it. For example:

✅ Good ❌ Bad
“candidate ‘forced engineers to do \$X’” (captures what a candidate said) “candidate has an adversarial relationship with engineers” (interpretation of what they said)
“candidate has maintained an \$X as an open source module for 2.5 years” (captures what a candidate did) “candidate is a good open source maintainer” (your feelings/interpretations of what they’ve done)

Begin by introducing yourself by saying this or something similar to it:

Hello! My name is ___, my pronouns are ___, and my role at is ___.

Thanks for interviewing with me today. This will be a behavioral interview, which means I’ll ask a series of questions about experiences you’ve had and how you handled them. There are no “right” answers; I’m interested in talking through these situations with you. I’ve got about [4-5 questions], and this will take us about an hour, perhaps a bit less. Don’t be surprised if others have asked the same questions in other interviews; that’s normal. Feel free to think for a moment before answering if that's your style - you won't be judged for it.

There will be times when I ask for more information, or want to dig deeper into your answers. That’s normal, too: I want to make sure I understand what you did and why. I’ll be taking notes, please don’t let that distract you.

My questions will take about 40 to 45 minutes or so, and then we’ll have the remaining time to answer any questions that you may have.

I’m excited that you’re here — any questions before we get started?


Collaboration and team communication

  • "Tell me about a time that you faced a challenge with a coworker or manager."
  • "Can you describe a time or situation in which you saw or noted something that wasn’t working well and advocated for an improvement?"
  • "Tell me about your experience working on teams that directly involved non-engineers. How did you approach working with others with different professional skills?"

Role-oriented questions

Customer-facing communication
  • Have you worked directly with customers or clients before?
  • What has your experience been with user-centered design or user research?
Learning and teaching
  • As much as we like to rely on well-trod open source paths, engineers often encounter technical stacks that they have little or no familiarity with. What is your approach to tackling new or unknown software technologies?
  • Your product owner is very excited about a proprietary subscription-based product which would cost twice what an open source solution would. How would you compare the two options and help direct the product owner?
  • "Tell me about a security-related topic that you helped someone from a non-security background learn."
Cloud practices
  • "Tell me about a specific continuous integration or continuous deployment pipeline you created or interacted with."
  • "Tell me about a system you built or operated, or helped to build or operate, on top of an Infrastructure-as-a-Service or Platform-as-a-Service."
Security Practices
  • "Tell me about an existing security practice or process that you helped improve."
  • "Describe a situation where you disagreed with someone about a security issue."


  • "Is there anything that you feel we should have asked you relating to your personal or professional goals that we did not?"


Make sure to leave time for the candidate to ask you any questions they might have — remember, interviewing is a two-way street!

I’ve asked all of the questions on my list, and the rest of the time is yours. What questions can I answer for you?

After the interview

Thank you for your focus! Use your notes to fill out the feedback form linked in the calendar invitation, which will prepare you for the debrief meeting.

18F Engineering Hiring Guide

An official website of the GSA’s Technology Transformation Services

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