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.

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. 


  • 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.



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.
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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.