2023-02-22
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Life at Cleo

How we do engineering interviews at Cleo

Interviewing can be scary ☠️ And we want you to have everything you need to help you showcase your skills in the best way. 

'How we do engineering interviews at Cleo' text
IN THIS ARTICLE:

Lets face it, no one likes interviewing ☠️ Unless you get a big ol’ buzz off of talking about yourself under pressure - it's not the most exciting thing one can do!

However, here at Cleo, we are trying our best to make the interview process as easy and comfortable as possible. With a streamlined process, short and sweet interviews and as much coverage of the business as we can cram in - we feel our interview process is one of the best - both for us, and for you lovely candidates.

We want you to have everything you need to help you showcase your skills in the best way. 

We’re looking for Engineers who care about fighting for the world’s financial health. If our values and our engineering principles ring true for you, we’re off to a really strong start. Technical skill is important too, and we test that, but it’s lower on our list.

Let's break it down...

Intro: Meet a Talent Partner  ⏰ : 30 mins

Zoom  💻  or 📱 Phone

We’ll get feedback to you within 1–2 working days.

We’ll cover:

  • The role, our company, and our engineering team.
  • Your notice period, visa sponsorship/relocation, and salary expectations. Check out our salary bandings.
  • We’ll make sure your skills and experience meet the requirements for the role.

Preparation:

  • Take a look at the Cleo website and get an understanding of what we do.  
  • Feel free to prepare some questions.
  • Make sure you are free to talk openly in a space with few distractions and a good phone signal/WiFi signal.

Stage One: Technical Discussion ⏰ : 45 mins

You’ll speak with two Cleo Engineers about our mission, values, and engineering principles. Our lovely team lead the chat, but we won’t just be listening to your answers -we want to treat it like a conversation and gather more detail with follow-up questions. We’re doing our best to assess your skills and also put you at ease! Like talking to your engineering pals! 😀

We’ll also explore your technical knowledge and ways of working, your previous experience and your alignment with our engineering principles and values.

Preparation:

  • Be ready to go deep and technical with your answers. Focus on your impact in the work you talk about, be specific and detailed.
  • Read our engineering principles and think about work you’ve done that’s relevant to them even when you didn’t have them. You could also think about how you might have done past projects differently had you had these. 
  • Think about times when you’ve demonstrated our values.
  • Why are you excited about working at Cleo? Hint: our mission is a big deal.

Stage Two: Practical exercise  ⏰ : 90 or 120 mins

We have different exercises for Frontend and Backend Engineers, designed so you can show us how you’d work on day-to-day activities at Cleo.

Why a Technical Interview over a Take home Task you ask? We respect your time at Cleo - the last thing anyone wants to do after a long day's graft is work on a project for another company!

The purpose of this session is primarily to assess your technical skills in real time. We're looking to see your coding skills, how you approach problems, how you communicate and explain your decisions.

Don't worry - we don’t just watch! Our Engineers will work together with you on the exercises, so don't be shy - lean on your (potential!) colleagues!

Pair-coding preparation:

  • You’ll share your screen for some of the session, so turn on “do not disturb” mode / turn off notifications.
  • Make sure you have access to whatever tools you prefer for writing code (e.g. IDE, terminal, editor, etc.).

Backend: Design, scoping, and pair-coding session  ⏰ : 120 mins

Split into two sessions via zoom. 

With two Engineers, you’ll do some exercises that you’d come across at Cleo. We use this exercise to gauge what level on our engineering progression framework you’d be at.

We’ll cover:

The interview is structured as 3 exercises, all based on designing a complete system.

  1. High-level domain design of the system — this shows us if you can identify core concepts in a system and design the behaviours between those concepts that create the system, they’re part of.
  1. We break that design up into chunks of work for a team to execute — this shows us if you can split a system up into small chunks of work that can be iterated on to deliver value quickly
  1. We pair on implementing a small part of that system in code — this shows us if you are able to express ideas as code and communicate your coding practice to another engineer.

We’ll share the problem statement with some requirements at the start of the interview and give you time to read through and ask clarifying questions. At the end of the session, we give you the opportunity to interview us.

Preparation:

The first two parts are done in Miro. You won’t need an account but if you’ve never used it, it’s a canvas-style application. Don't worry, we won't assess your Miro skills! 

For the final part, we will ask you to write code so you should have a working dev setup on your machine.  What that means is:

  • git - we give you a repo to clone to start you off
  • ruby - 2.7+, we work in ruby, so we want to see you do so too
  • bundler - 2.1+, the repo has a handful of dependencies to install

We won’t need a database or server or any other infrastructure.

As a successful candidate, you will have shown us what it is like to collaborate with you on some of the things we do every day as engineers at Cleo. You may have finished all the exercises, but completion is not all we’re looking for.  An incomplete exercise with lots of discussion about why's and trade-offs are as informative as a complete exercise with no discussion.

                                             OR

Frontend: Pair-coding session  ⏰ : 90 mins

You’ll work with 2 Cleo Frontend Engineers to implement some changes on an existing small React application. We’ll send you instructions to get your environment and repository set up ahead of the interview.

We’ll cover:

We are attempting to recreate a realistic product engineering team environment and we’ll use a team project board to guide our work. We’ll pick some feature tickets from that board and implement them together, guided by a reference UX design. You’ll need to understand the key requirements of each, so feel free to ask questions.

There’s no requirement nor expectation to get through all the cards. We’re looking to understand how you work most effectively and give you an understanding of how we work. That said, a big part of writing code at Cleo is ensuring we have tests that cover our changes, so we will be looking for you to add tests for the added features.

Preparation:

We’ll send you the repository and instructions on how to get your environment ready.

We’ll work on a React application. You'll need to these dependencies:

  1. Node.js
  1. Git (plus a Github account)
  1. Yarn or NPM

We also recommend you come prepared with your preferred IDE set up to your liking.

Stage Three: Meet The Eng Leaders + Team (MTEL+T) Final Interview ⏰ : 60 mins

Look at that, you're on the home stretch!

We've recently adapted our final stage interview to be better for everyone involved.

We've picked out the core bits from both our previous "Meet the Team" and "Meet the Engineering Leaders" interviews and combined them into one session.

TLDR; Less time, more effective. You'll meet 1 Engineering Leader and 1 person outside of engineering at the same time, in one session.

‍Meet the Team - Cross-FX skills and Cleo Values

This section is here to measure how you can work cross functionally, how well you work with others, and one of our values – Bring Good Vibes. Having tangible examples for all of these is an awesome start! 

Additionally, this is your chance to talk to Cleo folks outside of the engineering space to get a different perspective of what life is like at Cleo, so make sure you have some questions ready to ask our team! 

Preparation:

  • Have some questions ready.
  • Understand our values give examples of why you’re aligned with them.
  • Reflect on what you’ve learned about Cleo so far.

Meet the Engineering Leaders 

This stage of the process is mostly for self-reflection. It’ll give you the opportunity to look back at what you’ve learnt about Cleo throughout the process, and which parts of working at Cleo you particularly resonate with.

One of our leaders will look at how you could help move us forward in our mission to fight for the world’s financial health. They’ll also ask some behavioural questions to understand what kind of coaching and support you’d need in the role.

We’ll cover:

  • Why you want to join Cleo and your longer-term career aspirations.
  • Alignment with our engineering principles and product engineering.
  • Your strengths and areas for growth and find out what you’d want to get out of your first week.
  • We’ll ask you for feedback on the interview process.

Preparation:

If you have any questions about any stages of the process or feedback, please send them directly to your dedicated Talent Partner at Cleo - we’re here to help! 💙

Finaly, check out our open roles! 

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