FloQast Interviews for Software Engineers: What You Need to Know

Nov 30, 2020 | By Vinoj M. Zacharia

Half-closed laptop with mouse nearby

Interviews are The. Worst. There’s the pressure to have the right answer, the pressure to be a technical savant, while also having that je ne sais quoi to show how chill and cool you are.

It’s all the intensity of a first date, except with a paycheck on the line. No big deal, right? 😅

At FloQast, we knew that we not only wanted to hire the right people, but that we wanted to make the interview process better overall. Internally, we value transparency at all levels, and that holds true for our interview process. That’s why this article will focus on sharing what we do for our software engineer interviews, and why.

The Problems to Solve

Much like our software is improved with user feedback, we aim to improve our interview process with candidate feedback. There are a few considerations we’ve distilled that have become important to the FQ Interview.

One of them is a positive candidate experience. Our goal is to provide a candidate with a positive enough experience that they would be willing to recommend a friend to interview with us. Providing a great candidate experience is a top responsibility of every engineer that joins our interview team.

This also means that we rule out a few things:

  • Trick questions (estimating the number of M&Ms that would fill the Statue of Liberty doesn’t tell us about how you’d work on a team)
  • Group interviews (interviews are stressful as is. We’re not going to make it even harder by having 5 people watch a candidate)
  • Trivia (Knowing this month’s frameworks/buzzwords doesn’t make a person a good engineer)

Another consideration is to reduce the variance between interviewers. It was important for us to normalize the feedback by finding a set of questions that not only help guide us towards the right candidate, but also ensure a fair process for them as well. Today, we look at the two questions as:

  • How much can this candidate advance our roadmap?
  • How will this candidate add to our culture?

“How much can this candidate advance our roadmap,” broadly maps to their technical skills, and how that matches with the work that the teams do.

“How will this candidate add to our culture,” broadly maps to whether the candidate shares the values that portend success at FloQast. Note, we don’t aim for “culture fit” because we want diversity in thought and experience, but alignment in core values.

Our Interviews

We have the following phases in our software engineer interviews:

  • Resume Screen
  • Initial Interview
  • Onsite Interview
    • Work Style
    • Pair Programming
    • Application Design
    • Resume Deep Dive

Resume Screen

A hiring manager or recruiter will see how well an applicant’s resume matches with the current role and job description. If there’s a positive match, then an initial interview is scheduled.

Initial Interview(s)

An initial interview is the first time that a candidate speaks with someone at FloQast. All our engineering roles are remote-first, so the interviews are done through Zoom. Usually,  an engineer at FloQast goes through the candidate’s background, and then goes into a technical portion to solve a business problem through Javascript. Other times, there may be a conversation with our recruiter before speaking with an engineer.

The hiring manager reviews the feedback from these conversations, and decides whether to move a candidate to the next step.

The Onsite

We fully recognize that the phrase "onsite" is a remnant from when we had candidates come to the office. That said we haven’t yet found a replacement, so for now, onsite it is.

The onsite is split into four slots, each with one person.

Work Style

This is a conversation with an Engineering Manager who asks questions about how you worked with people in the past, to understand how you’d work with people at FloQast.

Pair Programming

In this slot, the candidate works with one of our engineers on a pair programming exercise. There are any number of times that our engineers work with each other on teams — this helps to emulate that working relationship.

Application Design

As a whole, our software engineers are fullstack, so they may work on a React component on one day, on AWS lambdas another day, and tweak MongoDB queries on yet another day. In this slot, the candidate works with a software engineer to build an application from backend to frontend to emulate a user story that is assigned in one of our sprints.

Resume Deep Dive

The resume deep dive is an opportunity to talk through your experience with an Engineering Manager. For us, we see it as a way to see how a candidate considered various problems and figured out solutions. This is a hybrid interview that dips both into the technical details listed on the resume as well as the organizational details.

Next Steps

The group of interviewers then meets and shares their feedback on how they assessed. Based on the feedback from each of these interviews, the hiring manager then decides whether to move forward with an offer or not.

So why share all this? Aren’t these trade secrets to be tightly guarded? The reason: We want candidates to do well in interviews and we want to see them at their best.

Interviews are inexact, but by focusing on the candidate’s experience and how they can impact our roadmap, we’ve been very pleased by our hires.

While you’re here — check out our Careers page if you’re interested in having a conversation with us.

Vinoj M. Zacharia
Vinoj M. Zacharia
Vinoj Zacharia is a developer turned engineering leader who values a data-driven approach to results with both applications and talent, while focusing on performant, empowered, collaborative teams from the ground-up. He is an Engineering Manager at FloQast.

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