As a self-taught Android developer and a product engineer, there has never been a better time to join forces with other like-minded community members and contribute towards the greater good. It’s almost been a month since I joined Obvious, but the journey so far has been nothing short of extraordinary.
While I was familiar with Obvious and their past work, it’s only when a friend introduced me to their official Twitter handle that I came across the ‘public by default’ playbook that outlines their distinctive hiring philosophy. Right from the beginning, they stressed on hiring for inclusivity and diversity, fighting the default of exclusion through ardent commitment to craft, value fit, openness and transparency as well as culture add as opposed to homogenous teams.
A prime factor that led me to believe that it’d be the right fit for what I was looking for was their refreshing interview process for engineers, one that left me pleasantly surprised. Rather than being quizzed on data structures, algorithms and whiteboard problem solving, they wanted to understand the depth and breadth of my knowledge about a platform of my choice, my drive for learning and honing programming skills and the ability to think of the entire product as a whole.
Abiding by the belief that engineers would be able to “know what they do not know” and research sufficiently to gain the necessary skills, Obvious employs a thorough three step hiring process that involves:
Understanding one’s opinions
To get a better sense of one’s thought processes and experiences and learn from everyone’s point of view, Obvious focuses on elaborate answers to several questions both on a personal and a professional front.
Rather than testing my knowledge through an existing example, they asked about my preferred programming language and what I liked / disliked about it. While I love both Java and Kotlin, my unbiased answer was Kotlin, since it provides much better support for functional programming in my opinion. When inquired about a great technical essay, book or video that I abide by, I knew it had to be Living the Code by Enrique Lopez for obvious reasons!
What stood out though as compared to other counterparts, was that while they wanted to understand my rationale behind wanting to join the organisation, they were also keen on what advice I’d give my younger self. Probably why since day one, I was clear on choosing Obvious because of their shared enthusiasm to learn, explore and adapt. (See how well that worked out!)
Building an Application
The second step involves building an application iteratively using publicly available resources and specific guidelines, to then later host the solution as a public repository on any service and help gauge the strengths and capabilities.
At the time when I was applying to Obvious and going through the second assignment, I was already working with my previous firm as a stand-alone developer on a time sensitive launch. When I couldn’t revert on time initially, the people team from Obvious politely reached out to me out of concern and helped figure an alternate date instead of rigidly focusing on deadlines. This proved to not only be a testament to their commitment towards people and product alike but also motivated me to go beyond and deliver. I ended up making a note application where users could cross-collaborate, create and view notes, for which I received highly constructive feedback.
Spending a day at Obvious
The last step in the hiring process involves spending a day at the office, writing code, meeting the team and understanding the work culture.
Post a 1:1 conversation with the team lead, Vinay, I was invited to spend a day at the wonderful, sunny and cheery Obvious office. The day featured a thorough tour of the lush, green and positive space, an ice-breaker pairing exercise and an exciting team lunch followed by a personal meeting with Pratul. The conversation with him delved deeper into my goals and other future oriented questions that pushed me to look at the bigger picture, albeit with a little difficulty at first. One thing that I can definitely vouch for is unwavering support, at every step of the process and even after!
Within a week’s time, I had an email from Obvious in my mailbox offering a position and since then I’ve learnt more about myself, the community, new friends at work and the clients than ever before.
In the last three weeks, I’ve not only experienced a conducive atmosphere that encourages empathy, openness, and self-disclosure but also a hopeful and helpful team that has been built on a strong foundation for smooth operations, despite working remotely. The weekly ‘Resilience Sessions’ are endearing and feature people sharing their traumas and openly talking about situations that have challenged their mental health to ensure we know that we’re not alone in trying times such as these.
If the Obvious Way makes sense to you, please fill out this form. We’ll keep you posted, give you the lowdown on life at Obvious, and answer any questions that you might have about engineering or working here!