Recruiting the Monterail Way — What Backend Developers Can Expect

Recruitment is the art of balancing.

On one hand, you, as a developer, want to find a place where you can evolve and do exciting things with exciting people. On the other hand, we want to make sure that you’ll enjoy our way of working and will be a great culture add.

Finding a convergence of these two needs is something that requires attention and dedication. Especially when you consider that you and we want to work together as long as possible.

So how to solve this puzzle? How can you find out if there’s potential for a long relationship with just a couple of talks?

Well, we’ve designed a process that allows both you and us to do just that.

The How and Why of Monterail Recruitment

There are a couple of things you can be sure of when applying for a backend role at Monterail:

  • The idea of recruitment at Monterail is to make that process efficient, self-organizing, and meaningful for candidates.
  • Candidate experience is something that we really care about. We keep you informed at every stage of the recruitment process, and we try to reply to applications and answer any questions as soon as possible. We also do our best to address your perspective, needs, and preferences. 
  • Feedback is crucial for us, no matter what the stage of recruitment it is. We appreciate the time and effort that you put into the process — that’s why we give you honest and meaningful feedback so that you can keep developing your skills. If we won’t make you an offer this time, you can use the feedback to improve and apply once again in the future.
  • Diversity: when we recruit, we don’t choose people based on our preferences or prejudices. It’s about finding people who are skilled and/or willing to develop, humble, and fit job requirements. There’s no place in Monterail for any kind of discrimination. 

The Recruitment Process

In a nutshell, our process has four parts:

  1. The screening call — where we’ll ask you some high-level questions, and get an initial feel of your way of working. The purpose of this call is to get to know each other better, so we’ll also tell you a bit about Monterail and answer any questions you might have.
  2. The technical interview — there will be two technical people present so the process is as bias-free as possible.
  3. A technical task — we’ll provide you with a skeleton code and will ask you to fill in a couple of blanks. The kind of task you get depends on the position you’re applying for. We’re also flexible here, and we don’t always ask you to do a task for us.
  4. The decision stage — here we take all the information we gathered, analyze it, and make our decision together with concrete feedback for you.

Since the details of the tasks you’ll get are situational, we’ll go over the things you can be sure will happen: the questions we’ll ask.

The Screening Call

Your first point of contact will be one of our recruitment experts. They’ll ask you questions like:

  • Why are you looking for new challenges?
  • What did the decision process in your team look like? Did you have planning sessions?
  • If you define yourself as a full-stack developer, we’ll ask which end of development is the most attractive to you.
  • Did you have any contact with clients? Did you run demo sessions?
  • Are you familiar with Scrum/Agile methodology?

We’ll also ask about more technical things like the technologies you’re proficient with, your experience in handling deployments, code review practices, and team-related experience. And you also will be able to tell us your availability, preferred salary, and employment type.

Why do we ask these questions? We want to make sure you’ll feel comfortable with our way of working, and that you are proficient in our technology stack. It’s also important for us to know how motivated you are to evolve and learn, and how you approach proactiveness and taking ownership of things to do.

After the call, you'll get a task to think about before a technical interview. There is no need to code before we meet. And if after the call we see no fit, we’ll send you our feedback right away.

The Technical Interview

Here, you’ll meet with a recruitment expert and two developers working in the technology you’re applying for. The recruitment expert will start the meeting, introducing everyone and describing the meeting’s agenda. You’ll get a question about your experience, and if we feel we can dig a bit deeper, you can expect some additional questions.

Once this is done, you’ll start the technical part of the interview. You’ll talk with two developers about a technical task you got from us earlier.

Now, the task will be based on one of our older projects. In the email detailing the task, you’ll see a description of a project and app, the client’s vision, and the main functionalities to be implemented. We will discuss how you build such an app from scratch, and you will have a possibility to present your strategy with us on the call.

You can expect questions about: your ideas, tactics, methods, how you’d structure working on it, what kind of edge cases do you see, and how you’d ensure scalability. You can also get a question about other technologies you might have had contact with.

What We’re Looking For

If you’re applying for a mid-level backend developer position, we’ll want to see how you approach solving problems. What risks and traps do you see? Are you open to discussion? Are you able to solve the problem by yourself? How do you approach testing your code? What kind of tools do you use (AWS, Heroku, etc.)?

And when talking to senior candidates, we’ll look for a comprehensive and strategic approach to problem-solving. If you can propose a couple of solutions and risks or benefits for each, we’ll know you are the right person for this role.

What If You Don’t Know the Answer?

If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t sweat it, we’ll always try to rephrase it so it’s clear what we’re looking for. The interview is always about seeing how you approach solving a problem, not how fast you answer. Sometimes a good answer also points to the fact that some questions should be consulted with the client.

The Decision Stage — How Long Will You Wait for It?

The decision usually takes us a week tops.

In case we decide that you’ll fit perfectly, we’ll call you to make you an offer and give you general feedback. You’ll also get a mail detailing our technical pointers and comments.

If we decide that currently we’re looking for someone else, you’ll also get a detailed email because we believe that good feedback is what’s making the difference.

The Subtle Art of Feedback

Why is feedback so important for us? Because no one can evolve in a vacuum. Feedback is the main tool you can use to truly see what else you can do to improve (and sometimes even make a difference).

So each feedback we prepare contains our detailed perspective on your interpersonal and communication skills, as well as your technical knowledge. We point out both the positive aspects and areas for improvement. We always feedback on the work you provided (the code, or how some errors could affect other parts of the app), not you as a person, or your competence level.

Summary

The whole goal of our process is to create a win-win scenario: you’ll have the opportunity to grow even if we decide not to make you an offer. This is not the end of the world, after all, we’ve had people who used the feedback, came back to us a couple of months later, and successfully joined us.

So don’t hesitate, check our openings, and let’s meet soon.

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Authors:

Wiktoria Krzyż (Recruitment Team Lead) & Aleksandra Iwan (Junior Recruitment & Onboarding Specialist)

Useful links:

  1. Monterail Relocation Package
  2. What Should You Know About Your First Days At Monterail?—The Onboarding Process
  3. A Developer's Perspective: Working at a Software Development Agency vs a Digital Product Company
  4. What is Mentoring and How Can it Improve Your Self-Development
Our Approach to Learning and Teaching–Vue.js Bootcamp the Monterail Way
How to Take Your Project to The Next Level? Tips from Ruby on Rails Developer
Tackling Unconscious Bias in the Workplace