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Explained: Our Engineering Hiring Process at Virtual Internships
Transparency is one of the core values here at Virtual Internships, and whilst some interview processes –particularly in the tech world– can be ambiguous, we believe in being open about what you can expect from not only our engineering hiring process but all of our recruitment processes (stay tuned).
With an impressive background founding his own SaaS company and leading several product departments for major tech companies, our Head of Engineering, Abhijit Singh, has refined his recruitment process to be able to not only find the perfect candidate but enable the right candidate to shine.
In this article, we spoke to Abhijit about his engineering hiring process at Virtual Internships and exactly what you can expect so that you can bring your best self to each stage.
What We Look for When Hiring Engineers at Virtual Internships
We have quite a unique culture at Virtual Internships, and on the thread of transparency, we encourage each applicant during the hiring process to review our culture deck in detail to make sure that we are the right fit for them.
Before we dive into the specific steps in our engineering hiring process, we first wanted to share what we look for in candidates. Whilst we are actively recruiting for specialist roles, we believe that this specific set of traits is important for all candidates, regardless of department or seniority.
These traits align with Virtual Internships’ culture and allow us to grow, change, and adapt as a company.
You’ll be the right fit for Virtual Internships if you:
- Continuously grow and evolve. We look for people who make things happen regardless of circumstances.
- Embrace change. We hire people that not only comfortable with change but actively embrace it.
- Love VI’s mission. Great candidates want to work at VI, not use technology X or solve very specific problem Y.
- Are a fast learner. We look for candidates with a growth mindset who can learn fast, take feedback, are self-aware, and –in the case of experienced candidates– have a career growth trajectory.
- Communicate excellently. All teams in our engineering department have members across different countries. Having people that can effectively communicate –according to their seniority– is fundamental for us.
- Are a team player. We want candidates who help their teammates out, serve as mentors, and are okay with doing the unglamorous work.
- Have a strong sense of ownership. Ownership powers our use of the “You build it, you run it” model. We want people who feel responsible for the team’s success and the company and not just “their work”.
The Stages of Our Engineering Hiring Process at Virtual Internship
Now, you know what specific characteristics we look for in great candidates. Here, we want to explain what happens at each stage of the hiring process including what you can expect as well as tips from Abhijit himself on what you can do at each stage to stand out.
First Things First, Apply for the Role
You’ll find all of our open roles on our Careers page, or you may spot them on LinkedIn, or other job boards (you may even be headhunted). Whichever way you find us, we ask all candidates to submit their CV/resume as well as an ‘optional but recommended’ cover letter or custom message.
When reviewing applications, the first question we ask ourselves is: Does it seem like this person wants to work at Virtual Internships?
This is where the cover letter comes in handy, and why we are big advocates for including a cover letter in all of your job applications. It’s a chance to show a little more of your personality as well as demonstrate an interest in the company and position.
Abhijit’s Top Tip: Candidates who send a cover letter that shows their interest in the role and our company with their application are more likely to get to the first interview and be hired.
Step 1: Recruiter Screening
The screener stage involves a short Zoom or Google Meet conversation with someone from our recruitment team. The goal is for us to find out more about you, and vice versa. This is not a technical interview, but mostly a high-level conversation about the candidate’s experience, interest in Virtual Internships and the role, and expectations.
During this stage, we’ll look for:
- Knowledge of Virtual Internships
- Remote work experience
- Recent experience
- Fit for the role
- Authorization to work in the country the candidate resides
In this and all other conversations, we always make time for any questions you might have.
Abhijit’s Top Tip: This is a low-pressure environment to ask any questions you have about the role, the company, and the team before you begin interviewing. It is only fair that you are aware of everything you need and want to be, so ask away!
Step 2: The Technical Exercises (For Junior/Senior/Lead Software Engineers)
This is a topic that gets revisited at Virtual Internships frequently. We are constantly asking ourselves how we can improve our process, make it more inclusive, and ensure that the length does not make us miss valuable candidates while also giving us a good understanding of the candidate’s skills.
We conduct a number of exercises that are specific to the position and seniority. We aim for exercises to take 30-45 minutes to complete, and we give candidates –at most– seven days to work on them.
Abhijit’s Top Tip: Ask questions! This shows us you’re interested. The skills we assess are coding, research ability, autonomy, expectation management, and attention to detail so if you ask anything along these lines, we’ll know you’re a closer fit.
Step 3: Technical Interview
Throughout the engineering hiring process, you’ll either have one or two technical interviews. In the technical interview, you’ll meet engineers from the team you’ve applied to and engineers from other teams, who will all act as interviewers.
At Virtual Internships, we have stuck to our “No Live Coding” policy, which usually receives great feedback. We don’t think a short live coding exercise gives us the right signals about the candidate’s abilities. People can get nervous, and it does not replicate real work conditions.
Abhijit’s Top Tip: The more senior the position you’re applying for, the fewer guardrails the problem is likely to have. This is us looking to see how senior candidates arrive at ideas to solve open-ended problems.
