Der Berliner Jäger - Part 2

First read: Part 1 - Working in Berlin

No Bullshit.

In parallel to the startup conversations, I also decided to apply to N26. N26 is a fast growing app only European bank with simple marketing slogans like “No Bullshit.” which are squarely aimed at younger, tech savvy users.

The decision to apply at N26 was not made lightly. My previous experience in a bank hadn’t been customer focussed enough, and I was nervous about applying for a similar company.

Luckily, a good friend wrangled me a ticket to a semi-private N26 product launch. This was extremely helpful for me as I was able to see senior team members speak, and also talk to employees directly. The presentations could not have made me more excited about the company. They reiterated their focus on agility, and customer satisfaction. My anxieties about working for a bank began to slip away.

I got chatting with a member of the product team who graciously answered my volley of questions about team culture and work environment. I could see their passion and enthusiasm first hand. I was sold.

Back to Bank

I wrote my cover letter the next day. I focussed on what excited me about N26. The customer focus, the work environment, the enthusiasm. I didn’t hold back, and made it clear why I wanted to work for the company.

Within 2 hours of sending my cover letter I had a polite reply from a HR scheduling bot. It was a nice touch - embracing technology, but in a customer friendly way. David and I confirmed my first interview and 2 days later I had a 30 minute chat with a friendly, well informed internal recruiter. It felt equal - the recruiter was trying to sell the company just as much as I was trying to sell myself.

Code, Code, Code

The next part of the process was a 60 minute online quiz. This was a little daunting, as time pressure is not my preferred motivator. I jumped onto HackerRank and did a bunch of simple coding exercises to warm up the ole brain cells. I also made sure I revised general iOS interview questions. I found this series of Medium posts to be a good summary.

The online quiz was challenging, and I felt the adrenaline pumping through me after the 60 minutes expired. I ran out of time on the last question (a mock code review), and wasn’t happy with my response. Thankfully, the recruiter got back to me within an hour, letting me know that I’d passed. 😅 I really appreciated this quick turnaround!

Next up was a 4 day coding challenge - building an iOS app with various requirements. To be clear, I had 4 days to build an app in my own time. I was free to choose how many hours to work on, and ended up spending about 24 man hours. I could have chosen to spend less time, but I wanted to show my best possible code, to the quality that I would submit for code review at work. I submitted the app about 2 days before the deadline, just before the weekend.

Face to Face

Monday morning, I had another prompt reply to let me know that it was time to schedule the technical interview. I met with the iOS team lead and another developer. During a 90 minute interview we talked about my experience, my strengths and weaknesses, how N26 develops software, and we reviewed my submitted app. The real time code review was nerve wracking. I was happy with the code I submitted, but under the magnifying glass of two other developers, there were a handful of missed optimisations and incorrect type choices.

I left the technical interview and headed straight to watch Australia getting knocked out of the 2018 world cup. Fortunately for me, I was distracted just before the final whistle with an email saying I had progressed to the final interview. A loss for Australia, but a win for one particular Australian! 🇦🇺

The final interview with the head of engineering was a crisp 30 minutes in length. We got over-excited talking about engineering challenges faced by bigger teams and before we knew it there was only 5 minutes left. With someone waiting outside for the meeting room, I felt pressure to tell my story, and sell myself as succinctly as possible. The final two questions were “why should we hire you”, and “why do you want to work here”. Luckily I had thought of these questions in advance, so had a rapid fire response.

The internal recruiter got back to me very quickly, on a Friday afternoon, and my hard work paid off - I now had 2 offers to choose from.

Continue reading: Part 3 - Decisions

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Written on August 19, 2018