We will try in this article to describe our current engineering recruitment process at Akeneo. We’ve decided to shine more light, more clarity on how we carefully select candidates. This will allow you to understand why and how we do it.
We know that many hiring processes are demanding and challenging. Some hiring processes look alike and replicate each other:
- sometimes too long with 7 to 9 interviews before reaching the final phase,
- sometimes too short and they do not provide enough time for both parties to get to know each other enough to make an informed decision,
- they have, and we see more and more of them, exercises of 4 hours and more to do at home supposedly without “stress”,
- sometimes they do not provide solid and clear information for the candidate who already feels a little lost,
- and so on…
We believe a good interview process helps assess candidates on multiple criteria: technical skills, cultural fit, growth mindset, cleverness, and desire to learn. We want to maintain strong company culture, make sure that our way of working suits the candidates, and build a great team moving in the same direction. To quote our CPO Nico:
No hero, no rockstar, no ninja here but humble mates doing their best, continuously learning, and working together to improve.
Research shows that stereotypes can introduce bias into the process, increasing or decreasing the assessment for the potential of a teammate, with comparable qualifications, skills, or achievement levels. We also know that a candidate will not be the same person when he or she starts the job and that an interview, even an informal one, produces as much anxiety as an adrenaline rush. We are doing our best to minimize bias and leave room to step back as much as possible.
We assess potential candidates both formally and informally. These various assessments allow us to differentiate a teammate we absolutely want to work with from a teammate we just would like to work with. Our current hiring process takes 4 steps to reach this purpose with a mix of formal and informal discussion
- Soft and hard skills interview
- Technical interview
- Cultural fit interview
Screening — the first interview
The first approach is often decisive in the final decision of a candidate. We have been receiving numerous emails or LinkedIn solicitations in the IT field for several years, some of us even receive dozens of messages every week. Today, this is the norm, which was not the case a decade ago. We all know that to attract a candidate these days, it is not enough to offer the best salary or the best foosball table, but actually, to be as transparent and clear as possible from the start.
This is a delicate exercise that our HR team tries to succeed in every day. If you have answered the approach or through one of our job offers, you will receive a call from our HR department. The first objective of this call is to present the company, know your motivations and expectations. This 30-minute call is the first contact in the recruitment process with Akeneo and where you are able to provide your expectations in terms of salaries.
Soft and hard skills — Interview with an Engineering Manager
The purpose of this interview is to evaluate your hard and soft skills. We’ll ask a series of questions that allow you to explain how you have demonstrated problem-solving, autonomy, or accountability in your past experiences. Typical questions could be why are you leaving your previous job and what are you searching for? why Akeneo rather than another company? on which kind of topics would you want to work? (back, front, greenfield, refactoring, huge tech challenge, …), what are you the proudest of in your professional life? how are you making sure your work won’t have regression in the future or the acceptance testing won’t be too painful? What software engineering culture are you sensitive to (Craftsmanship, XP, DDD, etc)? …
We often finish the interview by making sure we discussed any topics you would like to bring up with us and ask you if you have any questions. If the interview went well, you’ll move to the technical interview with our CTO or a Chapter Engineer.
Technical skills — Interview with the CTO or a Chapter engineer
This is not a typical technical interview, we think the most valuable technical test is the open questions. We try to provide an innovative technical test based on the discussion. You will not have to use a whiteboard and you will not be given a test to do at home. We want to reach the limits of your hard skills with a series of questions. During an interview, we are looking for an authentic exchange with the candidate, and the truth doesn’t need to be prepared in advance or to be perfect. Nobody’s perfect. During the interviews, we will try to evaluate the following criteria:
- technical skills level,
- good practices level in development flow, code & architecture,
- the ability to build a broad vision, work down to pinpoint precisely and effectively the issue at hand,
- logic and learning abilities.
This is really an open interview where we are trying to create the same feeling as a discussion over a coffee among colleagues. This point, which is one the most important (if not the most important), is what we call “soft skills”, and particularly the ability to convey an idea with humility and benevolence.
If you succeed at this interview you’ll move to the last interview with your future squad.
Cultural fit — Interview with your future teammates
The cultural fit interview comes at the end. The team will ask do we really believe that this mate will add value to our team and do we feel like we want to work with this person day in, day out, do you like beer and how do you cook your meat?
Tough question, right? The top question that matters at this last stage is do we want to work with this new mate? and vice versa. No more than that. This is not a one-way conversation but also an opportunity for candidates to ask questions, ask about motivation to discover if our values are aligned.
Just relax, take a deep breath and enjoy the discussion.
Now that you know what is expected. Don’t hesitate to check our current open positions and send your application! We’re also hiring more entry-level software engineering positions. If you’re interested, see you around 🍻