I’ve been through a number of interviews in my career, but have not experienced one quite like ThoughtWorks. It was compelling enough that I feel like I should share my experience here.
0. I sent an unsolicited email to ThoughtWorks
That’s right. I sent an email to their recruiting department, with a coverletter and resume expressing interest in a position. It seems old-fashioned, but if you are fairly certain that you want to work somewhere, it’s a good way to get a conversation started.
1. Initial recruiter conversation (phone)
The recruiter was able to answer most of my questions about ThoughtWorks. He was more equipped than most recruiters I’ve worked with. The goal of this interview appeared to be confirming my interests, availability, travel tolerance, and location. This was fairly straightforward.
2. Conversation with a tech principal (phone)
ThoughtWorks’ differentiator is its people. I learned a great deal from this interview - as the individual on the other end had been consulting at ThoughtWorks for many projects. He asked me nuanced and surgical questions regarding my experience, technologies, and problems I’ve worked with. We talked for a little over an hour regarding various technologies, hip infrastructure automation products, and how ThoughtWorks culture matters. I found the social component of ThoughtWorks interesting in how projects are evaluated in multiple dimensions, including their Third Pillar.
3. Code Exercise (at home)
The recruiter reached out to me again, and gave me a choice of coding problem. This was an incredibly interesting problem that I wish I could discuss here, but shall not. I worked on this for about 24 hours, and submitted my solution to the provided submission page. It was sufficiently difficult to allow me to sit down and really think through the problem.
4. Pair Programming Exercise (in person)
Somehow my code was evaluated (not sure how this occured) - and it was determiend that I should continue on to the pair programming exercise. This involved an uncommonly sharp individual sitting next to me working through my code. The task was to extend the functionality in some way - and this went fairly well. The ThoughtWorker was able to openly debate technical decisions, something that is brilliantly stimulating to me. The interview concluded with a few ThoughtWorkers needing a bottle opener for their beer. I provided mine as I was packing up.
5. Technical Interview (Skype Video)
The technical interview was via Skype - and because I use an iMac, I had no difficulty seeing/hearing/being-heard. I was a little worried about this. This was a senior individual giving me a fairly robust and nuanced technical interview - and it was fairly difficult. That said, we had a great conversation about the merits of particular agile principles, and which principles were the most important. I left the interview feeling like I really want to work with these people - and hoping I came off compelling enough in my technical awareness.
6a. Logic/IQ Test (in person)
I arrived at the ThoughtWorks office, and took a 1.5 hour written exam. I reckon this was to measure cognitive ability. I’m not sure whether they are trying to hire the top X%, or avoid the bottom X% - but in any case, this was difficult enough, leaving me fairly drained for the cultural interview cognitively.
6b. Culture interview (in person)
This was the culture-fit interview. I could see how some might struggle here, as these were particularly controversial quesitons. ThoughtWorks has a core cultural spirit that aims to improve the world around them as well as develop solid software (profitably). This interview aimed to evaluate my ability to contribute to the non-software dimensions of this effort. This was another chance to meet with another consultant with ThoughtWorks, and have a compelling conversation about really stimulating subjects involving how to improve others’ access.
7. Final Interview (phone)
One more interview was given to determine where I would best fit within the organization. This was a discussion with one of ThoughtWorks’ head of technology - who was in San Francisco for an internet-of-things conference. Wow. I had a very compelling conversation. I know - I keep saying things like this, but these guys are distinctively bright. This discussion evaluated my ability to influence others via a nuanced and example-laden conversation.
I received an offer in the following weeks, and look forward to joining on July 28th.