How to Nail Your Connected Interview

February 2, 2022

Connected employees laughing

Estimated Reading Time: 10 minutes

I’m nervous, I’m excited. I hope they like me. Did I wear the right shirt? Where’s my glass of water? Will I have the right answers to their questions? Wait, have I been mute this whole time?

If you’ve ever felt this way in an interview, you’re not alone. That’s exactly how it feels on the interviewer side. Especially since we know we recruit only the best.

At Connected, we believe in doing things better; including how we interact with people. What you’ll find below was designed to help you prepare for your interview and to help both sides figure out if there’s a potential fit. This is a big decision after all! We both want to make sure we bring our best selves forward to help figure that out.

However, before we begin learning what it takes to become a Connector, it’s important to understand how it all began. 

A Brief History

Founded in 2014 on the belief that software products are the most meaningful way to grow a modern business, we’re on a mission to build better products. Just like it’s namesake, Connected brings together strategy, research, design, and engineering with product at the intersections. Connected is a uniquely integrated product development firm, built for the long-term, and driven by discovering and delivering software-powered products that delight customers and have business impact. 

Our innovative and award-winning culture of learning is just one reason among several reasons why top talent chooses Connected and the goal of this article is a guide for helping you nail your interview at Connected and join our talented team of smart, kind, and reliable teachers and learners.‍

For Software Engineers

Before we begin, we’ll explain what Connected’s mission is, introduce the team, and give a low-resolution explanation of the sort of work we do. In the first round, the interviewers will be taking a careful look at your ability to help come up with the design of a solution. We’ll start you off with an hour-long pairing interview where you’ll be asked to complete a paired programming exercise using Test-Driven Development (TDD). 

In the interview, you’ll be the Navigator and one of our engineers will be the Driver. Using one of the following languages: Java, JavaScript, Swift, Kotlin, Ruby, Python, or TypeScript, we want to understand how you approach a problem, why you choose certain data structures, how you test your code, and how you communicate when working in a team with your pair and a product owner. 

Then we’ll move onto the Technical Deep Dive Interview. During this round we’re trying to see not only how well you know advanced technical material (in your technical area of strength — iOS, Android, Full-stack web development), but if you still remember the basics as well. A house built on sand is sure to fall; likewise, if you don’t understand the fundamentals you won’t be able to grapple with new information properly. As our engineers work through pairing, you must be comfortable expressing your thoughts clearly. Finally, you’ll be able to ask the interviewers questions. This is your chance to show us how interested you are in the position and company, and also determine if Connected aligns to your career aspirations.

Finally, in the third interview, you will be given a high-level overview of the company and what we work on by an Engineering Director. We’ll also be taking an in-depth look at your background and experience through a variety of questions that focus on understanding your passions, interests, ambitions, people and conflict skills, consulting experience, and management style. We want to hear your thoughts on trends in software development and tech. It is also important for us to understand what you strive for professionally and why you want to work at Connected.

Connector working on code in front of a computer screen

How to Prepare

We want the interview experience to allow you to be your true self from minute one, and for a chance to get to know each other. 

  • Review data structures and algorithms, stuff you haven’t touched in a while.
  • Study abstract, problem-solving questions, not related to any specific platform or technology stack. Just general problem-solving to gain a sense of how you communicate, and how deeply you know your stuff. We track communications more than the actual problem-solving. Don’t just think—show, talk. You can ask for help. We want to know how you solve a problem, and why. Be precise with your technical vocabulary, be detailed. Communication is key.
  • Review/learn about what Test-Driven Development (TDD) and Pair Programming entails. 
  • Read up on Object-Oriented Programming (OOP). These concepts are used by developers to improve code readability and reusability. These concepts are helpful in architecting our applications and writing clean code that is scalable and maintainable. In our pair programming exercise, we are looking for candidates to demonstrate an understanding of OOP concepts and utilize them in their solution. For example, using inheritance or composition to refactor code, avoid code duplication, and come to a scalable solution.
  • Read up on the Extreme Programming (XP) practices, watch some TDD katas on YouTube, and try to practice pair programming with a friend. Don’t worry, we don’t expect you to be an expert, but some familiarity will help you a lot.
  • Review fundamentals in your areas of strength (iOS, Android, Full stack web, etc.) and be able to go in-depth.
  • Check out our recommended books here: 

For Designers

If you’re applying for either the Product Designer or Design Researcher role, you’ll be faced with two interviews. The first round consists of a portfolio review. We ask that all candidates bring examples of their design work to share and discuss with two of our designers. This is a chance for us to gauge your work. In a good portfolio, we look for these areas: UX Design, Prototyping, Delivery and Production, Visual Design, Cross-functional Collaboration, User Research, and Consultation skills. In addition, you should generally know a variety of design tools and methods well enough that they become extensions of yourself as a practitioner.

The interview flow for researchers is the same — it consists of an interview with two researchers from the team; however, the six pillars that we look for in Design Researchers are different. We look for skills in Planning, Generative Research, Evaluative Research, Prototyping, Client Relations, and Culture Promotion. We’ll be looking for both your skills as a researcher (what methods are you comfortable and familiar with), and as a consultant (your experience with clients and stakeholders).  

The second round is held with the Head of Design and a Design or Research Lead. Much like in engineering, this is more of a value-fit interview where we want to get a better sense of who you are, your aspirations, and whether or not our culture matches what you’re looking for. 

First, we will review a case study from your portfolio that represents your best work. We will then jump into a whiteboard activity where we will present a few slides to explain the problem space and background info. If you’re a designer, you will work through an approach to getting to a solution, talking us through your process as you go. If you’re a researcher, you’ll explain your approach to uncovering what you need to know about the problem and user’s needs. 

The goal of this whiteboard challenge is to learn how you approach a human problem, what techniques you might use to get to a solution, and how comfortable you are communicating your process while working with potential methods and outcomes. The exercise should take about 40-50 minutes, and by the end, you will have explored an approach to the problem such that it would be possible to bring someone else into the call, and you’d be able to walk them through the idea. Afterwards, we’ll review and reflect, give you a more in-depth description of the role, and an overview of potential projects you would be a part of if you’re successful.

Writing on whiteboard


For Product Managers

For the role of Product Manager or Product Strategist, the first round of interviews will be a get-to-know-you meeting. We’ll cover role expectations, dive into specific responsibilities, walk through your resume and talk about your professional experience in discovering or delivering software-powered products. We may ask a few behavioural or scenario-based questions to get a detailed read on attitudes, aptitudes and skills. We’ll also provide time for you to ask us questions related to the role, the Product department, and Connected.

The second round of interviews is when things start to heat up. We will give you a short assignment in the form of a case study. Use all the tools at your disposal — we are eager to see how you operate in practice! You will meet with two Connected Product Practitioners for a role-playing scenario where you should be able to articulate and comprehensively run through your product strategy and/or project delivery plan, fielding questions from your interviewers along the way.

Connected Employees in a Meeting Room

Overall…

Here at Connected, we sweat over the details. The interviewers are looking for you to showcase the depth of your thinking, your critical analysis skills, how you communicate, and your ability to negotiate trade-offs while fluidly considering other perspectives that may change your position. The ability to think laterally is key. What trade-offs would you consider in certain situations? Are these trade-offs worth the risk? The format of your response is not being judged — it’s the execution, how well you get your point across, and the quality of thinking behind it. 

Good luck!

Ready to apply? Check out all of the open positions at Connected.

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