Everyone at ESR Labs who has had the pleasure of interviewing applicants had at some point received the feedback that our application process is rather unusual and that it seems very challenging to get hired.
Albeit our process might not be conventional, we are far from trying to make your life harder. That is exactly why we want to tell you a little bit about our process, how we came up with it, and the motivation behind it.
It might seem like a tough road, but rest assured that we have put a lot of thinking into the process, and we want you to succeed! In the end, the purpose of all this is to make sure that we have a perfect fit.
What we think about selecting the right talent
Our roots go back to a small group of dedicated developers who were trying to find the ideal working environment to create software that benefits our clients’ businesses in a subtle but meaningful way. Since then we steadily have been growing the team with very talented and open-minded programmers.
We enjoy working with capable colleagues who are extremely keen to expand their horizons, ask the right questions and don’t hesitate to challenge the status quo. A broad technical skillset is as essential as the ability to actually put those skills to work and get things done.
But we do not only value performance and a broad technical skillset.
Staying true to our values manifests itself in that we try relentlessly hard to keep our values alive, vibrant and evolving in current and future team members.
Additions to our team should share our values and show a tremendous willingness to impact our organizational backbone and our culture in a positive way.
Of course, not all of us are developing software, but those who do should bring excellent coding skills to the table. Apart from that, we would expect you to be able to address and proactively tackle unfamiliar problems in smart ways.
It is worth mentioning that we intentionally do not care too much about the grades you had in high school or university or whether you earned yet another degree. If you fit in with the team, formal education barely matters.
What to expect from the interview process
As you could probably tell from the paragraph before, it is crucial for us to select the right talent. We want to make sure that you are the right fit for us and, of course, we want to help you find out if we are the right fit for you! That is why we deliberately dedicate a lot of care and time to this process.
After you provided us with your application documents, we will try to evaluate if you are a candidate who is likely to succeed within our organization by looking through the information you provide us with. In the latter case, we already think that you could be a thriving member of our team.
To check whether this assumption holds up, we will schedule a phone conversation that you will be having with one of our trusted recruiters. This first interview will be a non-technical conversation where we want to get to know you a little better and hear about your professional experience, projects
If we like what we hear from you, we will take the interview process to the next stage. For the next step, we will set up another phone interview in which one of our developers will be present. This will be your first technical interview in which we will ask you a couple of programming-related questions. Usually, this involves some live-coding. To be able to show us how you would solve the problem we will provide you with an online editor.
Make sure you are in a calm environment where you can concentrate and that you have a fast and reliable network connection. Using a Headset has proven to be a smart way to keep your hands free and on the keyboard. We want to see that you are a developer and know your tools. Don’t be shy to articulate your thoughts and walk us through your process. We will not be working against you, but rather with you!
Depending on how the interview went, there might or might not be another technical telephone interview. Moreover, depending on the role we think you might fit in, we might also provide you with a technical assignment that you can work on offline. In a follow-up conversation, you can then tell us all about your design and the choices you made.
If everything went well, we would invite you to an onsite day here at our Labs in Munich, and we finally get to meet you! For such a day we would like you to prepare a small presentation that you bring along. The topic of the presentation is entirely up to you: you may choose a personal project, a description of your experiences, or some code snippets. It is really up to you.
Presenting us something that is dear to you serves two purposes: it will give you the chance to get warmed up on familiar grounds, and you will notice that we are people you can talk to, that we want you to succeed, and that we will do our best to help you out throughout the day.
After that, you will have a couple of technical interviews, each of which will last approximately 1 hour and will be conducted by a different developer. All of these interviews will be very technical, and you will be challenged with a particular problem to be solved each time. In most sessions, you will be asked to produce some code, mainly using a whiteboard.
Working alongside potential future teammates during those problems will also allow you to see what kind of people you would be working with. They will also slip in some details and descriptions about their daily work.
How we then actually select candidates
It is essential to remember that we do not expect anyone to pass all the interviews with flying colors. At the same time, we do take all the opinions of our interviewers into account, attempting to create a multi-faceted picture of who we had the pleasure of interviewing.
We aim towards having as little bias as possible so that we can make the best decision.
It all comes down to how we feel about you being a pleasant addition to our team, and how we feel about you positively contributing to our organization with your ideas and experiences.
How you can prepare
There is no magic sauce to excel in all of our tests. In the end, what may help you can be broken down into 7 points:
- Stay true to yourself - If you find out that we don’t share the same values or what not, don’t force it if you don’t feel completely comfortable with your decision.
- Know what you stand for and know how to sell yourself - we don’t expect an experienced salesperson, but someone who knows how to articulate his or her strengths, weaknesses, and talent. We want you to reflect on yourself.
- Don’t try to be perfect, rather try to show us how you think - we are not looking for the right answers, we are looking for creative problem solvers - the process is what matters
- Ask away in case something is bugging you - feel free to voice any questions you have - we want you to leave the onsite day with as much information as possible so you can make the right decision.
- Let us get to know the real you - tell us about yourself. Don’t try to be someone you are not for the sake of passing the interview.
- Fresh up on your skills and capabilities - Be able to work without Google, or without your computer for that matter. We want to see that you know your stuff.
- Relax - we know such a situation can be daunting but keep in mind that being too hard on yourself won’t do much good.
We hope that this helps you on your application journey!