Looking to ace a software engineering job interview at Slack? Here’s a cheat sheet to ease your jitters.
Frances Coronel vividly remembers her job interview at Slack and despite her initial nervousness she successfully navigated the process and landed a job there in 2018, she told Built In. And although she moved on to Byteboard earlier this year as a senior software engineer, she remains willing to help other software engineers ace their Slack interviews too.
These are 5 questions Slack asks in interviews
- How do you handle conflict?
- If you mess up, how do you interact with authority? Do you usually push back on things?
- Tell me about the decisions you made on the take-home technical exercise test.
- You are designing Whatsapp. How would you design the database? What would be in it? How would you structure the front end? What technologies would you use?
- You are presented with the problem of a 1-gigabyte image. How are you going to display the image on the screen?
Here’s a list of behavioral and technical questions that Coronel told Built In she encountered during her Slack interview. Pro tip: You can find additional questions other software engineers have faced during their Slack interviews on the company’s Glassdoor posts.
Slack’s Behavioral Job Interview Questions
Behavoral job interview questions play a big role during the interview process at Slack.
How do you handle conflict?
Job candidate’s perspective: Even though you might have a prepared answer, it’s best to pull out an example that really ties into the role’s responsibilities. You’ll want to show an awareness of the conflict at hand and how you addressed it. “With engineering, there are technical trade-off discussions,” Coronel said.
What an engineering hiring manager is actually evaluating: “I’m really looking for a self-awareness that something is happening, where a person says, ‘Here’s a conflict between my teammates, my colleagues, and let me lean into it and understand how the other person is perceiving the situation.’ They should have the mentality to say we’re a team and teammates and we all want the same outcome at the end of the day, which is the company to be successful,” Rod Garcia, senior director of engineering at Slack, told Built In.
If you mess up, how do you interact with authority? Do you usually push back on things?
Job candidate’s perspective: Slack’s values include courtesy, solidarity and empathy. Coronel was cognizant of Slack’s values as she responded to the behavioral questions, feeling her answers may be gauged against those values, she said.
What an engineering hiring manager is actually evaluating: “The two most important things about behavioral questions are to see how you approach conversation to communicate and collaborate and the second component is what you learn from your experiences or processes. What are your takeaways? For me, these two things are the most important,” Garcia said.
Slack’s Technical Job Interview Questions
You’ll face a number of technical job interview questions at Salesforce-owned Slack, but one thing you won’t face is a traditional whiteboard test where you stand alone before the board to code, according to Slack’s job interview process guide for engineers. Instead, you’ll face questions like these.
Tell me about the decisions you made on the take-home technical exercise test.
Job candidate’s perspective: “They’ll ask you to walk them through your take-home project and go through the decisions that you made and why you made them,” Coronel said. “Because my focus was going to be on the front-end, I tried to put my focus on performance, usability, as well as accessibility.”
What an engineering hiring manager is actually evaluating: “There are different ways to communicate. So, what I am really looking for is how the candidate approaches feedback, can offer feedback and suggestions for improvement, and point out areas that can perhaps be done differently. I strongly believe that software, in general, is all about collaboration and communication,” Garcia said.
He continued: “There are two things that play out in the technical dimension of the take-home exercise. The ability for the candidate to technically understand the problem but also how do they communicate? How do they propose solutions to flaws or things that can be done a little better? How do they communicate their point of view? This second part is just as important as the technical part.”
You Are Designing WhatsApp. how would you design the database? What would be in it? How would you structure the front end? What technologies would you use?
Job candidate’s perspective: This question gives a candidate an opportunity to show a prospective employer what they’d like to explore and focus on in their role, Coronel said.
What an engineering hiring manager is actually evaluating: “I really like this question, because I think it’s really important for anyone interviewing at any job to understand two things. One is if you’re a fit for the organization and two if the organization is one you would be happy at,” Garcia said.
“It’s really important for us to talk about a normal work day like how you work every day within a product, within a feature? That will probably translate into complete design conversations with teammates, right? How will this product or systems be put in place? Which databases or which patterns do we use? That’s normal everyday conversations we have at any technology organization,” he continued
“Then, how will you craft a solution? Normally, folks have different workflows and different processes for this, but for sure you will collaborate with others. Having back and forth communication is as important as the solution. Having a question that is closest to a normal work day is beneficial to the candidate to give them the sense to measure the organization they are interviewing with to see if it’s a good fit for them,” he said.
You are presented with the problem of a 1-gigabyte image. How are you going to display the image on the screen?
Job candidate’s perspective: When asked this question, Coronel worked with another engineer to discuss approaches and solutions, she said. It was a tricky problem and one where Coronel felt the goal of the interviewer was to hear her thought process as she thought things through, rather than coming up with a right answer.
What an engineering hiring manager is actually evaluating: “You might get asked questions and are confused for a second. My recommendation is to really clarify the point of the requirements. What is the goal of the conversation? Engage in a conversation with the interviewer. Ask the interviewer to tell you more to clarify the product requirements, the technical requirements and offer your thoughts as a candidate on the different areas or alternatives you can go,” Garcia said.
He added: “But ask the interviewer which of these would help them the most or what they are most interested in knowing and that will help the interviewer define the path to help them evaluate the interview. This has always worked out really well in my experience.”