Leadership Principles

We use our Leadership Principles every day. They are crucial to discussing ideas for new projects and to deciding the best ways to solve problems. They’re just one of the things that makes us peculiar. All candidates are evaluated based on these principles. The best way to prepare for your interview is to consider how you’ve applied them in your past.

Customer Obsession

Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.


Leaders are owners. They think long term and don’t sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. They act on behalf of the entire company, beyond just their own team. They never say “that’s not my job.”

Insist on the Highest Standards

Leaders have relentlessly high standards – many people may think these standards are unreasonably high. Leaders are continually raising the bar and driving their teams to deliver high quality products, services and processes. Leaders ensure that defects do not get sent down the line and that problems are fixed so they stay fixed.

Think Big

Thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Leaders create and communicate a bold direction that inspires results. They think differently and look around corners for ways to serve customers.


Accomplish more with less. Constraints breed resourcefulness, self-sufficiency and invention. There are no extra points for growing headcount, budget size or fixed expense.

Behavioral-based interviewing

Our interviews are rooted in behavioral-based questions. We’ll ask about past situations or challenges you’ve faced, using our principles to guide our discussion. We avoid brain teasers (for example, “How many windows are in Manhattan?”). We’ve found this approach is unreliable when it comes to predicting success.

Here are examples of questions:

  • Tell me about a time when you were faced with a problem that had a number of possible solutions. What was the problem and how did you decide what to do? What was the outcome?
  • When did you take a risk, make a mistake, or fail? How did you respond? How did you grow from it?
  • Describe a time you took the lead on a project.
  • What did you do when you needed to motivate a group or promote collaboration on a project?
  • How have you used data to develop a strategy?

Keep in mind that we are data-driven. Ensure your answers are well-structured. Provide examples using metrics or data if applicable. Reference recent situations when possible.

STAR answer format

The STAR method is a structured manner of responding to a behavioral-based interview question. Here’s what it looks like:


Describe the situation you were in, or the task you needed to do. Give enough detail for the interviewer to understand the complexities of the situation. This example can be from a previous job, school project, volunteer activity, or other relevant event.


Describe your goal.


Describe the actions you took. Use an appropriate amount of detail. What steps did you take? What was your contribution? Let us know what you did, not what your team or group did. Use the word ‘I,’ not ‘we.’


Describe the outcome of your actions. Don’t be shy about taking credit for what you did. What happened? How did it end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? Provide examples using metrics or data if applicable.

Consider your successes and failures in relation to the Leadership Principles. Use examples that showcase your expertise and how you’ve taken risks, succeeded, failed, and grown. Keep in mind that some of our most successful programs have risen from the ashes of failed projects. Failure is a necessary part of innovation. We believe in failing early and persevering until we get it right.

Tips for great answers

  • Practice using the STAR method. Frame your examples in relation to the Leadership Principles.
  • Ensure each answer has a beginning, middle, and end. Describe the situation or problem, the actions you took, and the outcome.
  • Prepare short descriptions of a handful of situations. Be ready to answer follow-up questions in greater detail. Select examples that highlight your unique skills.
  • Have examples that showcase your experience and how you’ve taken risks, succeeded, failed, and grown.
  • Specifics are key. Avoid generalizations. Give a detailed account of one situation for each question you answer. Use data or metrics to support your example.
  • Be forthcoming. Don’t embellish or omit parts of the story.

Tips before you head in

  • Be prepared to explain what interests you about the role and the team (or teams) you’ll be meeting with.
  • Be concise but detailed in your answers. We know it’s hard to gauge how much info is too much versus not enough. A good test is to pause after your answer to ask if you’ve given enough detail or if the interviewer would like you to go into more depth.
  • If you’re asked a question but aren’t given enough info to provide a solid answer, don’t be shy about asking for clarification. If additional context isn’t available, focus on how you’d attempt to solve the problem based on limited information.
  • For some roles, we may ask you to provide a writing sample. Why? We don’t make slide-oriented presentations. Instead, we write narrative memos. We silently read them at the beginning of some meetings. These papers range from one to six pages and explain a project goal, steps, and outcomes. Given this aspect of our culture, and the impact these papers have on our decisions, it’s important to be able to express your thoughts in writing.
  • We try to leave a few minutes at the end of each interview to answer your questions. If we don’t get to all of them, don’t hesitate to ask your point of contact.