An Engineer’s Guide To Interviewing at Checkr
Below is an article originally written by Vannaro Lim, Technical Recruiting Manager at PowerToFly Partner Checkr, and published on February 13, 2017. Go to Checkr's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
Interviews are tough! Most companies follow an archaic process that does not properly assess an engineer's talent. From CS fundamentals to data structures that are no longer in use, interviewers tend to fall in the trap of testing things that are neither applicable or relevant to the job. Why on Earth would anyone want to subject themselves to that? A good interview should allow you to show off your skill set and determine whether you want to work there.
We've all spent endless nights cramming for an interview with no clue as to what will or will not be asked. At Checkr, we wanted to make the process better from an engineering perspective and remove all the things that make us cringe while interviewing. That is why we put a lot of thought and empathy into designing our interview process. Our goal is to make it to be indicative of who you are as a software engineer. The hardest thing isn't finding talented engineers, it's finding engineers that people want to work with. Our ideal candidate needs to embody Checkr's core values:
drive and grit, humility, smart and resourceful, connection, learning, excellence with purpose, transparency, positivity, and appreciation.
What we look for in a candidate
An ideal candidate to us is someone who likes to explore and learn things that are outside their scope and comfort. It is someone who can demonstrate a high degree of drive and grit tempered with authenticity. Someone who values forming real and meaningful connections in order to create an inclusive community which helps bring the entire team up rather than just themselves. We value those who exhibit honesty and appreciation from the simplest solution to the most complicated one. People who appreciate diverse backgrounds and understand that diversity is not just an initiative but a mentality tend to thrive at Checkr.
Our Web Application Team working hard =)
"Who you are at home is who you should be at work. We want the best version of you and want you to be comfortable here."
— Khoi Ho (People Ops)
Key To Success
Communication, communication, communication! This is the key to success at Checkr. We are looking for engineers who are able to convey their thoughts, help us understand their process, and most importantly, ask for guidance when they hit a roadblock. We are here to help! We want our interviews to be the best representation of who you are as an engineer. Don't be afraid to ask questions, this will allow your interviewer to better understand your problem and provide the right guidance for you to succeed. We want you to be part of the Checkr team.
In order to avoid any hiccups or unseen problems, here is what you will need during the onsite interview:
- a working datastore
- a working dev environment with a web programming language of your choice
- a testing framework
We don't mind what languages and tools you're using, just use the ones you're most comfortable with!
Here's what our interview process looks like:
1. Resume Screen
We're evaluating whether you're a good fit for the position you applied for. We receive many amazing candidates but not everyone will be a good fit for Checkr or vice versa. We're not interested in what school you went to, what your GPA was, or even what clubs you were a part of. What matters most to us is that we fit well together and that you're passionate in what you're doing.
2. A Call with Our Technical Recruiter
This process takes about 30 minutes and the main focus is talking about your interests and what it is you're looking for. It helps us determine whether we may be a potential fit for each other.
3. Live Coding Session Done Through Coderpad (We're fans of Python, Ruby or node.js but any language is fine)
As a background check company, it's crucial that we match the identity of the applicant with any data we have, pull or find. The accuracy of determining and matching names is our business. Our live coding session consists of a name matching exercise that is the foundation of your success at Checkr. We found out quickly this is a great indicator for future performance and success on the job. The challenge will consist of verifying names in a given list. You will have a few test cases to test your solution against and one bonus transposition question.
We give our candidates an hour to complete this exercise. We're looking for code that is clean, DRY, readable, and expressive. We want you to talk us through your process, help us understand your decisions — your interviewer is your best advocate. They will help guide you through potential roadblocks and help discover things that you may not have seen.
4. Onsite interview (4–5 hours — 5 interviews)
Our onsite interview is meant to simulate what your day to day would be like at Checkr. These interviews will consist of design, implementation, debugging and refactoring. You can use whatever programming language, environment or editor that you are most comfortable with. We want our interview to be indicative of who you are as an engineer, so please feel free to use any online resources you would normally (Wikipedia, Google, Stack Overflow, etc.) during work. Remember, your interviewer is a collaborator, share what you're thinking and ask for help when needed.
A. Whiteboarding Architecture
This portion is to demonstrate your understanding of microservices and explain an API request life cycle.
B. API Design
We will provide you with a dataset that needs to be imported into your selected datastore. You will be tasked in building out a light JSON API that can read, delete and update. The objective of this interview is for us to gauge your understanding of your datastore, web framework and approach to testing.
C. Object design
This exercise focuses on designing an existing feature at Checkr. More specifically, we'll collaborate on exploring a rule-based system to assist in automating background check processing. Areas to cover will include building a data model and its respective application interface for rule evaluation. Be ready to discuss your schema and thoughts on how to optimize for performance.
The slot is used to understand how you communicate, collaborate with your interviewer, and familiarity with your selected language. We want you to show us how you work in your natural dev environment from utilizing known and unknown resources to asking follow up questions, we are curious to see your workflow.
5M background checks reached — 2016
After the interview, we tend to move fairly quickly! You can expect to hear from us within 48 hours with a decision. We strongly believe in transparency so providing feedback is crucial. We want to thank you for taking the time to interview and expressing interest in a career at Checkr! We hope your experience at Checkr is delightful and as pleasant as humanly possible. If you have any questions at all, please let your recruiter know so we can help ensure your success. On behalf of the Checkr team, good luck!