Paypal Full Stack JavaScript Engineer : Tear Down

Recruitring team runs a blog post series called “Job Description Teardown“. This post is part of that series.

Below is a tear-down of job description for Javascript Engineer at Paypal which was posted on LinkedIn.

Here’s our take.

Job description

As a Senior Software engineer, you will be responsible for working on applications and services that handle consumer on-boarding and engagement. You will work in a fast-paced environment where continuous innovation and experimentation are a given.You will master both established and cutting edge technologies like, JavaScript, HTML5/CSS3, Node.js, React, Angular, NoSQL DB like MongoDB among others.

Recruitring: This is great. Instead of just mentioning high level tech stack, this goes in detail. For e.g. it doesn't stop at Javascript but also tells which JS frameworks/ packages are used at this team.
  • Be driven to get results and not let anything get in your way
  • Be proactive and anticipate/handle most issues before they blowup
  • Exhibit a strong backbone and challenge the status quo when needed
  • Demonstrate a high level of curiosity and keep abreast of the latest technologies
  • Show pride of ownership and strive for excellence in everything they do Work experience
  • Expert in Cleint-side and Server-side Javascript programming
  • Proficient in modern database/storage technologies
  • Competent in designing and building web applications and/or web services in a commercial setting
  • Competent in design/implementation for reliability, availability, scalability and performance
  • Competent in software engineering tools and best practices
  • Conversant in web technologies – HTML5/CSS3, JavaScript, NodeJS, React/Angular
Recruitring: Spelling mistake, huh? Probably coders don't care for it as their variable names sometimes are "cntr" (for counter), "totl" (for total). It's cool, it's cool.

Basic Qualifications

  • Design, development, and testing of features/functions delivered via applications and services
  • Collaborating with peers and seniors both within their team and across the organization
  • Working with product managers using agile methodologies to deliver high quality solutions on time
  • Working with operations teams to ensure your applications and services are highly available and reliable
  • Supporting your applications and/or services as and when required on a 24×7 basis
Recruitring: Use some past data of previous instances and tell how much that could mean. Also, does it mean there is no support team? Just makes a star developer wonder what exactly this work is managed.
  • Masters Degree in Computer Science, Engineering or BS with equivalent work experience
  • 6+ years of related experience
Recruitring: This is not a very impressive job description. Looks like it was built via the generic template - someone changed few words here and there. Not built for a star team member in mind.

Please see Airbnb's Job Description. It was quite impressive.

Hey Recruiters, We Beg You To Not Ask These 20 Questions To The Candidates

Asking the right questions to the candidate during the pre-screening is hard. We created this guide with 20 questions which will make you a smart recruiter with your pre-screening questions.

As a recruiter you represent your company and the hiring team. Your task is to find the best and fittest candidate for the job. No doubt about it! But that’s no excuse to ask redundant, ancient or irrelevant questions.

recruitring - avoid oops moment with candidate prescreening call

While you are assessing the candidate in the screening call, the candidate is also judging you and your organization – by assessing the quality and relevance of your questions. So, please avoid asking these screening questions, unless there is a strong rationale to it.

  • What are your weaknesses?

Unless you live in 1960, you shouldn’t ask this question. Or unless you are interviewing for MBA schools. This is such a idiotic question – everyone know they have to make some shit up – something which shows their weakness but makes you go “Awwwww” .. like “I pay so much attention to details, that I end up burning mid-night oil”. BS.

  • Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?

10 years – god only knows what will happen in 10 years. Ask something like, what areas they can make a difference to the company other than they day to day job. Try to learn what’s more about this person you are talking to – probably they are a good teacher and even if they are a coder, could produce really wonderful blogs. Or they are good at breaking ice between team members and foster amazing spirit within the teams and the company.

  • What are three things your former manager would like you to improve on?

The candidate can make some shit up – similar to what’s your weaknesses. Instead give a scenario and assess for yourself.

  • Would you work holidays/weekends?

This is giving out a bad impression at the onset. I agree that the job could be demanding, but instead of a question tell them the expectation – and then ask – What do you think? Are you ready for such a life?

  • Who are our competitors?

This question is relevant – but could be made better. Ask about the overall space your company operates in and why the candidate likes that vertical. Or has he/ she seen a similar offering? By asking who are our competitors you just will just get few names. By if you ask about the space and business, they will be able to share few more insights which could surprise you.

