12 Things We Look For When Hiring Engineers

hiring engineers

As a rapidly growing startup, attracting and retaining the right talent is critical to our success.

At Qumulo, we spend about 20 percent of our engineering bandwidth on recruiting and hiring engineers. Primarily, we’re looking for two things — technical and leadership attributes — a combination that we’ve found to be key to a successful career at Qumulo.

What we look for when hiring engineers

When we interview, our goal is to assess whether you are someone we’d be excited to work and collaborate with on a team, not whether you were able to ace some esoteric coding question on your own and under time pressure. We may ask hard technical questions, but it’s okay if you don’t finish and we expect you to collaborate with the interviewer to understand the problem and absorb suggestions for how to proceed. Relax, bring your best, and we’ll do a holistic assessment of whether you and Qumulo are a good mutual fit.

Technical Attributes

1. Technical Understanding: Can you deal with ambiguity by asking clarifying questions? Do you demonstrate understanding of the problem and possible solutions through effective two-way communication?

2. Algorithmic Thinking: Can you formulate an effective high-level solution to the problem and break it down into concrete steps? Do you have a toolbox of known data structures and algorithms, and understand how they work? Can you understand the time/space tradeoffs and propose an efficient solution?

3. Translate Ideas Into Code: Can you translate a high-level approach into functioning code? Are you able to manipulate standard data structures in the language you use? Can you write code that successfully solves the problem or some part of it? Can you walk the interviewer through your code?

4. Code Organization and Clarity: Is your code written in a reasonable manner? Can you demonstrate that you care about your code’s organization and how it is factored? Can your code be reasonably modified by the next engineer making changes in this area?

5. Testing Mindset: Can you validate the code you’ve written? Are you able to enumerate test cases that validate your code for both common and corner cases?

Leadership Attributes

1. Collaboration: All the work we do in engineering is done by Agile teams, so collaboration is paramount to us. What is your propensity to collaboration: how well do you interact on teams? Are you a lone wolf or team player? Can you respectfully debate and defend your ideas? Can you disagree and commit?

2. Problem Solver: We deal with hard and complex problems. Can you demonstrate strong problem solving skills — go deep, and dive into problem-solving without much prompting. Do you ask questions that demonstrate an interest in understanding the problem deeply and the complexities surrounding it, and get to the root issue?

3. Curious, Always Learning: The vast majority of our team members had never worked on file or distributed systems before. They learned it on the job. Are you continually striving to learn new skills and be a masters at your craft? Our ideal candidate is a self propelled, life-long learner.

4. Grit: Startups have scarce resources and Qumulo is no different. We seek candidates who are motivated to take initiative, who champion getting the right things done to help the business, and who are creative about finding ways to make sure that critical projects get completed successfully.

5. Customer Focus: What is the point of building a feature that doesn’t delight customers? We seek candidates who always put the customer first. These are candidates that define success in customer terms, not just technical terms. They can make appropriate trade-offs between customer needs and what the business can or should support.

6. Adaptable: We deal a lot with ambiguity and novel challenges at Qumulo. We are looking for candidates that can deal well with ambiguity and are able to quickly adapt to new goals, new and changing customer requirements, new processes, new technology, new people, and new challenges. Candidates who are not resistant to tearing down what was just built if it means doing it better.

7. Act as Owner: We seek candidates who truly believe that they are not just a Qumulo employee, but a true owner of our company. These are candidates that understand business goals, priorities, and can prioritize work within that context. Candidates that go above and beyond their current job scope to deliver what the business needs.

Interested in learning more?

Head over to the Qumulo Software Engineering page to learn what we build, how we build it, and why we like working here. If you like what you see, check out our open positions here!

Should you be interested in learning more about Qumulo’s company culture and engineering best practices, read more stories from members of Qumulo’s technical staff in the engineering category on our blog.

Editor’s Note: Originally published November 21, 2019, this story has been updated for comprehensiveness and relevancy. 

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