Ace the interview: Inside the hiring journeys at 5 NYC tech companies

by Justine Hofherr
October 16, 2018
movable ink
photo via movable ink

Despite all the opportunities NYC tech has to offer, landing the job of your dreams can still be a daunting task. Every company has a different interview process, and looks for certain qualities in their ideal candidates. Lucky for you, we’re here to help you out.

Built In NYC asked five recruiters from fast-growing tech companies to give us the inside scoop on their interview process, how to make yourself stand out and, perhaps most importantly, what not to do.

 

Molly Hopkins has been a recruiter with marketing tech company Movable Ink for one year. She has one major tip for interviewees who want to impress her: Listen up.

 

Describe the interview process at your company. How is it unique?

Our interview process typically consists of two phone screens, a series of in-person interviews and then a final-stage project or presentation. Movable Ink has a very collaborative work environment. One thing I find makes our process unique is that in choosing our interview panel, we really try to think about who this person will regularly collaborate with and include them on the lineup.

 

Think back to the most memorable job interview you’ve led. What did the candidate do to leave a lasting impression?

The candidates who stand out are the ones who ask really good, thought-provoking questions. I’m not talking about generic questions just to ask something, but rather the ones that really made me pause and think as an interviewer.

 

Any advice for what not to do during the hiring process?

Don’t forget to listen during your interviews. Listening to the questions the interviewer is asking is just as important as the answers you give. Often, I feel candidates have rehearsed answers and a plan on what they want to say going into the interview. Those candidates end up not actually answering the question that was asked. Strong listening skills are highly important in most roles; don’t let this be what keeps you from getting the job.

 

Q Hawkins
senior technical recruiter

Q Hawkins is a senior technical recruiter who has been with instructional content platform Newsela for over a year. He gives the scoop on their interview process, which is a three-tier event that ensures all hires are a good culture fit.

 

Describe the interview process at your company. How is it unique?

Our interview process consists of three things that make it unique: a culture interview, a hiring committee review and post-interview feedback. All events are designed to focus on a great candidate experience, reduce unconscious bias and to expose candidates to the rich diversity of perspectives at Newsela. The first interview involves a call with our talent team, where we learn more about a candidate’s skill-set, employment history and career goals. The second interview is a call with the hiring manager, where they share details about what success looks like and dive into what’s important to each candidate. In the third interview, the candidate meets the team they’d be working with. The onsite interview gives the candidate an opportunity to speak with a diverse panel of interviewers, including leadership.


Think back to the most memorable job interview you’ve led. What did the candidate do to leave a lasting impression?

We love when our candidates go above and beyond to show us their skills. Once, we had a software engineer who didn’t know about education technology who came in to to teach us how to use new technology to better support teachers and students. We were so impressed with their ability to learn something new and their ability to share it with us.

 

Any advice for what not to do during the hiring process?

Don’t forget to be yourself. We value people bringing their whole selves to work, quirks and all. Being honest about what you’re great at and where you can develop helps us set you up for success. Follow interview instructions. Attention to detail is important, and we want to make sure you get the most out of your time with us. Be strategic about your approach with us. We have candidates who don’t apply to a job because the posted role doesn’t match their skill set perfectly, and others who apply to every job.

 

Karen Mascavage
Manager, talent partners

Karen Mascavage has been with Stack Overflow for more than three years and is now the manager of talent partners. She describes the programming-friendly company’s interview process as very thorough.

 

Describe the interview process at your company. How is it unique?

Our interview process is binary: candidates have to pass each stage to move on to the next. It’s really thorough. Each stage gives us an opportunity learn more about how someone communicates and solves problems, and what skills they bring to the role. As a candidate, it’s a really great opportunity to see what it would be like to work here and who you will be working with, from peers to leaders. As an employee, it’s an amazing chance to help grow and shape the organization. Hiring is a company-wide effort!

 

Think back to the most memorable job interview you’ve led. What did the candidate do to leave a lasting impression?