  • Who’s your mentor?

Unless you are hiring for a CEO, this is one of the most ridiculous question I have seen. Do you like someone who knows who’s who and can start dropping names and influence you?

  • What is the name of our CEO?

I get it. Unless your CEO is on a mission to save the world, probably there is a better question than this – “What do you know about the current team? Or what do you expect from this team? Or Do you know the mission of our company?”

  • What gets you up in the morning?

Some context will be helpful. Ask, what do you like of your current job or role? Why nursing (if you are seeking a nurse) or why are you a pilot? If you ask philosophical questions, you will get similar answers – no good when it comes to hiring a rockstar candidate.

  • What would your direct reports say about you?

See next question’s answer.

  • What were your bosses’ strengths/weaknesses?

Probably there is a good chance that the candidate is looking for a new opportunity because he/ she is fed up of their boss. Hollywood wouldn’t make two movies otherwise, right?

How does it questions even matter to anyone?

  • If I called your boss right now and asked him what is an area that you could improve on, what would he say?

You are freaking this person out now – you do not know the equation of this person with their boss.

  • Are you a leader or a follower?

Many followers type people know they are having an interview call and just to sound good, would say Leader – because they know that what you want to hear. Give them a situation and assess for yourself if they are leader type or follower type person.

  • What was the last book you’ve read for fun?

How does it matter? The person could be reading 50 Shades – which has nothing to do with Java position (no pun intended). Remember, the candidate probably is in middle of his/ her day (unless you are using Recruitring 🙂 ) – and so they want to get back to their current job.

  • What are your co-worker pet peeves?

Nah. Just don’t.

  • What are your hobbies?

This is very old technique to ask for or share hobbies. So, here’s a note to candidates too – do not write your hobbies on the resume. And you recruiters, kindly do not ask for hobbies in the prescreening interview call.

  • What is your favorite website?

For what? Business, leisure, learning, utility? Also, favorite can also imply the way it got built and grew it’s user base.

  • What makes you uncomfortable?

Context please. There can be many things which makes a person uncomfortable. Without a context, neither the candidate is going to say anything meaningful, not you are going to get any worthy response.

  • How would you fire someone?

Not a great way to ask this – Probably a better way could be, How do you handle non-performing candidates? How will you make a hard choice to … ?

  • Would you work 40+ hours a week?

This is a confusing question. You could say this is demanding job – but upfront saying 40+ hours brings up a lot of other questions and open up a can of worms.

  • What questions haven’t I asked you?

Go prepared. If you did not understood the job description or a specific requirement, spend extra time with the hiring manager or a subject matter expert. Refer to our checklist to get the best out of hiring manager before you start making those calls to the candidate.

Image Credit : goo.gl/s3LXWx

Airbnb Full Stack Engineer Job description : Tear Down

Recruitring team runs a blog post series called “Job Description Teardown“. This post is part of that series.

Below is a tear-down of job description of Full Stack Engineer at Airbnb (from LinkedIn).

Here’s our take.

How to Write Great Job Descriptions?
How to Write Great Job Descriptions?

Job description

Software Engineering At Airbnb : There is much more that we want to build and so much that we could improve. We value strong engineers who are agile enough to jump into most projects. What are examples of work that Software Engineers have done at Airbnb?

[Recruitring] Brilliant! This strikingly stands out! A software engineer looking for her next opportunity can read the below and see if they seem fit for the role. It's such an easy way to self-evaluate. 

- Do I connect with what my peers are doing here?
- Does the work seem challenging and also satisfies my passion for    technology?
- Will I blend in to become one of them or be left alone?

There is no better way to attract the similar minded people.
  • Our payments platform transmits billions of dollars in dozens of different currencies among over 100 countries. By integrating new partners, we can both optimize our costs and grow our business by better supporting different countries.
[Recruitring] Gives a perspective of scale. Quantify as much as you can. Instead of using superlatives, it's better to say things as absolute numbers.
  • We re-built the List Your Space flow. We A/B tested every change carefully and within three months doubled the conversion rate.
[Recruitring] Not only it tells how things are done at AirBnB but also highlights that results are important. Any data driven engineer will be wowed and attracted towards this team.
  • We created Neighborhoods, a product that answers the question of which parts of a city have desirable Airbnb listings for you. We built systems that allowed writers, translators, and photographers all over the world to collaborate on bringing cities to life. Read more.
  • When Hurricane Sandy struck, we partnered with the City of New York to quickly create a platform for New Yorkers to provide free housing to those who were displaced by the storm.
[Recruitring] Such a sincere way to share what the company stands for. This statement above tells the candidate that they can expect the company to stand by them in times of crisis - and Airbnb is mere not looking for another living thing who knows to code - but a person who can be part of the company culture.