Step 4: Company/Culture Fit Interview
The final stage will be an interview with Jason, our COO, or one of our senior leaders where you’ll talk about the position, our values, the company’s direction, and of course, often most importantly, our culture.
In this interview, we are looking to see that you’re a right fit, not only for the position but for the company itself to continue on the path we are heading.
Abhijit’s Top Tip: Come prepared having read up about the company, look into who your interview is with, and make sure to prepare some questions about the company and working here.
Abhijit’s Golden Rules on How to Shine in Your Engineering Interview
The interview process can be challenging and awkward for engineers especially if you’ve come straight from university or have been in the same job for a few years and are low on interview practice.
In this section, as well as the above tips per stage, Abhijit has shared how you can shine during the engineering hiring process specifically when it comes to the interviews.
1. Be Inquisitive
There are few things worse in an interview than someone who doesn’t have any questions for the interviewer.
When the interview approaches the end, there will always be time allowed to ask any questions you might have. This is not the time to simply respond, “No, that sounds good”.
To stand out, and be remembered weeks after the interview when the hiring process is long, there are several areas that you can ask about besides the traditional compensation package such as:
- Top challenges currently facing the company/division the interviewee will be in and how this role will help to overcome them
- Employee growth, culture, and company benefits
- Training opportunities provided by the company
Make sure to ask good questions that show genuine interest in the company’s broader picture and don’t make everything just about how it impacts you.
2. Be Confident, Not Arrogant
Someone that is pursuing a position at a new company should be confident in their own skills and capabilities. You should be able to demonstrate and provide examples of how you have been successful in the past and overcome issues.
However, there can be a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Make sure that during the interview, confidence is shown and demonstrated, not arrogance.
3. Don’t be afraid to say no
It’s important that during the engineering hiring process, you’re not afraid to say no. If the company is working on something that is not on the path you want to take, say so. If the offer that comes in is not what you hoped for but the role obviously needs this skill set, say no.
4. Research the company
Learn what kind of engineering work the company does before applying, and get to know all about the products and services it offers. If you want even more talking points, you should see who its top competitors are.
5. Bring a DIY Project
A custom project can make you stand out of the crowd but also reveal several important key traits that companies are looking for, such as:
- Passion for your field
- Self-starter mentality
- Technical competency
Why Work at Virtual Internships
As we mentioned earlier, at Virtual Internships, we are incredibly transparent about our culture. That’s why each and every prospective new joiner will be invited to review our culture deck and make sure they feel we are the right fit for them, as well as the other way around.
We move fast, we have a bias for action, and we strive to constantly improve, and that’s what we expect to see in candidates that apply for roles with us. However, this culture has resulted in incredible results and incredible growth both at a personal-employee level and a company level.
There’s so much more we could say about our culture but we don’t want to give too many of our secrets away! Plus, if you follow the above tips and apply to join us, you’ll be able to see what it’s all about anyway.
Besides the obvious compensation and benefits package, there are many great perks to joining us.
We are a remote-first company with over 130 employees in 23 (and counting) countries, meaning we are very accustomed to remote working and all that it offers, besides the obvious parks of freedom and flexibility.
We were recently voted 23rd in the world’s most purposeful companies to work for out of 13,000 organizations for our mission and impact, by Escape the City. We are also backed by the best, including early investors in Airbnb, LinkedIn, and more!
We’re growing fast, we’re on a mission to help millions of young people better their career prospects, and joining us is a chance to be part of something huge.
Check out our Careers page for more perks!
Hear From The Team About What It’s Like to Work Here
“It’s a very collaborative environment and people work to solve problems together. The team is always willing to teach you stuff, and if you ask for help.”
– Yen Pham, Lead Engineer
“VI is an amazing place to work. Great work/life balance. Superb culture and very diverse teams. A lot to learn. It is one of the few companies which really puts an effort into your professional growth and also pays well. Overall, it is a very good company for software engineers.”
– Abhijit Singh, Head of Engineering and Implementation
“Working for VI does not only represent an employment commitment, but also a learning path and a success story. I’ve had the opportunity of meeting people from an impressive variety of world corners, introducing VI as a company that represents myself in values and culture: a workplace where you feel confident to take initiative, where teamwork encourages inclusivity and transparency, achieving goals with persistence and resilience.”
– Andreea Berbecaru – Head of Company Development
“Taking Virtual Internships as my first career stop is one of the best decision I made. All my ideas are valued and listen carefully although I’m just an intern, the team is always ready to support and there multiple spaces for me to develop my personal career!”
– Dan To – HR Associate
“Virtual Internships has a unique culture that blends outstanding programs for its clients with a flexible and motivating work environment for its employees. A perfect mix of friendly, professional, and visionary, VI seems to consistently attract world-class people to grow their team.”
– Andy Radelet – Head of Enrollment Enrollment Management
Check Out Our Open Roles and Apply Now!
Right now, we are recruiting for several roles in our engineering team as well as multiple other roles across the organization.
If you’d like to join a fast-paced start-up, where career growth is guaranteed, then check our open roles!