Core Values Interview Guide

The purpose of this document is to provide a loose, but structured script ensuring a smooth Core Values Interview experience for both the interviewers and the candidate. Ultimately, the goal of the Core Values interview is to determine whether or not the candidate’s personal and professional values align with 18F’s core values.

There are two aspects to the Core Values interview: tease out the approach to agile and how the candidate deals with bureaucracy. The core values interview should focus on agile, testing, open source/openness, and human centered design. While some technical discussion may come up, it should be kept high-level and general in nature. Lastly, the interview should last roughly one hour, but 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!

Whenever possible, ask these questions exactly as they’re worded to try to get consistency between multiple candidates. When interviewing, please take notes, and note what the candidate says, rather than your impressions — that will help you share behavior reasons for your conclusions and decisions. Guidelines are suggested for evaluating the strength of the answers.

Remember to be as pleasant and friendly as you can be! You can deliver a demanding interview while being kind and empathetic.

For more information on interviewing in general, check out the interviewing guide.

Introductory Statement

You should say this, or something close to it, before beginning. Also be sure to inform about any last minute changes to the interview, such as an interviewer not being able to make it.

Hello my name is ___, my pronouns are _, and my role at 18F is ____.

Thanks for interviewing with me today. This’ll 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 ask 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’ll 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.

I’ll ask you my questions first, and then I’ll leave some time to answer any questions you’ve got for me. I’m excited you’re here - let’s get started!


Since this is a public document, only the questions themselves are published here. 18F staff: click through to see follow-ups and good/bad signs in the full engineering interview question bank.

18F's background, history, mission, and purpose

First ask: "has anyone given you any background on 18F or spoken with you in detail about 18F’s history, purpose, and mission?" If not, fill them in; if so, answer questions (if they've got them).


Make a note of key phrases or words that the candidate mentions their response (e.g., “I want my work to have a meaningful impact”); you can use these for hooks that there are hooks for questions later in the interview as you transition from one set of questions to the next.

Relevant Work Experience

After the introduction, follow up with a discussion around relevant work experience. Tying into anything the candidate might have already responded with as well as their resume, guide the interview toward specific work experience(s) that are of interest to 18F’s current and future needs.

This question could go in a few different directions depending on the candidates experience. Ask one (or more) of the following:

Communication and Collaboration

Following a discussion around a candidate’s relevant work experience, transition into a more focused dialogue around communication itself.

Ask one (or more) of these questions, as appropriate:

Technology and Open Source

Regardless of whether or not the candidate is applying for a software development position, 18F relies heavily on technology and open source to execute its mission. This section focuses on those skills and experience.

Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion are core values for 18F and the engineering chapter. These questions are meant to shed light on the candidate's experience and thoughts towards diversity and inclusion.

Overall experience and outlook

Begin closing the interview by asking general questions to ensure we develop a more well-rounded picture of the candidate. These questions aren’t geared toward a specific job or work methodology. Instead, they’re meant to shed light into the candidate’s overall experience and outlook.

Ask one or more of the following:


Wrap up the interview by tying things back to why the candidate is looking to join 18F. Hopefully the answers and discussions around the specific questions provide a modicum of context around the candidate’s motivations and desires, in which it will be a lot easier to determine if their personal and professional goals align with 18F’s needs and mission.

Ask one or more of the following:

*Lastly, make sure to ask the candidate if they have any questions for you! *