The following are some examples of profiles that are relevant to us:

  • Full-stack engineering experience in any of the following languages: C/C++, Java, JavaScript, Python/Django, Ruby/Ruby on Rails.
  • Minimum of 2 years of industry experience in engineering.
  • Evidence of exposure to architectural patterns of a large, high-scale web application (e.g., well-designed APIs, high volume data pipelines, efficient algorithms).
  • Engineers who have experience with web best practices such as A/B testing, test coverage.
  • We are currently not interviewing anyone with less than 2 years of industry experience for this role. Our new graduate requisition will be re-opened in the fall.
[Recruitring] In few bullets letting know for the core skills. There is no NICE-TO-HAVE. We are looking for A,B,C. But what also is amazing to see "We are currently not interviewing ... " - being honest for all those folks who do not qualify that they need not apply right now. 

Benefits

  • Stock
  • Competitive salaries
  • Quarterly employee travel coupon
  • Paid time off
  • Medical, dental, & vision insurance
  • Life insurance and disability benefits
  • Fitness Discounts
  • 401K
  • Flexible Spending Accounts
  • Apple equipment
  • Commuter Subsidies
  • Community Involvement (4 hours per month to give back to the community)
  • Company sponsored tech talks and happy hours
  • Much more…
[Recruitring] The rest of the items in the listicle above are attractive. However, this one item stands out for a talent who is looking for world beyond their standing desk. They want few evenings where they can get together and discuss tech. Learn from others - probably beyond Airbnb Engineering. 

Good to highlight such events, activities in Job description to showcase life beyond 9-5.
[Recruitring] Not sure why "Much more ..." is part of this list. Probably the person who wrote this was at their best until writing "Much More" :). 

Overall, we feel this is a very unique and well written job description. Highly recommend other recruiters to get some inspiration from Airbnb Job Descriptions.

Would love your feedback.

 

 

Job Description Teardown : If You Want To Attract Right Talent, Pay Attention To This

How to write good job descriptions
How to write good job descriptions

Attracting the best talent is becoming tough for the recruiters. Few years ago you could pick your 1000 year old job description template, change few details and post it all over the Internet. And see the applications pouring in.

Not anymore.

The way you wouldn’t settle for just another candidate, even the talent does not like to browse through just another job description which looks boring, dull, copied from an ancient piece of text. The primary reason is : it generic job description doesn’t connect with the candidate’s talent.

To help the hiring managers and recruiters, we are starting a new series of blog posts. It’s called “Job Description Teardowns.”

In these series of posts, we will look at job descriptions of various roles at all kinds of companies – large and startups – and highlight areas which are attractive for a candidate.

We are hoping that you too will share your expert opinion and findings with Recruitring community via the comments section below.

Image credit : https://goo.gl/gqYCzy

What Recruiters And Hiring Managers Can Learn From Google Hiring Process?

Recruiters at Google Do a Fantastic Job too!

A friend of mine got an email from Google’s Recruiter few months back. Since Google is known to hire the best of the breed, I was curious to learn more about the process. He shared with me an email which he got right after talking to the recruiter and before the hiring manager’s screening call.

I was amazed to see such a quality communication (email below) – it’s like the recruiter is working for the candidate instead of the company – and when I think about it, it makes so much sense as Recruiters’ job is to make two people meet and make them fall in love – The Candidate and The Hiring Manager!

Here’s how Google recruiters makes sure that they do everything they can to make the candidate win – and if the candidate wins, it is ultimately a win for the company. Below is the email. I tried to highlight certain portions of the email to share why I feel it’s important that other recruiters do something similar.

Kindly share with me if you know other company recruiters who do similar communication.

