by Brian Nordli
June 29, 2018

At Updater, job candidates are evaluated on the work they will be doing, rather than the answers they provide. The company eschews the traditional interview in favor of a full-day interview, where candidates work with their prospective teams for eight hours.

The process not only enables the company to find the right employees but also gives candidates the opportunity to see if the company is a good fit for them. We spoke to four members on the engineering team to learn more about what a full-day interview involves and what it’s like to go through it.   

 

Updater Front Desk
Photography By Hannah Cohen
Updater Office
Photography By Hannah Cohen
Updater Break Room
Photography By Hannah Cohen

 

FOUNDED: 2011

EMPLOYEES: 94 national (75 local)

WHAT THEY DO: Updater provides a platform that streamlines the moving process, allowing users to transfer digital services and utilities, find reputable moving companies, forward mail and more.

WHERE THEY DO IT: New York

MIND AND BODY: Employees receive a subsidy that can be put toward health, fitness or education.

 

Ankit Shah At Work

Ankit Shah Profile 

Ankit Shah, Director of API

Ankit Shah manages the core-API team at Updater. His team is responsible for building out the majority of the business logic used by the internal Updater teams and external partners.

BEYOND WORK: He loves picking up a rideshare bike and pedaling to work.

 

Why did Updater decide to go to a full-day interview process?

Full-day interviews started as a way to condense the interview process so we could get back to candidates quicker. Now, it’s more about finding and attracting the right talent.

It allows us to evaluate candidates based on the actual work they would be doing as opposed to theoretical exercises. It also gives us a better sense of how well a candidate will fit into our culture. Candidates typically love the experience because they get a sense of what it’s like to work at Updater.

 

(Full-day interviews) allow us to evaluate candidates based on the actual work they would be doing as opposed to theoretical exercises. 


How does the full-day process help you cultivate team culture?

The full-day process not only allows us to evaluate incoming candidates on how well they fit our culture but also holds us accountable to them. A candidate can see first-hand how Updater operates and what it would be like working here. Ideally, when a new employee starts at Updater, there shouldn’t be any surprises on their end or on ours.

 

What advantages does a full-day interview provide that a traditional one does not?  

A full-day interview provides better visibility into a candidate’s fit because the day simulates a problem or task that they would need to accomplish if they actually worked at Updater. It’s all real life. Even if they are a bit hesitant in the beginning, most candidates see the value for themselves in this process. It gives them a better idea on whether or not Updater is a good fit for them.

 

Zebin at work

Zebin portrait

 

Zebin Sakeeb, Services Engineer

Zebin Sakeeb is a member of the services team. She contributes to the code base for microservices and works with the team on developer tools, infrastructure and distributed systems to enable continuous delivery of new features.  

BEYOND WORK: Zebin loves to travel and experience new cultures.

 

How does the full-day interview play out on the engineering team?

All candidates work on a single assignment during the full-day interview. The information about the assignment and the day’s agenda are provided the day before. As the day progresses, the candidate works with several team members on the problem, pair programs with another teammate and gives a presentation on a topic of the candidate’s choice. After lunch with the team, the candidate presents their work.

At the end of the day, the candidate meets with the hiring manager and recruiter to reflect on the day. Unlike a typical interview, the full day is an enjoyable experience that shows what it is truly like to be a part of Updater.

 

Unlike a typical interview, the full day is an enjoyable experience that shows what it is truly like to be a part of Updater.

 

What was your experience going through the full-day interview?

Initially, I thought it would be a full-day interview comprised of back-to-back tech interview sessions. After receiving the agenda, I realized that wasn’t the case. Still, I was a little nervous about how it would go.

However, the Updater family made me feel welcome and comfortable. I didn't feel pressured, I was able to enjoy my task, interact with the team, share my knowledge and learn new things. It felt like I was already a part of the team. At the end of the day, I was delighted with the experience. All of the other experiences I’ve had left me feeling exhausted. The full day at Updater left me feeling excited.

 

What advice would you give a candidate preparing for a full day on the engineering team?

It’s important to read the agenda thoroughly and prepare for it. This means you should install all the needed software on your computer before coming in, plan out how you would solve the problem you’re given and what technologies you would use. You may think that you have a full day to do all of it, but trust me, the time will fly by.

Also, be yourself, ask relevant questions and take the time to get to know the team. Updater cares about cultural fit as much as intellectual fit, so it’s important that you like the team. Finally, enjoy the task you’re assigned.

 

Tyler At Work

Tyler Portrait

 

Tyler Nolan, Software Engineer

Tyler Nolan is a member of the platform team. He is responsible for building and architecting integrations with property management software, transaction management systems and other third parties. Those integrations power the invitations to use Updater’s app.

BEYOND WORK: He loves to learn about different subjects. He's currently studying French and is an avid reader.

 

What do you look for in an ideal candidate?

The ideal candidate has to be humble and have an open mind. We’re looking for candidates who, when given an alternative solution to a problem, will actually go out of their way to try and understand a different approach. An ideal candidate will ask probing questions and try to understand where the differences lie between approaches.

We also look at a candidate’s approach to a team project. How willing is that person to give others credit for their success? Software development isn’t a one-person job, and Updater is a collaborative environment. They also need strong communication skills. Our team has to link up with lots of other teams within Updater, some technical, some not. Often, how a person communicates can be more important than the ideas themselves.

 

Don’t stress too much about having the perfect solution and be open to feedback.

 

What advice would you give a candidate preparing for a full day on the engineering team?

Don’t stress too much about having the perfect solution and be open to feedback. There is no right answer. What we really care about is how you think about these types of problems and how you would work with the rest of the team. Having the ability to explain a design choice thoughtfully is more important to us than the design choice itself.

 

How does Updater’s interview process compare to other companies where you’ve interviewed?

Updater’s interview process blew anything else I had experienced out of the water. At my last job, I wasn’t even sure what team I was joining or what I would be working on. At Updater, I had immediate clarity on what my team did and what role I would play in it. Rather than sitting in a conference room for three hours getting questions thrown my way, Updater had me sitting at a desk next to my future teammates working collaboratively to solve a problem.

 

Dara at work

Dara Porfile 

Dara Mao, Front End Engineer

Dara Mao works on the front end team, which builds anything a user sees and interacts with on the company’s platform.

BEYOND WORK: She enjoys cooking.

 

What was your experience going through the full-day interview?

I’ll admit the full day sounded intimidating at first, but it turned out to be a great way for me to evaluate the company. Interviewing can often feel like a one-way street for candidates, but the full day gives you the opportunity to see how your future team operates on a daily basis. Updater’s full day is a testament to how much the company values its teammates even before they’re hired.   

 

What advantages did experiencing the full day provide you when you joined the team?

My favorite part of the full day was having the chance to partner and work with each member of my future team. This opportunity gives you a realistic sense of how you’d be working with them on a daily basis. Aside from coding, you get to see how you will be communicating with each other and solving problems together.

 

My favorite part of the full day was having the chance to partner and work with each member of my future team.

 

What advice would you give a candidate preparing for a full day on the engineering team?

Be yourself. If you’ve gotten this far in the interview process, you must have qualities that the team values and likes. Let those qualities shine.

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