at my previous jobs at LinkedIn as a
senior engineering manager and Gilt
as a senior director of engineering)
we absolutely ensured people could
do the job by first working through a
series of architectural or algorithmic
questions. But just as important, and
often left out of interview training or
write-ups for technical positions, is
that we assess how such a person will
actually do the work.
ASSESSING SOF T SKILLS
Let me now back up a little and out-
line how we hire at Transfix. First, we
Today’s distributed systems archi-
tecture and specialization in mobile,
front-end, and back-end development
make the stories of lone geniuses
solving problems through sheer in-
genuity and their own beautiful code
a myth at best, and damaging to the
profession at worst.
I have worked with some incredible engineers who type faster than
I think and accomplish amazing
things on their own, but it is the truly
great teams that move mountains.
Such efforts require an alignment of
skills, values, and expectations between the team and the individual
and is why the best interview process
ensures individuals are assessed not
just for what they can do but how they
will do it.
Tech interviews are synonymous
with whiteboards and interviewers
who sit silently in judgment while
candidates write a breadth-first
search algorithm or wave their hands
gratuitously about Big O notation.
Such skills you learn in college, and
you probably have even gone through
mock interviews where you have used
them. Maybe you have read the books
on how to master the tech interview.
These are all good things. But the
truth is, technical ability is table
stakes. It is just the foundation of a
A software engineer’s success is really about how well that person can
talk, and write, and learn. When we
interview candidates at Transfix (and
In Praise of Soft Skills
The truth is,
Consider what it takes to stand out
as more than just a “good” candidate.
The Serval Project uses mesh-network topology to
enable mobile phones to communicate directly
with each other during crises—when there is otherwise
no network coverage.