[Recruitring] Even though the candidate knew it's a PM position, the recruiter made sure to describe the position again. Nice! More communicate is +1 than less, especially in early stages. Leaves no room for confusion.

Product Management Position Overview:

As an overview, our PM’s bring to fruition new products and features that genuinely benefit our users while at the same time make good business sense. They act as general managers of our products, providing leadership across functional teams to conceptualize, build and deliver Google‘s next great app. PM’s find our entrepreneurial culture to be exciting and challenging, because they are never stuck maintaining an existing product, but are instead focused on developing new product ideas and strategies.

We have openings across all of our products in areas such as Consumer, Mobile, Apps, Enterprise and Infrastructure to name a few. As a brief outline, we have an agnostic interview process in which we aim to hire PM “generalists”, who may have niche experience but can easily float through our evolving product lines. We find this keeps our Product Managers fresh and with distributed, homogeneous experiences for our project teams. So, in a nutshell, we do not hire for a specific product, but rather, are seeking generalists who can work on multiple products. As such, you’ll interview with PM’s working on any number of our various products. At a later point, our leadership reviews your interests, background and interviews to identify relevant projects that align with business need.

[Recruitring] Since Google is known to hire the best of breed and their interview could get intimidating, here's a great way to reduce the anxiety of the candidate. "What to Expect" written in a clear and concise way which tells the candidate how they should prepare for their next interviews.

What to Expect

There are five components to the Google product manager (PM) interview:

  • Product design. Google PMs put users first. PMs are zealous about providing the best user experiences. It starts with customer empathy and always includes a passion for products, down to the smallest details. They can sketch a wireframe to convey an idea to a designer. Sample questions include:
    • How would you improve Google Maps?
    • How would you reduce Gmail storage size?
    • How would you improve restaurant search?
    • What’s favorite Google product? What do you like or not like about it?
    • If you were to build the next killer feature for Google, what would it be?
    • You’re part of the Google Search web spam team. How would you detect duplicate websites?
  • AnalyticalGoogle PMs are fluent with numbers. They define the right metrics. They can interpret and make decisions from A/B test results. They don’t mind getting their hands dirty. Sometimes they write SQL queries; other times, they run scripts to extract data from logs. They make their point by crisply communicating their analysis. Some examples of analytical questions:
    • How many queries per second does Gmail get?
    • How many iPhones are sold in the US each year?
    • As the PM for Google Glass ‘Enterprise Edition,’ which metrics would you track? How do you know if the product is successful?
  • Cultural fit. Google PMs dream of the next moonshot idea. They lead and influence effectively.  They have a bias for action and get things done. If Google PMs were working anywhere else, they’d probably be CEOs of their own company. Sample questions to assess cultural fit:
    • Why Google?
    • Why PM?
  • Technical. Google PMs lead product development teams. To lead effectively, PMs must have influence and credibility with engineers.  During the final round (aka onsite) interview, a senior member of the engineering team will evaluate your technical competence.  Be prepared for whiteboard coding questions at the onsite interview.  Example questions include:
    • Write an algorithm that detects meeting conflicts.
  • Strategy. Google PMs are business leaders. As a result, they must be familiar with business issues.  It’s not necessary for PMs to have business experience or formal business training. However, they do expect you to pick up business intuition and judgment quickly. Sample interview questions include:
    • If you were Google’s CEO, would you be concerned about Microsoft?
    • Should Google offer a Stubhub competitor? That is, sell sports, concert, and theater tickets?

Also be prepared for behavioral interview questions such as Tell me a time when you had to influence engineering to build a particular feature. Google PM interviewers are relying more on behavioral interview questions in recent months.

[Recruitring] Again, a tough interview also means that candidates could go crazy and in all directions for preparation - and eventually might get burned up or become even more anxious just before the important call. As a recruiter, it's your responsibility to help the candidate also know, what is not expected in the process - you know to get their focus in the right place.

What Not to Expect

Brain teasers, such as logic puzzles, are rarely used in today’s Google PM interviews. Google’s HR department found a low correlation between job performance and a candidate’s ability to solve brain teasers.  Examples of brain teasers include

  • I roll two dice. What is the probability that the 2nd number is greater than the 1st?
  • What’s 27 x 27 without using a calculator or paper?

