Exploring the Full Day Interview: Microservices Style with Dinesh Nadar

Updater’s full-day approach is changing the game when it comes to the interviewing process.

We’re over beating around the bush with theoretical questions and exercises – instead, we like to put the skills we see on paper to work. Candidates who come in for a full day are working on real problems and gaining real insight into what it’s actually like to work at Updater. Not only is this the key to hiring the best talent possible, but it also allows candidates a preview into the unique role they would play in the company. In other words, what you see, is what you get – and if you’re a good fit,  you’ll like what you see!

These same ideals ring true across all of Updater’s divisions, but we wanted to hear it from an inside source. We caught up with our Senior Services Engineer, Dinesh Nadar, to learn more about what the full day might look like for the Updater Microservices Team and what it was like for him to experience it firsthand.  

Can you describe for us what your team does, what is your mission? What are some of the problems that you’re solving and the impact you are making?

Our mission is to build and maintain services that are critical to the mover’s experience on Updater’s platform, while also making it possible to scale the platform to handle growth in the number of movers. And of course, to continue delivering the highest quality software possible.

The work we do directly correlates to the most important aspects of our team mission and falls broadly into three categories:  

1. We contribute to product features. We contribute directly to cross-functional projects with the product team and the other engineering teams by implementing services which are critical for new product features. In turn, these new product features have a direct impact on our users — the people who are moving.

2. We improve the developer experience. The services team treats other developers in engineering like our clients. We feel it’s important to provide the best experience possible to other developers in terms of tooling. We provide this so that developers can focus on writing business critical application code instead of dealing with software operations as deployments.

We also believe it’s important for us to have empathy towards other developers in engineering so that they feel empowered to share their ideas or concerns. This way, we have honest insight into how services are designed and implemented at Updater. An example of this would be the developer surveys we send out to get feedback regarding their experience building microservice applications.

3. We build and maintain critical infrastructure. We’ve built out some of our critical infrastructure around a few key aspects. This includes the continuous delivery of our microservice applications and operational aspects like application monitoring and alerting. One of our most important goals is maintaining and enhancing this infrastructure.

Describe an ideal candidate for this team. When interviewing, how do you know you’ve found the right person? Who makes a good culture fit?

There are certainly some traits that the engineering team greatly values and feels are important to our culture. Our ideal candidate is well versed in the recent trends in technology, values the importance of writing quality software, and shows empathy towards the product. If you can tick off those boxes and also have the technical acumen to make the best decisions possible, based on the information and facts presented, you’re the right fit for the job.

Updater conducts a full-day interview with candidates. How does that play out on the engineering team? Describe what a candidate should expect.

A full day here at Updater is just as much about giving the candidate an opportunity to get to know us as it is about us getting to know the candidate. With that said, we try to simulate an experience as close to a real day of work as possible. We start the day by introducing a problem that the candidate then spends the rest of the day working on and collaborating with the rest of the team. Towards the end, we wrap up with a casual retrospective where we gain feedback in relation to their experience. On the engineering team, the candidate should expect pairing sessions with other developers and a mentoring session where they get to speak about something exciting they have worked on or discovered recently.

What advice would you give a candidate preparing for a full day on the engineering team?

I know it’s easier said than done, but relax and be yourself! Never hesitate to ask questions about the interview or anything else while you are here. We’re here to help!

Describe your experience going through the full-day interview. Were you aware of it when you applied? Tell us your story.

I was informed of the full day after my first round of interviews and I was very excited! I felt that there was no better way to showcase my skills than to work on a real problem that the engineers at Updater were facing. I was introduced to the problem at the start of the day and was expected to design and implement a solution.

There were moments during the day when certain things did not go the way I had planned, so I had to take a different approach. At the end of the day, I had to present my solution and answer questions around my design choices and alternative strategies surrounding the problem. The key takeaway for me from the full day was the interactions I had with the engineering team. Not only was I able to provide my perspective on problems based on my past experiences, but I also gained very good insight into the mindsets of the people I’d be working with. By the time I was done with the full day, I had no doubt in my mind about Updater. I knew that if I was offered the position, I would accept.

How does Updater’s interview process compare to other companies where you’ve interviewed?

I have never gone through an interview process like Updater’s. Almost all of the interviews that I have experienced have been far too one-sided. Other companies have solely tried to judge my skills without seeing them in action and have given me very few opportunities to get to know their team. At Updater, we are always trying to provide the candidate with the best experience possible. What truly makes Updater stand out is that we genuinely care about the feedback of candidates and always strive to make the interview process better.

Is the job what you expected after the full day?

After my full day, I expected to learn the latest trends in microservices in terms of infrastructure and tooling. I also expected to be able to have a direct impact on the product itself.  Since joining, I’ve gotten to do all of that and more!

I’ve spent a significant portion of my time helping other engineers at Updater design and implement services based on their project needs. Which in turn, has been one of the key drivers for the success of our team. I have also had opportunities to lead efforts around the design of services that are critical to our mission. There have been many opportunities for me in the infrastructure and tooling areas which have helped me learn and grow tremendously into a well-rounded software engineer.