Interviews with Twilio and Hellosign

What is up my blog! It has been such a long time since I posted here and since I got my first comment I wanted to bring everything I’ve done here back to life.  Shoutout to my first commenter! As a recap unfortunately I’ve still been applying to jobs and practicing my interviewing skills and solving practice problems. That is what I do on the daily on top of my day to day technician role, which has also been a huge plus since I get to work on scripts now that help automate some IT processes. I get to work on bash scripts that upload to this management software called JAMF which manages all the Mac computers in our desktop environment. Right now I’m working on updating all the apps our users use with a bash script, and I’m also working on encrypting our machines that aren’t encrypted. I haven’t made much progress on these 2 scripts since I was on vacation but I will hopefully have them done by the EOY. I also just got back from a 2 week vacation from Thailand, which was much needed and super awesome.

Recap complete. Achievement unlocked.

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On to why you are probably here. I’m still interviewing at places(I just applied to another 10 companies yesterday) and I’m learning a lot from these interviews. Lately I’ve interviewed with 2 startup companies and 1 notable company, Braze(Appboy), Hellosign, and Twilio. The roles I’ve been applying for has changed to technical support engineer because it is a good hybrid role for the experience I have with supporting customers and the minimal engineering experience I’ve accumulated. I’ve went pretty far with all these companies, finally passing the coding assessment and getting to the onsite interviews with Hellosign and Twilio. What really helped me get to the final interviews with these companies is acing the behavioral questions that were asked of me. I used pramp.com to practice the common behavioral questions and was able to breeze through the initial 2 phone screens with the recruiter and hiring manager. Next came the usual coding assessment, which was using hellosign API and for Twilio was debugging common user issues and responding to those issues like you would if you were working for them already.

Both companies were happy with my assessment answers and decided to move on to more phone and video interviews with senior members of the team. I was asked the usual behavior questions, like what would you do with a difficult user, what are your strengths and weaknesses, why would you work for this company, what are you looking for in your next company, and how to reverse a string. The difference with these interviews is I was prepared for a at least 80% of these questions and if I wasn’t prepared I had a plan B to answer the interview question confidently and clearly. Of course I fumbled on some follow up questions. During the interview at hellosign I was interviewing with the senior devops manager and the director of recruiting and they were drilling me on “can you name a time where you had to push for something that noone agreed with?” I was not prepared for this question but did have an experience in my technician role that I brought up. I replied with “…updating the new hire process at my current role”, and this is where they started a barrage of follow up questions like, “did you have to champion this process”, “what was the opposition like”, and I’m assuming this is where I started to fail. I started to rush to an answer instead of thinking it through and I also started to repeat myself which showed I was nervous and wasn’t communicating clearly. Other than that I aced the other interviewers including the technical interview where I was asked to do a bash api call and read out line by line what this specific code was doing. After the hellosign interview I learned I need to practice more and stay calm even when the curveballs come.

For Twilio I am really proud I made it to the final round with them, it shows I can make it with the top companies in the Bay Area. After the 2 phone screens I met with someone in Estonia which was difficult since the time zone is total opposite of ours. I met with this interviewer at 7am PST which was the afternoon for them. These are the questions I was asked, what is an API call, how do you make a secure API call, how does TCP/UDP work and how does data flow across the internet? Luckily I practiced these from looking on glassdoor so I knew what to expect but if I didn’t know the answer I was honest and humble and let the interviewer know that I didn’t know the answer but if I had to guess then this is what I would do. I also had similar experiences to some of the questions like I didn’t know exactly how to make a secure API call but I knew you needed a client secret and client id to make an API call, like some type of credentials to make an API call and the interviewer said I was close with this one and the real answer was basic authentication. Next up was a coding problem which was given a string of numbers reverse the numbers, this part was straight forward — loop through starting at the end of the string and push the string to a new variable. Then the follow up which was where I fumbled, now that you have the reversed string we wanted to add this format to it: XXX-XXX-XXXX. I was able to brute force a solution by counting up to 3 then adding the dash, then counting up another 3 and adding another dash but the interviewer wasn’t happy with this since what if we went and added more than 10 numbers. I had to ask for help a lot of times but I was honest when I was stuck and the interviewer was pretty nice in walking me through what to do. Then it was my turn to ask questions and I want to stress that you should always ask questions since I think this is honestly what got me to the next round. I literally asked the interviewer in a joking matter, “what can I do to move on to the next round” or “how can I impress the other interviewers” and we started talking like normal blokes. He gave me honest tips to just be myself and the whole tone of the interview changed, he was smiling and chuckling at some jokes I threw in there. Next thing you know I’m at the final interview with 5 different people from the team including one of the senior managers, and VP’s of the team. I’ll quickly recap this interview since it is similar to the above where it was some behavior questions mixed with technical questions. The technical questions is where I flopped and there were some questions where I didn’t have the experience to match the question. So for this final interview it was back to back interviews at like 6am-9am Thailand time. Yes I was in Thailand so I had to practice some interview questions while vacationing(major bummer). No difference in interview content however, a lot of behavior questions but they were more suited towards when you were working with a development team. My answers were unfortunately more related to technical support and how I’ve helped users and made them happy, but I think Twilio was looking for a teammate that actually worked on coding problems instead of hardware/software problems like changing passwords, dead harddrives, which I run into in my day to day. I would say I got a 50% on this final interview the first guy was nice and we definitely clicked, the second lady roasted me with technical questions like, what is homebrew, how do you open all files in linux, how do you use pip, how do you search for files in cli, what does the indents mean in python and the lady was shaking her head alot during my answers which didn’t help at all. I decided to use the “do you have any questions for me” part, to help rebuttal my situation. I asked “Is there anything in my resume that would make me not a great fit” and I think that helped but it may not have,  it made her put my experience and resume in good light, and at that point I had to backup/reinforce what she was saying. Unfortunately I still did not make a good impression with this second interviewer. The next 3 interviewers were managers so it was a ton of behavior questions again and some technical questions regarding my experience with webRTC, working with IP phones and more questions on solving a technical bug, working with a dev team which I totally blanked out on. I did good on half the questions they asked and didn’t really make a supreme impression on them so that is where I dropped the ball. It was a great learning experience ultimately and I’m glad I got to experience the final interviews with an amazing company. I now know what to prepare for again.

My number one takeaway would be to have a direct correlation between what they are asking and the answer you are giving. I was answering questions with an experience that I thought related but it may not have related to what they were asking. For example when I worked on a technical bug, I gave them a technical bug that I thought was a technical bug like troubleshooting a hard drive failure. I think the interviewers are looking for an actual software bug since that is what the majority of the role is, debugging software bugs. If you also don’t know the STAR method definitely use that method on answering behavior questions.

Most asked question: 

Can you name a time where you had an irate customer?

Hardest question asked:

Design a game of life with these specs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouipbDkwHWA

Question to interviewer that helped me the most:

What is the most challenging part of this role?

What challenges does this role face?

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If you have any questions or need more clarification on my experience let me know!

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