I interviewed at a pretty popular place. The hit me up through the usual site. It was one of those payment services that everyone had started using. Honestly, the prospect was pretty exciting. It was one of the few places I applied to that still had that old Silicon Valley Start-Up feel, the kind that they now base sitcoms on where 90% of their staff was under 35 and dressed like they were still holding down shifts at the coffee shop down the block that would stab you if you ordered anything ‘Venti.’ Not an insult as much as an observation. Some of my best friends are hipsters.
That sounds saltier than I intend. There was no single person there who wasn’t a genuine and truly kind person, not to mention smarter than a lot of people I run into day to day in a Certain Federal Space Agency. And had I joined them, I doubt I would have regretted it.
The interview process was also faster and more painless than most local interview schedules, from initial screen to final decision being about six weeks.
This was the first coffee date where someone actually called me overqualified, which made me a bit sad. Even I can see that red flag a mile away. When she called me back telling me she had passed me to the hiring manager, I was ecstatic.
Essentially, they asked me to build a password generator. First with some given parameters. Then more requirements. Then more.
If you know your string functions in a given language, it wasn’t all that difficult.
Okay, this was a bear. It was all day. There was nowhere to park. I did five rounds. A couple were with marketing and product people. That went well. Then was a front-end exam where they reviewed how I handled code-review. Then another React focused project, which was difficult because there was supposed to be a pre-build package sent to me which never arrived. When you’re playing from behind like that, unless you’re already neck deep in their particular environment, you’ve already lost. And, I think that I did. Finally was an end-to-end product design project. I think I did well, though apparently too generalized for their tastes.
And they said that would be it. After chasing them down for feedback, something I’ve had to do at every step of the interview, they said I needed to do one more.
Final Tech Screen
To be honest, I don’t even remember what it was about. It was basically a surprise that I had to do it at all, and if you need to do a remote after an on-site? That’s a bad sign. I could see the writing on the wall, and I didn’t give it my best. Deep down, I knew it was done.
Even then, I had to call back for feedback. I had to do this every time. Sometimes it was office flu or scheduling. Still, when no one can tell you how you did, it is a safe bet that you didn’t do well.
And that’s what happened.
It seemed to sadden them but really only frustrate me. I didn’t quite make the cut. I was too much of a Full Stack Engineer. The position I interviewed for? A Full Stack Engineer. And I had to chase them down at every turn just to learn that.
I will thank them for one thing, they showed me what I wanted. I wanted a place with good work-life balance, and they showed me how it was implemented in policy. I wanted a place with good personal development policies. They showed me how a company can incentivize it. I wanted to not get bucket ranked, and… I guess they never heard of it because they were absolutely horrified when I described it. And now that I knew what it all looked like in practice, the next time I went to interview, after a short break as described in my last post, I knew exactly what to ask for and what to expect in the response.
So thank you, Hipster Company, for showing me how shit is done.