One of the most memorable interview processes I led was with a member of our talent sales team, Sharon. What was originally supposed to be only two hours of interviews turned into a full six-hour series of meetings. She completed all of the interviews in our process in a single day, and at the end, left with a job offer in hand. It was a Thursday and she started that following Monday. Sharon was such a champ, and over the past three years, she has grown to a senior account executive and team lead. 

 

Any advice for what not to do during the hiring process?

It’s really important to come to your interview understanding what the company does, and how your experience can positively impact it in the role you are applying for. Candidates who come prepared to speak only of their experience and know nothing about what we actually do won’t get very far in our process.

 

David Kaplowitz
VP of people operations

David Kaplowitz, VP of people and operations, has worked for data platform Quovo for the last year and a half. In that time, he said he’s noticed that Quovo is unique from other companies in that they value transparency and want candidates to feel well informed throughout the process.

 

Describe the interview process at your company. How is it unique from?

Our interview process usually begins with a preliminary phone screen for us to get to know the candidate and tell them more about Quovo and the role. From there, candidates may be asked to complete an assessment before being invited onsite to meet some key team members. Our interviews are intended to be conversational and driven by the candidate. While candidates will be asked thoughtful and engaging questions, they will be encouraged to ask questions. Candidates may notice we emphasize the “real” aspects of the role. We want the candidate to know what their day-to-day will look like at Quovo. 

 

Think back to the most memorable job interview you’ve led. What did the candidate do to leave a lasting impression?

The candidate was prepared with great questions and expectations for their next role. They were engaged throughout the interview and were able to leverage their past experiences to instill confidence in the hiring team that they would be able to tackle both the exciting and challenging aspects of the role. The candidate made their skill set clear and was honest about their future goals. Ultimately, we want to make sure this isn’t just a great fit for Quovo, but for the candidate too.

 

Any advice for what not to do during the hiring process?

Don’t say “yes” to everything just to get an interview or offer. It sounds silly, but you need to be comfortable with asking tough questions and getting told, “no.”

 

Liat Peles
U.S. HR director

Liat Peles, U.S. HR director at Fiverr, has worked with the global marketplace for creative and digital services for over three years and in HR for more than 15 years. In that time, she’s learned a thing or two about the art of the interview.
 

Describe the interview process at your company. How is it unique?

At Fiverr, we believe in the art of entrepreneurialism, hustling and getting sh*t done. During our hiring process, we strategically implement questions and exercises that tell us whether or not a candidate is a self-starter, or as we like to call it, a “doer.” The interview process is very qualitative and open-ended, even for product or developer roles that can be slightly more quantitative.

When hiring, we look for passion, hard work and dedication. We also put a lot of attention on making sure that candidates are not just a fit for the position they are applying for, but a fit for our brand as well. The Fiverr community is made up of millions of people around the world, 190 countries to be exact, and we want to make sure our employees are as self-motivated, open to taking risks and passionate as our community.

 

Think back to the most memorable job interview you’ve led. What did the candidate do to leave a lasting impression?

Two candidates strike me as being the most memorable, and not because something crazy happened, but because there was no question in my mind after they began speaking that they were a fit.

One candidate was articulate, passionate about relationships and empowering others, and wanted to make a difference. The other candidate made me feel like we became best friends the moment we met. In addition to learning about all his favorite beers, it was more of a friendly conversation than an interview. I also remember talking to him about his managerial style, and how he chose to manage a flat team rather than a hierarchical team, which is a style that we try implement in all internal teams.

 

Any advice for what not to do during the hiring process?

Working in HR for 15 years, I’ve seen it all. After years and years of interviewing candidates, these are some of the things I would stay to steer clear of during an interview: Don’t talk about what your team did; talk about you did. Never take a phone screening from the streets or a coffee shop. We understand you might be a hustler and on the go, but it makes for a distracted conversation. Finally, never blame others for a mistake you’ve made.

 

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