However, hypothetical questions have not been banned at all.  Hypothetical questions are imaginary situations that ARE related to the job. (This is in contrast with brain teasers, which ARE NOT related to the job.) Examples of hypothetical questions include How would you design an algorithm to source data from the USDA and display on Google nutrition? 

[Recruitring] A set of links making it easy for them to start the preparation! Too bad that the candidate will use less of "Google Search" - their own product :))))

How to Prepare

Here’s what I’d recommend to get ready for the Google PM interview:

Review tech blogs, such as: Stratechery

  • Product design. Practice leading design discussions using a framework. (Need a framework? Try CIRCLES Method™: LINK). Start with possible personas and detail use cases. Prioritize use cases and brainstorm solutions. Many PM candidates (wrongly) suggest solutions that are incremental or derivatives of a competitor’s feature set. The Google interviewers are evaluating your creativity, and they place a big emphasis on big ideas (aka “moonshots”). Inspire them with unique, compelling ideas. Drawing wireframes on a whiteboard will help illustrate your ideas. To practice, download a wireframing tool like Balsamiq. Also study popular web and mobile design patterns for inspiration.
  • Technical. Coding questions are unlikely during the phone interviews. But if you are invited to an on-site interview, you must prepare for programming interviews. The technical interviewer does not expect your programming syntax to be perfect, but you should have sufficient mastery of technical concepts so that you can participate in technical discussions and help make technical trade-offs.  I would recommend going over computer science fundamentals and practicing a couple coding questions.  One of my favorite resources is How to Ace the Software Engineering Interview.  Also be prepared to describe key technologies including search engines, machine learning, and MapReduce.
  • Analytical. Prepare for estimation questions such as How many queries per second does Gmail get? Get well-versed in product launch metrics and A/B testing, including interpretation of results.
  • Strategy. Use a framework to structure your strategy discussions.  If you’re not familiar with strategy or frameworks, Porter’s Five Forces is a good start.
  • Cultural fit. Understand what it means to be Googley by reading Google’s corporate philosophy. Review Google’s Android design principles. Optional readings: Google’s visual asset guidelines and Steven Levy’s 2007 (but still useful) article on the Google APM program.  Another optional, but more in-depth (and recent) perspective, read Steven Levy’s “In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives.”
[Recruitring] We are so glad to see such a beautiful piece of communication from such a great company. Even if the candidate doesn't get through the job interviews, they clearly will benefit from all the above wisdom and have a sweet memory.
About Recruitring:
Recruitring is a candidate pre-screening platform making the process faster and productive. It saves time for both hiring managers and recruiters to move through the list of candidates in a smarter way.
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This blog post is also adopted by BusinessInsider here.

This blog post contains excerpts from author Lewis C. Lin‘s original work.

Red Flags To Look For During Candidate Phone Screening Interview Call

Normally, the hiring process starts with a phone screen – and here is a complete list of RED FLAGS to look for during phone screening process.

Red Flags during candidate phone screening
Avoid these RED FLAGS in the initial step

The purpose of a phone screening to to look for the following:

  • Describe the role and company to the candidate
  • Make sure candidate is serious to pursue a new opportunity
  • Doubly ensure that candidate resume matches with the job description and their experience
  • There is no confusion with title, relocation, salary expectations
  • Mostly importantly, there are no initial RED FLAGS for the hiring team which will make any further investment with this candidate a complete waste of company’s time.

We have another Checklist for recruiters and hiring managers on how to work together for better productivity.

The Red Flags while Phone screening a Candidate

  • Ghosting

You make sure : you both already agreed about a date/ time to have a phone screening.

It’s a RED flag if a candidate : does not pick the phone. Or even worse pick the phone and have no idea why this call is taking place. No excuse is a good excuse.

  • Initial 30 seconds

You make sure : You do not jump directly into Q&A. The initial greetings are very important to connect and make the other person comfortable.

It’s a RED flag if the candidate : seems to rush! Or do not remember the position/ role they are about to talk.

  • Clarity

You make sure : You describe the role and also share details of your company – even if it’s as popular as Facebook, Twitter. You should be telling this candidate why this company and the team is awesome.

It’s a RED flag if the candidate : asks trivial questions again, like – Can you tell me what this company does? Or what will be my role in the team? If they have applied and have already heard details from you earlier, asking the same trivial question again doesn’t give a good vibe. Probably, if they go one level deep with the role/ company/ question, then that’s not an issue.

