How to Nail Your Connected Interview
Thursday August 8, 2019
Connected was founded in 2014 on the belief that software products are the most meaningful way to grow a modern business. We aren’t simply a strategy firm, a dev shop, or a design agency, we’re a mix of all of them — a uniquely integrated product development firm, built for the long-term, and driven by a singular focus on realizing business impact through software-powered products.
Despite doubling the company headcount year on year since our inception, we have hired just 0.70% of applicants to Connected — making us harder to get into than Harvard. Our innovative culture and learning environment are among several reasons why top talent chooses Connected over our competitors in Silicon Valley and Toronto alike. This article is a guide for helping you nail your interview at Connected and give you the best chance of joining our talented team of smart, kind, and reliable teachers and learners.
For Software Engineers
Before we begin, we’ll explain what Connected’s mission is, introduce the team, and give a low-resolution explanation of the sort of work we do. In the first round, the interviewers will be taking a careful look at your ability to help come up with the architectural design of a solution. We’ll start you off with an hour-long pairing interview where you’ll be asked to complete a paired programming exercise using Test-Driven Development (TDD).
Then we’ll move onto the Technical Deep Dive Interview. During this round we’re trying to see not only how well you know advanced technical material (in your technical area of strength — iOS, Android, Full-stack web development), but if you still remember the basics as well. A house built on sand is sure to fall; likewise, if you don’t understand the fundamentals you won’t be able to grapple with new information properly. As our engineers work through pairing, you must be comfortable expressing your thoughts clearly. Finally, you’ll be able to ask the interviewers questions. This is your chance to show us how interested you are in the position and company.
Finally, in the third interview, you will be given a high-level overview of the company and what we work on by an Engineering Director. We’ll also be taking an in-depth look at your background and experience through a variety of questions that focus on understanding your passions, interests, ambitions, people and conflict skills, consulting experience, and management style. We want to hear your thoughts on trends in software development and tech. It is also important for us to understand what you strive for professionally and why you want to work at Connected.
How to Prepare
Don’t worry, we’re not here to pressure you or make you nervous. We want the interview experience to allow you to be your true self from minute one.
- Review data structures and algorithms from university, stuff you haven’t touched in a while.
- Study abstract, problem-solving questions, not related to any specific platform or technology stack. Just general problem-solving to gain a sense of how you communicate, and how deeply you know your stuff. We track communications more than the actual problem-solving. Don’t just think—show, talk. You can ask for help. We want to know how you solve a problem, and why. Be precise with your technical vocabulary, be detailed. Communication is key.
- Review/learn about what Test-Driven Development (TDD) and Pair Programming entails.
- Read up on the Extreme Programming (XP) practices, watch some TDD katas on YouTube, and try to practice pair programming with a friend. Don’t worry, we don’t expect you to be an expert, but some familiarity will help you a lot.
- Review fundamentals in your areas of strength (iOS, Android, Full stack web, etc.) and be able to go in-depth.
- Check out Connected Software Engineering Manager Josh Allen’s recommended books:
If you’re applying for either the Product Designer or Design Researcher role, you’ll be faced with two interviews. The first round consists of a portfolio review. We ask that all candidates bring examples of their design work to share and discuss with two of our Designers. This is a chance for us to gauge your creative outputs. What we look for in a good portfolio are tied to five pillars: Research, Prototyping, Visual Design, Technology, and Communication.
The interview flow for researchers is the same — it consists of an interview with two researchers from the team; however, the five pillars that we look for in Design Researchers are different. We look for skills in Planning, Generative Research, Evaluative Research, Prototyping, Client Relations, and Culture Promotion. You should generally know a variety of design tools and practices well enough that they become extensions of yourself as a Designer.
The second round is held by the Director of Design. Much like in engineering, this is more of a value-fit interview where we want to get a better sense of who you are, your aspirations, and whether or not our culture matches what you’re looking for. We’ll talk about Connected, give you a more in-depth description of the role, and an overview of potential projects that you would be a part of you’re successful.
For Product Managers
For the role of Product Manager, the first round of interviews will be a get-to-know-you meeting. We’ll align you on the role and specific responsibilities, walk through your resume and talk about your experience in the world of product. We may ask a few behavioral or scenario-based questions. We’ll also provide time for you to ask us questions related to the role and Connected.
The second round of interviews is when things start to heat up. We will give you a short assignment in the form of a case study. Use all the tools at your disposal — we are eager to see how you operate in practice! You will meet with two Connected Product Managers for a role-playing scenario where you should be able to articulate and comprehensively run through your product vision and/or project delivery plan.
Here at Connected, we sweat over the details. The interviewers are looking for you to showcase the depth of your thinking, your critical analysis skills, how you communicate, and your ability to negotiate trade-offs while fluidly considering other perspectives that may change your position. The ability to think laterally is key. What trade-offs would you consider in certain situations? Are these trade-offs worth the risk? The format of your response is not being judged — it’s the execution, how well you get your point across, and the quality of thinking behind it.