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Interviewing for an engineering role at Griffin

Talent partner, Kieron McAdam shares a guide to interviewing for software engineering roles at Griffin

Portrait of Kieron McAdam
Kieron McAdamFriday 15 March 2024

Preparing for an interview with no clue on what to expect can be quite unnerving. Most people will thrive when there is clarity around expectations and we’ve created this guide so that you have all the information you need to succeed when you interview here.

Getting ready

Our interview process is a two-way street‍—‌learn as much about us as we do about you, and have everything you need to decide whether we’re a good fit for each other. All our interviews are done remotely and our goal is for the entire process to take just about 2-3 weeks.

“My initial thought was that there were a lot of interviews, however they all went by quickly and everyone was really nice to talk to. I got good feedback, and understood expectations at each stage. The interviews felt like conversations rather than a Q&A session and there was plenty of time to ask questions too”

Jacob Taylor-Hindle, Engineer

Before we deep dive into the process, here are some simple, but often overlooked interview preparation tips:

  • Set yourself up in a quiet distraction free space and turn off your notifications.
  • Check that your internet connection is stable and working fine.
  • Give your CV a quick re-read before the interview starts‍—‌you’ve probably achieved quite a lot and may have forgotten about some projects.
  • Jot down and structure your thoughts and answers with your preferred note taking tool.
  • Give your interviewers a heads-up if you have commitments‍—‌like having your kids around or expecting a delivery! It’s understandable if this may briefly interfere with the interview.
  • Ask lots of questions! We provide time at the end of every interview especially for that.

Intro chat (30 minutes)

The first step of your interview process with us is a fairly informal call with a member of the talent team. We’ll share why we exist, what we actually do, and how Engineering fits into all of that. We’ll also ask you some questions about your previous experience, how you like to work and what you’re looking to achieve in your next role. This is your opportunity to ask us any questions on your mind and get clarity on what the role involves.

Technical interview (1 hour)

In this chat, one of our engineering leaders will get into the nitty gritty with you. You’ll discuss the technical aspects of your recent work and your approach to software craftsmanship. Here, we’re interested in the types of systems you’ve worked with, how you’ve collaborated with others, and your general fit for the role. We will talk you through what our architecture looks like, our approach to software engineering and how our teams are set up. You will also have time to ask any questions you have.

Homework (In your own time)

There are two elements to our homework: writing and coding.

  • Writing: Here, we will test your knowledge of databases and distributed systems, and check if how you write is aligned with our approach.
  • Coding: All of our apps are built in Clojure. We’ll share a file with you along with some specs and instructions.

“Even though I hadn’t written Clojure before, I didn’t find the fact it was Clojure daunting and very quickly worked out the solution. The only frustrating bit here was setting up the editor and tooling but it’s typically like this for all languages.”

Sara Fransson, Senior Engineer

This part of the process should be approached as if you are working with a team. We keep the instructions fairly high-level to give room for creativity. Once you’ve shared your completed task with us, we’ll review it before the next step.

Peer interviews (1 hour 30 minutes)

As the name suggests, you’ll meet with members of the engineering team for a high-level discussion on a specific system design and areas in your homework* that we’d like to explore. There will be no live coding. We always suggest using a diagram tool (e.g. Excalidraw) to help you communicate your ideas clearly in this interview.

“I thought that the mix of programming and system design was a good approach as it helped highlight and assess the engineers skills in the context of how the company works. There wasn’t anything out of the ordinary during the process.”

Sara Fransson, Senior Engineer

We want this interview to give you an indication of what it’s like to work in one of our engineering teams. Expect your ideas to be challenged with kindness and empathy while we look at how you think through problems as they arise.

You don’t need to read up on the specific technologies we use for this interview, however brushing up on APIs and distributed systems would be useful.

*We are happy to share specific feedback on your homework. Just ask your talent partner.

Culture interview and Founder chat (1-2 hours)

We believe our culture is our most important asset and although we’ve been reviewing “culture fit” throughout the process, we dedicate some time to assess this. We also want you to meet Grifflings outside of the guild you’ll be working with.

Our culture interviews are relaxed and open conversations where we both learn about each other's values and ways of working.

Following the culture call, you’ll meet with one of our founders. As an engineer, this will normally be Allen, our CTO. This is an opportunity to dig into any aspect of Griffin‍—‌the company, our tech stack, or even Allen’s hobbies.

And that’s that.

Once you’ve completed the Culture interview and Founder chat, we’ll aim to get back to you in 24 hours. If you’re successful, we’ll make you an offer! If not, we’ll share clear and actionable feedback with you.

Good luck! We hope you enjoy interviewing here and we look forward to meeting you and learning all about what you’ve achieved so far!