  • External noise, unequipped to take the call :

You make sure : Let the candidate know if they will need a computer in front of them. (if that’s a requirement)

It’s a RED flag if the candidate : is in a place which is noisy (a cafe, train station). There could be reasons there is background noise and if the candidate tells you a valid reason (e.g. I apologize for the background noise as I am taking it from my car parked in a garage and there is some constructions going on in background).

  • Compensation expectations :

You make sure : Ask the candidate about their salary expectations.

It’s a RED flag if the candidate : Just throws a number at you without rationalizing it. Or isn’t flexible to work around that number if your offering is in the ball-park range.

Commitment / Team dynamics / Immigration Expectations :

You make sure : You shared team dynamics, relocation expectations, any immigration policy/ requirement etc.

It’s a RED flag if the candidate : First told you that they have H1-B but towards the end ask for a filing of the visa on their behalf. Or, are willing to commute to work everyday but ask for work from home policy. Even worse, seem surprised on the fact that 50% of their team works remotely and express disappointment with remote collaboration.

Checklist Recruiters Must Follow For Better Relationship With Hiring Manager

Checklists saves lives. If you do not believe me, I will recommend you to read the book – The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande.

For a hiring manager, finding  the right person at the right time is as critical. Below is a checklist we built which recruiters could use and prevent the “oops .. someone dropped the ball” moment.

  • Elevator Pitch Of the Position:

Ask the hiring team describe the open position in 30 seconds – or 2-3 sentences. If the hiring manager can’t give you an elevator pitch, probably he/ she isn’t crystal clear about what they desire in this new hire.

  • Check if the job description is written or approved by the Hiring manager :

Hiring managers are busy people. It could have happened that someone else on the team ended up writing the job description. And the manager couldn’t review the job description before handing it over to you. It doesn’t hurt to double-check if the hiring manager has paid attention to every word written in the JD.

  • Everyone wants a Superhero : But they all have different powers!

No hiring manager will settle for less than a Superman (or a Batman). And there is nothing wrong with that expectation. But then reality dawns in the hiring process, right? It will save a TON of time and effort for everyone if you can identify the skills in 3 buckets:

  • DEAL-BREAKERS : Can’t settle for anything less
  • MUST HAVE : Need it but can settle if it’s 70% or more.
  • NICE TO HAVE : Don’t sweat over it.

Also, pay close attention to other aspects which might not be part of the job description – like – The culture, diversity, team dynamics and several other softer criteria which ultimately take the center stage and could become reasons for the rejection of the candidate.

So it’s your job to understand if the hiring manager needs a Super-Man, Bat-Man or simply a Hu-man!

  • Build a candidate profile and confirm:

Create the candidate persona you are going to find for your hiring manager. It’s like you are playing back what you understand of this role and the expectation. It’s basically 2-3 paragraphs describing what kind of candidate you will start looking for.

By now both you and hiring manager should be on the same page.

  • Layout the interview process and assess:

Let the hiring manager know what the experience, expectations and evolution of this hiring process will be like. No one like any surprises or “wake up” calls.

Once you share the interview process get a nod from the hiring manager. Make sure they are onboard with your plan of action.

  • Feedback cycles:

When you share the plan and onboard the hiring team make sure they commit to feedback sessions. As a recruiter it’s your job to make sure that the hiring team sees value in these sessions. Else they will find it waste of their time. Some tips:

  • Keep these sessions short & timebound – probably email or like a stand-up call.
  • Ask if the job description is still the same (confirm this every-time) as things can change any minute in a team.
  • Understand objectively what went right with the interviewed candidate and what went wrong.

(Optional)

Meet their “A” players(s) on the team:

Some of you might not agree with this. But I consider this a hack. To get the next candidate look at the existing ones which are their “A” players. Talk to them and figure out how & why they tick in that team. You now have a yardstick and should try to go above and beyond this – there are higher chance that you will hit a jackpot in finding your next Superhero!

To sum up : Checklists are integral part of any process – and processes make sure they simply our work and lives. We too have checklists at Recruitring which helps us deliver a quality product.

What did we miss on this checklist? Share your feedback and insights.

Image credit: https://goo.gl/8ARwcO